DAY THREE: Different strokes for different folks.
Our cabdriver, Sam Rogers, who was born on Anguilla, says he remembers the days when there was just one car on the island, when islanders picked salt for a living rather than working in tourism and grew their own vegetables.
I was thinking about that as we spent the afternoon at the stunning Viceroy Resort down the road from where we are staying that employs 600 people for their 166 rooms. Did I mention the five-bedroom villas that rent for as much as $17,500 a night? Think neutral colors, raw woods, textured materials—a design dream but certainly not cozy. Did I mention a lot of the suites have their own private plunge pools on their terraces and bathrooms as big as some NYC apartments?
The idea, says resort spokesman Melissa Rosenfield, is to be able to pick up the natural colors of Anguilla—the white of the sand, the blue of the ocean, the green of leaves on the palm and coconut trees.
This is the place that attracts Hollywood and sports celebs as well as icons like Paul McCartney, Michael Jordan, and Paul Simon. It is sleek with knockout views everywhere—infinity pools and one with zero entry for kids. This is the crowd that will fly over to St. Barts ($250 RT) for a day of shopping.
It’s also a popular spot for weddings—50 last year. The resort is just three years old, and this past “festive season” 60 percent of the guests were returning.
I love that the kids’ program here is complimentary (starting at age four, though there is a $29 charge for the evening program and $15 for the kids’ buffet when it is offered) and that in summer there are special sailing and other camps. A local author comes to do a workshop with the kids. For tween and teens, they might be able to attend “scratch academy” to learn how to be DJs…summer in particular, is packed with programs for families as are school break weeks. Have you ever tried aerial fitness? Apparently it is a huge hit with kids. So are the two climbing walls. There’s beach volleyball and soccer when there are a lot of kids in house too. Indeed, it is what a high-end resort for 21st century families should be. No wonder the one-bedroom suites are the most popular. Part of the welcome backpack the kids get includes a reuseable water bottle (Yes!) and a card that identifies Caribbean fish (have you seen a Blue Tang that is really more purple than blue?) and constellations so kids can see how many they can find (have you ever seen Grus?).
But when we visit just after new years, it is a young, thirty-something crowd mostly from New York and LA, a lot of honeymooners (often there are a lot of couples here for a “baby moon” before the baby is born). To lounge on the beach—just walk down the beach to some of the island’s most famous restaurants like Straw Hat–go over to private Sandy Island for the day
They also come for a “minimoon” right after their weddings for just a couple of days—postponing their “real” honeymoons until several months later. The resort’s signature restaurant Coba is drop-dead beautiful—all sleek and fine dining.
We ensconce ourselves in a cabana next to one of the pools for a couple of hours—(love the complimentary floating mats!) and then move to another infinity pool overlooking the ocean to watch the sunset. Can it get any better to have nothing else to do but sit on a comfy lounge waiting for the sun to set.
Tonight we return to CuisinArt Resort to dine at Tokyo Bay, Anguilla’s first authentic Japanese restaurant. We receive a warm welcome to this sleek, seductive spot from Restaurant Manager Garmon Greenaway. Chef Ken Lin starts us off with pan-fried dumplings of wagyu beef with foie gras, spicy wok-tossed edamame beans, grilled eggplant with rock shrimp, and tataki of wagyu beef with watercress salad topped with pineapple pickled, ponzu dressing. We then feast on a skillfully prepared and quite varied selection of delectable sushi and sashimi, while we also choose the grilled Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce and hydroponic bok choy. We end our meal with a unique chocolate sushi and mango sorbet.
Another day—and night—it is easy to see why locals say this place is tranquility surrounded by blue.