Curtain Bluff Resort: Vacation Nirvana on Antigua's South Coast
Melanie ReffesMay 26, 2020
Curtain Bluff Resort on the island's southern shoreline Photo credit Curtain Bluff
A true original, Curtain Bluff is not only the oldest exclusive hotel on the island; the all-inclusive framed by a pair of sandy beaches may also be the prettiest. On twenty landscaped acres, the 72-room and suite family-friendly resort on Old Road in Saint Mary’s sits pretty on the southern coast of the island.
With a regal guestbook that includes rock royalty like Sir Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton, the resort built by the late Sir Howard Hulford and his wife Chelle who lives in the resorts stunning Bluff House opened in 1962 and has earned legions of loyal fans from all over the world. “Curtain Bluff is not only a very special property on a magnificent location but our repeat guests and long time staff have formed very endearing relationships through the years, “ said Chelle Hulford , “we have watched guests and staff grow into several generations of family with great respect and friendship without losing the service that is expected, many guests book their vacations around the same time to meet each other while first time guests feel the warmth and genuine hospitality which surrounds the hotel.” Reopening on October 24, reservations can be made now for fall 2020 and throughout 2021. “The hotel will adapt whatever international protocols are required to operate a 5 star resort before we reopen, “said Rob Sherman, managing director. Toll-free from US: 888- 289-9898. www.curtainbluff.com
The Spa at Curtain Bluff Photo Credit CB
Stylish and spacious, 17 Ground Floor Junior Suites are in two buildings close to Surf Beach. Comfy with a sunken living room, the suites invite with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to verandas and terraces that overlook the sea. Affordably priced, 9 Deluxe Rooms are on Surf Beach, a short stroll from the bar and restaurant. Also on the beach, 23 Junior Suites are ocean view with balconies and terraces for sunset spotting and sunrise contemplation. Overlooking Surf Beach higher up the bluff, 5 Bluff Suites are spectacular with a garden patio, hammock, breakfast nook and big dining terrace.
Grace Bay Suite is part of the Hulford Collection
Worth the splurge are the divine Hulford Collection suites including the Cliff Suite tucked into the hillside with a spacious living room, separate bedroom, marble bathroom, infinity soaking pool, vistas of Grace Bay Beach and a second terrace that salutes Surf Beach. The Grace Bayand Morris Bay suites front Surf Beach and are outfitted with aalatial verandah with a Jacuzzi. For big broods, the suites can be linked to a Junior Suite and for bigger broods; the entire floor with four bedrooms can be rented as one. With sweeping views of the sea, Terrace Suite at the top of the bluff is divine with an infinity edge plunge pool.
Cliff Suite tucked into the hillside Photo credit Curtain Bluff
Good mood food
A six pack of bars from a swim-up to a rum bar and a trio of restaurants is nirvana for foodies who delight in trying local specialities like a Seafood Fusion Bowl and a refreshing Wadadli beer. Afternoon Tea is served on the stone Sugar Mill terrace overlookng the gardens and hors d’oeuvres are served during cocktail hour in the Sugar Mill Bar. Cooking with the best at Les Ambassadeurs restaurant in the Hotel du Crillon in Paris, Executive Chef Christophe Blatz runs an eco-astute kitchen sourcing the ocean’s finest from local fishermen and eggs, fruits and vegetables from neighborhood farmers. The Chef’s cooking classes teach the fine art of fusing French continental recipes with the flavors of the Caribbean. George Williams has been the sommelier for more than thirty years overseeing the wine cellar considered one of the largest in the Caribbean with thousands of bottles kept cold in an underground cellar. Tours of the cellar and wine tastings are offered.
Seafood Fusion Bowl is a fan favorite Photo Credit Curtain Bluff
Open-walled in the traditional plantation style, Tamarind is the main restaurant looking out over a terrace canopied by the spreading limbs of the iconic tamarind tree. For breakfast, a strong cuppa Joe, croissants hot from the baker’s oven and banana pancakes are fan favorites. For dinner, tables are flecked with candlelight and the terrace sparkles with decorative lights. Changing every night, the menu is a multi-course feast tempting even the pickiest eaters. At the far end of the Bay Beach, The Seagrape is a few steps from the water’s edge. Open for lunch and dinner, Mediterranean signatures aim to please like lobster ravioli and beetroot gnocchi while a shareable slice of chocolate hazelnut cake drizzled with orange sauce hits the sweet spot.
The Tamarind Tree Terrace Photo credit Curtain Bluff
Renew, relax and repeat
Striking from every angle, Jacuzzi at The Spa is big enough to be a pool. Built on the edge of a rock for uninterrupted views of the neighboring islands of Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, it's a stunner at sunset and a shady retreat from the high noon sun. Inside at The Spa, a medley of rubs and scrubs revive the weary like water lily wraps, caviar and champagne facials and couples massages for twosomes on a mission to relax. Upping the chill out ante, herbal tea made from the resorts garden sets the tone, four treatment rooms including one for couples each have their own balcony and spa bites fit the bill for a lite snack. Linger awhile in the relaxation room and take a dip in the hot tub overlooking the ocean.
Spa pool is divine for quiet contemplation Photo Credit Curtain Bluff
Wild blue yonder
Surf Beach invites with day beds and swinging hammocks and Bay Beach is action-central for dive trips and water sports. Protected by Cades Reef, the waves are calm enough for kids and the perfect host for kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and sailing. Take five in shady loungers, stroll to the Beach Café or stay put for ice lollies delivered by beach concierges. Rounding out the roster, there is golfing at Cedar Valley and zip lining at the Antigua Rainforest Adventure Tour. For the wee ones, Cee Bee Kids Camp for kids up to 12 years old is included in room rates and where junior vacationers design their own wind chimes, hunt for shells, learn how to make their own chocolate and play on the Jungle Gym.
Day beds on the beach are perfectly private Photo credit Melanie Reffes
Hammocks on the beach welcome an afternoon siesta Photo Credit Melanie Reffes
Surrounded by palms, the main swimming pool with a pair of lap lanes is for those who might not fancy sand between the toes. A second adults-only infinity pool is outfitted with loungers. For those who covet personal pool time, swanky suites come with plunge pools. For the active crowd, there’s a basketball half-court, squash court, power walks, fitness center, bocce and shuffleboard courts and yoga.
Swimming pools are never crowded Photo Credit Melanie Reffes
Snorkel trips to Cades Reef Photo Credit Curtain Bluff
Postcard perfect for celebrating special occasion, the resort is a leader in romance with wedding and honeymoon packages guaranteed to please couples from around the world. Picturesque ceremonies include on the beach at sunset and at The Bluff House overlooking the neighboring islands. Onsite wedding coordinators curate details from soup-to-nuts and everything in between. “We ask that the bride and groom and the majority of their invited guests spend at least 3 nights per room at the hotel, “ said Wendy Eardley, resident manager, “ our perks for honeymooners include a bottle of champagne in room upon arrival, room decorated with local flowers, floral welcome greeting on the bed , private dinner in our garden gazebo and a room upgrade, if available , on the day of check in. “The Caribbean Wedding package - US$1,300.00- includes a wedding planner, license fee, transfer to the city to complete the license paperwork, marriage officer’s fee, bridal bouquet, boutonniere for the groom , wedding cake, ceremony and cocktails at The Bluff House or on the beach and a romantic Gazebo dinner after the ceremony. Wedding and honeymoon packages can be viewed at https://curtainbluff.com/caribbean-luxury-included-weddings/
Saying I Do at Curtain Bluff Photo Credit Yensa Werth
Bluff House is popular for weddings Photo Credit Curtain Bluff
Howard and Chelle Hulford started the Old Road Fund in 1974, naming it after the village that sits just outside the resort’s gates. Initially its purpose was to supply basic necessities to the community’s neediest families and has to date risen over $US 1 million for scholarship assistance, medical relief and sports development. During these challenging times, Old Road Fund for Staff Relief has been established for staff laid off due to the pandemic. Donations are tax-deductible via a 501c3 form valid in the US and Canada. To donate, click https://curtainbluff.com/donate-to-orf/
Cool and calm vibe by the sea Photo Credit Curtain Bluff
Banana Bread is so good the resort will pack a loaf for the trip home. Yes, you can also make it at home.
- 1 ½ cups ripe bananas. Mashed
- 10 oz. granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 3 whole eggs
- 10 oz. All-Purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
- 1/4 Tablespoon salt
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, combine bananas, sugar and shortening. Whisk until mixture is light and no lumps of shortening is visible.
Whisk in whole eggs.
Gently fold flour and baking soda into mixture.
Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan, bake in 300 degree oven for 45 minutes.
Banana bread is a popular sweet treat Photo Credit Curtain Bluff