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Insider Guides

Citizen Femme’s Guide to Anguilla

The Caribbean is once more waking from its seasonal slumber, as hurricane season subsides and its islands start preparing to welcome back their adoring public. Despite its diminutive size, Anguilla is one Caribbean enclave that can’t fail to leave a lasting impression.

It may not have the adventure of Antigua or the bling of St Barth’s, this 35 square mile island has heart and soul in droves which is no match for her neighbours. Voted the number 1 Caribbean island three years in a row by Time & Leisure magazine, one day on her shores and you’ll see why.

Anguilla

While still bearing some of the telltale scars of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Irma, Anguilla – many of whose residents rely on its tourism – got back to its feet fairly swiftly after the disaster, springing back to life for the 2018 season and welcoming visitors once more with open arms and typical Caribbean hospitality.

Neighbouring St Maarten, an island of the same size but with twice the population, suffered severe damage to its airport, the entry point for Anguilla – a flight from the Dutch/French territory and ferry – so it wasn’t an easy ride.

Nevertheless, alongside St Maarten’s revival, she’s back with a vengeance. Hotels are rebuilt, its 33 pristine beaches are postcard perfect once more and one of the most exciting food scenes in the Caribbean is enticing visitors to its cornucopia of over 100 restaurants. Earlier this year The Anguilla Tourist Board announced that February 2019 broke records regarding visitor arrivals to the island and its star is set to only continue to rise, yet despite this it still feels deliciously private and unspoilt. As one local commented to me during my visit; ‘you go to Antigua to be seen, you come to Anguilla not to be.’

Read on for Citizen Femme’s guide to the beat of this diminutive gem.

Where To Stay

Zemi’s Beach House
This intimate boutique beachfront hotel occupies six pristine acres on Anguilla’s secluded Shoal Bay East. With only 65 rooms it still feels deliciously private, yet with space to call your own. Rooms are inspired by nature and the island’s natural landscape with Brazilian wood furnishings and petrified wooden sinks, while accommodation gently slopes to the shore offering sea views from every vantage point.

Zemi Beach House

Check in to one of the penthouse suites for unrivalled views and rooftop pools, or one of the private beachfront villas for sand between your toes without stepping off your terrace. With freshly baked cookies left by your bed at turn down, sunscreen and bug spray placed by the pool for guests to help themselves to and fresh fruit skewers handed out to pool-loungers at 2pm each day, its thoughtful touches make for an unrivalled experience.

The hotel spa is centred around a 300 year old Thai house, painstakingly transported from Chiang Mai and assembled situ, rebuilt beam by beam. Boasting the island’s only hammam, guests can unwind in the peaceful meditation gardens, enjoy early morning classes on the outdoor yoga deck, or snooze in a shady hammock post-treatment, lulled by the dulcet tones of surrounding wind chimes.

With an adults-only pool as well as the main family-friendly one, a nightly-changing buffet encompassing international cuisine as well as local menus – including a Wednesday night Caribbean buffet with fresh grilled lobsters and a hog roast -, an a la carte restaurant and a beachside breakfast buffet, the food at Zemi is exceptional, though I discovered during my time there that on Anguilla that really is par for the course, though with some great restaurants just a short walk down the beach away you’ll be encouraged to explore the local cuisine rather than stay in every night. Guests can enjoy non-motorised watersports, including kayaking and snorkelling, safe in the knowledge that the peace and quiet of this idyllic hideaway, though with such a stunning black you may well want to just sit under your umbrella and enjoy doing nothing.

Rates from $515 per night
Shoal Bay East, Shoal Bay Village, West Indies, Anguilla
Zemi Beach House

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa
A member of The Leading Hotels of the world, CuisinArt was newly-redesigned for 2018 after Irma did her damage. Its signature Mediterranean-style architecture has been restored to its original glory, with a dramatic new lobby featuring intricately carved mosaic columns, a spectacular glass chandelier and striking views out to the pool and beyond down to the sea; on a clear day you can see right from the reception desk across to St Maarten. The white and blue rooms have an inkling of Greece about them, with minimal decor accented by flashes of cobalt in furnishings and curtains, the perfect frame for the views out to sea.

CuisinArt Golf Resort, Anguilla
CuisinArt Golf Resort, Anguilla

The resort boasts the island’s only golf course, an 18 hole Greg Norman Signature Design Championship Course no less, and has attracted some big names to its fairways from across the Caribbean and beyond, while the spa has a menu of signature treatments for those who prefer a more passive holiday.

The one Japanese restaurant on the island, Tokyo Bay includes an exceptional menu of fresh sushi and a theatrical robot grill, helmed by a Head Chef formerly of Nobu in London. For a lighter lunchtime bite on the beach head down to the beach bar and order the Bajan flying fish cutter and a side of Caribbean macaroni and cheese pie with a cold Carib beer.

Just around the corner from the main hotel, The Reef by CuisinArt, a member of Small Luxury Hotels and two-time recipient of the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Award is a contemporary oasis with 80 rooms, Anguilla’s newest sustainable luxury destination and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Rooms from $333 per night
Rendezvous Bay Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla
CuisinArt Resort

Belmond Cap Juluca
One of the island’s old girls, the iconic Cap Juluca joined Belmond’s luxury portfolio earlier this year, with the 66 rooms and 42 suites perfectly complementing the brand’s personality of authentic escapes that blend perfectly with nature and local culture. Overlooking the breathtaking Maunday’s Bay, the multiple award-winning property features Greco-Moorish architectures spread over two crescent-shaped coves, with ocean view suites and villas offering secluded privacy within lush tropical gardens.

Belmond Cap Juluca

After undergoing a top to toe renovation at the end of last year, the Cap Juluca added 25 new beachfront villas and suites, each of which offers five star touches such as pre-reserved each loungers, chaise-side beach beverages, complimentary chilled towels, bottled water and sorbet throughout the day and access to five cabana bars along the beach.
Guests can enjoy a stunning infinity pool, basketball, beach volleyball, croquet and bocce, a 24/7 fitness centre, sailing lessons and kayaking in some of the clearest waters in the world. Though with an indulgent spa menu and four dining options, including the beachside Cap Shack and Maundays Club pool bar, guests would be forgiven for taking the lazy option and checking in for maximum relaxation.

Rooms from $970 per night
Maundays Bay, Anguilla 2640, Anguilla

Belmond Cap Juluca

Four Seasons Resort & Residences
A world-renowned name synonymous with luxury, the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Anguilla is no exception. Following months of restoration following the impact of Hurricane Irma, the rest reopened last year looking better than ever. The largest employer on the island, the resort opened in 2010 and was converted to a Four Seasons in 2016, boasting 181 private accommodations – including expansive villas, townhouses, penthouses, residences, suites and guest rooms – across its 35 acres. Encircled by the picture perfect beaches of Barnes Bay and Meads Bay, the resort offers 3,200 feet of pristine beachfront and sweeping views out to sea.

Four Seasons Anguilla

When it comes to gastronomy, Four Seasons knows what it’s doing. Sip a vintage rum at the Sunset Lounge to the reggae-tinged sound of a local DJ. Indulge in a vibrant seafood dinner at the bluff-top Salt restaurant, or order in-room dining and let world-class Caribbean dining come to you.

Rooms from $575 per night
Barnes Bay, West End 2640, Anguilla

Four Seasons Anguilla

Frangipani Beach Resort
Mead Bay’s family-owned and operated Frangipani Beach Resort keeps thing cosy with just 19 rooms, but the intimate resort means guests will enjoy an unrivalled, intimate experience. The resort also recently integrated as part of their beachfront property a one-of-a-kind four-bedroom, four and a half bath Villa. A private sanctuary with over 5,000 square feet of luxurious space, guests can even hire a private chef for a one-off dinner experience or an entire week of meals at home.

Frangipani Resort

Home to at the ward-winning Straw Hat Restaurant, named one of the Top 50 Hot New Restaurants of the World by Condé Nast Traveler, guests can take advantage of beach service for food and drinks in addition to in-room dining throughout the day. With watersports the order of the island, Frangipani offers stand up paddleboards, kayaks and Hobie Cats for exploring Meads Bay, along with tubing, wakeboarding and water skiing behind the resort’s 17-foot boat, Baby Relentless, as well as cruises on the 36- foot power catamaran, FrangiCat. For the ultimate experience, schedule a charter to create a custom itinerary.

Rooms from $315 per night
West End Village, Meads Bay, Anguilla
Frangipani Resort

Malliouhana
Malliouhana still exudes the same romantic elegance it did when it opened its doors some 30 years ago. The oceanfront resort still sets the bar for contemporary island glamour, set atop a bluff with breathtaking views.

New offerings including spacious beachfront accommodations, a cascading infinity pool and a toes-in-the-sand beach bar mean this island veteran has more than kept up with its contemporary counterparts. Refreshing shades of mint and pale yellow grace the guest rooms and suites, where expansive private patios and separate sun terraces all come with sweeping views of the Caribbean. From sea cruises, horseback swims through crystal-clear waters, sessions with a tennis pro or Caribbean cooking classes, Maliouhana’s guest experiences are unrivalled, while the on-site boutique stocking handicrafts, jewellery and resort wear will ensure guests leave with a lasting memory.

Malliouhana was home to the island’s first fine dining venue and it’s kept up its reputation. Guests can currently enjoy Celeste with its classic, effortless Mediterranean fare, a blend of island clubhouse and Turkish smoking room at Bar Soleil and relaxed, creative Caribbean dishes at Leon’s at Meads Bay, a beach bar with a stellar menu of nibbles and a delicious cocktail list.

A brand new spa is set to open this December, with six treatment rooms, its own infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean, full-service salon and private fitness training rooms. (See hero image)

Rooms from $729 per night
Meads Bay British West Indies Ai, British West Indies 2640, Anguilla
Malliouhana

Where To Eat

This is by no means an exhaustive list, given the sheer breadth of Anguilla’s food scene. From smoking snacks fresh off the beach grill, to indulgent hotel breakfast buffets, five star a la carte dining and local family-run restaurants, every morsel that will pass your lips on this island will be full and flavour and cooked with soul. These are just a few of our favourites.

Blanchard’s & Blanchard’s Beach Shack
Being the complete bibliophile that I am, I adore reading novels or travel tomes set in locations I’m due to visit and after a brief hunt the only book stein Anguilla I could find was A Trip to the Beach, the story of American couple Mel and Bob Blanchard who decided to upheave their lives from Vermont to Anguilla and open a restaurant. The book charts the highs and lows of starting a new life on the island while their son moves away to college in the USA and its very pages are awash with characters and mannerisms that became all the more familiar during my week in Anguilla.

18 years later and despite the weather’s best intentions, Blanchard’s is still going strong. The main restaurant is open daily for dinner, but next door you’ll find Blanchard’s Beach Shack, a vibrant, buzzing cafe with a mouthwatering menu to satisfy any hungry beachgoer. I recommend the grilled shrimp tacos with corn salsa, pickled onion, sriracha lime sauce and scallions, accompanied by homemade coleslaw and a hunk of freshly baked cornbread. One of the most delicious meals I had on the island (and there were many…) and washed down with a frozen mango smoothie.
www.blanchardsrestaurant.com

Tasty’s
A real local gem, Tasty’s has been going strong for 20 years with Chef Dale Carty – one of the island’s most famous and well-respected chefs – at the helm. Dale honed his skills under master French chefs Michel and Jo Rostrang at Malliouhana, before furthering his culinary studies in France and heading home to open Tasty’s. A quick google will tell you all you need to know; it’s an institution, an authentic, delicious, no-frills menu of Caribbean classics with a perfect house Rum Punch to accompany your feast.
Tasty’s, South Hill, Anguilla
T: +1 264-584-2737


Madeariman
A short stroll down the beach from Zemi Beach House, Madeariman serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, with a menu encompassing everything from pizzas and fresh salads to an exceptional list of local fish, such as mahi-mahi kebab with creole sauce or grouper fillet in Jamaican curry sauce.
www.madeariman.restaurant

Straw Hat
The restaurant of Frangipani Beach Resort, Straw Hat’s chef brings unique and eclectic tastes to the menu and it’s easy to see why it’s earned its spot as one of the most beloved restaurants in Anguilla. With delicious food – the curried goat is highly recommended – and an idyllic beachfront location, it also serves a light lunch menu, including the mouthwatering Anguillian Cubano, a baguette of spicy shredded braised pork with cucumber green apple slaw and mole.
www.strawhat.com

Ocean Echo
One of Anguilla newest 5 star dining experiences offering International & Caribbean cuisine, Ocean Echo provides a spectacular panoramic view of the ocean from any seat in the house. Order the pan-seared whole parrotfish, sweet and meaty and served with a coconut polenta, grilled plantain, sweet potato and pyrat rum sauce and a portion of Crack Conch Fritters, perhaps so-called because they are so dangerously delicious.
www.oceanechoanguilla.com

Palm Grove Bar & Grill
If there’s only one recommendation you take away from reading this, Palm Grove Bar & Grill – also known as Nat’s Place – might well be one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Run by Nat and wife Ethne for the last 26 years – and now daughter Natalie – this is the very definition of off the beaten track. It’s worth the bumpy ride down to the deserted, windswept cove though. Rebuilt from scratch after more than one hurricane, the fresh, simple, no-frills menu is written up on a chalk board, offering lobster, juicy crayfish and freshly caught fish accompanied by homemade coleslaw and freshly-baked Johnny Cakes, the local crusty, fried, doughnut-like rolls. It’s completely relaxed, with bare wooden benches and wooden shutters propped open to reveal the wild ocean beyond, but it sizzles with authenticity, community and family. Nat’s homemade hot sauce is even on sale for those enough brave enough to face the fire.
Palm Grove Bar & Grill, Junk’s Hole, 2640, Anguilla
+1 264-497-4224

Where To Drink

Banxie Banx Dune Preserve
Just down the beach from CuisinArt, Dune Preserve is a classic Caribbean beachfront bar owned by musician Banxie Banx. With plenty of live local music – including Banxie himself – it’s a buzzing spot for a sundowner.
www.banxiebanx.net/dunepreserve

Sandy Island
No trip to Anguilla should be complete without a trip to Sandy Island. A tiny spit of sand fringed with palm trees and scattered with sun loungers, rebuilt every year after hurricane season, get an early shuttle boat from Sandy Ground and spend a day on this tropical paradise island, sipping fresh rum punch and ice cold beers straight from a cool box, getting greasy fingers from crayfish grilled in a drum pan barbecue on the beach and dancing along to the live steel band. Blissful.
www.mysandyisland.com

Johnno’s
One of the very first beachfront establishments in Sandy Ground, Johnno’s has been loved by many for decades, known for its live music and prime location on the beach. Don’t miss the iconic Jazz at Johnno’s every Sunday from 1-4pm, while a bevy of local musicians drop in to play throughout the year.
Sandy Ground Beach, Anguilla
Tel: +1 264-497-2728

What To Do

It may not be the biggest island in the Caribbean, but there’s still plenty to stay occupied for those who get twitchy on a sun lounger.

Visit a local gallery
There’s something of a thriving local art scene, with several local galleries showcasing the work of islanders who have a talent with their hands. ALAK Art Gallery in Shoal bay is just one, while Iwassie’s Conch Factory and Limin’ Boutique stock a range of handmade jewellery and Christmas ornaments.

Create your own masterpiece
If you’re feeling inspired to pick up a paintbrush, Anguillart offer ‘paint parties’ where guests can create their own artworks to take home over a beachfront cocktail. Keep an eye on the website for forthcoming events at some of the island’s popular restaurants.
www.anguillarts.com

See the island from a quad bike
Don’t forget your sunscreen for a half day island tour by quad bike with ATV Adventure Experience. Your guide will take to up to some of the island’s very best vantage points, while showing you areas of local history points and telling plenty of stories along the way. Undoubtedly a highlight of our visit.

Discover the island away from the beach
Drag yourself away from the beach for a day and head inland to the Katouche valley, where you’ll discover plentiful hiking and ancient caves to explore. Don’t forget your walking boots.
www.katouchetours.com

Kayak under cover of darkness
The Caribbean waters may provide ample opportunity for kayaking during the day, but for an experience to really remember take to a Liquid Glow kayak and see the ocean floor by night, magically lit up by your kayak; you might even spot some turtles dwelling in the deep.
www.anguillakayak.com

Take a look under the sea…
The crystal clear waters around the island offer plentiful opportunities to don a snorkel and discover what lies beneath. Head out to Seal Island, Stoney Bay Marine Park or Dog Island on a boat trip for some incredible reefs, while Little Bay and Shoal Bay offer sites that are accessible from hotel beaches.

We flew to Antigua with Virgin Atlantic (www.virginatlantic.com) before catching a connecting flight to Anguilla with Trans Anguilla Airways (www.transanguilla.com).

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