The south coast of Antigua is less developed than other parts of the island. Antigua is the hub for the eastern Caribbean and the largest of the Leeward Islands. In this former British colony there are 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Bathed by the Caribbean, the rugged coastline gives way to hidden bays with beautiful coral reefs in the distance, an ideal place for water sports and a little scuba diving.
→ 1. British Colonial Shutters. → 2. Pool. → 3. Snorkelling at Carlisle Bay. → 4. Bird Watching Mangrove.
You enter the hotel through a torch lit bridge over a lily pond into the double height lobby area and pavilion dressed with bespoke contemporary dark wood furniture and black and white photographs of local flora, specially commissioned by the hotel and photographed by Jason Taylor, a motif carried throughout the property. London based interior designer Mary Fox Linton’s use of pickled gray shades and cotton, linen and silk features allow the surrounding landscape to be the focal point of the design. Relaxed and muted, it gives you a feeling of contemporary elegance away from the more colorful feel of the rest of the island. It is an oasis of tranquility in the middle of paradise. The surrounding gardens, landscaped by James Holderness, also based in London, lead you to a mangrove that extends behind the hotel, known as the Old Road Fish Ponds, where you can take a kayak and enjoy the numerous birds that make this place home.
But before you start enjoying nature, get settled. You can choose any of the 82 luxury suites, each irresistibly spacious with breathtaking ocean views. Each balcony and terrace has a daybed from where to take the gentle breeze and amazing views. The rooms are uncluttered and refined; dark wood, luxurious silks and white Frette bed linens is all it takes to make you feel welcome and relaxed. The suites range from family friendly Beach Suites to Ocean Suites, a favorite with couples, to the larger 3-bedroom Carlisle suites more suitable for families.
→ 1. Ocean Suite. → 2. Daybed Terrace. → 3. Terrace. → 4. View from Suite. → 5. Suite Balcony.
The hotel has three fabulous restaurants: Indigo, East and Ottimo. Indigo is relaxed and offers healthy grills, barbecues, seafood and salads. East, like the name implies, serves pan-Asian food with touches of Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine in a fantastic contemporary setting. Its kitchen boasts a new ceramic tandoor oven that dishes out healthy Tandori wraps, Punjabi prawns and Ayam panggang, as well as homemade naan breads. For a light lunch with an Italian flair, try Ottimo, their newest poolside eatery. There are also three bars at the hotel: Indigo on the Beach, the Pavilion Bar with piano and jazz every evening, and the informal Jetty Bar with fantastic views of the beach.
→ 1. Carved Indonesian doors East Restaurant. → 2. East Restaurant.
You can enjoy plenty of water activities without going far. Boat charters, scuba, deep sea fishing, kite-surfing, windsurfing, water skiing, snorkeling and kayaking, catamaran cruises and swimming with stingrays are the most popular. But there are wonders inland! Eco adventure tours, off road quad biking, hill walking, golf as well as a variety of local festivals and day trips to other islands are favorites with tourists who want more than sun and surf.
→ 1. Blue Spa Relaxation Room. → 2. Blue Spa Treatment Room. → 3. Relaxation Area. → 4. Yoga Pavilion.
Beyond the hills that surround Carlisle Bay, you can venture to see the rest of the island. The Rainforest Canopy Tour brings you a bird’s eye view of the flora and fauna through a series of zip lines and suspension bridges. The hotel is 20 minutes away from English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua’s evocative historic district, with a myriad of interesting restaurants and local shops. It was originally developed by Nelson as a base for the British Navy in the 18th century. The colonial buildings have been restored, and today it is the only Georgian dockyard in the world. Also close by is the Indian Town National Park, which is worth visiting on high tide, when the rougher waves force huge geysers through borehole in the rocks. But do not leave Antigua without a romantic moonlight sail around the enchanting beaches at dusk. And when you think you have gotten to know the entire island, schedule a helicopter tour to nearby Montserrat, where you can get up close to its active volcano and see the charred remains of its now deserted capital city.
If all this activity has gotten you tired, take time for afternoon tea, served daily between 4 and 5:30 in the evening or indulge at the Blue Spa with Natura Bisse treatments, yoga, sauna, plunge pools, gym and nine tennis courts amid the lush tropical foliage.
Antigua is a tiny island full of character. A few days are all you need to return and face the rigors of everyday life. The currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD), but US currency, travelers cheques and most major credit cards are accepted everywhere. ■