from North Carolina
Submitted on 02-05-2017
Galley Bay is well known for having a loyal clientele who return year after year after year‚?¶and for clearly understandable reasons‚?¶no doubt they will not be likely to still be tracking TripAdvisor reviews of the site, of which there are already over three thousand! However, my wife and I just returned from a wonderful week there, and wanted to see if we could add something new to the information already so well documented by the previous reviewers who generously gave of their time to help g...
Galley Bay is well known for having a loyal clientele who return year after year after year‚?¶and for clearly understandable reasons‚?¶no doubt they will not be likely to still be tracking TripAdvisor reviews of the site, of which there are already over three thousand! However, my wife and I just returned from a wonderful week there, and wanted to see if we could add something new to the information already so well documented by the previous reviewers who generously gave of their time to help guide others.
1. Airport arrival ‚?? nice new facility, very efficient immigration and customs‚?¶then be prepared to be descended upon by a horde of yellow shirted baggage handlers who will grab your luggage and then unceremoniously dump it in the center island across from the terminal, where you have to go to a booth to indicate your destination. We fortunately ended up with a very nice taxi driver, the 25 minute or so drive ($20 fixed rate plus gratuity) quickly demonstrates why only the brave would rent a car and drive around Antigua on their own‚?¶narrow streets, heavy traffic, potholes big enough to disappear into, nary a road sign to be seen.
2. Others had mentioned that at initial check-in, a $350 charge is placed ‚??for incidentals‚??‚?¶our reception was nice enough, mandatory rum punch and cold washcloth, then a very nice driver golf carted us over the passageway between the halves of the lagoon to our room, #42 (Premium beachfront), after a quick stop at the central area to help orient us to the rum bar, coffee shop, gift shop, jewelry store, Teepee bar, guest services, Sea Grape.
3. We were so tired when we arrived, we left the room warmer than necessary as the WiFi was not working, and we forgot how to convert the Centigrade settings on the remote temperature controller to Fahrenheit!
4. The bathroom was big enough to turn a bus around‚?¶dual sinks, dual shower heads, nice water strength and temperature, enough shelf space for an army, some harmless sugar ants many days for which we nevertheless used the Baygon spray can in the room‚?¶beware of getting water on the tile floor‚?¶my wife learned that lesson when she almost slipped and killed herself‚?¶dry feet are required for traction. Comfy bed and pillows‚?¶wonderful view from the terrace to the sea only a few yards away (well shaded, but hot as Hades in late afternoon when the sun blares down, with mosquitos galore). Galley Bay is well known for their rough surf, if you enjoy listening to waves hitting the beach like absolute cannon shots, you will love it here! No refillable hydration bottles during our visit, evidently the shipment did not arrive. At least they are refilling the sodas, Wadadli beer and waters in the refrigerator‚?¶they had been unable to provide us with Diet Coke most days, evidently THAT shipment also did not arrive!
5. We noted that most prior reviewers were pleased with the food, and frankly, we had a difficult time understanding how anyone could not be happy. The breakfast menu is fun for ordering off the menu, there are the usual options of grabbing dry cereal, some fruit, basic pastries, etc. Service was friendly and efficient. Gauguin was fun for lunch, but depending upon when you get there, with no reservations, there can be a wait. Noon was great, 2 pm was a mob. We noted that Sea Grape offered a much greater number of options, so we ate there for dinner all nights aside from a night trying Ismay‚??s. The appetizers and entrees were nicely presented and very reasonable portions, same for the desserts, which seemed to always include at least one thing chocolate, and ice cream. The Galley Bay coffee offering is a do not miss. The Thursday barbecue dinner was as much fun as others have noted, with rib, steak, fish and chicken offerings‚?¶and a lethal option of miniature desserts each of which was delicious.
6. The bar staff was friendly, the amount of alcohol in their tropical drinks was very variable, but no complaints really. Nice menu of tropical standards and a different special of the day was very much fun.
7. Others have mentioned Iba‚??s welcome talk, and he truly is a tremendous asset to Galley Bay. He was informative, engaging, in fact could work as a stand up comedian if he ever gets bored here. It‚??s probably not easy to have been here for ten years, yet make it seem as if he was giving the talk for the first time, much enthusiasm. Among his quotes which will remain with us for all time, when he described the availability of the gym: ‚??In my opinion, exercise is overrated.‚?? No one on an initial visit to Galley Bay should miss this. Incidentally, Iba was a great resource for problem solving, which basicall revolved around the WiFi, and arranging for us to join Christine for a lagoon bird walk.
8. Although feeding the wildlife is discouraged for all the usual reasons, Iba did indicate that it would be OK to feed their preserve tortoises some banana in the morning‚?¶that was a memorable experience, those guys clearly know what happens when a guest gets near the edge of their enclosure‚?¶a morning task, otherwise they are mostly hiding in the shade.
9. Rum bar was a wonderful bit of fun. Lisa one night, Kerian another night, both provided great entertainment as we taste tested a number of Caribbean rums‚?¶guess there were 30 or so there, so we had to split that up over more than one visit!
10. If you enjoy bird life, this is a great place to visit. The easy walk around the lagoon, reported to be a quarter mile, virtually guarantees views of sandpipers, ruddy turnstones, West Indian Whistling ducks, lesser blue and green heron, gallinule, mongoose, crested Antillean hummingbirds, usual bananaquits and bull finches, common ground doves, Zenaida doves. Aside from that walk, the bullfinches are regular visitors in the dining area, the bananaquits have their own feeder just on the south side of Sea Grape, and the nighttime tree frog chorus is just a marvel to behold. Christine did a great job in walking around the lagoon with us, once impromptu when she saw us sitting on the lagoon bridge, once for an arranged 8:30 a.m. walk with another couple of guests.
11. The entire property is very intelligently and beautifully landscaped and maintained with some nice labels helping to identify the palms and some of the colorful plants‚?¶Curt did a phenomenally entertaining hour and a fraction tour on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m., exceedingly knowledgeable about all the palms, gorgeous flowering plants on the property. If you enjoy gardening, even if you live in a spot which does not support tropical plants (applies to us), this is also a DO NOT MISS. Very sad to hear of the virus which is decimating the palms.
12. Options for getting to St. John‚??s for shopping include taxis, or Galley Bay offers a shuttle which departs at 9:00 and returns at 12:00 for $12 per person round trip. Must have at least four guests requesting the shuttle, otherwise it‚??s a taxi on your own. It was pure chaos, what with four cruise ships in port and hordes of locals wandering along the narrow strips of crumbling sidewalk, not much special shopping either as far as we were concerned‚?¶we were very glad to get back to Galley Bay!
13. There is an assortment of off site adventures available to arrange, including catamaran trips to Barbuda, a boat which circumvents Antigua, a trip to Montserrat, zip lines, land tours, helicopter tours, etc.
14. WiFi ‚?? yes, we know, you are on vacation, you are supposed to disconnect from your devices‚?¶but some of us visitors are professionals who have not yet retired and who really have no option but to keep at least in some degree of contact with the real world‚?¶and it‚??s nice to be able to download your local newspaper, NY Times, Wall St. Journal, etc. to be read at leisure. Well, much has been stated here about the WiFi‚?¶when we arrived, as noted above, the signal strength in our room was 28%, and we could not connect. Their IT guy was off on Saturday but fortunately was working on Sunday. He discovered that our room‚??s router had been disconnected. However, even when connected, it was connected at .30 mbps, which goes back to the dial up days. I had made several inquiries before the visit as to the WiFi situation, was told that WiFi was free with the room, and that there was only one flavor of WiFi. Well, surprise, there ARE two‚?¶the free one, which is the dial up speed, as in useless, and the ‚??high speed‚??, which is $10 per day, $50 per week, at 8 mbps. Not quite like home but definitely adequate. But then it was on again and off again at various times during the week, needing our router replaced, we almost had to ask their IT guy to move in with us. Really difficult to understand why they have so much trouble with this. On the positive side of things, as others have commented, there is no WiFi in any of the dining areas, and as such it was amazing to, in this day and age, not observe diners staring at their devices at the expense of maintaining conversation with their tablemates!
15. We wanted to include a land tour of Antigua highlights while we were here. The hotel of course can make arrangements for a taxi tour, but we had read on Trip Advisor of Pelican Safari tours, and the reviews were so overwhelmingly positive, we sent them an email through their web site, they promptly responded by phone and email, and we were set. That unsurpassable experience is separately reviewed.
16. This being our first visit here, we decided we had to see for ourselves what a dinner at Ismay‚??s would be like‚?¶and despite the $48 per person surcharge, we felt it had been very much worth it. The more intimate dining experience was like an evening at the theater, the 2.5 hour meal was nicely paced with the sequence of amuse bouche, appetizer, sorbet palate cleanser, main course, then dessert, then digestif. Good service, but ironically, we found the service at EACH of the Galley Bay restaurants to be so superior, it was difficult to say that Ismay‚??s surpassed the others. As our room was one building away from Ismay‚??s, we did partake of their bar, but it is only open on the select nights they are serving dinner there‚?¶and be sure to spray plenty of insect repellant if you visit there towards day‚??s end, those mosquitoes were quite hungry by then!
17. The departure process was a bit different than what had encountered at other resorts. The night before we left, we received a call from the desk confirming our departure plans and arranging for a taxi back to the airport. We also found a satisfaction questionnaire and a printout of what we thought was a preliminary indication of accrued charges. Ends up, you are supposed to show that bill at the front gate on departure, we could not remember what we did with it, and since we were planning this TA review, had not completed the questionnaire. In fact, we needed a new bill anyway, since we added two of those $25 wonderful Caribbean lobster dinners that last night, after the preliminary bill was prepared. Evidently their procedure is to note your charges, and either issue a refund if less than the $350 charged on arrival or, of course, request additional payment for overage. Fortunately, with a 4 pm departure, not needing to leave the premises until 1:30 pm, we were able to benefit from one last wonderful luncheon at Gauguin.
18. There were so many nice servers, bartenders, golf cart drivers, etc. staff that we found it difficult to (other than Iba) recall the names‚?¶but we did specifically recall Timothy, he is a most engaging fellow, and he deserves special mention from us.
19. Once at the airport, the check-in procedure was quick, then up the escalators through a couple of booths to check paperwork, then emigration (don‚??t lose those little slips of paper they give you on arrival), then the x-ray machine (American standard of shoes off, laptops out), then into the cavernous hall with one snack/liquor store and one mini gift shop, and eventually onto the plane. We thought the airport could have been more generous with their WiFi, it‚??s 15 minutes free, then you have to purchase a one hour ($5.95) or full day ($14.95) pass code.
Long story short, my wife and I had a marvelous visit here, and although we are on a trajectory of trying to visit one different Caribbean island after another, it is inevitable that in the not too distant future we will find ourselves back at Galley Bay‚?¶a fabulous place to rejuvenate the body and soul!