There are times when some of our best decisions in life are impulsive ones. You know, the instances when you are not fully prepared to do something, and on a whim you do it and it turns out to be one of the best decisions ever made? Well, bidding auction-style on a vacation package at the spur of the moment is one of those things you just don’t do unless you are very familiar with the resort or hotel.
Normally, I am extremely diligent about researching hotels, resorts, spas, etc. but recently one of the websites I trust, www.LuxuryLink.com, listed the following for “auction”:
The “auction” price started at $845. Very reasonable for an island like Antigua so I pounced. My other half has family members in Antigua so it was going to be a dual purpose jaunt. The plan was for us to go to in August when the kids were out of school and camp.
Due to an unforeseen circumstance, I wound up needing to take this trip alone. A bummer, but I decided that this would be my “mommy getaway” where I could relax with no kids and no agenda.
My first “fault”: Failing to research (prior to bidding) the flight frequency and cost from the NYC area to Antigua. My preferred airline, United, out of Newark, NJ only flew Saturday and Sunday. I had to settle for American Airlines leaving from JFK (adding to my airport travel time and cost). Had I known that the cheapest ticket price would be in the range of $800 per person, I might have passed on this package immediately.
The first set of dates I booked needed to be changed due to a death in the family. The hotel was more than accommodating with changing my dates. I simply emailed them and they responded positively. Great! So far, good customer service. I’m a happy camper.
Sugar Ridge is not located on a beach but as a frequent inhabitant of Anguilla (with THE best beaches in the Caribbean), I wasn’t upset or alarmed. I’d be okay walking, jogging, etc. if I needed to lay on the sand.
The flight was easy, no issues there. Antigua’s airport, V.C. Bird International, is currently under construction and I’d love to see the new expanded facility when its complete.
I was fortunate enough to have a family friend collect me from the airport and escort me to the resort. That move saved me another $25 via taxi (or $55 via the Sugar Ridge hotel Meet & Greet).
The ladies at the front desk were friendly although a bit unsure as to how to direct me while my room was being prepared. Maybe point me toward the restaurant? Or offer to give a quick tour? Nothing. So I waited for about 40 minutes to be taken to my room.
From The Sugar Ridge website:
“Sugar Ridge hotel is on the wonderful west coast of Antigua and is nestled into a natural hillside bordered with sugar cane. Sugar Ridge is a new luxury boutique hotel and with its elevated position captures the most stunning and panoramic views of palm lined beaches, the turquoise Caribbean Sea, and the neighboring islands of Redonda, Nevis and St. Kitts which sit like gems upon the horizon.”
A much needed golf cart took me to the room I was first assigned. Upon entry the first thing that came to mind was “damn those photographers are good!” The website pictures make the room appear much more spacious than it truly is. Open the door take 2 steps and you’ll bump into the bed. The room was so small, all I could think of was ‘is this it??’ and almost grateful I was on the trip alone or I’d be tripping over the other guest. One word to describe the room, other than small, BASIC.
Sugar Ridge promotes that “deluxe” rooms have a private plunge pool on the terrace. From the photos on line I was cool with it and maybe in my mind I thought it would be more like the plunge pools at the Viceroy Anguilla Resort I stayed at 2 years ago. Nope.
I walked out onto the terrace to see an uninviting space a tad bit larger than a bath tub looking like it was in need of a good cleaning. Judging from the oversized dirty net hanging on the side of the wall I guess it would be my job to do that. Nope.
Now let’s talk about those breathtaking views. From my room all I could see was bushes and trees smack dab in my face. Not happy.
So I sat on the bed completely discouraged and trying to calm myself before calling the front desk. I would have walked down to the front desk but the hike down the hill and the jagged stairs was not in the cards for me at that moment. All I could envision was me tumbling down to the front area looking crazy.
I called the front desk and asked if I was indeed booked into a deluxe room. She said yes, the rooms with plunge pools are deluxe. I asked if they could move me to a better room because it was simply unacceptable, not to mention that the location I was placed (the far end of the resort) was not safe for me traveling alone. This resort is not gated and the hike from the restaurants and front desk area is the equivalent of walking in the forest at night. The woman explained that the property was sold out and no other rooms were available. I could tell it was a quick knee jerking, I’m too busy for this, reaction. At this point I realized that I had a few choices, grin and bear it, call a family member to come get me, or make a big stink. I had to calm down and strategize.
After a few minutes, I received a call from the front desk that they would “upgrade” me to a better room. There wouldn’t be a plunge pool but the terrace is larger and it would be closer to the front desk area. Upgrade? Yes!! Now I’m excited..
While waiting for my new “upgraded” room to be prepared, I took the opportunity to check out the main restaurant, The Sugar Club. They were about 30 minutes away from shutting down lunch so I ordered some appetizers and a rum punch. Nothing fancy.. Decent food.
Now time for the big reveal, my long awaited, upgraded, spacious room with an unripped robe, slippers, a desk. Well.. Let’s just say it was the exact same room just a different number and location. The plunge pool was gone and there was a slightly larger terrace. At this point I was ready to catch the next flight out.
Oh wait.. this lovely robe awaits you on the bed… enticing huh? *looks for airline number*
For the next 3 days I tried to make the best of it. The food was mediocre, the mosquitoes were plentiful, and the pool that looks so enticing in photos wasn’t much larger than the pool in my condominium complex. My best day was spent away from the resort sightseeing with family.
The Spa/Fitness Center
I must give some credit the Aveda spa. With my package each guest would get a spa treatment of their choice. I chose a body scrub and a manicure. The body scrub was excellent however the manicure (done by the same person who did the body scrub) was like I was her first manicure ever. Sigh. 50/50 on the spa experience.
Sugar Ridge redeemed itself with me with the top notch fitness center. If I could have I would have spent most of my time in there working out. But alas, it was supposed to be a resting vacation so that was out.
Bottom line: Don’t fall for this one.. There are a few other resorts on the island suggested by friends and family. The prices are way off for what you actually get. I’ve been had. 😦