Fabulous resorts, amazing food, breathtaking locations…all part of my job. What you all don’t see is the hustle, bustle of meetings, running through airports and all the in between…so I’ll just keep up the fantasy and share only the annoyingly glamorous side of my travels working for a luxury hotel publication.
Anguilla has a population of 12,000 people and is a British Overseas Territory, 16 miles long, and 3 miles at her widest point. It boasts some 33 white sand beaches.
Its idyllic and charming way of life will make you slow for the chickens and goats in the road….literally. There must be some life metaphor in this!
I was determined this year not to spend Valentine’s Day alone in some exotic locale, at some romantic restaurant with a work colleage or on my own (last year I was at the gorgeous O’Soleil Restaurant at the Somerset on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos on Valentine’s Day with my very fabulous boss Lesley www.thesomerset.com) This year I invited my husband, J.B.
Having taken the ferry on a choppy day from St. Martin (SXM) to Blowing Point, Anguilla, my first stop was to see the newly renovated Cap Juluca www.capjuluca.com . It’s a true gem of a place and for those of you that remember it as “getting a bit tired”– $22 million renovation will make you think otherwise. It was fabulous. Moroccan villa-style and highly romantic. Great for couples and very expensive.
To say it’s a small world at least, I ran into longtime friends that I hadn’t seen in ages right here in the lobby. Travel broadens your mind and makes your world smaller!
Spice Restaurant is the new restaurant at Cap Juluca where you sit oceanside and watch the waves lap up onto the rocks. Watching the fish and school of barracudas cluster was like the Caribbean version of Sea World. We started to think the staff rigged them outside our table. JB was starving by this point, so I convinced him that the “Pho” – a typical Vietnamese noodle soup looked good. Slurping his soup, I couldn’t help but laugh that I had obviously steered him wrong – “pho thing!” He was still hungry after dinner.
Next stop, CuisinArt Resort & Spa (www.cuisinartresort.com). Just like the boxes of unopened wedding gifts of pots, pans & blenders you have received if you’re anything like me, this is the same CuisinArt (Conair.)
Private dinner on the beach with the sounds of steel drums– your typical evening in the Caribbean, right? Grilled Caribbean lobster, fabulous Caribbean menu by Chef Daniel (the new Chef at CuisinArt) and island tunes by Dumpa.
Oftentimes resorts put together press trips for magazine writers to come experience the resort and destination as a whole. We had the good fortune of having a pretty fun group together for several days, with no shortage of laughs. I’ve decided that in addition to my husband, my “desert island person” would definitely be Dave Lyon, the Director of Sales & Marketing at CuisinArt Resort & Spa. (You know… the one person you’d most like to hang out with on a desert island.)
Having gorged ourselves on delectable Caribbean cuisine into the wee hours of the Caribbean night, we had actual “work to do” and as always, I’m ready and willing to help out.
JB & I had been asked to take a few modeling shots for the CuisinArt Spa which just debuted a $10 million expansion, tripling it’s size with 16 treatment rooms, Men’s Club, VIP Suite, fitness and relaxation rooms.
Here I am relaxing (ahem, working!) in the Aquatherapy Pool (the first of its kind in the Caribbean.) The photographer is Greg Johnston who also shot the photos for the Turks & Caicos Club (www.turksandcaicosclub.com)
You won’t believe me, but it is possible to get luxury overload. My idea of a perfect afternoon is either on a boat relaxing on the Caribbean Sea, or at a sandy beach bar hanging out listening to great Caribbean tunes. Our trip to Prickly Pear island and a day at Gwen’s Reggae Grill were no exceptions.
I met Gwen, a laid back Anguillian woman on the ferry from St. Martin. She was bringing over bags of onions, lettuce and other items for her beach bar that were not readily available in Anguilla. Everyone knows her. She’s like the mother hen of gorgeous Shoal Bay, so much so Rod Stewart is also a know frequenter of Gwen’s Reggae Grill. Definitely a new favorite of mine.
The hardest decision you’ll have to make all day? Will it be just chicken, just ribs, or the combo (chicken and ribs?) Ah…decisions! Follow this with some chit chat with some regulars, grab a hammock and just chill…this is definitely a “my life doesn’t suck moment.”
No trip to Anguilla is complete without taking a cooking class at CuisinArt Resort & Spa where we made hydroponic gazpacho, local fish en papillote and pyrat rum banana fritters. I was on hydroponic tomato over-load by the end of the trip (they tasted as sweet as sugar). Now that I have experienced the “ultimate tomato,” I’m afraid my tastebuds will now only allow me to buy those $4.99/lb kind only in the grocery stores. Ouch!
The highlight of my trip was presenting CuisinArt Resort & Spa with the an award by the luxury travel guide that I inspect for (voted upon by the publication’s readers.)
Dancing at the Pump House in Sandy Ground is a MUST. www.pumphouse-anguilla.com (Ting is a grapefruit soda and makes you start saying things like: “You want some Ting. I’ll give you some Ting!”) LOL
Last but not least…Valentine’s Day. We had an amazing evening at Blanchard’s Restaurant. http://www.blanchardsrestaurant.com/ Melinda and Bob Blanchard co-wrote “A Trip to the Beach” about their starting this restaurant in idyllic Anguilla…I highly recommend it as a vacation read. (One funny thing of note: the entrees were more expensive than my dress!)
Next stop…the always fabulous St. Barts! Bring on the 102 degree fever I was about to have…!