As a veteran of Antigua, my family’s annual trip to the breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean Island is the highlight of our year.
The danger of returning to the same destination year in year out, though, is that you end up comparing your hotel to previous trips… and it might not match up.
But I needn’t have been concerned about The Verandah Resort and Spa, which turned out to be the best family four-star on the island. Nestled in Long Bay, along 30 beachfront acres, it’s a typically beautiful all-inclusive with lush tropical greenery and incredible ocean views.
The Verandah Resort and Spa, pictured, is a four-star family-friendly resort nestled in Antigua’s Long Bay
Pictured is the resort’s Bar & Grill, which looks out to one of Verandah’s two private beaches
Dan’s son Zak, nine, makes use of the resort’s giant chessboard with a friend while his dad enjoys a poolside Baileys Colada
Smaller than its sister property, St James Club, this resort has everything you could want: on-tap cocktails, a huge family pool (the largest on the island) plus two adults-only pools, private beaches, free water sports, a large gym and tennis courts, a luxury spa, multiple restaurants and even a fun, crazy golf course.
Antigua famously has a beach for every day of the year and two of them are at The Verandah.
Being solely for hotel guests they’re never so busy that you’ll not find a sunbed and the free watersports (paddleboarding, canoeing, windsurfing, Hobie Cat sailing and diving) mean relaxing and being active can both be on the agenda.
I particularly enjoyed taking my children Zak, nine, and Nell, six, out sailing… but I somewhat overestimated my skills when the water was choppy and a gust took us flying out to the ocean, causing me much embarrassment and Nell to lose her Peppa Pig hat.
We headed to the Beach Bar and Grill most days and enjoyed lunch soaking up the views.
My wife, Claire, started every morning in the gym and was very impressed with the comprehensive variety of kit on offer, saying it was one of the best hotel gyms she’d ever been in.
The Verandah has a good offering of free watersports, such as canoeing, windsurfing, Hobie Cat sailing and diving, Dan reveals
‘It’s a typically beautiful all-inclusive with lush tropical greenery and incredible ocean views,’ writes Dan
Pictured is one of the two-bedroomed plunge pool villas at the resort. Dan says: ‘The 180 rooms are in stand-alone, Caribbean-style cottages, with a higher spec, more charm and a lot more space than most’
Our children demanded to try resort activities such as, yes, a giant chess set, the crazy golf and that giant swimming pool, leaving more time for we parents to enjoy the on-tap cocktails. If you’ve not tried a Baileys Colada you’ve not lived.
Accommodation-wise, instead of standard-issue blocks, the 180 rooms are in stand-alone, Caribbean-style cottages, with a higher spec, more charm and a lot more space than most.
The waterfront suites have panoramic views over the ocean and use elegant touches such as granite, wood, and bamboo to help add to the resort’s natural feel.
Dan says that The Verandah is ‘more affordable’ than rival Antiguan resorts, and ‘has everything you could want and more’. Pictured is the type of suite that Dan and his brood stayed in
Smiles better: Dan’s wife, Claire, and daughter Nell, six, share a poolside joke
The resort caters for holidaymakers of all ages from honeymooners wanting a little romance to families seeking entertainment and activities. The layout is spread out across the glorious coastline, making it feel spacious and relaxing.
There are four restaurants in the heart of the complex, a stone’s throw from the main bar, with Seabreeze the largest and most popular of the dining experiences.
An enormous buffet is served at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the food is both Caribbean and international, catering for all tastes.
For those wanting a more formal gastronomic experience head to Nicole’s restaurant. We enjoyed a ‘date night’ there without the kids and it was a truly enjoyable experience.
Afternoon Tea is served every afternoon, an Antiguan hotel tradition left over from the island’s colonial days, and a weekly ‘cook out’, a BBQ and live band that the whole hotel gets involved in is a highlight.
Half Moon Bay, pictured, boasts 132 acres of the ‘most spectacular white sand crescent beaches in the world’
The Sandersons (pictured) take a trip to Stingray City where they snorkel with giant grey southern rays
The Verandah is not a super-luxury offering, like some hotels on the island, but it’s more affordable and has everything you could want – and more.
For those yearning to leave the resort there are plenty of things to do on the island.
We took a trip to Stingray City where we snorkelled in the Caribbean Sea as giant grey southern stingrays tickled our tummies with their fins.
I even held one in the water and posed somewhat nervously for a family photo.
One day we took a taxi to Half Moon Bay, which boasts 132 acres of the most spectacular white sand crescent beaches in the world and 3,200 feet of white coral sand.
And what holiday to Antigua is complete without a Sunday evening BBQ soirée at the Shirley Heights lookout point, watching the sun go down while enjoying live music, Caribbean food and a cocktail or two.
The Sandersons thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Now, where’s my Baileys Colada?
To spend seven nights at The Verandah Resort & Spa Antigua in a hillside suite all-inclusive starts from £5,995 for a family of four (two adults and two children under 11 years). The cost – based on an August 19, 2022, summer holiday departure – includes return flights in economy with BA from London Gatwick.
Price subject to availability. A resort fee of USD$24 (£17.65) per room per night and an island tourism fee of $5 (£1.36) per person per night payable locally applies. Fourteen nights on the same offer basis is £8,995 for a family of four.
For more information visit eliteislandholidays.com.
The Verandah Resort and Spa, which hosted Dan, is part of the Elite Island Resorts portfolio on Antigua, joining St. James’ Club and Villas, Galley Bay Resort and Spa and Pineapple Beach Club. Elite Island Resorts also offers properties on Saint Lucia, Barbados, the Grenadines and Panama.