A Look at Antigua’s Carlisle Bay

In Destinations, North America by Susan Barnes

When flying to Antigua, be sure to choose a window seat and watch the islands float below as you soar over the incredible hues of the Caribbean Sea – greens and blues meld together to create a beautiful, fluid tapestry.

Once you land and take the 30-minute ride across the volcanic island, along soaring, twisting roads through the rainforest, you arrive in heaven. Or Antigua’s version of it, anyway.

Carlisle Bay  (carlisle-bay.com), a CampbellGray Hotel and one of the Leading Hotels of the World, is an intimate five-star resort on the south coast of the island. Walking into the open-air lobby, a sense of luxury instantly washes over you. Once you’re checked in, you’ll be escorted to your room after a brief tour of the property, to get a lay of the land. The winding paths envelop you into a tropical feel, eventually opening onto the beaches at either end.

The 82 comfortable and contemporary ocean-facing suites are tucked between a secluded bay and the aforementioned cascading rain-forest, offering the best of both views. Depending on your needs, choose from a spacious Ocean Suite for two, or for more space, a Carlisle Suite, with three en-suite bedrooms that can accommodate up to six guests.

When it comes to dining, three restaurants and their bars take center stage at Carlisle Bay, each with their own flavors and inspirations. Indigo on the Beach is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features healthy dishes, seafood, salads and barbeques – all in a toes-in-the-sand setting. The poolside Ottimo offers classic Italian dishes, including pizza cooked in a wood burning oven – delicious! Known as one of the best restaurants on the island, East is open for dinner only and serves pan-Asian cuisine. Save room – and calories – for the molten chocolate cake, and don’t share. Trust me!

For a truly decadent culinary experience, make arrangements to dine at sunset on the jetty – it’s just you, the water and the stars, by candlelight. And don’t forget about English-inspired afternoon tea or Bento boxes, served en suite, or under an umbrella on the beach.

If traveling with kids, you’ll certainly want to take advantage of the Cool Kids Club. Complimentary, supervised age-appropriate activities are offered for kids ages two to 12, ranging from a splash pool and sandpit to tennis, beach exploring, movies, and even kids’ high tea. Babysitting services are also available for a nominal fee.

Treatments at Carlisle Bay’s The Blue Spa feature Natura Bissé, a Spanish skincare line that’s available at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. For a real treat, try the award-winning Diamond Ice Lift Facial, using shiatsu-inspired massage techniques for dramatic results…diamonds are a girl’s best friend, after all. Back in your room, the pampering continues with larger-than-travel-size bottles of REN Clean Skincare.

There’s little reason to leave Carlisle Bay – the staff makes available many activities to keep you busy, if lazing on the beach gets to be too much. From sunset yoga to Pilates to snorkeling adventures to guided hikes through the rainforest, there are plenty of options to choose from.

If you must leave the resort, Antigua certainly is a playground! Sail the seas around the island, hike through the rainforest, or get a bird’s eye view whilst zip lining in its canopies. Go deep sea fishing, or dive below the water’s service for some magnificent SCUBA diving. For a historic perspective, visit Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation, founded in 1674; English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard, developed in the 18th century; and the island’s museums.

However you choose to experience Antigua and Carlisle Bay, you’ll be glad you did.

For more on Antigua, please visit antigua-barbuda.org.