Life's a beach in AntiguaJan 26, 2018
By: Melanie Reffes
Source: The Suburban
With the marketing campaign ‘Warm up Their Winter’ and the mercury plummeting at home, Antigua is on a roll with a new nonstop flight from Montreal. Greeted with a water cannon salute on the tarmac, the Sunwing jet arrived in grand style. “We are thrilled to be a part of the inaugural flight coming directly from Montreal and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship,” said Susan Oland, director, partnerships and tour operations, Sunwing Travel Group.
Complementing service from Toronto, the Montreal flight departs every Sunday. “This weekly service by the Sunwing Travel Group will be an important connection to bring our visitors quickly from both Quebec and Ontario to our island, “added Hon. Charles Fernandez, minister tourism. — www.sunwing.ca
The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua is a winter wonderland of 365 beaches with snorkeling along a colourful coral reef, scenic harbours, big yachts, small sailboats, seaside resorts and tasty treats like black pineapple and grilled wahoo. “Quebecers have had a longstanding affinity for our beaches and all-inclusive family-friendly hotels,” said Colin Skerritt, director tourism, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Canada. “With the addition of the Sunwing service and extensive marketing, Antigua has already seen significant increases in Montreal and east coast connecting travelers who are experiencing the island for the first time.” — www.visitantiguabarbuda.com
Beauty on the Bluff
Photo: Suite with plunge pool, Credit: Curtain Bluff
On the south coast, Curtain Bluff is not only the oldest exclusive hotel on the island; it is also one of the prettiest. Framed by a pair of sandy beaches at the convergence of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the 72-room all-inclusive is ideal for couples and families. Born in Antigua, Wendy Eardley is also a Montrealer and the resort’s resident manager and wedding coordinator. With her family, she moved to Montreal in 1975 where her dad was a priest at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Cote Ste. Catherine Rd. She returned to Antigua 12 years later and today is delighted to welcome Montrealers to Curtain Bluff.
“We are all very excited that Sunwing has started direct flights to and from Antigua,” she said with a smile, adding, “It will bring so many more Canadians to Antigua.”
With a regal guestbook that includes rock royalty like Sir Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton, suites are sweet with plunge pools and siesta-ready daybeds. For families, there’s crab racing at the Kids Club, power walks on the beach are calorie-burners and for the more devoted, tennis courts are lit for night play, personal trainers are on hand in the fitness center and two pools are splash-ready.
Photo: Surf Beach, Credit: Curtain Bluff
Surf Beach invites with day beds and swinging hammocks and Bay Beach is action-central for dive trips and rides on the raft called the Super Mable. Protected by Cades Reef, the waves are calm enough for kids and the perfect host for kayaking, swimming and sailing. Take five in shady loungers, stroll to the Beach Café or stay put for ice lollies delivered by beach concierges.
Ask wedding coordinator Wendy Eardley anything about arranging the big day and she’ll give you a bouquet of suggestions, from scenic ceremonies to bridal bouquets. “We host 12 weddings a month. Bluff House is where our owner lives but it’s also a gorgeous spot for a ceremony at sunset,” she says.
Funky wedding add-ons include cookie buffets and caviar bars. “We are the only country in the Caribbean with no residency requirements for couples to get married,”
said Colin James, CEO, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. “Our population is 90,000 and we perform 1,200 weddings a year, which is the highest per capita rate in the world and something we are quite proud of.”
Good mood food
Photo: Grilled Shrimp, Credit: Curtain Bluff
A six pack of bars and a trio of restaurants is nirvana for foodies and everyone else who likes to eat. For breakfast, Tamarind Tree is where you’ll find a strong cuppa Joe, scrumptious omelettes and croissants hot from the baker’s oven. Dinner is the time for buttery lobsters and ditch-the-diet desserts. At Sea Grape, lunch is a spread of Caribbean specialities, beach barbecues with a side of steel pan and for dinner, spaghetti drizzled with basil pesto is primo. For midday munchies, there’s afternoon tea at the Sugar Mill Terrace and for a night cap, the bars stay open late.
Cooking with the best at Hotel du Crillon in Paris, Executive Chef Christophe Blatz runs an eco-astute kitchen. “We get eggs less than a mile away from the resort, fishermen bring us their catch of the day and our limes and sweet potatoes come from nearby farms.” — www.curtainbluff.com
On any given Sunday
Photo: English Harbour from Shirley Heights look out, Credit: Anitgua & Barbuda Tourism
It’s an uphill trek but well worth it for the unrivaled panoramas over English Harbour. Every Sunday at sunset, Shirley Heights is jackpot of Wadadli beer, jerk made hotter with Suzie’s pepper sauce, sweet fried Johnny cakes and steel-pan players keeping the island vibe.
For those on cruise control, big ships dock at Heritage and Redcliffe Quays in the capital city of St. John’s where sports bars welcome cocktail sippers, artisans showcase their crafts and views of the harbour are spectacular. On the southern edge of town, Farmer’s Market is chockablock with vendors hawking sweet black pineapple and bottles of the islands killer hot sauce.