Antigua and Barbuda Travel Guide
Actor/writer/director/Nobu hotelier Robert De Niro just got a new title--and a great big thank you-- from the government of Antigua and Barbuda. Prime Minister Gaston Browne has pronounced De Niro “special economic envoy” to the two-island Caribbean country for his commitment to reviving the ailing K Club Resort on Barbuda.
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A speck in the strikingly blue sea, there are no towns or high-rises, no major roads or cars (each guest, young and old, gets a bicycle), just white sandy beaches, that picture-perfect palm tree, and (what the resort promises is) blazingly fast and free internet, being the first test case for 4G capability in the Caribbean.
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Last week, The Bachelorette promised a "shocking" development in the first part of their two-part season finale on the island of Antigua where Desiree Hartsock had flown with the three men she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. And by "shocking" they clearly meant an acting reel for Des and Brooks for their next soap opera audition.
About an hour of the two-hour special was spent on Brooks decision to tell Des that he loved her but he did not love her. This devastated Des as she was going to pick Brooks to be the one to manipulate tabloid coverage with her for the next few months. There were lots and lots of crocodile tears from both parties but the only thing we could focus on was the killer view from the dock of the Verandah Resort. While reality TV orchestrated "love" may come and go, the views at the Verandah Resort are very real.
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Once again, another season of the cheesy reality TV dating show that is The Bachelorette is drawing to a carefully orchestrated and overly produced close.
After disrupting guests at The Ojai Valley Inn and dancing down the side of the Andaz West Hollywood, Desiree Hartsock has taken her top three picks for men to the island of Antigua to make her final decision. And according to the Bachelorette hype folk, it's "one of the most shocking episodes in Bachelor history." Let me guess, someone gets rejected and has to go home? Say it ain't so!
We also hear that three all-inclusive Elite Island Resorts will be featured in the two-part finale which airs tonight and next Monday night. They are: The St. James Club and Villas, The Verandah Resort and Spa and the Galley Bay Resort and Spa. If you're watching and you like what you see happening the fantasy suites, then you're in luck. The hotels have put together a special "The Bachelorette Suite Package."
Reading this Wall Street Journal review of the newly renovated Jumby Bay Resort, it was easy to get swept up in all the luxury. Then we came to the part where write Laura Landro says, “I was a little surprised to learn there was no room key.” Ditto, Laura!
Like this writer, we tend to be security freaks when traveling, especially alone. So the idea of not being able to barricade ourselves in our rooms—or our valuables when we’re out—is a little unnerving. Have you ever stayed at a hotel without a room key? Did it freak you out?
Picture a hotel called Sugar Ridge and you might imagine some place on the ridge of a hill bordered by sugar cane … and that's exactly what the new Sugar Ridge hotel in Antigua looks like. Four years after they started building (and no doubt a while after they had serious doubts whether building a hotel was the right thing to do at the moment) the Sugar Ridge is ready to open on December 1.
They're aiming for luxury and affordability, often a tricky combination, and the luxury includes the Sugar Club Spa – the first Aveda spa on Antigua. There are just 60 rooms but there are two restaurants, along with two swimming pools and a shopping arcade. It's also very close to the Jolly Harbor Marina which has an 18-hole golf course.
Win a big award, then close down for a year: probably not the strategy that Rosewood Resorts' Jumby Bay in Antigua had in mind, but perhaps that just shows they were modest enough not to expect to win last year's T+L Best Caribbean Resort award. Shortly after that burst of publicity, Jumby Bay closed up most of their resort to get to work on $28 million worth of renovations, and now these are finally almost done.
As you'd expect, $28 million buys a fair amount of new and improved stuff, and the revamp includes complete overhauls of 12 existing guest suites as well as the addition of 28 brand new suites. The new design style is meant to be a combo of "tropical hideaway" and "romantic British Colonial".
Imagine with us for a moment that someone, somewhere, has just come into a nice pile of cash. We’re talking in the neighborhood of several Gs — not enough to buy a house or condo, mind you, but just enough to make those sad stock options look more than unappealing.
Might we suggest one idea, dear sir or madam, for blowing that wad of cash: a “forget-it-all” vacation at Hermitage Bay Antigua. On Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008 Hot List, the all-inclusive luxury resort is offering beach cottage suites for $1,200 a night for double occupancy (and that’s not even counting the 10 percent government tax and 10 percent service charge). This is apparently a special price, too, so hey, what a deal.
No, not that kind of playful. We're referring to the resort's Playful in Paradise package, which -- for a mere $1084.50 nightly -- allows the soft adventurous to work off a picnic lunch (which is provided) by kayaking to the private island. The exploration continues with a private sailing lesson hosted by the resort's water sports staff, a guided tour of surrounding trails and tropical gardens and some time to zen out with yoga instruction.
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
Think you could handle this view? We'd be more than happy to, and it comes from a hillside cottage suite at the Hermitage Bay resort in Antigua. Great short range view over our own pool, mid-range to the gorgeous beach, and long range over the grassy dunes and the sea--yep, pretty much picture perfect.
The price matches the view, with the hillside cottages commanding the highest rates of the resort--$850 a night in the low season (June to August) and up to $1,800 a night over Christmas and New Year. But at least it's an all-inclusive, which includes house wines and "premium" drinks: but fancier wines off their wine list and "deluxe" drinks cost extra.
Not that we're obsessed with drinking or anything, but this is the kind of view where all you need is a great cocktail on your deckchair and you can while away the evening staring out into the sea.
This is one of the most horrific stories we've heard happening at hotels yet. Two honeymooners from Wales were shot at during a raid on their luxury hotel in Antigua yesterday. The bride was killed and her husband fighting for his life in a hospital's intensive care unit with a bullet wound in the neck.
The couple, Catherine and Benjamin Mullaney, were honeymooning at the Cocos Hotel when robbers burst into their cottage while they slept.
Tourism minister Harold Lovell said investigators will look at whether there were any lapses in security at the hotel, which employs guards. He said other hotel guests have been left traumatised by the murder and some have requested to be relocated. Speaking on Sky News, he said: "The police are still obviously trying to work out the motive, but they think robbery will be the motive."
The island of Antigua has had a spike in crime with 10 murders reported so far this year and a recent spree of shootings reported as well.
As for the Cocos Hotel, it certainly looks like paradise with all cottages promising sea views and beach access. On the hotel's website, Cocos promises: "an exclusive resort for those looking to escape to paradise. Cocos offers complete peace and tranquility, an abandon from the stress of life, where your every need is catered for." Sad.
When you hit the Jumby Bay Blog (don't try and say that after a couple of drinks, by the way), the first impression is good. It looks nice. Plenty of pictures of long white beaches and sparkling blue sea, and a neat looking layout. But start reading and you might be disappointed--we were.
It's not just a promotional blog, it's a whack-you-over-the-head promotional blog. Each post so far advertises packages or aspects of Jumby Bay without anywhere near enough attempt to make it interestingly readable.
The list of categories on the left looked interesting, until you start clicking, because every post has been linked to practically every category.
In the interests of fairness, it is very early days at the Jumby Bay Blog, and we hope to see a bit more story-telling and a few less categories attached to each post. As it stands, it's not the kind of hotel blog we'd go back to read again, even if it does look pretty.
[Photo: Jumby Bay Blog]