Anguilla Turns 40

Not everyone dreads turning 40. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Anguilla's secession from the association of states of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, and island representatives are touting this landmark year with the slogan "40 and Fabulous."  Anguilla's new Greg-Norman designed golf course at the St. Regis' Temenos Golf Club

Six miles from St. Martin, Anguila is 35 square miles (16 miles long and three miles at its widest point) and has a population of 13,000.

The Honorable Donna Banks, special advisor to tourism for the island of Anguilla, tells Travel Agent that the island's independence came about when "a crowd surged police headquarters" in a "bloodless coup" after centuries of rule by other entities including Great Britain and France.

Banks characterizes the island as "low volume, high value," and asserts that "large-scale developments and cruise ships are not encouraged."

Charming Escapes Collection

On the lodging front, she discusses the island's Charming Escapes Collection, whose 16 properties have been given a "seal of approval." The collection is comprised of 16 inns, villas and other accommodations that, according to Banks, offer "a unique and affordable way to experience Anguilla."

All of the properties offer 10 percent commission for agents. A spokesperson for the Anguilla Tourist Board told Travel Agent that a travel liaison hasn't been assigned for the properties. For now, agents can call the Anguilla Tourist Board's general number (877-4ANGUILLA) to book or agents can visit www.anguilla-vacation.com.

Another aspect of the island that Banks seemed particularly proud of is its increasingly high culinary profile. Banks says that the island is being referred to as the "gourmet capital of the Caribbean" and that "our restaurants are becoming as renowned as our beaches." "Thirty-three powder white sand beaches," to be exact.

Beach near St. Regis Temenos Villas

New Course Draws Golfers

Opened in November, the Greg Norman-designed course at the Temenos Golf Club is at the island's St. Regis hotel. Golfers are greeted by a vista of St. Martin and the Caribbean Sea at the tee box of the 390-yard starting hole. The fairways drop more than 40 feet to a narrow, two-tiered green. The course has large sand dunes on the left and a saltwater pond on the right. The 16th hole is 440 yards and the narrowing fairway on the 18th hole ascends 40 feet through rugged terrain to a narrow green carved out of the native shrub.

Tennis is another sport the island is gearing up for, with a 1,000-seat stadium in the works at the AnguillaTennisAcademy. The AnguillaTennisAcademy was established in 1996 to offer the island's children an opportunity to learn the sport through summer camps and after-school programs.

Anguilla Tourist Board: 877-4ANGUILLA, www.anguilla-vacation.com