Antigua (Pronounced An-tee-ga by the locals), is a beautiful island in the Caribbean. I had the opportunity to travel there recently and fell in love with the destination. I definately look forward to going back.
I stayed 4 night at The Verandah Resort and visited 13 additional properties while there. The Verandah is a great property. Is is spread out on a peninsula with hilltop bungalows overlooking a small bay and the ocean. Although the property is spread out and seems large, there are only 200 rooms.
My favorite resort, though, is Hermitage Bay. A small resort with less than 50 rooms, and each room is your own private bungalow. There are standard, hilltop and hilltop with plunge pools. All bungalows are partial to full on oceanview. My recommendation is the hilltop plunge pool room.
My second favorite is actually a tie between The Inn at English Harbour and Carlisle Bay. Both small resorts on beautiful beaches with so much to offer. Carlisle Bay is compact and contemporary feeling while The Inn is a bit spread out on the beach and hillside and much more traditional.
Blue Waters and Galley Bay are also at the top of my list. Blue Waters is fantastic because of the 6 to 9 bedroom villas that an entire party can rent out or just book a room to have a villa feel. There are also standard hotel style rooms that are quite nice, too. Galley Bay’s standard rooms are quite unique. You have a private plunge pool in the courtyard and there is a building for your bedroom and a separate building for the bathroom. Of course, you have a private gate and fence surrounding your room, so nobody can see you walk from the bedroom to the bathroom.
The two hotels that surprised me most were Coconut Beach Club and Cocobay. Both small hotels and owned by the same person. Although the rooms at Coconut Beach are a bit gaudy, the room sizes, layout of the resort, and location are ideal. Cocobay has small individual bungalows, some with plunge pools, has a great view and is out of the way.
A must, is an excursion on a sailboat. That is if you are a boat lover. The small sailboat was fun and interesting. I chose to just sit on deck and watch the world pass by. Eventhough I did that, people do have the option of actually helping the crew sail. The OnDeck sailing crew was outstanding.
Another excursion was the Barbecue at Shirley Point. It is a historical hilltop fortress built by the British to protect the island from the French. The owner of the property decided to hold a local, weekly Sunday barbecue, some 30 years ago. He eventually opened it up to the public and started inviting big name local bands. The barbecue is definitely not for those of you who do not like crowds. If you do decide to go, go early.
I had so much fun in Antigua. I saw hotels for every budget and personality, for couples and for families. Nevermind the long flight to the destination, it is worth the stay.
Philip and Cathi were honored to be a part of the Gold and Above 500 Club Trip November 7-11 at El Dorado Casitas Royale. Attending the trip were 28 of the highest producing travel agencies in the country.
One focus on this trip was the experiences available in the Riviera Maya and Cancun. In the past we have so focused on the resort experience and knowing the resorts that we have passed right on by the amazing off resort experiences that are available in the destination.
Cathi enjoyed a day at Selvatica where she zip-lined through the jungle, then boarded a jeep and went to a cenote in the jungle and swam in the cold water. They even have a cenote where you can take a Segway to the cenote to swim.
After the cenote, the group was transported to Rio Secreto where we put on wetsuits and explored underground caves. Simply amazing. There were lights on the helmets, but when the lights were turned off it was the darkest dark you can imagine.
At the same time, Philip went to Xcaret to swim with the dolphins. He reports that the dolphins were “cute”. In groups of 5 or 6 they went onto the submerged platform and first they brought them out one by one and had the dolphin interact. The dolphins allowed them to pet them, then they danced, then they jumped over their heads. The grand finale was a foot push where the dolphins took each participant and pushed their feet until the swimmer was sailing above the water.
One night we all ate at John Grey’s Place in Playa del Carmen. We had a tasting menu with so many courses I lost count. No one could tell how much wine they’d consumed because you never got to the end of a glass. It was just filled up over and over again.
The El Dorado Royale was fabulous, as always. We were in a casita. We used our jacuzzi all but one day and Philip slept out on the bed on the balcony so he could hear the ocean.
Philip and I each got a “four hands massage”. There are not words to describe the wonderfulness. No.Words.
That pretty much sums up the trip. Wonderfulness!