Tour Managers Reviews
England Tour of the West Indies 2023
Why not read our customer testimonials, or check out the packages we offered for the West Indies 2023 tour…
Nick & Carole Joyce
Commencing the England and Not Out tours to the Caribbean, our stay at the Pineapple Beach resort in Antigua set the perfect tone for relaxation. The hotel, nestled on a fabulous beach, offered an equally welcoming atmosphere, and the management and staff were incredibly accommodating. Once our entire group was settled in, we gathered for a delightful meal, bridging old acquaintances with new faces.
Antigua’s compact size made it easy to explore. Whether hiring a car or opting for a taxi ride to English Harbour, Shirley Heights, or St John’s, we also had the convenience of using the sister hotel next door.
With only two ODIs in this leg, we were eager for exciting matches. The Viv Richards stadium, unique and lively, served the best BBQ’d lobster. We had excellent seats with a view, and the temptation to stroll around the entire ground and enjoy the hospitality was irresistible. The first ODI had us enthralled, but with a West Indian side that loves chasing, some in our group felt 325 might be short. They were right, thanks to Shay Hope’s unbeaten 109.
The second ODI, a day/night match, heightened the Caribbean party feel, and England, needing to chase only 202, returned to form. No nail-biting finish, but we made it back to the hotel in time for dinner.
While some returned to the UK, others continued to Barbados, with the series poised at 1-1 for the decider and T20s.
We all left with a desire to return to this wonderful place.
An early start on Nov 28 found me at Grantham Station at 0600 hrs, waiting for the train to London en route to Heathrow. Accompanied by Michelle, my wife—albeit on her way to work—I was headed to Antigua…
At Heathrow, the Caribbean way of life unfolded as I joined a slow-moving queue to drop off baggage. The flight, enjoyable, had me seated next to one of our customers, Ken. We exchanged tour stories, passing the time nicely.
Nick welcomed us at the airport, a relief after passport control and customs. A swift journey took us to the Verandah Hotel. I reacquainted myself with the recently renovated hotel—an enjoyable experience. Our rooms offered stunning views of the ocean, and the evenings serenaded us with the symphony of wildlife.
The next days were a mix of exploration—Devils Point and Pineapple Beach—lounging by the pool, and welcoming the remaining 8 customers to the Verandah. With temperatures up to 30 degrees and a pleasant breeze, we made the most of on-site activities, beach and pool lounging, and exploring the beautiful island. Evenings were spent socializing in the bar before dinner, sharing tour stories and hearing about the day’s activities. As a side activity, we played spot the West Indies players. The first ODI, a breathtaking last hour, set the series for a thrilling day/nighter a few days later.
The second ODI lived up to expectations, with the day/night format adding to the atmosphere. England dominated, but the local carnival atmosphere continued, complete with BBQ scents and constant musical accompaniment. At 1-1, the stage was set for a series decider in Barbados. Most of our happy customers packed their cases, continuing to support England. A few of us packed for the trip back to a cold UK.
Thank you, Antigua, The Verandah and Not Out Travel for creating more Caribbean memories. We will see you again soon.
Antigua & Grenada
Sadly, my first stint as a Not Out Travel Tour manager has come to an end! I was thrilled to be asked by Charlie to work for Not Out in Antigua and Grenada this year, as the Caribbean is one of my all-time favorite cricket destinations.
Arriving in Antigua a few days before the main group, I was excited to be back at Jolly Beach which had reopened after a Covid shutdown. The Irish General Manager did an excellent job of keeping everything on track, the beach was as stunning as I remembered, and it was wonderful to see familiar faces from previous cricket tours and meet new Not Out customers.
All the Jolly Beach crowd were seasoned West Indies cricket tour veterans, making my job an absolute pleasure, and we all got along famously. Although we lost the first ODI, it was a fantastic game, watching Shai Hope and Romario Shepherd give a great performance. The second match saw us back to winning ways with a brilliant performance and a great atmosphere at the Viv Richards stadium, with wonderful Antiguan food and drinks, including the amazing grilled lobster stalls. Besides cricket, a few of us had a trip to the stunning English Harbour and a fantastic day out on a ‘Circumnavigation of the Island’ catamaran trip, as well as great evenings dining together and enjoying the Jolly Beach all-inclusive Long Bar.
Soon it was time to move on to the next island. After bidding farewell to the group heading to Barbados, I went off to Grenada to welcome new arrivals and await those coming from Barbados.
The Royalton Grenada is a wonderful hotel, completely upgraded since my last stint when it was still the ‘Rex Grenadian.’ What a transformation! With both teams, match officials, commentators, and celebrities staying at the hotel, we were surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere. The National Cricket stadium was as lively as ever, with fantastic Grenadian entertainers. The last-minute England win in the third T20 game was the cherry on top. The short stay in Grenada was soon over, and I said goodbye to 22 “Not Outers” who went off to Trinidad and others who went back to the cold to prepare for Christmas.
I had a fantastic time with all the Not Out Travel tourists and miss them already! Thanks to all of you who made the trip to the Windies with us, I hope you all took home happy memories and I look forward to seeing you all on another Not Out Travel cricket tour soon!
Barbados & Trinidad
I arrived in Barbados in early December, following England’s loss in the first ODI in Antigua with a very impressive run chase by West Indies, helped by some very average bowling in the final overs by our team! My group stayed at the Coconut Court Beach, featuring the aptly named “Captain Charlie’s” beach bar with plenty of happy hours! Back in Antigua, England won the second ODI by six wickets with 17 overs to spare, setting the stage for the decider in Barbados in a few days. Early arrivals in Barbados were soon joined by the Antigua group with many familiar faces.
Friday was party night and horse racing, featuring Ostin’s Fish Fry with Mahi fish, perhaps with some macaroni cheese hidden underneath, plus live entertainment. Within easy walking distance of our hotel was The Garrison Savannah, home to the Barbados Turf Club. It was the final meet of the season, and many in our group enjoyed the evening with the locals (sore heads all around in the morning).
The final match of the ODI series was rain-affected, and the 21-year-old Barbadian Forde delighted the home supporters with 3 for 29 as England was restricted to 206 for nine off 40 overs at the Kensington Oval. West Indies, stuttering at 135 for six in pursuit of a revised target of 188 off 34 overs, saw the tailenders stand of 56, taking the Caribbean team to their first ODI series triumph over England in 16 years.
Everyone then had three days to enjoy all the fun of Barbados sightseeing, Reggae Buses, Beaches, etc. Midway through that, we had the farewell dinner, a BBQ at the Barbados Yacht Club. Our guest that evening was cricket legend Sir Gordon Greenidge from Barbados, a most destructive opening batsman playing test, ODI, and country cricket for Hampshire spanning over 17 years. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.
The locals were out in force for the first T20 after West Indies’ ODI series victory. Andre Russell’s first outing since 2021 earned him a well-deserved man-of-the-match performance as they successfully chased down 172 to win by four wickets. It was goodbye to some of my group leaving to go back home; the others were off to Grenada on a private charter, but that’s another story for our tour managers to continue with.
We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain, a hilltop location with views of the Queen’s Park Savannah. It was an upside-down hotel, which was interesting. Two T20s in three days left little time to explore; however, some of the group embarked on island tours, while others took Nanan’s Caroni Bird Sanctuary Tours (swamp tour).
We were two-one down after Grenada in the T20 series. England produced their highest-ever total in men’s T20 Internationals to set up a 75-run win over West Indies and level the five-match series at 2-2 with one to play.
Our farewell dinner in Trinidad was held at the Hilton Hotel’s outside terrace with stunning views over the city. Our guest was Roland Butcher, the first black player to represent England, also playing for Middlesex and now a West Indies selector; his wealth of cricket knowledge was immense. It was a memorable evening.
It was the final T20; England, defending a measly 132 all-out, bowled brilliantly at the death to raise the tension. Finally, West Indies held their nerve to win the match and the series 3-2.
Finally, it was goodbye to our guests heading home for Christmas; the cricket results were disappointing, but the Caribbean never disappoints, and it was always a pleasure to share these experiences with our regular and new tourists.
As a first-time traveller to the West Indies, my most cherished memories include the warm smiles, vibrant music, the jewel-like colours of the sea, the lively reggae buses, refreshing rum punches, and the fun-loving spirit of Barbados. These experiences were beautifully encapsulated by the roaming brass Calypso band that filled the stands of the Kensington Oval stadium with goodwill and lively tunes during the 3rd ODI and 1st T20 matches we attended.
Accompanying the Hilton contingent of Not Out Travel tourists, Des Newton and I, with the assistance of our on-the-ground team in Bridgetown, experienced the excitement of the matches. Rain delayed the ODI, and despite Ben Duckett’s defiant stand against superb bowling from debutant West Indies seamer Matthew Forde, the West Indies won with 14 balls to spare. Away from the cricket, there were numerous activities to enjoy, including the pools, sea, bars, and sun loungers at the hotels.
Some of us attended the races at the Garrison Savannah, where the atmosphere was special, with horses stabled and trained at the course. The quick-fire Barbadian commentary, interviews with local luminaries, tasty street food, and the lively brass band kept us entertained. A few of us had the unique experience of getting up close with the horses, as they were taken for a swim in the sea on Sundays.
Amidst the hustle and bustle, Oistins offered culinary delights, and James and I found the food consistently delicious, accompanied by excellent service. Additional trips included a catamaran ride along the west coast, with snorkelling opportunities and refreshing rum punches.
In the first T20, England started strong but faced a slowdown, ultimately falling short as the West Indies, led by Andre Russell and Rovman Powell, surpassed the target with 11 balls to spare. Our farewell to Barbados was a delightful evening at the Yacht Club, featuring drinks on the beach, a lavish buffet, and an insightful interview and Q&A session with cricket legend Gordon Greenidge.
As we departed for home and others headed to Grenada, we felt rejuvenated by the sun, sea, and the easy pace of Barbadian life. We formed bonds with wonderful fellow tourists and created lasting memories in the restaurants and bars. I am looking forward to reconnecting with familiar faces and making new friends in India!