Nici travels to Anguilla


Oh, where to begin…..? Anguilla really is picture postcard Caribbean perfection. This British overseas territory with just 14,000 residents is only 16 miles long by 3 miles wide but it has so much to offer from turquoise seas & white sugar sands to fine dining at a variety of beachfront restaurants.

Our journey began with a direct flight to Antigua on BA followed by a short hop on Trans Anguilla Airlines across to Clayton J Lloyd “International” airport. Now if there is a smaller “international” airport, I’m yet to see it and I’ve seen a few! The island is also accessible by flying into neighbouring St Maarten and then taking a short 20 minute ferry ride.

Within 30 minutes of arrival (including clearing customs) we were driving through the welcoming gates of Malliouhana, one of the first hotels built on the island and now part of the Auberge Resorts portfolio. After a refreshing rum punch (the first of many) it was time to check into our rooms before heading down to dinner at Café Celeste for a sumptuous tapas inspired tasting menu. This set the standard for the cuisine for the rest of the trip which was without exception, absolutely delicious!

The next morning, after a tour of Malliouhana including the new 2 bedroom villa that is being built overlooking Turtle Bay Beach (one of the hotel’s 3 beaches) we headed out to explore the property next door. Quintessence is a Relais & Chateaux hotel with just 8 rooms. To call it “quirky” would be the understatement of the century as it reminded us of an art gallery with rooms. However, if you wanted something quite unique then this would be the one to look at.

Then it was time to head back to Malliouhana for a poolside lunch and I don’t know whether they got the numbers wrong or they just thought we looked hungry but the food just kept on coming and once again it was sublime. Luckily there was plenty of space to relax by the pool once we had eaten our fill (and shared the food with other guests around the pool!)

Soon enough it was time for more food (there seems to be a theme developing here!) and boy, did they go all out. Bobbins Cove was transformed into our own private outdoor restaurant, bar & dance floor. Ice cold champagne, freshly made ceviche and barbequed lobster were consumed, all to the background sound of a local band. It was going to take something to beat that evening.

However, the next morning it was back to work, first to visit Zemi Beach Hotel up in the North of the Island. Situated on beautiful Shoal Bay, this hotel has something for everyone including a Thai spa, Kids club and stunning beachside restaurant where you can eat your breakfast with your feet in the sand. It’s built on the hillside and the rooms to the rear don’t have the best views so it’s worth treating yourself to one of the beachfront rooms for the spectacular sea views.

From here we headed to the Four Seasons,which was as different from the other hotels as is humanly possible. Beautifully appointed but a little without the charm and uniqueness of the other hotels that we visited. That said the variety of different accommodation options and the facilities and services on offer still make it an excellent choice for the discerning guest. Lunchtime saw us with our feet in the sand again, this time at Blanchard’s Beach Shack where Jerk Chicken burgers were washed down with a cold lager. Not the fine dining that we had been experiencing in the hotels but fabulous none the less.

A new day dawned and boy, were we in for a treat as we transferred to the Belmond Cap Juluca, recently re-opened after a multi-multi million dollar refurb (which was sadly delayed due to Hurricane Irma). With every room looking out onto the stunning platinum beach and turquoise waters, here was a hotel that I wished I could have stayed longer at (I think 3 months would be just about right!)

After an afternoon exploring the property from the Cap Shack to the Arawak Spa it was time to head off to dinner (again……I’m not kidding when I tell you that in Anguilla it’s all about the beaches and the food). Tonight’s taste sensations were delivered by Straw Hat where Asian Caribbean fusion food meets an idyllic beachfront location. The Strawberry Daiquiris were about the best I’ve ever tasted but consumption had to be contained as the next day we were headed out to sea!

It’s no surprise that Anguilla is a haven for sailors with it’s calm waters and harbours but today’s jaunt took us around the island by speedboat to see the island from a different angle. After stopping off at Little Bay to snorkel with the turtles we headed to Sandy Island (the clue is in the name) where a pop-up restaurant exists, serving the freshest lobster possible whilst a steel band plays on the sand. It’s safe to say that beats your average lunchtime in Muswell Hill.

From the sea to the land and time to explore the rest of the island by mini-moke. We explored The Valley and the East End before stopping off for ice creams with the most imaginative flavours ever! Anyone for Twix, Egg Nog or Unicorn flavour ice cream? All too soon however, it was time to head home, all of us with smiles on our faces and a promise in our hearts that we would definitely return to this magical piece of Caribbean Paradise.

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