It’s seven thirty on a Sunday morning. The bay beyond our window is as smooth as glass and tiny quid birds are flitting about the balcony looking for something sugary. On the beach below our suite #315, the palm trees gently sway to the rhythm of the waves. We hear a knock-knock on our door. Room service on time, we say to ourselves? Sure enough, a gracious gentleman balancing a tray of cinnamon French toast and homemade jams asks where I would like our breakfast served. The morning opened up slowly. There are so many possibilities for languor. It is, indeed, another day in paradise.
Sitting pretty on the southeast coast of Antigua, Carlisle Bay is an uber-luxe 82-suite resort – member of Leading Small Hotels of the World –set amidst pineapple plantations, mango trees and a hillside rainforest. The creative vision of hotelier extraordinaire, Gordon Campbell Gray, the tony resort mirrors the same impeccable standards of its sister properties, One Aldwych and Dukes of London in the UK and Le Gray in Beirut.
Four hours by air from New York, the sister islands of Antigua and Barbuda are packing a punch for Valentine’s Day with convenient flights with American, Continental, Delta and US Airways. Nurturing eternal romantics, Carlisle Bay invites with irresistibly spacious suites overlooking the Bay with its sugary white sand and iridescent water that is home to brightly coloured trumpet fish and ruby red starfish. For privacy, a shiny conch shell placed outside the door is the Caribbean version of a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.”
Tying the knot is a breeze with an expert team of planners who arrange every detail. “I’d like to do one wedding a week at the resort,” says Jonathan Reynolds, general manager, “All the lucky couple has to do is say their I Do’s on the beach, in our restaurants or even on our boat jetty as the sun sets over the horizon.”
For an après-nuptial glow, there’s plenty of sensual healing in the Blue Spa with glass walls that are covered with louvered shutters to ensure peace and quiet in the six treatment rooms, plunge pools and sauna. “Couples sometimes find it hard to relax when they first arrive,” said Bruce Lawrence, spa manager, “but relaxation comes soon enough after an afternoon in the spa.” The “Four Hands Massage” where two massage therapists work together is the treatment of choice of couples while the “Honey & Mango” body scrub is recommended for a pre-ceremony glow.
To toast the newlyweds, the Pavilion Bar tempts with an “Antigua Smile” cocktail that will induce just that in a potent blend of rum, banana liqueur and pineapple juice as a talented musician tinkles the ivories on the piano tucked in the corner. A sweet for your sweetie (or for the reporter in the crowd), the “Journalist Martini” has a happy ending with a chilled blend of Bombay Sapphire gin, dry Vermouth, sweet Vermouth, triple sec and a splash of lime. After a cocktail or two, a sunset cruise aboard the resorts catamaran with Cleve and Prince at the helm is relaxation par excellence.
Whether you’re indulging by topping off your tan on the beach, playing a game of tennis on one of nine courts or sipping a frosty Wadadli beer at the jetty, treating your sweetie to a Valentine’s Day she (or he) will remember forever is a promise you can keep at the Carlisle Bay. Check out Carlisle Bay Beach Resort.
Tying the Knot at Carlisle Bay – The Total Package
• A wedding coordinator will assist with arrangements including marriage officer’s fee and wedding license
• Round trip airport transfers
• Accommodations for four or seven nights in a top floor Ocean Suite
• Full breakfast and afternoon tea daily
• Bridal hair and make-up
• Bridal bouquet and buttonhole for groom
• A wedding cake for two and bottle of Champagne after the ceremony
• One massage at Blue Spa
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This summer Antigua celebrates the 53rd anniversary of its annual Carnival. Kicking off on July 24th, festivities continue until August 3rd. For travel before August 27th, the “Why Wait” package starts at $380 per suite, per night including breakfast and afternoon tea.