“Hey baby, what can I get you?” “1 Carib beer please!”
We have arrived on St. Martin on a sunny August day and easily made our way from the airport to the Marigot ferry dock via a 15 minute taxi ride. After paying our departure fees, we headed to the glass enclosed waiting room to watch for our 5:30pm ferry to Anguilla. Luckily for us there is a little snack bar there and we toast our Caribs to the start of another adventure. The 5:30 ferry arrives around 6:00 and we board the Niki V for a 30 minute ride to Anguilla. I had a great seat by the door and enjoyed the cool splashes of the sea as we made our way out of the harbor and (quite literally) into the sunset. There were certainly waves along the way that made the trip pretty bouncy, but it’s manageable since it’s such a short trip.
On the West end of Anguilla is Sheriva, our home for 3 nights. Sheriva is self-described as a luxury boutique villa hotel. It is more villa than hotel and one of their greatest assets is the friendly and accommodating villa staff. This was my first experience of a staffed villa, and I found it to be a very special and privileged experience. I actually appreciated it even more after we had departed as I started to miss all the small details of their service that had made my stay so relaxing and comfortable. The lovely Vivienne was the first to greet us from the steps of our villa, SHE HAR, as she held a tray of cool, floral scented towels to wipe away the stress of travel and welcome us to Anguilla. Inside, there was rum punch and assorted appetizers that we enjoyed poolside as we chatted with the Sheriva staff. The dinner table was already set as Santiago was busy in the kitchen preparing a lobster dinner and other tasty treats for the evening. The 3 villas of Sheriva are all within site of each other so you can’t expect total privacy when you are using the terraces and pools, and that is where there is more of the hotel aspect for this property. There is staff on-site and you will feel the buzz of other clients around the property. In the end, I sensed that this property would have a really fun atmosphere when several guests are on property. The villas are not beachfront, but in just 3 minutes you can be down to the beautiful beach at Cap Juluca in your own personal golf cart. As a guest of Sheriva you are welcome to use the Cap Juluca beach as well as their restaurants where you will have signing privileges. Our first full day in Anguilla happened to be the last day of their Summer Festival, a big celebration on the island. They close the festival with the Champion of Champions Boatrace and a fireworks display at Sandy Ground. The party was hopping when we got to Sandy Ground. There were a few shops and restaurants lining the beach, and then there were dozen of trucks and tents selling regional foods. Each tent had a BBQ grill cooking up ribs and chicken, a radio blasting music, and some cool drinks for sale. For just $15 we were able to rent 2 chairs and an umbrella and we just enjoyed the atmosphere and our first dip in the Anguillian seas. We visited several villas and hotels on Anguilla. The island offers a great selection of luxury accommodations, ranging from classic to elegant to over-the-top! Some of the highlights were the Cuisinart Hotel which is set on a beautiful beach and is undergoing an expansion that will add condos, villas and a new fitness/spa facility. This is a great property for food and wine lovers with the on property hydroponic farm, fruit gardens, 3,600 bottle wine cellar, and Kitchen Stadium which offers gourmet cooking classes.
Just down the beach is Altamer, which I think falls into the over-the-top category. The 3 villas have tons of personality and offer a terrific atmosphere for vacations centered on special events between large families and groups of friends. The African Sapphire villa had just been host to a wedding where the bride rode in on a horse! In the elegant category is certainly Temenos, a St. Regis managed property. Guests here will stay in one of 3 villas named RIC SND, RIC SKY, and RIC SEA and will enjoy the finest furnishings, surroundings, and service. And don’t forget the drama…the gorgeous water views and one of the most incredible bathrooms that I’ve been in, complete with an electronic privacy screen between the indoor and outdoor portions of the bathroom. Anguilla is really a haven for tennis lovers, with most of the resorts and many of the villas offering courts. One remarkable villa with a tennis court is WAL DES. The highlights of this villa are the infinity pool whose drama is magnified by the villas cliff-side location. The tennis court also boasts a view that most home builders would kill for.
We were lucky to get a tour from the villa owners who gave us the history on the stunning building materials used – polished Anguillian rock and fossilized coral rock. No need for art on the walls here…the walls are art enough! Back in St Martin for 2 partial days, we wanted to make the most of our time by getting a feel for the island. After checking into the Beach Plaza Hotel in Marigot, we jumped in a rental car that Value Car Rental delivered right to the hotel. Up and over the hills we headed to Grand Case which is near the airport. This is a great strip of restaurants and beach bars along Grand Case Beach. The Calmos Café was busy with lots of people lying in their beach chairs out front. A lot of the other restaurants looked awesome but weren’t open until dinner. At the end of the beach are the Grand Case Beach Club and Villas C GUI and C ROC. We drove a full loop around the island through French and Dutch territory and it didn’t take long at all, although this is a busy island and we did hit some rush hour traffic.
Our last stop before returning to the hotel was at Dawn Beach where Villas JPS GIA and JPS BLM are located. We settled in for a sunset cocktail at Mr. Busby’s Beach Bar where we had a full view of St. Barths, our destination for the next day. We set off for our final stop of the trip in St Barts. Our first night was spent in the Tropical Hotel which was great since it was just 2 minutes from the airport and we were in the water at St Jean beach 10 minutes after that. It also allowed for a quick walk down to St. Jean for dinner. Back to Andy’s for dinner with a “view of the car park” and some vanilla rum. If I can digress to food for a while, I had what I believe to be the best meal of my life so far at La Gaiac in Le Toiny hotel. The atmosphere was relaxing with a mild breeze coming off the water and Alan Landry at the piano, the service was the definition of impeccable, and the food was fresh, creative, beautiful, and absolutely delicious. Certainly a treat I most appreciate and will always remember. The food in St. Barths really does stand up to the hype. It’s entertaining to see the restaurants and test out the menus. Other big hits of the trip were O’Corner for lunch in Gustavia and La Mandala for dinner in Gustavia. And for breakfast, we twice enjoyed the bakery in Lorient. St. Barths just oozes a fun, sophisticated, social atmosphere. From the restaurants to the bar at Le Ti and the SB Jam on the docks in Gustavia, there was always a great time to be had. I’d guess it’s the result of a recipe of a stunning island in a warm climate with beautiful vibrant people, top-notch food, and a general contentment with life as it is. Au revoir et à bientôt.