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Reviewed 25 September 2005

Cocobay is a beautiful place and we've just recently had a fantastic honeymoon there, it's nearly all couples with no noisy kids, a great place to unwind after the big build up to a wedding!

Rooms - Our cottage was lovely, nice big comfy bed with the essential bug net over it, mini safe, mini fridge, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, hammock and most importantly a stunning view. Most cottages overlook the bay towards Jolly Harbour and there were a few that looked towards Montserrat, can't say that any appeared to have a bad view though, the view over the bay is great and the others get the sunsets, it's all good! True, some fixtures in the rooms looked a little tired but everything worked perfectly, hot water was always there even though it would sometimes take a couple of minutes to show up. There were a few guest who hadn't done their homework and were disappointed at the lack of air con. after reading reviews on this site we got exactly what we expected though. It is very hot of course and I'd advise you to leave all your shutters open during the day but shut them as soon as it becomes necessary to put the lights on (to keep out bugs), the ceiling fan did an adequate job of keeping us cool at night. If you're a light sleeper you may want to take some earplugs, the gardens around the cottages are beautiful but the noise from crickets, tree frogs and anything else that's around at night could keep you awake, not a problem after a couple of cocktails though! The power is 110v US style 2 flat pin plugs, things like mobile and i-pod chargers work fine with an adapter but don't bother taking anything that's 240v only.

Pool - Great infinity pool, perfect temperature, right next to the bar and dining area. Did hear a couple of people say they thought there was too much chlorine in it, never bothered us though. As there's usually a lot of brits staying here there is a beach towels at dawn situation for claiming your favourite spot though.

Beach(es) - The main 'guest used' beach is great, just at the end of a short path down from the reception area, there's a fresh water shower to get the sand off on your way back, plenty of loungers and shades to go round, plus there were a few kayaks, sailing boats, snorkels availably for use, although snorkeling from this beach is a waste of time as the type of sand makes the water a bit cloudy. If you've never been in it before the Caribbean Sea is the perfect temperature. The main beach was never even near crowded but there is another beach slightly further on from this which is nearly always empty, there's also the beach the other side of the hotel which is occasionally used by a few locals (mainly weekends) but again nearly always empty.

Food - We loved it. For breakfast there's sell service cereals, pancakes, pastries, fruit as well as bacon, sausages and omelettes/scrambled eggs made to order. Lunch is again self service and changes every day, with a few selections of everything from pasta or curries to burgers and chips. In the afternoon there are sandwiches and cookies served in the bar area. The evening meal is waiter service a la carte with four courses where you'll normally get the choice of the meat, fish or pasta dishes. The evening meal probably isn't to the taste of those who normally eat in McDonalds though. There is another restaurant on site called Sheer that isn't part of the all inclusive package, we heard really good reports about it but didn't feel the need to go there as we were happy with the dinners that were already paid for.

Drink - If you're fussy and only drink bitter or Guinness then you're out of luck, the local Wadadali lager is very nice though and there's plenty of it on tap served in chilled glasses, most spirits are available in locally produced versions and everyone seems to enjoy working their way through the list of cocktails. If you want a drink to go back to your room with just mention it's 'to go' to the barman and he'll put in a plastic cup for you (as you will get when down by the pool).

Staff - Fantastic, we found everyone to be really helpful, from lovely the maids who greet you in the morning to the reception staff and management (not that we needed them), special mention has to go to David who's the main man behind the bar, a great personality, nothings too much trouble and he makes a mean cocktail with amazing measures!

Entertainment - If you need constant entertainment don't go here, this place is for people to chill out and do their own thing, we really enjoyed this aspect of it, nobody tried to drag us off for games in the pool or table tennis tournaments. That said though if you do get a rainy day you might find yourself at a bit of a loose end, we took our portable dvd player with us which proved useful on a couple of occasions. Some evenings you do get a little entertainment, these at the time were:- Tuesday - A jazz pianist in the restaurant area, Thursday - Managers cocktail party which features an amusing calypso singer walking round with his guitar, Sunday - A really good steelpan band ...the rest of the time you just chill out and chat to other guests around the bar.

Other facilities - There are no tv's in your room but there is a separate tv room near the bar area where you might find the odd footie match or cricket on if you're getting withdrawal. There's also a gift shop which stocks the basic medicines and sun tan lotions as well as things you may have forgot like a hat or sandals. The reception has a tour desk for booking trips and internet access is available charged at 50c (us) per min. Taxi's are nearly always available and the most we had to wait was five minutes for one. Beach towels are available at reception so you can save a little room in your suitcase.

The Area - Cocobay is well out of St Johns in a quiet area so everything is a taxi ride away, there is Jolly Harbour just across the bay which is in walking distance (20mins), we walked there on an overcast day but I wouldn't recommend it when then sun is beating down. Taxis to Jolly Harbour cost $9(us) each way and to get into St John's we heard its $40(us). In Jolly Harbour you'll find a large well stocked supermarket, a chemist, an off license and a few other gift shops and restaurants, there's also a big casino and sports bar where you'll find entertainment like karaoke if you feel you need it.

Bugs - Yes there are lots of them, if you sometimes get bitten abroad then you definitely will here, if you never usually get bitten (like the wife) you still probably will here! We used a plug in bug repellent we picked up in the airport and by using this and shutting the shutters at night we managed to keep the room relatively bug free. You still need to go out though so I'd recommend using sun tan lotion and aftersun that contain bug repellent, you can buy a deet based repellent in the shop called 'Off!' but it didn't seem as effective as the repellents brought from Boots.

Weather - We went for the first two weeks of September which is still rainy season, our first week was the best with great weather and just a few clouds around, the second week wasn't as good, we had 2 days which were a complete wash out and 3 or 4 days which had patchy cloud and occasional showers, all in all we were happy with the weather though considering the season, Antigua does clearly get quite a bit of rain around this time considering how lush and green it was. If it does rain you will get wet, apart from your cottage and the bar/dinning area there isn't really any escaping it, the best thing to do in a shower is shelter your towels etc and go for a swim!

Currency - Just take US dollars, everyone takes them.

Excursions we did:-

Shirley Heights on Sunday night is a must, fantastic views and if you're lucky a stunning sunset, when you first arrive there's a huge steelpan band to entertain you with 2 large bars and a great barbeque, after the sun goes down the reggae band takes to the stage to help you dance the night away. This trip is available from the tour desk at a cost of $20(us) per person but if you would prefer to do a bit more team up with another couple and get a tour from a taxi for $25(us) per person which will leave much earlier and also take in the rain forest and a few other interesting places. Entry to Shirley Heights is $4(us) per person (I think).

Caribbean Helicopters Tour - We did the tour of the Montserrat volcano, the helicopter takes off from Jolly Harbour and the flight lasts approx 50mins, its by no means cheap at $200(us) per person but it really was an amazing experience and a real highlight of the trip for me, although the wife said it made her feel a bit queasy! Note: If you reserve online you will receive a $10 p.p. discount.

Eco Tour - This was a great day out, the cost was $90(us) per person, it's basically a boat trip to a group of islands in the north of Antigua where you will learn about the local wildlife, take a very short trek to the top of an island for some stunning views, do some snorkeling, have a great lunch, even visit a cave if you want. If you're lucky you'll even see some turtles! Note: If you book online you will receive a 10% discount.

We didn't go on it but we also heard good reports about Wadadli Circum Nav. tour but less favorable reports about the Virgin version of it.

St Johns is worth a look when then cruise ships aren't in (check with the tour desk), it's not a huge town but there are plenty of shops selling souvenirs etc, there are more jewellery shops than anything though if you're that way inclined. There's a daily taxi run to St John's from the hotel which is $20(us) return per person.

Other things to note:-

As you know the hotel is all inclusive but this doesn't include bottled water, apparently the tap water is safe to drink but if like us you don't want to chance it remember to take a little extra cash to pay for your water bill at the end of the holiday, reception provide chilled bottles at a cost of $2 per 1.5 litre bottle.

When you leave you will need to pay a departure tax of $20(us) per person so hold onto a couple of bills.

Hope this info helps, we loved Cocobay but appreciate it may not be for everyone. Antigua is beautiful island with fantastic people, if you've been to the Caribbean before it'll only take 5 minutes to slip back into the laid back way of life, if its your first time just go with the flow and don't expect anything to happen too quickly, you'll soon unwind into Caribbean time!

  • Stayed: September 2005
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60  Thank easynow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 September 2005

Cocobay has lots of potential - great location, good beaches, nice architecture & design - however, it misses several comfit factors that could easily move it into a four star hotel.
The major drawback from our point of view was the lack of screens and air conditioning.....shutters in the room let in all types of insects, including the Antiguan horse spider(which looks like a hairy tarantula), moths, no seeums, gnats, & other flying pests. Mosquito netting HAD to be used, and even spraying it with DEET before dinner was no guarantee that we would have a bugless night when we returned. We did like the little geckos, wished there were more to devour the bugs.
We had a seafront cottage, small, but with a great view of the bay. Furnishings were rustic and spare, faucets were rusted and amenities were just shampoo, soap and body lotion.
The beach was very nice, enough lounges and thatched palapas for shade. Even better was the next beach over, which was secluded and had a great view of Monserrat. Not many guests from the hotel ventured that way, we were usually the only persons in the water or on the 1/2 mile stretch of beach when we went there. Snorkelling was hopeless as the visibility was nil.....don't know if this was an aberation or the norm. The infinity pool was always crowded, and guests had a habit of "claiming" their spot at dawn.....we have a larger pool at home, so this didnt factor for us. The hidden 2 person plunge pool situated at the entrance of the Sheer restaurant and overlooked the beach was a great romantic place to watch the sunsets from....and none of the noise, chatter and clutter of the infinity pool crowd.
The main restaurant was fair to middling, but they did serve our needs and tastes, and some seafood dishes were actually quite good. Sheer restaurant is both elective and pricey, but here the food was excellent. Because of the additional costs, we only ate there once. Both restaurants were open air, and lacking overhead fans, which made them dreadfully hot.
We found most of the staff helpful & cheerful, and were happy that there was no pressure from the tour operator once we told them we had been to Antigua before (Galley Bay, a true 5 star resort) and knew our way around. The spa gal, Andrea, was cheerful, adept, and had a great touch. Kenroy in the restaurant gave us tables that had whatever breeze was available.
We don't drink alcohol, but did observe guests being served, and they seemed happy with the quality of their drinks. Entertainment was virtually nil, there was a singer with a keyboard one night at dinner, and a guitar player on management night.
Cabs were expensive, a trip to St John's was $40US for two persons.
Overall, if you want seclusion, quiet, and rusticness, and don't mind bugs, this is not a bad AI resort and can be considered a good value. However if the thought of hairy spiders in your hotel room freaks you out, then look elsewhere for sure.

Stayed: September 2005
16  Thank Bob S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Cheshire, UK
1
Reviewed 13 September 2005

This is a multiple reveiw of a strange holiday that started at Club Colona Sun Sail and finished at Blue Waters.
On arriving at Sun Sail our party of nine 4 adults 1x2yr 2x6yr 1x13yr 1x15yr children we realized it was not a star rated resort and basic it was however clean and the food was reasonable except for the school dinners queing the water sports were very good as were the kids clubs nice pleasant staff. We made the decision to move on and the manager recomended to our wives they should veiw Coco bay this they did and came back to report all the good things the manager was very nice (then)
and helpfull putting a cot for the baby(2yr old) and extra beds for the 6yr olds. We arrived very nice I thought as I and my friend were relieved of large amounts of $ lovely place the following morning we were summoned to the managers office to hear of complaints about the children! he was aware we had them. These trips to the managers office increased to the extent I would no longer put up with this and reqested the manager came to me as I was on holiday. This he did begrudgingly he offered us Grand pinnapple I and my freind went to veiw the said resort! Not good mould along the bedroom walls and a nasty smell, not a good 3 and a half hour taxi ride. Advised the manager a better alternative would be needed.
Next meeting with the manager accompanied by the Antigua Police!!!!
he told me we had to leave, after explaining UK/ Antigua law on contracts of letting to the manager and his pal Police man was happy the manager however not happy and explained that a possy of 30 other guests were on his back to have us removed. Spoke to the Director in the UK who pasified me with promises of being pampered at the sister resort Coconut beach> We all left on arrival things took a turn for the worse coconut beach had many honey moon couples ( bet they could not wait to see our children) but what great contraception!!!! We all re-mounted the taxi and off to Blue Waters we went
very very pleasant end to our holiday had a full five days there people nice staff nice no complaints either way wonderfull.
The upside of this adventure is three different veiws from our hotels in two weeks the downside is packing unpacking and travelling in taxis all round Antigua
food at all three was good water sports aslo good Shirley Heights why go on Sunday you just get trampled! Bus Sun Sail average Coco bay nightmare Blue waters hardley any.

Point to not Coco bay might like the money but the guests do not like the kids so no kids thanks

  • Stayed: August 2005
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Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 September 2005

Awful food (Gourmet Restaurant closed) - one man reduced to eating beetroot at lunch because no food edible. Dried burgers, dried up pasta not my idea of good food! Cockroaches next to kitchens, and the HEAT without aircon in August was unbelievable! Filthy towels, fitness area non existent, watersports virtually non existent. An expensive mistake, escaped after 2 days to another hotel at a huge cost. Cocobay stung us for 4 nights extra cost for 'cancellation' despite tour operator transferring us. 4* NOT!!!
Oh and this 'all inclusive' charged us US$2 for each small bottle of water, to be bought from reception.

  • Stayed: August 2005
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9  Thank ClaireBCheshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 August 2005

We have just returned from Cocobay after having spent 8 days there, we also stayed here in April 2003. It was still as lovely as ever the staff were very friendly especially in the restaurant.
There were alot of bugs this time of year which we had'nt noticed before and I must admit air conditioning would of been nice this time as it was very humid.
The only down side to our stay was the general atmosphere, the managment had let a family stay who had young children and this caused alot of bad feeling amongst the guests, as this is supposed to be 12years and above only.It did'nt effect us but come the evening when you want to sit and have a drink and get to know people, some of the guests were happier to spend their evening sitting and moaning, which you don't want on holiday.
We would most certainly return to Cocobay again and strongly recommend you ask for the room called Loblolly Cay, which has a super view across the bay.

  • Stayed: August 2005
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9  Thank chelsea_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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