Arriving in Anguilla
After a magical night in St. Martin, I headed to the airport for Anguilla. While you can fly to Anguilla easily from St. Martin, you can also buy ferry tickets day of, and the actual crossing is under thirty minutes. With a beautiful and not-too-breezy day, I opted for the ferry. The ferry is a little hectic, but so is the St. Martin airport. If the opportunity allows, ask WIMCO to arrange for a private boat service to Anguilla. Arriving in Anguilla and dealing with customs and bag retrieval is oddly complicated and a bit claustrophobic. A private charter would bypass this.
The entry way in to Cap Juluca is just absolutely gorgeous. You feel you're on vacation. Check-in to the hotel happens wherever you prefer and is accompanied with a welcome drink. One of our WIMCO partners, the lovely Elaine, was picking me up for a villa tour upon arrival. Elaine, who is British and has lived in the Caribbean for the majority of her life, was kind enough to take me on a tour on Easter Monday.
We started with AXA SKY, which is one of three five-bedroom properties in its own enclave, with access to Long Bay beach as well as a shared fitness room. These villas are less than 10 minutes from Cap Juluca and are nearby to the great beachfront restaurants on island, like Jacala, Blanchardsand Straw Hat. Location wise, this villa is an absolute winner. Beyond that though, these villas have the type of interiors that guests really love. I saw pieces from Serena & Lily that I recognized, and the whole vibe oozes comfort.
If you've stayed at these villas before, know that they have all been entirely redone, with incredible indoor/outdoor showers and bath with intricate tile design. One of the rooms has bunk beds, and I could see a family spending two weeks here being so happy. On the beach, you have lounge chairs as well as a hut for barbeques. In the distance, you can see Sandy Island and Prickly Pear Island, both of which you can take day excursions to. Bedrooms are $580 per room, per night in the low-season, which rivals any hotel. It is very possible to take these villas for a long weekend in the summer if you can't break away for a full week.
Villa AXA ARU was next and is located within the perimeter of the Cuisinart Resort, though its amenities are separate. This house is perfect for group of golfers as you're in walking distance to the Greg Norman golf course — a stunning site and such a draw in the Caribbean. It's completely beachfront, and if you're willing to walk over a few rocks (when the tide is right), you're minutes away from funky beachfront spots like The Sunshine Shack and Coconuts Beach Bar.The villa itself has a spacious outdoor area, and my favorite bit was the covered dining area by the pool. It's so simple to arrange chefs in Anguilla, I could imagine friends having a catered lunch by the pool every day. At $660 per room per night in the low-season, this villa offers great value as well.
Villa AXA BEE was right around the corner, with five bedrooms and a super modern open-floor plan living room. We arrived right at sunset, and the lights on St. Martin in the distance were just starting to twinkle — imagine viewing from the jacuzzi at night. While the bedrooms are very comfortable, they are definitely more basic than the first two villas, and the price reflects that. At $280 per room per night in the low-season, this is a dream escape for young friends or family.
Next door is another five-bedroom, AXA CHM, and these can be rented in conjunction should the opportunity arise…maybe a fabulous birthday bash?! The villas are quite similar—both with meticulous landscaping that just elevates the properties—but this villa also offers a workout room as well as slightly more styled interiors. It is just a step above at $340 per room per night.
Feeling totally inspired by the villas in Anguilla the first day, I returned to Cap Juluca, knowing it was going to be hard to leave this special island. I finally checked into my room, and like La Samanna, it had those same crisp white sheets and cozy atmosphere, but Cap Juluca is certainly in a different level design-wise.
Opting for another solo dinner out, I attempted to go to Cip's,the more casual of the hotel's two restaurants, and styled menu-wise after another Belmond property, Venice's Hotel Cipriani. Alas, Cip's was full, no room for a solo diner—undoubtedly because of the killer live band Omalie360 playing.
Luckily, the more upscale of the two, Pimms, was available and in earshot of the music. Pimm's is fantastically elegant, with attentive service. One of our WIMCO Instagram followers had suggested I try the beef carpaccio, and being no stranger to carpaccio, I tried it and was great.
The hotel is just a few months old with a brand-new team. I think by New Year's 2020 they will be running in top shape. I enjoyed the meal at Pimms but do think the restaurant at La Samanna is a step above in terms of flavors and execution. A breakfast buffet is served at Cip's in the morning. The view alone paired with a cup of coffee is a gift. The water and beach are so stunning. The breakfast is great here — what you would expect—but I again think La Samanna is just a bit better!
I was then led on a tour of the entire property. Cap Juluca has so much flexibility when it comes to villa stays, being able to offer two-bedroom Casitas (perfect for families with small children), as well as 3- and 5-bedroom villas. Each come with their own private pool, with the larger each having a kitchen as well. I love this option for guests who like everything at their fingertips, as well as a top-notch spa, fitness room and tennis courts all on site.
I then hopped in the car with Kenroy, another WIMCO partner on island, where we toured two exceptional properties. One of them vies for the nicest villa in the Caribbean award. Villa AXA KISE sits directly on Meads Bay, home to Blanchards and Straw Hat. The outdoor space is sensational, with a long and comfortable outdoor sectional, a covered lounge bed, and a fabulous dining table inside with views towards the pool. As part of our Special Reserve Collection, a chef is included in your stay. I met him while I visited, and he is completely open to any requests and very used to dealing with allergies or special diets.
The rooms upstairs are petite but perfect and all equal-sized. Although these rooms have the ocean view, I actually preferred the rooms by the garden. These are a bit bigger and have a more tropical view. The downstairs boasts an intimate screening room and an ample workout room. There are Balinese influences throughout, and it's an incredibly comfortable spot.
I've seen about 150 villas in St. Barths, but Villa AXA KAN on Anguilla certainly vies as one of my favorite villas that I've ever seen. It's position on the West End is so exquisite—you feel like you're at the edge of the earth. There is a sunken outdoor living room which overlooks your own private swimming cove. Whether you're having your morning tea, and afternoon read, or a sunset cocktail, I'm sure this nook gets used often. The rooms here are decorated in an approachable fashion—elegant and comfortable—and the grounds are dripping in bougainvillea. There is a full staff here, with a chef if you like, and nightly turn-down service. Comparing the prices to St. Barths, this villa along with many others in Anguilla, offer incredible value.
You know you're somewhere good when your next stop is St. Barths and you're dreading leaving. Simply put, I fell in love with Anguilla. The island itself is flat. Simply driving around is less beautiful because there are no vistas. In Anguilla, you absolutely want to be beachfront. I hadn't fully appreciated the appeal of beachfront houses because in St. Barths, some of the nicest villas and views are from the hillside. Because the island is so flat, nearly every villa in Anguilla is beachfront.
The villas here are unequivocally some of the best I've ever seen—anywhere. Unlike St. Barths, usually all of the rooms are under one roof. They almost feel like houses in the Hamptons or Nantucket (minus the shingled roofs). The color of the water here is distinct—beaming bright light blue, almost Bahamian. It's a color that stays with you, and no doubt beckons you back.