Leaving the less than favourable weather in the UK behind us, myself and my colleague Lorraine recently head for the sunnier climes and beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, on a trip-of-a-lifetime to St Barths and Anguilla. After a comfortable flight with Virgin Atlantic to Antigua – followed by a super smooth onward ride with Tradewinds Aviation (a destination as fantastic at St Barths deserves a good connection!) - we arrived, ready to explore....
As with all the Caribbean islands, St Barths and Anguilla each had a unique feel and personality. St Barths, where we began, is chic, sophisticated and wonderfully French, offering a more polished experience to some other destinations in the Caribbean. There are charming boutique shops selling designer labels, small-scale luxury hotels and beautiful people sipping rosé around the island. Despite this clear exclusivity, it never once felt unwelcoming or pretentious, instead giving off a bohemian vibe with focus on simply enjoying the island and all it has to offer. As for Anguilla, I was blown away by the warm welcome and friendliness that we received here. The smiles from everyone we met were sincere and genuine – but how could they not be, living on island of such good vibes, vibrancy, fantastic food and captivating coves?!
Heavenly hotels and some of the world’s best beaches
It’s no secret that the whole Caribbean offers dreamy hotels and beautiful beaches, but the ones we experienced on this trip were something else entirely, with soft white sand and turquoise water the norm wherever we went. Matching St Barths as an island, Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France is the epitome of elegance and sophistication with a breathtaking attention-to-detail throughout - from the logo carved in the butter at lunch, to the chic outfits of the staff. We also loved the range of amenities in the bedroom – including hair bobbles, two styles of slippers, a hair towel and plenty of samples of the spa products - amazing! Another ultra-exclusive beachfront address is Eden Rock, due to reopen after an extensive remodelling in November of this year, though the ritzy Beach Club is still open for business. The other famed beach club of Nikki Beach – defining itself as ‘barefoot chic’ – is also located on the island. Perched on a hillside, Hotel Le Toiny – a romantic retreat comprising just a handful of suites and villas – offers a more rugged, unspoilt beach experience. In fact, the beach here was pretty much created by Hurricane Irma in 2017… perhaps a silver lining in a cloud that, unfortunately, did lots of damage to St Barths. Another hillside option is Villa Marie which, what it lacks for in beach access, makes up for in interior design, quirky furniture and lush, tropical surroundings.
After a quick flight and ferry (the journey took less than an hour in total!) we arrived in Anguilla, home to – you guessed it – more brilliant beaches. Seriously, the sand on Anguilla rivals anywhere else in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the world! Belmond Cap Juluca - which I’ll mention for its fabulous food later – had a breathtaking beach of perfect white sand that looked like a set from a movie. Zemi Beach Hotel also sat over six acres on one of the best beaches on the island, as well as housing the Rhum Lounge which serves over 100 small-barrel rums… the most expensive of which comes in at over $600 per shot! Elegant, glamorous and timeless, I would describe the style of Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort as ‘Elizabeth Taylor meets Tom Ford’. The interiors are simply stunning with pastel shades of mint, pink, lemon and Tiffany blue across the boutique hotel, as well as Garden of Eden themed artwork by Haitian artist Jasmin Joseph. Our final beachfront retreat was the Four Seasons, Anguilla, the largest property with (no surprise) a fabulous beach, where you can hire cabanas with great drinks packages, as well as glass bottom kayaks for spotting the mesmerising marine life.
Beyond the beach
As gorgeous as they are though, it is important to remember that a trip to these islands offers much more than just the beaches. On both St Barths and Anguilla, I would recommend hiring a car so that you can experience the very best of what the islands have to offer. Horse riding, mountain biking, nature trails and cultural museums are just some of the options that await across both islands and many can be done from the luxury hotels… our amazing Concierge team here at Elegant Resorts will be happy to help you arrange the perfect excursions for you. During our time at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla - another luxurious hideaway with a brilliant beach - we enjoyed a wonderful rum tasting experience, really getting into the spirit of the Caribbean (if you'll pardon the pun!). As well as learning about the different flavours and types of rum and their sources, we were told about the history and science of the delicious drink. This lovely laid-back hotel on the south of Anguilla also has an incredible 18-hole, Greg Norman-designed for any golf lovers looking to visit the island.
The majority of the hotels that we visited also had sensational spas, perfectly channelling the relaxing vibe of both islands. A stand-out spa facility was the Guerlain Spa at Cheval Blanc, where unique services include choosing the aroma that is used in your shower, or designing your own lipstick case! The bathroom amenities also all use a bespoke scent designed by Guerlain’s head perfumier. It’s called tropical chic – an apt name - and it smells amazing! Over in Anguilla, Zemi Beach’s spa closely resembles a Thai village, with each treatment room actually imported from Thailand, featuring traditional shutters and surrounded by a beautiful zen garden. Embracing its gorgeous surroundings, the spa at Four Seasons, Anguilla is made up of secluded outdoor treatment rooms, while a lovely spa therapist offered me a short taster massage from the comfort of my lounger on the beach… bliss!
Fabulous food with a setting to match
Food is so important in the making of a great holiday and, I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed when you visit these islands, known for offering some of the most delicious dishes in the Caribbean. While away, we visited several hotels, enjoying simply amazing meals in each one that we dined in. One that deserves a special mention in St Barths is Le Toiny, where we tried their famous ‘Tree of Life’ starter, made up of broccoli, artichoke soil and edible flowers, presented to perfectly resemble a tree!
If sophistication and gourmet dining is the order of the day on St Barths, Anguilla’s focus is also on laid-back street food and beach shacks – there are over 100 eateries on the island that measures just 35 square miles, offering a great local experience, as well as seriously high-quality food. Belmond Cap Juluca’s beautiful beach (that I raved about further up) houses the super cute Cap Shack, a vintage food truck that served us the most incredible fresh tacos for lunch. In fact, next year, they are hiring young musicians from a local music academy to play beside the shack for an even more authentic Anguillan experience... as well as offering a great opportunity to these talented youngsters. We were also told that the hotel began its life as a single beach restaurant until it was continuously built up, putting dining right at the heart of its history. Unsurprisingly then, all the food at Cap Juluca was exceptional. We were blown away by the Peruvian tapas at Maundays Club, where we were served endless fresh fish and tasty ceviche in a friendly, family style, while a visit to Pimms begins with an Arawak salt ritual… not the usual way of washing your hands before dinner!
We also had the pleasure of dining at CuisinArt and their Japanese restaurant Tokyo Bay was out of this world... I simply couldn’t stop eating the deliciously fresh sushi and succulent Wagyu steak! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the timelessly glamorous Malliouhana is famous for its afternoon tea, that is served from impressive cupboards within the walls. Four Seasons, Anguilla, meanwhile, is home to one of the ultimate places to be seen on the island, the open-air Sunset Lounge. With reggae music playing, the bar was bustling when we visited and I can certainly see why… the views were simply stunning, as were the cocktails – a definite must-do while in Anguilla!
Each offering a unique, warm and wonderful experience, as well as a huge choice of exceptional hotels, which better two islands to combine than sophisticated St Barths and awesome Anguilla? To book your luxury Caribbean holiday today, give one of us a call!