I decided that my review on Cocobay would be too long for a Tripadvisor review, so felt a full blog post would be the only way to do it justice.
Our first experience of this resort was in 2013 when my husband and I got married on the beach in what was, and still is, our perfect piece of paradise.
We loved it so much, we decided to return for our 10th anniversary, and we were not disappointed. The place has the same friendly, laid-back feel to it, whilst being both classy and exclusive. It’s blissfully quiet (no children), and whilst there are some luxuries, it maintains a perfect ‘rustic’ feel which we love.
We noticed a few changes which I will discuss later, but all were for the better.
First impressions count for a lot don’t they?
The first thing that hits you when you enter the reception area is the stunning view waiting to greet you through the open doors. I remember the first time I saw this in 2013, with the vibrant turquoise waters glistening in the bright sunshine which moved me to tears. I knew instantly that this was the perfect spot for our wedding/honeymoon.
The reception staff are like all the staff at Cocobay, warm and friendly and cannot do enough to make you feel welcome. The reception Staff will assist you with any extras you require, or perhaps booking a taxi during your stay. I often sat in the reception area, mainly because it’s a cool and calm area with great WIFI and a place to watch the comings and goings of the other guests.
In my opinion, there is nowhere that matches this resort for location. I have visited the Caribbean in the past and felt the beach and views could just as easily have been somewhere in the Mediterranean. Not Cocobay! It epitomises what you would expect of the Caribbean. Stunning turquoise seas and small white beaches with palm trees swaying and white edged waves lapping the shoreline.
The fact that the resort juts out on a peninsula means there are stunning views from every angle. Whether you sit on the balcony at the bar, dine in the restaurant, or lounge by one of the infinity pools, the views are simply stunning. There are photo opportunities everywhere you go within the resort!
It has to be said, I have NEVER experienced service and staff quite like Cocobay Resort. They are such happy and welcoming people who make you feel right at home. I would like to give a particular mention to those who remembered us from our first trip: Saskia, Mr Gore and Vincia. (Sorry, Mr Gore, I forgot to grab a photo!)
Mr Gore gave us many wise words and nuggets of wisdom to take away with us, and Vincia arranged for us to visit her church where we had our vows renewed! Also, Carina, who was new to the waitressing staff, gave us such great table service in her happy and vibrant manner. And lastly, Jermaine, who lights you up with his smile!
After ten years we noticed a few changes. The romance pool and the rocky pool (which you pay a surcharge for) are a new addition, where you can experience a romantic one-to-one floating breakfast or lunch. There is a choice of tapas, sushi, and other delights, but we did not feel the need to experience this. I prefer to be on dry ground when I eat my food!
There is a new coffee shop, which is a great addition, offering inclusive cappuccinos, lattes, and iced coffees. These can be drunk on the balcony or taken away in paper cups. Each day there is a selection of nibbles such as coconut cakes, pastries and homemade cookies. Here you will also find a few gifts and niknaks, plus suntan creams and pringles! Obviously to be paid for.
I would suggest you choose a takeaway if you like rum or another liqueur in your coffee; you can take it to the bar where the alcohol is all inclusive.
Another change is the cute swing chairs that surround the bar area both upstairs and down, and I was relieved that it took the weight of both me and my hubby. Yes, together!!
Now for the best change of all, not that there was anything wrong with the food before!
The restaurant used to offer a buffet at breakfast and lunch, but we were happy to discover it now offers a full a-la-carte menu for all three meals. The food has noticeably improved, and some meals were worthy of a Michelin star!
The system works well, telling the staff on arrival what time you want to return for lunch and/or dinner. You are greeted immediately on arrival and seated on one of the three levels of the restaurant, all with stunning views.
The service is phenomenal. As soon as you are seated, your water and choice of drink arrive prestissimo along with a choice of roll and different flavoured butters. No sooner have you read the menu than one of the friendly waiters arrive to take your order.
I couldn’t eat three courses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, although my husband gave it a damn good go! Each morning you have a choice of fruit, pastries, granolas etc. followed by a choice of cooked breakfast and a different ‘special’ each morning. This could be eggs Florentine, a breakfast wrap, or similar. The eggs were cooked to perfection!
Lunchtime consists of a fancy starter, a middle course of pasta or soup, and a main course. The pasta is worth mentioning; the cheese tortellini and seafood tagliatelle are to die for!
Evening meals were varied for the full two weeks that we stayed. Again, with a good choice of starters, a middle course of pasta or soup, and then a main course (a choice of three). You can pay a surcharge for a steak or other speciality dish which I do recommend trying.
Overall, the food was worthy of 5 stars, and the chef knows how to cook a perfect burger and a perfect steak!
You could book to dine down at the lower pool which was set up with tiki torches and candlelight. It was incredibly atmospheric and quite stunning with clear starry skies and beautiful moons.
We enjoyed the pizza evening and BBQ night, but sadly missed the paella night as it was our anniversary. The steel band gave it a great atmosphere too!
Final change – gymnasium
No comment, since I didn’t use it. Well, I was on holiday!!
There is a choice of two pools; the upper pool gets busier and is breezier than the lower pool. The staff periodically come and take drink orders and you can even order panini or bar snacks if you get too comfy to make it to the restaurant for lunch!
Our favourite was the lower pool, where you have a wonderful view of the beach and it’s only a minute’s walk to go and dip in the sea if you wish. There are four poster sunbeds here, a bar with poolside service and a great choice of cocktails, and, again, paninis.
Whichever pool you decide on, orange towels are picked up from reception and dumped in the towel bins when finished. You can collect a fresh towel as often as you need. I felt slightly chuffed that my choice of beach throw matched the towels!
Perfect Caribbean beach
The beach is beautiful – imagine Robinson Crusoe or some other idyllic desert island scene. There is an abundance of free sunbeds and straw parasols to give much needed protection from the sun’s rays. By the entrance to the beach are a couple of market stall sellers who are eager to grab your attention, but they leave you alone once you are settled on the beach – unlike the sand flies! These reach their peak in the afternoon and are damn annoying! However, it’s a small price to pay.
The sea is gorgeous, although having a mild disability, it was entertaining getting myself up the slight shelf that edges the entrance to the water. The sea is clear and warm and I don’t usually like swimming in the sea, but love it here.
There is a choice of trips on offer which we didn’t take advantage of this time, but if you want to snorkel around the reef, see the rest of the island, or try your hand at fishing, there is plenty on offer (all extras). We loved the Wadadli catamaran trip in 2013 which involved copious amounts of rum and a trip around the island.
This has to be one of my favourite things. There is the constant sweet sound of Caribbean birds around the entire resort, shortly replaced by tree frogs at night. It is quite magical!
Each morning I would sprinkle some sugar on our balcony and would be greeted with an array of tiny little birds who soon learnt to fly into our chalet and pinch the sugar from the refreshment basket! I felt like snow white, and caught some lovely photos. If you are phobic about birds, just don’t put the sugar out, or keep your doors shut!
In the afternoons when the sugar melted, lizards would come and lap up the remains. They weren’t like the dinosaur that my photo may suggest – probably only about 5 or 6 inches long.
Something new that we noticed this time, were the stray cats that hang around the restaurant hoping for some tidbits. My husband insisted we should not encourage them, but I confess I threw them the odd bit of chicken or fish under the table! Just be careful you don’t get too close, remember they are feral and probably flea ridden.
Something else we noticed was the meerkat-type creatures running around like cartoon characters. We were told they are mongoose, and whilst quite cute, they are a type of vermin, so I wouldn’t suggest stroking them. They are timid creatures, and unlike the cats, not interested in the guests.
The chalets were just as we remembered. We arrived to a beautifully decorated room with petals and beautifully arranged towels!
The rooms are rustic but very comfortable! I was delighted we had a super-king-sized bed, and even with my back injury I found it really comfortable.
The beds have a circular net, which is best to keep pulled around to prevent mosquitoes. However, I was impressed that the hotel provided a spraying service to keep on top of the pesky bloodsuckers.
We opted for the second grade of room, which meant we had a sea view, and we saw some spectacular sunsets. The sea isn’t as far as it seems in the pictures. Probably only a five-minute walk from our room. The ensuite was great, and the daily maid service faultless. Air conditioning is in all the rooms and much needed; it also helps to deter the mosquitoes.
Suggestions for improvement
I was asked during one of my conversations with a manager to point out any areas I felt could be improved upon, and I have had to really scrape the bottom of my brain cells to come up with anything. I would suggest the following.
Toilet at lower pool
Maybe I noticed this more on our second visit since I use a walking stick now, but having to go up to the coffee bar area to use one of the three toilets was quite annoying. A toilet down by the lower pool would be a great asset.
The coffee/gift shop
This would benefit from having a few practicalities to avoid guests paying for a taxi to go to Jolly Harbour or St Johns. I would suggest a few medical provisions – indigestion tablets, headache tablets, sanitary wear, blister plasters etc. Also, plugs for people who forget to bring an adapter would be useful. Finally, a better choice of T-shirts, especially with a Cocobay logo.
The coffee shop is a great asset. However, it closes at 3pm which I feel is too early!
We could have done with some drawers! The bedside tables don’t have drawers, and there is only one draw in the sideboard unit. Plenty of hanging space in the wardrobe though!
Everyone has individual expectations of a holiday. For some, a little bit of rain can put the dampeners on and ruin the entire experience. Let me add here, that there were short outbursts of rain, but these were quite refreshing and the sun was twice as hot afterwards!
Some people expect finesse and 24 hour pampering (there is a luxury spa for treatments), others expect to party into the late hours. This would not be the place for you! The bar closes at 10.30pm and we found ourselves exhausted from the sun so happy to go to bed between 9.00 and 10.00 pm!
(If you are after a great party night, I would suggest Shirley Heights on a Sunday evening!)
I would sum up by saying that Cocobay could be a five-star resort, but is, in fact, a four-star resort. It lives up to, and way beyond, the expectations of four stars (in my opinion). The location is stunning and it captures everything you could possibly need for a Caribbean dream holiday. It is a tidy, clean, well maintained resort which is managed and organised exceptionally well. It’s biggest strength, however, is the staff. We already miss them and cannot wait to return in the future.
Cheers, Cocobay! We will never go any place else in the Caribbean!