Fabulous at Fifty: Romance in Anguilla
By Melanie Reffes
For a small island measuring just sixteen miles long and three miles wide, Anguilla packs a big punch with the romance crowd. Across the sea from St. Martin, the eel-shaped isle coveted for the lack of cruise ships, casinos and throngs of tourists is home to a slew of seaside resorts that ooze romance around every palm tree.
This year, Anguilla celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the People’s Revolution of 1967 that marked the succession from St Kitts and Nevis. Fabulous at fifty , celebrations continue through April with deals at resorts, hotels and restaurants and the wildly popular Summer Festival that starts on August 2 and runs through August 13 with boat races, calypso competitions, soca shows, food vendors and a beach party where thousands get groovy until the sun comes up. https://ivisitanguilla.com
Nothing says romance sweeter than a stay in a beachfront suite at The Reef where summer rates start at $750.00 and include breakfast made healthy with the herbs and vegetables from the hydroponic garden at the next-door sister property CuisinArt Resort. “The romance-seeker will find all the bells and whistles they desire at our five-star experience,” said Stephane Zaharia, general manager, “we are delighted to host weddings which are simply spectacular on our beach and honeymooning couples who adore our spacious suites and villas.” www.thereefbycuisinart.com.
At the next door CuisinArt Resort and Spa, weddings are divine with packages called ‘Jasmine’ that comes with a professional photographer; five-course dinner served by a private waiter, bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Couples booking the ‘Bougainvillea’ package enjoy pampering at the Venus Spa, guitarist serenading the ceremony and a seaside dinner pour deux. www.cuisinartresort.com/
For $2,000 a night, couples live like royalty in the seven-bedroom, six-bathroom 7,000 square foot yacht-shaped Villa Paradise. Fronting a reef sublime for snorkeling, the villa comes with a boat, oceanfront Jacuzzi and gigantic infinity-edge pool that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Ideal for honeymooners, the master bedroom is grand with an en suite marble bath and palatial private terrace. www.rickettsluxury.com
Upping the ante, $250,000 (yes, that’s a quarter of a million dollars) buys five days and a lot of extras in the Blue Diamond Villa; the newest of three Altamer villas. A super villa designed by architect Myron Gold finger whose work has been exhibited in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the 13,000-square foot five-bedroom villa is the newest of three Altamer villas; all striking with a geometric, stark-white exterior. Designed to look like a flower, creature comforts include meditation and massage rooms and a big outdoor tub. Romantic extras include yacht sails to St. Barths, breakfast in bed and cooking lessons with the chef. www.altamer.com
For All Seasons
The 181 rooms, suites and villas at the only resort that fronts two beaches, Four Seasons Anguilla is the pinnacle of contemporary chic with Italian marble floors, living room tables crafted from petrified wood and hurricane-resistant glass windows and sliding doors that open to expansive balconies. Bathrooms are epic with lighting that casts a relaxing glow, soaking tubs surrounded by smooth stones, huge glass-enclosed showers with rain-head faucets and Neil George amenities (Victoria Beckham is a fan of the shampoo). Lamps made from driftwood, espresso machines, wildly comfortable four-poster king beds, bedside digital audio docking stations and a geometric design on the balconies that ensures privacy are the brand signatures and a big draw with newlyweds.
At the corner of Barnes and Meads Bays, Sunset Lounge is as much about ambience as it is about heady spirits and artsy Asian snacks created by Chef Jomar Timpug. Open-air with views running from one end of the beach to the other, the hipster bar with the South Beach vibe is the heartbeat of the hotel at the foot of the adults-only saltwater infinity pool. With seats at the bar or in the lounge that looks like a seaside living room, cocktails are liquid works of art that marry well with an outrageous selection of fabulous sushi and sashimi and an impossible-to-decide menu of nibbles like salmon poke with Korean pears. The Lounge stays open late for a Cuban cigar, shot of aged rum and glass of fine champagne. Go the distance with the ‘Stay Longer – Fifth Night Free ‘package valid through the end of August. www.fourseasons.com/anguilla
Stunner by the Sea
Recently acquired by the luxury Belmond Group that also owns the swishy La Samanna in nearby St. Martin and Maroma Resort & Spa in Mexico, Cap Juluca is celebrating Anguilla’s golden anniversary in style with a value-added fifth night gratis during the summer and the Suite Salute to Anguilla package packed with a host of romantic extras. “I am thrilled to announce the addition of the legendary Cap Juluca to Belmond; our third http://humanrightsfilmnetwork.org/accutane hotel in the Caribbean builds upon our heritage of creating exceptional travel experiences in extraordinary locations,” said Roeland Vos, CEO, Belmond Group. Twenty-five new villas and suites will open by the end of next year. The stunner on Maundays Bay is striking with Greco-Moorish architecture in suites and villas that front a pair of crescent-shaped coves. Sweetening the pot, the resort invites with four restaurants and bars, saltwater pool, water sports, sorbet served on the beach, tennis courts, fitness center and aromatic gardens perfect for a wedding. www.capjuluca.com
Many of the hotels, villas and resorts will organize weddings, receptions and honeymoon stays. For couples looking for a personalized grand event, Blue Sea offers a variety of packages to suit every budget. Extra assistance is offered from getting the wedding license and booking a limo from the courthouse to taking care of the fees and paperwork. www.blueseaanguilla.com
For couples looking to tie the knot in a religious ceremony, St. Gerard’s Roman Catholic Church is one of many historic churches that dot the island. There are also Pentecostal and Jehovah’s Witnesses churches and a Mosque. For couples marrying in the Jewish faith, there is one synagogue in St. Maarten across the sea from Anguilla.
On a typical sunny day which is virtually every day, Merrywing Bay is the capital of calm unless Sports Illustrated is there photographing the 2017 swimsuit issue at The Reef; the only resort on the out-of-the-way beach. Not to be confused with Upper Shoal Bay or Shoal Bay West, Shoal Bay East is the busiest beach on the island. Day trippers from St. Maarten park their towels on the beach and rum-philes head to Uncle Ernie’s for the rummiest punch on the strip. Surfers make a beeline to Meads Bay where you’ll find a sprinkling of restaurants and small hotels.
On the south coast, Rendezvous Bay is where you’ll find Dune Preserve presided over by reggae legend Bankie Banx and CuisinArt Golf Resort where non-guests are welcome to stop by for sips and snacks. Also on the beach bagger’s bucket list, Maundays Bay never gets crowded apart from the luxury bunkers at Cap Juluca where staff delivers sorbet to the savvy on the sand.
A true original, Anguilla’s Jammin’ is the catchy name for a line jams created with love in a splash of flavours like Kool Kiwi and Passion Fruity. Made from fruits and vegetables grown in the islands first aquaponics garden, the jams are deliciously environmentally-correct. “Working in tune with one another, the fish in our big tank provide the nutrients for the plants and the plants clean the water to return back to the fish,” explains Tommy Nutting who opened the business with his wife Molly two years ago. Lovely as gifts for wedding party out-of-towners, artsy tags on the petite jars can be customized with the name of the bride and groom. www.anguillasjammin.com
Eco-astute on Meads Bay, Blanchards Beach Shack is the little sister to the upscale Blanchards Restaurant owned by Bob and Melinda Blanchard, Vermonters who moved to the island in 1994. With cups and cutlery made from corn, not plastic, the seafront restaurant is popular for fish tacos, frozen mojitos and happy wedding parties on the sand. https://blanchardsrestaurant.com
For a big buttery lobster, hop the free ferry to Scilly Cay www.scillycayanguilla.com or the fast boat to Sandy Island where you’ll find lobsters keeping company with Drunken Shrimp smothered in rum and coconut cream. www.mysandyisland.com. For a toes-in-the-sand vibe, The Sunshine Shack is where Garvey Lake dishes up standouts like barbecued ribs and broiled snapper.
Opening on November 1, Quintessence is simply stunning in eight suites. A grand mansion on a scenic hill, the boutique hotel is the only hotel on the island with a live-in butler. “If our guests are hungry at midnight, our butler will whip up a gourmet snack in our kitchen,” smiles Marcia Holas, assistant general manager, “our butler also unpacks luggage, organizes tours and just about anything else a couple may desire.” Ritzy from top to bottom, beds are furnished with Hastens mattresses from Norway which go for a cool $22,000 each, premium rums and vodkas at the Polo Lounge and the spectacular gardens are picture-perfect for a wedding with up to seventy guests. www.qhotelanguilla.com/
The easiest way to get to Anguilla is via a flight to St. Maarten and a fast boat to Anguilla. American Airlines, United and Jet Blue fly to Princess Julianna International Airport in St. Maarten. Sea shuttles from the pier across the street from the airport make the trip to Anguilla in twenty minutes. www.gbferries.com or www.funtime-charters.com. From French St. Martin, the public ferry sails to Anguilla every 45 minutes for $20.00 per person