Caribbean - Open for Business: Antigua

Aerial view of Jolly Harbour with sea meeting sky on horizon
Jolly Harbour, Antigua. // Photo by tapit/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

As part of our “Caribbean - Open for Business” series, in which we profile the hottest selling points for Caribbean islands that were not scathed or majorly impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane MariaTravel Agent explores the hottest hotel news out of Antigua.

A spokesperson for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority told Travel Agent that none of the resorts in Antigua were forced to close due to the hurricanes. Although a few hotels were closed, it was due to annual renovations. All major hotels in Antigua are now open except for Galley Bay Resort & Spa, which will reopen on December 23 after it completes renovations, the spokesperson told Travel Agent.

And here are some other hot hotel happening that might persuade clients to take that next Caribbean getaway to Antigua. 

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Sandals Grande Antigua Reopens After First Closure in 25 Years

Sandals Grande Antigua

Caribbean hospitality company Sandals Resorts International (SRI) announced earlier this year the temporary closure of Sandals Grande Antigua. Unrelated to the hurricanes, the resort closed on September 20 for “important maintenance projects,” according to a Sandals news release, and reopened on December 17.

This was the first time Sandals Grande Antigua, the only flagged Sandals Resort in Antigua, has closed since opening in 1992. 

“There is no convenient time to inconvenience people, and while many hotels in Antigua have traditionally closed on an annual basis, we have not and recognize the dramatic consequences this action has on our staff, industry and destination partners, vendors and of course, guests.  We humbly and sincerely apologize and promise, Sandals will take care of you,” said SRI Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart in a written release issued back in July. “Our team is committed to handling this period in the most professional and practical way possible.”

Visit www.sandals.com

New Antigua Hotel to Represent Waldorf Astoria’s First New-Build Resort in the Caribbean

Morris Bay Beach in Antigua

Photo by MichaelUtech/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Hilton's luxury brand of landmark hotels, announced earlier this year the signing of a management agreement with Callaloo Cay Antigua for the brand’s first new-build resort in the Caribbean, Waldorf Astoria Antigua

Scheduled to open in 2020, the hotel will be located in a cove along the southeastern coast of Antigua at Morris Bay Beach, roughly 20 minutes from V.C. Bird International Airport.

The resort’s 95 guest rooms and 25 branded villas, including beachfront suites and hilltop accommodations, will offer views of the bay and its surroundings. Waldorf Astoria Antigua will offer 30 acres of beachfront as well as a bluff overlooking the Cades Bay. 

"Waldorf Astoria Antigua will set a new standard of Caribbean luxury, extending our bespoke True Waldorf Service and first-class accommodations, as well as providing travelers with unforgettable experiences,” said John T.A. Vanderslice, global head for Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, in a written release. “Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts’ mission is to be the fastest growing, most innovative luxury hotel brand in the world, and hotels like Waldorf Astoria Antigua represent the brand’s commitment to continued expansion and delivering luxury to the world’s most sought after destinations.”

Waldorf Astoria Antigua will have a specialty restaurant, signature bar and waterside dining concepts. For relaxation, guests can indulge in the resort’s spa, disconnect in the fitness center or enjoy the beach. 

A five-acre natural park will be developed as part of the project, available for guests to enjoy an outdoor experience. Also, indoor and outdoor event space will provide the backdrop for group and meeting activities.

"We are pleased to embark on this exciting development with Hilton and build a landmark luxury resort in the heart of this island sanctuary,” said Dawood Shah, senior vice president, business development, for Callaloo Cay Antigua. "Hilton’s nearly 100 years of renowned hospitality, combined with the timeless sophistication of Waldorf Astoria, will help position this resort as the finest choice for luxury travel in Antigua and marquis development in global citizenship.”

Visit www3.hilton.com

Curtain Bluff Reopens Following Renovation

Curtain Bluff

Travel Agent recently sat down with Rob Sherman, managing director of Curtain Bluff in Antigua, and learned that the recently upgraded, all-inclusive resort is now officially offering 15 percent commission to agents.

Travel Agent first brought you news of a $13 million renovation of the resort, along with the commission spike back, in 2016. Curtain Bluff, which was previously offering a 10 percent commission, is now offering 15 percent, beginning with bookings for October 28, when the hotel reopens following the renovations. 

The most significant refurbishment of its common spaces since the hotel opened, the project includes a complete overhaul of the resort entrance, dining spaces, bar, lounge and reception area. 

Curtain Bluff’s rooms and suites are being refurnished with bright new fabrics, furnishings and furniture that echo the colors of nature that fill the windows of every room. The Curtain Bluff beach experience is being upgraded as well, with new chaise lounges and sand chairs providing a more sleek look and a “Beach Concierge,” available to cater to guests. This includes setting up activities and water sports, placing drink orders and scouting out the ideal beach chair or hammock for the day.

The property’s signature Tamarind Tree Restaurant will offer a completely redefined dining experience upon reopening. Also undergoing a refresh is the resort’s meeting area. A solid fit for groups of 20 to 60 people and complete with all necessary presentation equipment, the meeting space provides a great setting for weddings, private dinners, cocktail parties and other events. 

Curtain Bluff also recently unveiled upgrades to its four signature “Hulford Collection” suites, which are named after the resort’s owners and founders. Each now features a private infinity-edge plunge pool on the terrace overlooking the sea. In addition, the Terrace Suite underwent a complete renovation and redesign including new soft goods and a luxury spa bathroom. The Hulford Collection also includes the Grace and Morris Bay Suites and Cliff Suite. 

Visit www.curtainbluff.com

Antigua’s Jumby Bay Joins Oetker Collection

Jumby Bay A Rosewood Resort

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, recently joined the Oetker Collection when it reopened in early October, becoming the tenth property in the company's portfolio.

The five-star private island resort in Antigua comprises 40 rooms and suites, 50 villas and estate homes, three restaurants, a spa and fitness center, as well as five tennis courts and water sport offerings.

As the new operator of Jumby Bay Island, Oetker Collection will be responsible for the management of the resort and for the rental of the villas and estate homes, some of which offer nine bedrooms and most of them with direct access to a private beach.

The Oetker Collection includes: Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Le Bristol Paris, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Château Saint-Martin & Spa, Fregate Island Private, The Lanesborough, L’Apogée Courchevel, Eden Rock-St Barths and most recently Palácio Tangará, which opened in June 2017 in São Paulo.

Also, from families and adventure seekers to nature lovers and wellness enthusiasts, Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort’s new “Estate Home Experiences” are a solid option for an array of clients. 

These new experiences showcase four of Jumby Bay’s Estate Homes in Antigua and highlight the home’s amenities and offerings. Jumby Bay will announce a new selection of experiences in the coming months.

The current experiences being offered include:

West Indies Immersion Experience

Guests staying at the seven-bedroom seaside Pure Turquoise Estate Home will have the opportunity to partake in a variety of activities from games of croquet on the home’s green to beach cricket. 

Guests will able to learn how to play authentic Caribbean music with a steel pan, take part in a West Indies spice night party and cook in a private class with a local chef.

Family Adventure Experience 

Sandpiper Beach House, a five-bedroom Estate Home situated directly on the beach, is a great option for families. 

Guests will discover the English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard on an exclusive tour, swim with stingrays in the ocean and enjoy a movie night on the beach. Guests will also be able to stage a family photo shoot on the island to take home the memory of Jumby Bay.

Life & Environment Experience

La Casa, a six-bedroom colonial style Estate Home, will offer nature-minded guests the opportunity to learn about the wildlife at Jumby Bay Island.

Activities will include a snorkel excursion on the resort’s yacht, Yennecot, and a turtle walk with the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle researchers. Guests can also schedule a zip line adventure during their stay, and enjoy a private dinner on the beach with the sounds of a local steel pan trio.

Mindful Vibes Experience

To promote mindfulness and rejuvenate the body, the experience at Lazy Lizard, a six-bedroom Estate Home, will offer guests daily yoga, healthy cooking classes and an art workshop with a local Antiguan artist.

Visit www.oetkercollection.com/destinations/jumby-bay-island

Jolly Beach Resort & Spa Changes Management 

Jolly Beach Resort & Spa

Blue Diamond Resorts, a fast-growing Caribbean hotel company, officially took over the management and operation of Jolly Beach Resort & Spa, a 464-room, all-inclusive resort in Antigua, on September 1.

Jolly Beach Resort & Spa is set on Jolly Beach, and is enveloped by 40 acres of gardens and greenery. The resort offers guests a selection of accommodations in six categories, each featuring a private balcony with views of the Caribbean Sea. Optional amenities including mini-fridge service, in-room coffee maker, Wi-Fi and an in-room safe are available at an additional charge.

For dining, guests can choose between four a la carte restaurants offering delicious dishes from Italian classics and authentic Indian to grilled catch-of-the-day options and jerk chicken, or opt for Hemispheres, the resort's buffet.

Every afternoon at Jolly Beach Resort & Spa, guests gather to meet one another in the courtyard for a unique spread of scones, pastries and a gourmet selection of teas.

Those who prefer to stay active on their all-inclusive vacation are sure to enjoy the basketball, tennis and beach volleyball courts, or the Jolly Sports Program for daily tennis and dance lessons.

Friendly competition takes place by the water with the Family Beach Olympics and kayak races, or guests can enjoy quiet time with authentic Antiguan arts and crafts, or a visit to the Palms Wellness Center.

Visit www.bluediamondresorts.com 

Cool Pools in Antigua

Hermitage Bay

Millennials looking to take a dip at one the Caribbean’s coolest beach resorts should put the infinity pool at Hermitage Bay in Antigua on their radar.

The infinity pool is located just off the beach and adjacent to the lounge and bar area. Bar service is available all day and there’s no rush to save a sun lounger as there are more loungers than guests. With 17 of the 34 suites having a private plunge pool, the main pool is rarely ever occupied, giving Millennials plenty of space to splash around. 

The pool ranges in depth from four to six feet. There is no piped music - just the sound of the waves lapping onto the beach. The bar is set away from the pool, but positioned so that staff can keep a discreet eye on the guests and have drinks sent over immediately.

The hotel’s signature welcome drink is a "Virgin Mojito." The ingredients are fresh mint leaves from our garden, liquid sugar, club soda, and lime. This is usually topped up with local rum on request. Other popular drinks include the "Antigua Smile," which is made up of light rum, banana liquor and pineapple juice and the Hermitage Gold, which includes pineapple, passion fruit, fresh mint, gold rum and champagne. Small plates are also available, including Wadadli battered mahi-mahi goujons and jerk chicken with mozzarella and plantain chips. 

And aside from the main pool, the resort also houses some luxurious en-suite pools with views of the ocean and the property's landscape.

Hermitage Bay has roughly 30 suites that are surrounded by 140 acres of greenery. The best rooms here are the Hillside Pool Suites and the Beachfront Suites. During a recent visit, Travel Agent saw Hillside Pool Suite No. 32. The top feature of this room was the view from the pool. Advisors should note, however, that we do recommend that guests be in at least moderate physical shape to stay in any of these rooms as they do require some stairs to get to.

Visit www.hermitagebay.com

Millennials looking for a swanky pool with impressive views in Antigua should also take a dip in the infinity pool at Sugar Ridge Resort.

Sugar Ridge Resort's infinity pool, commonly referred to by guests as "Carmichael's Pool" because of its proximity to Carmichael's restaurant, is super sleek and a great escape and place to hang out for the hip and trendy.

The Sugar Club pool area includes waterfalls, a lap pool and Carmichael's Pool, as well as covered and open lounge areas. The Sugar Club pool area can be rented out for private functions and for weddings.

Millennials can enjoy drinks from the bar or waiter service right to their poolside lounger. There is also Happy Hour here from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily.

Carmichael’s Pool is perfect for sunset gazing and conversations. The signature cocktail here is the "Carmichael's Joy," which includes Cavalier Dark Rum; Orange Curacao, pineapple juice, tamarind puree, passion fruit puree and angostura bitters.

Sugar Ridge is a stylish and intimate family-owned, lifestyle boutique hotel for discerning travelers who want to connect with the beautiful island of Antigua.

Visit www.sugarridgeantigua.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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