By Eileen Ogintz
JUMBY BAY, Antigua (DAY 3) — What a perfect birthday!
Karin Allyn is on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach under a thatched umbrella with her children and grandchildren. But not just any beach—she’s at Jumby Bay, on a private island off the coast of Antigua where her family of 10—children, grandchildren and a cousin have gathered in a six bedroom villa complete with a butler, chef, housekeeping and all the resort amenities a kid or grown up might want—from beach toys to kayak and snorkeling, a kid’s club to bikes .
“What’s not to like,” said Bill Allyn. Their family has vacationed all over the Caribbean and Jumby Bay is tops on their list because they have a private house to gather in with all of the services they want to relax.” But you’re not crowded… you can go off in your own corner,” said Kristine Allyn. “The food is great… the drinks are good.”
Her brother David said with two young sons he loves not having to pay $15 for a virgin colada the kids wouldn’t drink.
At Christmas, there will be over 300 guests here spread out in the villas, homes and 40 rooms—including 90 kids who will be treated to a never ending array of water sports (kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, snorkeling, fishing) and a complimentary kids club with activities from morning-evening; those with kids younger than three can opt for nanny services at an extra charge.
There is so much demand for kids’ activities that the Rosebud Kids Center director Anne Mari Thomas said she will add 13 more staff and special activities–making Christmas Stockings, a Pirate Candy Cane Treasure Hunt, Beach Cricket Competition, Gingerbread house decorating, Lizard hunting, a Paddle Challenge for teens and tweens, raft building X-treme Water Polo, Ice Sculpture competition… activities from right after breakfast through the evening.
Many of the groups coming will b multigenerational families, said Trevor McDonald, the director of operations. He said there was a significant uptick in those groups at Thanksgiving as well—well heeled families looking for a house to gather in but all of the amenities of a resort and a staff to cater to every whim.
Of course this doesn’t come cheap—some of these large six-bedroom homes, complete with tennis courts and pools bigger than at some hotels , chef and butler, will go for over $25,000 a night; other smaller ones $8000—per night They may have amazing local art, a stretch of private beach and lawns that stretch for three acres. How about a bathroom with an outdoor shower and tub? A game room with a pool table, a private work out area? They have names like Lazy Lizard Turtle Crossing, Frangipane. Rooms start at $1,650.00.
The price doesn’t keep anyone away. The 36 villas and homes and 40 rooms is fully booked for the holidays, McDonald said. “I have to get in baby bike seats and kids’ bikes. If you don’t want to be around kids, don’t come at Christmas,” he said.
That means Santa arriving on the beach (how he gets here is a secret) with elves to hand out gifts, a special kids’ buffet at every meal with offerings that will include fresh fish, arriving to find the villas decorated, activities on the mainland arranged (zip lining maybe), special dinners including whole roasted pig and fire eater to entertain, steel band and carolers from a local school.
Jumby also offers sunset sails, snorkel trips, special West Indian buffets, traditional Christmas dinner and a New Years eve bash complete with roulette and poker and aerielists entertaining during dinner. “New Years eve is our night of the year—glitz and Glamour Caribbean, style,” said Andre Roberts, the director of food and beverage
The place is so exclusive that no one can stop by for a drink or a burger; security carefully monitors the sailboats anchoring off shore who may use the beaches (the are public after all) but cant use the beach chairs or restaurants.
“They have the opportunity for a family reunion,” said McDonald, “But no one has to do all the work.”