A sailor’s paradise – a flotilla of million-dollar mega yachts are set to sail the high seas during Antigua Sailing Week in April but the rest of the year other uber chic vessels are docked around the corner.
Then there’s another “Wow” factor, the backdrop of Montserrat is seen with its titanic volcano slumbering in the horizon.
Nestled in one of the prettiest sheltered Caribbean harbours, is it any wonder moneyed mariners lay down their heads at this posh boutique island hotel in Antigua and Barbuda?
The Inn at English Harbour in Antigua is one of those quintessential island resorts sun-seekers don’t mind hopping on a plane for. The luxury property, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, offers sun, sea, surf, sails and solitude in chic Caribbean surrounds with a European twist.
Think the Italian Riviera but without the crowds. Italian owner Enzo Addari – a self-described sailing maverick – combined his love of sailing and Italian heritage to recreate a bit of La Dolce Vita in this posh sun retreat. The food and beverage scene is sprinkled in Italian notes (the chef is Italian). And that’s only the start at this blissful adults’ only playground.
Built in the 60s overlooking Freeman’s Bay on 19 lush acres, the secluded hotel is nestled on split levels atop a hill with manicured gardens and tropical foliage winding down toward a white sand beach. The reception is on the upper level but a shuttle service is available for easy pick-ups to the rest of the property. The look and feel is haute modern with a mesh of white facade colonial-style buildings.
Silence is golden here too. No loud music, only the chirping birds and the rustling of magazine pages in the tropical breeze from the cooling trade winds of English Harbour.
The white sand, hanging poolside and watching the luxury yachts bob in the azure sea. Sometimes if you’re lucky there’s a boat race in action.
Take a complimentary water taxi that taxis guests in a James Bond tempo (like 4-minutes) back and forth daily to the neighboring Nelson’s Dockyard. The ride sails past the parked giant yachts.
Attentive staff will guarantee most any request.
The culinary philosophy uses a garden to table approach with its Mediterranean and island flavors. Take your pick: the fine dining restaurant on the upper level situated in the original Georgian style building opens in evenings. The décor at the Terrace Restaurant is formal, upscale as diners surrounded by lush vegetation can dine by candlelight with sea views. The cuisine is international fare indicative of their guests.
Down by the beach, the Reef Restaurant is the go-to for breakfast on the beach. For afternoons, the covered al fresco linen table-topped eatery morphs into the lunch spot. Diners can order sandwiches or seasonally fresh three course meals.
The property is trying to switch up the menu selection by adding various specials throughout the week. Watch for BBQ evenings on the beach on Thursdays and other themed menus.
The Resort Pluses
The 28-room inn has suites and cabana rooms that underscore an understated elegance each with either a balcony or a verandah. The spacious suites are furnished in dark mahogany from the four poster beds to the dressing tables. The beach cabanas use a palette of island whites and natural tones. The porches from a bygone era let you sit and watch the spectacular setting unfold.
Hotel designer Susanna Salvia Addari has transformed the property into a sophisticated, upscale island getaway for their discerning guests who enjoy the cultured ambiance evident in the fabulous private art collections strewn across the property. Eclectic objet d’arts and curiosities are displayed from their globetrotting trips, whether it’s from China, Bali, Africa or Italy.
The Resort Drawback
For long stays expect a fixed dinner menu at the main restaurant running for a week but on the other hand, it’s a good reason to taxi into English Harbour for local restaurants or enjoy the nightly sunsets and local cuisine at Shirley Heights.
• Plenty of sunbeds and parasols make lying by the infinity pool or by the beach a dream.
• The beach area, while it’s a public one (all beaches in Antigua and Barbuda are deemed public), there were never any intrusions.
• Enjoy the complimentary non-motorized water sports.
• Plenty of sightseeing to keep you busy. Head to the Pillars of Hercules, a natural rock feature that jets into the ocean, which is walkable or if you’re keen swimmable. Snorkeling safaris also take you there. Nature walks lead up to Shirley Heights.
• Tennis courts with a softer Astroturf are better on the joints so you can play more sets.
• Relax with a massage at the onsite spa.
• Sail around the island on board the inn’s private pleasure craft known as the Xenya & Faye and prepare for an unforgettable sailing experience.
Good old fashioned service paired with priceless scenery in intimate surrounds make this Antiguan luxury getaway a true Caribbean paradise: a.k.a. “La Dolce Vita.”