The moment you arrive at Galley Bay, you will think one thing…. Jurassic Park.
I have previously stayed at a hotel in Zanzibar that had the entrance of Jurassic Park, but this place… I was expecting Jeff Goldblum to head out of the bushes in full leather trouser, with open shirt garb explaining chaos theory with water droplets.
Why? Because this place is rural, mountainous and plantation heavy of dreams. It is every inch the prehistoric paradise landscape that you could only imagine.
On arrival you are taken via golf cart over their private lagoon and into the resort.
The place is vast and so each place you visit is bookended by a beautifully scenic stroll through the palm trees, bright flowers and beach house greenery. The sensation of calm is visceral.
The beach (a private bay) is beautiful and perfect for gentle swimming conditions with crystal clear water.
Now. This is a bold statement alert. This beach had one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. Twice. (Yes, I know what I said) What is more impressive is that their sunsets are pretty consistent in how impressive they are thanks in large part to the fact that they set just behind the bay. Like every logo/illustration of an ideal “sunset”
To do. It is like activity central with tennis courts, a volleyball court (pitch?), boulles, wind-sailing boats, kayaks and bikes to just take around the resort. They even have daily yoga twice a day (including sunset) and sailing trips every day (Almost Guaranteed Turtles… Holler) and what is more… it is ALL inclusive. ALL of that.
In addition they have a super cute spa with a full list of body treatments, massages, beauty treatments and facials.
I mean they have EVERYTHING. Including a Jurassic Park style swimming pool that would make Club Tropicana jealous.
There are essentially more activities than Takeshis castle, but perhaps not utilised as much as they could be.
I want to be completely transparent in saying that the larger percentage guest demographic is probably 50+. This is for me was the caveat as it means that things like the evenings entertainment are catered mostly to that age group.
In a place that is SO full of activities, perfectly situated and like a prehistoric paradise it is an ideal resort to spend a week in for any age but the word of mouth has seemed to attract a majority in terms of demographic and for me, I was one of the youngest guests by quite some years. This is crazy when you consider how much there is to do for my age group or even 25-40 but it is largely marketed as a luxury and relaxing resort for 50+.
Accommodation. The beach houses are ADORABLE and sort of Malibu meets the Caribbean meets what I always imagined Sally Fletcher’s/Irene’s house in Home & Away looked like from the outside. Bright White wooden exteriors with lush green foliage and bamboo and almost that look-out tower feel.
The best part of these beach-houses (the clue is in the name) is that the back of the house leads directly onto the beach. No steps, no built up wall, no pathway… There. They are able to do this because of the proximity to the water and the fact that they are situated on the super calm side of Antigua.
Apparently during this trip, I also developed a taste for Antiguan beer (I am no beer drinker) but if you need a tip on a good one (I tried only one)… Wadadli is your bag.
It also meant that we made some pretty special beach friends…
As you all know, I am a sucker for a bike ride in a pretty pace and this absolutely no exception. The fact that they are picture perfect pink makes it all the better. This is a great way to get around from the room to the library to the shop or yoga (I know what you’re thinking about being lazy and cycling to yoga. I feel you judging me).
My favourite thing? As if this isn’t the most predictable USP to draw me in… I need to pause to create tension….
… A Tortoise Farm…. In the hotel… By the rooms….? Can we talk?
I won’t lie to you, my tortoise expertise is limited and the species descriptions I can list are “That sweet one” and “Jaunty with the red dots”. These are Red Footed Tortoise but their Latin name definitely sounds like something on a pasta menu in Amalfi.
The food. Ok. I want to be honest here but I also want to be fair. I found that the food in most of the tourist areas was underwhelming. I think that the problem is that Caribbean food (the way that I know it from street food and London Caribbean restaurants) is delicious and flavoursome. However, the Caribbean food cooked for a wide US/European market is often not as good or as full of spices as it could be.
The main restaurant had a huge range of options, including their breakfast a la carte and buffet. Though they could probably do with updating and upgrading the menu to a more streamlined version with specialised dishes.
However, their beach restaurant is beautiful and UBER romantic. It is that authentic tiki hut beach idyllic combined with tiki torches, low lighting and perhaps the most romantic setting with a nature soundtrack of crickets and the ocean as it rolls up onto the shore. Seriously, you couldn’t write it better in a script. Again, the food was not as “Caribbean” as I would have liked it to be.
In addition, amongst their 4 restaurants/food places their more fine dining restaurant (also on the beach) serves good wines, far more of a luxury menu and the service is excellent.
This is true of the whole resort. The service across the board was excellent and again, the staff were incredibly friendly and a real testament to the resort. It is a nice change to be able to laugh with the staff in a relaxed setting rather than it always being so structured. We definitely laughed!
I suppose the truth is, for a hotel that includes all food and drinks, they actually provide a very varied menu with a lot of options.
I think that if they started to receive a slightly younger clientele, this place would be awesome. It has all the makings of a great resort and more activities than an SAS assault course. The beach is wonderful, the cocktails are great and it is all included! I am determined to begin the new generation of Galley Bay guests.
Add to this the fact that the staff are fab and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for any demographic.
So if you’re looking for a SUPER relaxing holiday that is a walk in the park (Jurassic Park – minus the danger and dinosaurs) this is your place.
Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Five Islands Village, St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda