Whirlwind tour of the Caribbean
24/06/2016The only way to travel to the West Indies: free flowing champagne, Chablis and a fabulous beef fillet in Club World.
With just a short stopover in Antigua, we went onward to Anguilla. Clayton Lloyd International Airport at Anguilla is a tiny little 'hut' where it takes just five minutes to get through, so we were fast on our way to Malliouhana.
The palm tree approach to Malliouhana led us to the stunning lobby area where we were greeted with cold towels and a refreshing drink. Our lovely ocean front rooms were huge and pretty in pale blues and yellows and are designed to perfection, even ensuring the TVs are camouflaged into the mirror. Post flight, we plunged ourselves into the drenching showers and then headed to Straw Hat, a local buzzy restaurant which was packed with locals and tourists enjoying the stunning ocean front location.
To really understand Anguilla you need to get to know the characters, check out the restaurants and roadside bars. So much of Anguilla is based on the coast and the phenomenal beaches. We tipped our toes into the waters of Shoal Bay, often named best beach in the world, we drove through the Valley (the capital) with its trucks selling food and old boys playing dominoes.
Our final destination was Sandy Ground, the epicentre of bars and restaurants where we took a little boat over to Sandy Island, a sand strip with nothing but a small restaurant and sun loungers. We devoured shrimps and snapper with beer chasers and then hit the water and soaked up the 30 degree rays.
Back at Malliouhana, we enjoyed a gastronomic feast prepared by Cupertino Ortiz, the talented executive chef. This was a tasting menu of gargantuan delight combined with delicious wines all in the pretty outdoor setting of the restaurant.
Next morning was our final immersion in Anguilla life, most of us choosing to hit the beautiful white sand beach of Meads Bay. We said our goodbyes to our fabulous hosts Tania and John, and headed off for our St Barths Commuter flight where we were swept onto the plane half an hour before departure.
Whilst we were sad to be leaving Anguilla, St Barths was waiting and what a way to arrive. Going through passport control showed us what was ahead, with the first sign being 'No sunglasses' - a nod to those getting off their private jets and forgetting to remove their shades.
A sleek black Mercedes whisked us off to Eden Rock where we were checked into Villa Rockstar, a large 4 bedroom contemporary beauty with a sleek white kitchen. We were also introduced to Pieter and Giovanni, our personal butlers for the next couple of days... With immediate effect, they poured champagne and served us a delicious selection of tapas.
As there was 6 of us, Villa Rockstar opened up to the neighbouring villa, Villa Nina; just as beautiful and again with an oceanfront location and spectacular pool. With champagne in hand we wandered through our residences - complete with a private gym, a pool table, a recording studio with a mixing desk which John Lennon had used to record Imagine, a full scale drum kit and guitars, and last but not least, a red convertible Mini Cooper, bicycles and shiny red paddle boards for our use.
Dinner was at On The Rocks, Jean George Vongrichten's culinary masterpiece. The meal was a triumph and we particularly enjoyed watching the chefs prepare from their open kitchen.
The one challenge with Eden Rock is that with 34 rooms and being so popular, getting availability can be tough. The answer has now come with Eden Rock hand choosing 60 of the best villas on the island and working in conjunction with them to give all the services of the hotel.
We were driven to another incredible villa - Villa Vue De Reve - where we were met by David Matthews, the pioneer and owner of Eden Rock who has created this icon and is still as passionate and involved as ever. Likewise, his wife Jane who is the interior designer for the villa rooms, and just recently completed the magnificent Christopher Columbus Suite at the hotel. They showed us the little touches that make all the difference: a fire pit, those expensive La Cornue cookers, and the piece de resistance, a €18,000 swinging seat. This villa towering over St Barths was breath-taking.
We headed back down to the hotel for some sunbathing, shopping in St Jean (walkable from the hotel) and a quick supper at The Sandbar before enjoying the evening at Le Ti, the island's burlesque club.
Next morning, we soaked up the last few rays of sunshine before saying goodbye. At the airport we spied our Tradewind Aviation jet, a sleek piece of aircraft with white leather interiors (and chilled drinks on board) and a jet engine which got us to Antigua in a mere 25 minutes.
We had a quick dinner at Jumby Bay, and finally made the journey back home.
By Samantha Mullen