Antigua’s hotel inventory includes a property that had been around for more than 40 years, under four different names, before it became part of Sandals’ Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts brand in April 2008.
As Sandals CEO Adam Stewart said at the time, “The value-oriented market was the one market we had not tapped into, and it is a growing segment with huge potential. Guests will book Grand Pineapple for value, but they will return for the food, the welcome that the pineapple symbol has long represented and the vacation experience.”
The Grand Pineapple Beach Resort on Long Bay on Antigua’s northeast coast has evolved under its new moniker. It recently completed more than $1.5 million worth of renovations in 68 of its 180 rooms, with the remainder to follow in 2011, according to Courtney Miller, general manager. (The other Grand Pineapple resort is in Negril, Jamaica.)
Other plans at the Antigua property include the addition of a hot tub at the main pool and the launch of a West Indian/Caribbean menu at its Pineapple Grill dinner restaurant, one of three restaurants and four bars at the resort.
While Grand Pineapple’s primary draw is from the U.K., which contributes a high percentage of repeat guests, the resort is taking aim at the U.S. market with promotions, packages, agent fams and incentives geared to couples, singles, families, groups and the bridal segment.
The resort does three to four weddings a month and is hoping to ramp that number up, Miller said.
“This is an authentic, Caribbean-style hotel: cozy, intimate, colorful, beach-y and fun,” Miller said. “Our guests tell us that it’s the Caribbean experience at affordable rates.”
Lending credence to that Caribbean feel is one of Grand Pineapple’s restaurants. Perched on a bluff above the resort, the Outhouse is ramshackle and rustic, decorated with homemade signs crafted by guests. From noon to 4 p.m. daily, it serves barbecue chicken and ribs from recipes by longtime operator Miss Mary.
The rates at Grand Pineapple in Antigua range from 35% to 55% lower than the rates at the 13 Sandals and four Beaches in five Caribbean destinations and cover just about everything the other rates cover: meals, snacks, drinks, watersports and entertainment.
In-room Internet access is $14.99 for 24 hours, but complimentary WiFi is available in the reception area.
Rack rates begin at $398 per person, per night, double in a standard room from January through April, but a current promotion on three-night stays brings the price down to $160 per person, per night.
Bookings must be made by Dec. 9 (although that window could be extended) for travel to Dec. 22 and throughout 2011.
Grand Pineapple offers five room categories. The top two categories include the waterfront rooms and the beachfront rooms, which have been refurbished.
“We’ve got good bookings for the winter season, and Christmas is solid,” Miller said.
Santa, by the way, will arrive on Christmas Day on a donkey cart pulled by Pineapple Penny, the resort’s mascot.