You’d never know a 30-minute drive east from the Sticky Wicket Stadium in Antigua where rabble rousing cricket fanatics converge to watch the Windies and England Lions Unofficial ODI Games now underway a whole different island phenomenon exists.
Sunbathers soak in the scenery at The Verandah Resort and Spa, chillin’ at their choice of three pools and two resort beaches with the biggest dilemma of the day: “Where should I lay down my beach blanket?”
Secluded on a 30-acred eco-lush property overlooking a sun-kissed paradise, guests staying at this all-inclusive never fret on early morning dashes to secure their poolside retreat for a slice of the sun. One of the charms of the Elite-Island Resorts-owned property is the space. The other: eco and community conscious love.
Verandah Resort and Spa Chairman Rob Barrett who is also the CEO of Elite Island Resorts took big bush country to create an island haven with a laid-back bungalow scene that has incredible views. Built side by side these single story duplexes have one and two bedroom suites reminiscent of a Caribbean villa.
The social conscious aspect kicks in as soon as you check-in. Staff might be seen wearing a small safety pin, part of a social campaign to show the wearer is a ‘safe’ ally for those who might feel vulnerable.
In addition, the resort has the Wishing Well Charity Foundation. A $2 nightly charge to support the foundation is added to the guest’s bill but upon check-out you can opt out on paying this optional fee. Over the years the proceeds from The Verandah’s charity have funded medical and educational programs as well as supporting child literacy providing 100,000 books to schools across the Caribbean with the non-profit Hands across the Sea.
To help women find jobs in the private sector, Mr. Barrett founded a new all-female tour company known as the Pink Panther Safaris, a concept he hopes to expand to other Caribbean islands. Staffed by 15 local women who are mostly single mothers, the safari tours can take 8 passengers compared to competitors who take up to 10 passengers so you get more space again…
No concrete jungle here. Built atop concrete columns, the bungalows are big on native soil retention which helps to cut down on erosion. Considered a front runner on environmental initiatives the Green-Globe Certified Resort incorporates sustainable approaches to ensure the eco-system is protected to the highest standards. Examples include ecological preservation like the on-site banana plants and the herb garden to recycling water.
Devil’s Bridge, a dramatic rock arch landmark is a short walk away. Part of the Devil’s Bridge National Park, the ancient limestone bridge that juts out over the sea is a big jaw dropper.
The Verandah Resort and Spa has four restaurants and a beach grill. Head to the Seabreeze, the main resto for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for upscale, try Nicole’s, the resort’s fine dining restaurant which has modern French and Italian cuisine. Caribbean fare gets a thumb’s up at the family-friendly The Buccaneer while beach lovers can enjoy fresh catch of the day or light snacks at either the new Wadadli Snack Shack on Rasta Beach or The Beach Bar and Grill perched above the Watersports Beach.
Afternoon tea is served at the main pool bar daily.
The resort pluses
The 186-room resort boasts 390 chaise lounges. Do the math on choices and sun locations. For suites selections, choose from Waterview, Waterfront or Hillside. If you prefer the Villa style there is this larger room category suitable for up to six people.
The resort drawback
The hilly tentacle-like roadways blend into other paths and before you know it, a short walk can turn into an unexpected sightseeing tour. This terrain is great for folks who enjoy a jaunt. Be sure to take some bottled water. For others, rest assured complimentary shuttle service via an alfresco golf cart can be ordered for pick-ups.
- Three pools and two calm, reef sheltered white powder beaches: the smaller Rasta Beach and the Watersports Beach.
- The Tranquility Body and Soul Spa offers eco-conscious, restorative treatments like the green coffee wrap designed to reduce water retention.
- It’s easy to stay active. If inclined play tennis, exercise in the fitness centre, or stretch out the limbs in the weekly aqua-aerobics.
- Foodies sharpen their culinary skills at a Caribbean cooking class.
- For the kiddie set, the adult-supervised Kidz Club is a good bet for potty trained tikes and kids between the ages of 2 to 12 years old. A handy babysitting service provided at the resort for an additional fee means Mums and Dads can have some couple time at their beck and call.
- Then there’s the choice of lazy stroll via one of the nature walks or nautical highs via windsurfing or Hobie Cat sailing. Other water lovers enjoy a good snorkel, stand-up paddle boarding or even an easy pedal boat ride.
Feel the island vibe at this spread out all-inclusive that’s big on delivering authentic Caribbean life to a weary urbanite in need of sun, sand, sea and soul.