Hidden in the Caribbean

by Editorial
The Estate House at Jumby Bay, formerly a sugar mill plantation, hosts more formal dinners at night and croquet games during the day

The Estate House at Jumby Bay, formerly a sugar mill plantation, hosts more formal dinners at night and croquet games during the day

JUMBY BAY

Antigua

On Antigua’s northeast coast there is a two-mile ocean passage that cocoons a 300-acre island from locales, cruise ship passengers and star gazers who might want to share a pina colada with Hillary Swank, Pierce Brosnan or Robin Leach.

It’s calm. There are no bugs. Few birds chirp. Televisions are persona non grata. Transportation is by bike or golf cart. There is no calypso band crooning awful renditions of Bob Marley. At night, you’re lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean lapping on the beach that’s about 20 feet outside your room.

Jumby Bay (managed by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts) tries to go under the guise of a casual lifestyle. Guests are low-profile. There are no locks on the door. Food and alcohol are all inclusive (a rare feature for a five-star hotel and in fact Travel & Leisure’s 2007 number one rated resort in all of the Caribbean), which means no check signing and constant tipping. In a hotel market where some resorts often over-build without any regard to the land or culture surrounding the resort and even worse become hung up on having designer shower gels, gold-leafed sinks, and uber-fine Egyptian cotton. Jumby Bay stands apart as luxury property because the focus is on making sure the simple pleasures are of the highest standards.

It’s casual without restrictions. I never felt compelled to put on much more than a sundress for dinner. If we wanted to snorkel, there was someone always ready to take us out (we often found beautiful red starfish). We rode our bikes around to the three secluded white beaches. While there is no full-service spa, a masseuse could come and knead your muscles into further relaxation. A few times, we attempted to play croquet with rules from our memory that seemed vaguely logical to us at the time. In my mind, there was no reason to leave the island, but those who require more action can take the island ferry for casino nights, shopping and golf.

The island’s original structure, a sugar mill referred to as The Estate House, serves as the more formal of two dining options. It offers candlelight dinners with locally caught fish, steaks and fresh pasta. The Verandah restaurant serves up the same fare, sometimes on a buffet and it’s a bit more casual. Many guests prefer to dine en-suite or have a private picnic lunch delivered.

There are 40 rooms and 11 suites and each tends to have a different lay-out, but they all boast a canopy bed that looks fit for royalty with Italian linens. The outdoor rain shower and bathtub was a little bit of heaven and often I had a difficult time getting my travel companion out to head to the beach or meals. My luxury was enjoying over 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Best Room: Harbour Villa 207

Don’t Miss: The sunsets looked like a Hollywood production they were so picturesque.

FYI: The resort’s air conditioning is not state-of-the-art and guests often complain about it failing during summer months. There is also no hot-tub or Jacuzzi.

Long Island, St. John’s; 888-767-3966 or 268-462-6000; www.rosewoodhotels.com; doubles from $775, including meals, drinks, and some activities.

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