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If you were asked to picture a luxurious holiday destination on a Caribbean island, I can imagine what you might conjure up: a beach front hotel, pure white sand and crystal clear blue sea against a tropical green backdrop, fine dining, beautiful décor, and service-with-a-smile. Well, welcome to Carlisle Bay, Antigua where they’ve got it all, and more.
Clearly not content with creating the beautiful One Aldwych hotel in London, Gordon Campbell Gray has turned his impeccable attention to the Caribbean and, more-than ably assisted by his interior design partner Mary Fox-Linton, they have created the picture of beach-side style, luxury and comfort.
Let’s start at the beginning. On arrival at V.C. Bird Airport, just outside the Antigua capital of St. John’s, we were met by our driver who transferred us to Carlisle Bay. I’m sure he didn’t stop smiling for the whole journey! After winding up a gravel driveway through lush tropical rain forest we had our first glimpse of paradise – a crescent of simply elegant architecture tracing the line of the inviting turquoise water that lapped onto the white beach. On entering reception another smiling face ushered us to a sofa and offered cooling towels and drinks as we signed-in and we were personally welcomed by the Manager before being shown to our rooms.
And what rooms! Opening onto the beach, they seem to have successfully embodied the spirit of the resort in their design: spacious, stylish and fresh, yet comfy and laid-back – designed and manicured in every detail, but in a way that speaks more of hospitality than pretentiousness. There are a selection of one, two and three bed suites, all en-suite, all with TV and DVD facility, internet access, Gaggia espresso machines and, most importantly, all with a terrace or balcony from which to drink in that beach view.
After the obligatory sun-bathe and swim on the beach we began to explore Carlisle Bay’s many other facilities. We started with windsurfing and other water sports in the bay – non-motorised to keep the water crystal clear and the noise disturbance down, and then the yoga pavilion and the Blue Spa and gym.
My partner raved about the West Indian Massage she received and went back twice for more during our week-long stay! The wonderful library and air conditioned Italian leather-seated private cinema were touches that I really enjoyed, offering more than the usual ‘action-only’ facilities of many hotels. Exploring the mangrove lagoon by kayak was another unique and thrilling activity not to be missed. Although we weren’t with children, it was clear to see that the Kids Clubs and resort’s own babysitting service were very popular and allowed parents their own space to relax and explore.
Breakfasts are included in the price of the suite, and just like them, every care and detail has been lavished upon them, including a choice of patisseries that wouldn’t have been out of place in Paris. The two restaurants provided intimate, high quality dining. Indigo on the Beach leans towards fresh Caribbean seafood, grills and salads, while East is the more formal of the two – dark wood and deep red décor – and serving an impressive array of Asian cuisine. It’s possible to order from the full menu of either restaurant and have it delivered by room service, allowing you to enjoy your meal from the comfort of your own terrace.
Eventually, our week at Carlisle Bay came to a close and we had to leave the luxurious solitude and head back to normality. But even as we said our farewells to the friendly and ever-beaming staff and were waved-off by the Manager, I was sure we’d be back again…
Editors Note: We didn’t get to the Caribbean Islands on this RTW, but this sounds heavenly.