ANTIGUA

Anything about particular resort, hotels, equipment, sailing conditions, & other experiences.

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dro
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ANTIGUA

Post by dro » Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:35

Well Graham how did it go ?
What do you mean not ENOUGH wind ?

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Post by Graham_U » Thu Dec 11, 2008 23:24

As Huw and some of you know we have just returned from 2 weeks at Sunsails Club Colonna in Antigua. I'm left with mixed to be honest feelings. If I'd have paid the list price of £1600 I would not have been very happy. It worked out expensive for extras as everything was priced for the Caribbean and assuming the 2-1 $ to £ exchange rate(and still quoting) from the start of the year, not the 1.4 we got.

This was our first Sunsail holiday and it was annoying that almost everything was extra. But for what we paid £899 each for 2 weeks HB of warm 25-28 Degree C temp then it was good value, and in general I was happy with the holiday and it was a good well needed break. I could well be tempted to go back again at this time of year if I get a similar deal.

I felt in general the staff were friendly but didn't think they needed to try that hard as they were at the Star location. Whilst the bike guy was nice and helpful, but the bikes were in the worst state of anywhere I've been to, and the rides limited.

It was the same with many of the boards, and as usual there were never enough of the right size sails or favourite boards when the wind was good, not helped by the staff also using them to play! They were far too quick to close the beach and I had an argument with one guy who forced me in when it was just starting to blow at 4-35 one day when the beach was supposed to close at 5!

It was my first real experience of the lack of power of low pressure wind. It was frustrating at times that in winds where at home I'd be on a 5-6M sail, I struggled to get going on 7 or 8. But I think there were only a couple of days I didn't get at least one plane, although normally on 7-8M, they reckon it was F4 almost every day. But the smallest sale I used in the 2 weeks was a 6M! We probably had about 4 days when you didn't have to work to get going.

Its an open sailing area with plenty of chop/swell/waves which certainly took some getting used to. Launching was through a small the harbour was a bit of a pain, with all the coming and going of boats for a large site in a very small area which was also the only flat water.

They've got a reasonable range of boards but for my level too many of the boards were ruined as they had the straps in really difficult/advance positions. I actually used a Go 129 most of the first week as a wide board in marginal winds as I found one with straps in the right place for me and the conditions.

I finally got confidence to try the Kombat wave boards which were so much better in the chop/waves than the Curve, Futura or Go I had used previously. I even tried the Kombat 97L, my first sub 100L board. I liked it so much that I've ordered one I found cheapish on the net since I got back, but god knows when I will have the confidence to sail it here!

I also took out the iSonic 133L a couple of times. This is a short/wide speed board that goes like sh** off a shovel in much lighter winds, but scared the hell out of me. It was so quick to take off but with the chop it was like a fast and dangerous version of my old baby Techno on steroids! You could get thrown by catching a wave very quickly which was not a good prospect given how fast it was. You need to get into the straps as soon as it gets going, but they were set in the most advance position and I really struggled to get in. This is not a board to be planing with unless you are in the straps.

A warning for anyone considering this is that whilst the flights offered reason service they were like Creches with screaming kids! But the worst thing was the return journey. For some reason this week they decided we had to check-in at the airport, not at the hotel as they had done for years! So we were sent in the taxi and dumped with no help or idea of what to do. The ThomsonFly flight was not listed anywhere, there was no info or officials, and there were no Sunsail agents at the airport. People were joining every queue going and eventually we found out from BA that the check in was at the BMI place, no signs and it took hours in the queue as every thing was hand written. Which was a bad ending to what was otherwise a reasonable holiday
Graham

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Post by Val » Sat Dec 13, 2008 23:57

From the non windsurfing point of view (and talking to various other visitors) ....

Sunsail made a big thing out of the fact they were 'refurbishing' Club Colonna when they closed for the summer earlier this year. In fact they've done very little (apart from slap some paint around apparently) and one regular visitor there that we talked to was of the opinion that they are no longer seeing it as an important all year round resort. Having said that, there's nothing basically wrong with the place (how much time do you ever spend in your room in these places?).

We did learn from one couple that they had chosen the resort specifically for the childcare as Sunsail provide full day care for under 5s (Mark Warner now only provide half day) which may be the reason why there were so many small kids around while we were there. (And, in all probability, likely to be more in future.)

Graham's already mentioned the prices and there was a constant 'sell sell sell' of extras such as 1 to 1 tuition / spa treatments etc etc which definately got a bit wearing after a few days. (And when they're not selling as much as they'd like they start special promotions which they promote twice as much!) This was attributed by regulars to the merger of First Choice with Thomson and the Thomson attitude to charging for anything and everything.

I didn't like the bikes much. (I won't repeat on here what Graham actually said about the state of them - there might be youngsters about.) Suffice to say that I went on a beginner ride on the first day and a couple of people had problems with chains. When Graham took me into St Johns I had real trouble trying to change gears (I had to take my hand off the handlebar and push the lever right round to get it to work - and ended up with my chain coming off twice although part of the problem could have been that the dial had been smashed so it wasn't obvious - and I couldn't always remember - what gear I was actually in).

The worst thing - from my point of view - about the entire holiday was the safety aspect. Generally I'm not too worried about Graham disappearing off on a windsurfer on holiday as there are safety boats and look outs soif he gets into trouble someone will get him back. NEVER - EVER have I seen so many safety boats be towed back to the beach with engine trouble (by the second boat so there's no cover out on the water). At a couple of points during the fortnight, the Logic boat trips were being cancelled as they needed to use the boats for safety cover. If there had been a decent look out, I wouldn't have worried so much, but all too often the look out was chatting to other people and I lost count of the number of times I looked up and saw the look out looking up towards the beach rather than out to sea. Again, this was something that was discussed with others at the dinner table and it was agreed that there was a lack of management of the beach staff. Funnily enough - everything picked up during the second week when the RYA inspector was about!

For anyone who wants a family holiday (and have young kids) this is probably an ideal location for a winter break. Kids get full board (adults are half board) and most of them seemed to have a great time. There's plenty going on for adults as long as you don't expect top grade equipment - but you do need an iron will to resist al those extras and a notebook (or something electronic) to keep tabs on your spending - Yes I did have to go back to Reception to query the bill on the last night after we were charged full price for happy hour drinks - but the problem was sorted with a friendly smile so I've no complaints.

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Post by dro » Mon Dec 15, 2008 08:50

clearly the merger has changed attitudes
we also noticed the sell sell attitude in Phokia in September
glad you enjoyed yourselves though

Do not worry about the safety cover Val just hug his insurance policy tight

Merry Xmas


Huw
What do you mean not ENOUGH wind ?

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