The waves gently lap the feet of the lounge chairs we've pulled right up to the water's edge. The sea is a brilliant blue that I can only compare to the hue captured inside a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. On what can only be described as a perfect day of sun and surf, I find myself on Sandy Island, a tiny spot of sand somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. A deserted island of sorts visited only by small boatloads of locals and a few travellers in the know.
To get to Sandy Island though, you need to first get yourself to what might be the last undiscovered destination in the Caribbean ““ the island of Anguilla. Just 16 miles long and three miles wide, Anguilla is tucked just off the beaten path in the Eastern Caribbean, about ten miles north of St. Martin.
Approaching Anguilla by boat ““ a short ferry ride from St. Martin is the most common mode of arrival for visitors and locals alike ““ the flat, rocky makeup of the island is clear. Anguilla is comprised mainly of coral and limestone, dotted with sparse growth and salt ponds. The tiny country though, boasts more than 12 miles of pristine, white sandy shoreline on its 33 beaches, all licked by the same shimmering turquoise water.
Where to Stay
Arriving at the Viceroy Anguilla might be compared to stepping into the pages of an interior design magazine. The hotel's décor and overall aesthetic is the vision of interior designer and tastemaker Kelly Wearstler. Modern architectural elements of the building play against the natural forms of stone and wood, in sculpture and furniture pieces that could be art themselves.
Just beyond the open-air lobby and across the lounge, a sweeping view of the sea that could only be offered by this vantage, perched cliff side overlooking Barnes and Meads Bays.
The Viceroy Anguilla offers 166 guest accommodations, but for the ultimate indulgence ““ and I do mean indulgence ““ check into one of the villas overlooking the ocean. Luxurious and grand, but with the same understated elegance and muted tone on tone ease of the public spaces of the resort, the villas are indeed mini private resorts unto themselves.
We check into a four-bedroom villa, complete with fully functional (even for the most demanding gourmet) kitchen, full dining and living spaces and dual master suites. But, the most impressive feature is the view across the private terrace over the private infinity edge pool, to the azure waters beyond.
There really is no point in describing amenities here: none have been overlooked. Nanny (or pilot!) suite: check. Stacks of plush beach towels near each of three expansive glass doors leading to the pool: check. Décor and art choices worthy of any design snob: check. Although, the personal lifestyle assistant (or butler, to be gauche) is an uncommon touch that certainly sums up the level of service to be expected at the Viceroy. I am handed a cell phone so our “˜assistant' can be reached at any time while we're on the resort grounds.
Think celebrity retreat; think a concierge who can deliver on a private plane or case of champagne at any hour; think resort so private and staff so discreet that Hollywood types would choose this place to sunbathe away from prying eyes and you begin to get the picture of lush exclusivity that the Viceroy, and in fact the island itself conjures.
Where to Dine
Anywhere would be the short answer. With so many top-notch dining options on the island, it would be difficult to make a wrong choice.
The Viceroy's own Sunset Lounge is the ideal spot to start an evening with a cocktail curled up in a cozy chair surrounded by the endless vista of the ocean, and the adults only infinity pool. Coba is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers the same artful elegance as the rest of the resort. The ocean air mingles with the scent of the day's specials, and is the ideal place to soak in the ambiance and an uninterrupted view offered by one side of the dining room being separated from the crashing sea below by glass panels.
The CuisinArt Resort & Spa ““ perhaps best known as the backdrop for filming of The Batchelor ““ adds another twist to the gourmet experience with its own hydroponic farming program on the grounds. You will never experience fresher, or sweeter little cherry tomatoes than those served at CuisinArt. All the salad greens, herbs, tomatoes and more are cultivated in an 18,000 sq. ft. facility on the resort grounds using rainwater and reverse osmosis to operate the greenhouse.
In contrast to the quiet, artful style at Viceroy, Cap Jaluca welcomes guests with its soaring dome slung with the most gorgeous golden Moorish style chandelier. Maundays Club, located directly on Maundays Bay Beach boasts that comfortable colonial Caribbean feel, and offers a selection of fine scotch, cognac and vodka alongside the usual beach-y beverages. Dry martinis are the order of the day, and they come served with delightful bites of choux pastry and fine Parmesan to nibble on.
The sophisticated experience of Cap Jaluca continues at Pimms with a menu clearly touched by the deft hand of a classically trained French chef. Executive Chef Johnny Clero learned his craft in France, and then worked in London with Michel Bourdin as well as at the Savoy Hotel & Claridge's. After a return to France to a kitchen with two Michelin Stars, Clero brought his talent to the lucky dinner guests at Pimms.
The tiny island of Anguilla also boasts two of the region's largest wine cellars at Malliouhana Restaurant and Koal Keel Restaurant. Malliouhana, winner of Wine Spectator's Grande Award, houses more than 25,000 bottles of wine, and the cellar at Koal Keels holds more than 35,000 bottles.
Where to Explore
For sun worshippers, there is just one thing to say: the beach. With 33 beaches, all offering public access, but somehow remaining pristine and not crowded you could spend an entire stay exploring all of them. Visit Island Harbour to see local fishermen at work, and Crocus Bay for its scenic
If you want to practice your game while on vacation, many resorts have tennis courts as well as pros on site, but you can also reserve court time at the Anguilla Tennis Academy (ATA). This world-class facility is a non-profit organization that hosts youth camps with the mission to expose youth, regardless of economic status, to tennis. Since 1996, ATA has introduced more than 1,200 school children to the sport.
Shoal Bay and Sandy Ground are the places to go to relax at a beach bar, or try some local barbecue. And from Sandy Ground you'll find the shuttle boat Happiness, making the very short journey to and from Sandy Island, where you can grab a fresh lobster lunch, a lounge chair and soak in the
sapphire blue water.