|Anguilla’s annual Fiesta del Mar calls attention to the island’s culinary heritage.|
There’s nothing like great service and friendly locals to help complement a delicious meal in the Caribbean. And a few rum punches can’t hurt either. Travel Agent recently visited Anguilla for the island’s annual Festival del Mar culinary celebration and came back with a wealth of selling tips for foodies who like to wash down a good meal with some old-fashioned Caribbean hospitality. Here are some highlights:
Whether it’s inside or outside of a hotel, Anguilla is home to some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean. We didn’t get to see all of them, of course, but we can at least tell you the best of the dining options we experienced during our stay.
The best place for lunch is Smokey’s at the Cove, known for its “Special Rum Punch,” a large, rum-generous drink that packs a serious punch (pun intended). Everything on the menu is delicious, fresh and quick to eat so you can get back to the beach. We recommend either the lobster roll, which was very light and not too filling, or the ribs. (You’re going to be eating a lot of seafood during any trip to Anguilla, so might as well enjoy a good piece of meat while you can.)
Our favorite spot to eat outside of a hotel was Veya. The layout of the restaurant has a subtle, relaxing Moroccan theme. We ordered the spicy Indian yellow pea soup for an appetizer and had the poached lobster with spinach risotto as our entrée. We washed both down with a crisp glass of the restaurant’s house Sauvignon Blanc. There is also usually light, live music in the background.
The best dining option located within a hotel was Coba, the signature restaurant of the Viceroy Anguilla. The ambiance is outstanding and commands a guest’s attention as soon as they walk through the door. The restaurant usually welcomes patrons with some tasteful live music, mostly covers of popular American classics.
We were incredibly pleased with our selection of the crab cake for an appetizer and the grilled beef tenderloin and local lobster with mushrooms as an entrée. But what shouldn’t be ignored is the pretzel bread that is served before dinner and comes with a honey Dijon mustard-flavored butter.
Since Anguilla is so small, getting around the island is pretty easy — you can get anywhere on the island, day or night, within a 20-minute drive. Nightlife here can be narrowed down to three fun bars that all incorporate both a local and touristy scene.
Elvis’ Beach Bar seems to be the most popular choice amongst locals. This 16-foot boat-turned-bar, helmed by Elvis “The King” Fleming, is rapidly developing a cult following for its warm, loose atmosphere.
|Paradise Cove, one of the lesser-known Anguilla resorts, offers good value to the price-concious traveler.|
A short walk away is another popular nightlife spot, The Pumphouse, a really chill, casual bar with some light eats. Looking for a good base to absorb all those rum punches? Try The Pumphouse’s “Flaming Fromage,” a whole Calvados-flamed camembert with baguette for dipping (serves two or more).
But Travel Agent’s clear-cut favorite for late night R&R in Anguilla is Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve Beach Bar, owned by and named for a local reggae legend who lives in the back of the bar and performs almost nightly. We feel that this establishment complements the upscale CuisinArt Resort & Spa about as much as a local watering hole could. Whereas CuisinArt is home to five-star luxury and dining, the Dune Preserve, just a short walk away, is a very rustic, chill setting where you’re liable to find the hotel’s affluent guests dancing the night away.
Our Host Hotels
Paradise Cove: Perhaps one of the lesser-known Anguilla resorts, Paradise Cove is a good fit for both couples and smaller families. The resort houses 29 suites, including studios and one- and two-bedroom categories. We stayed in Penthouse Suite #3, on the third and highest floor. There are three of these rooms, all with a separate living and dining area and full kitchen and, best of all, a balcony overlooking the swimming pool and bar, and a back patio, where clients can get an eyeful of the property’s beautifully landscaped lawns.
The bedroom has a king bed, a bathroom the size of an average New York City apartment and a large, flat-screen Sony TV; also, there’s a second such TV is in the living room. Although there is only one restaurant onsite, Paradise Cove also has a special partnership with the aforementioned Smokey’s whereby hotel guests can dine there and bill it to their room.
It may not be the swankiest resort on the island, but it presents top value for the price-conscious traveler. Guests who packed lightly are allowed to take beach chairs and an umbrella from the resort if they are looking for a picnic on the beach. There is no spa at this property, but clients can request in-room massages, pedicures and manicures.
Paradise Cove, which pays agents 10 percent commission, is part of the Charming Escapes Collection, a portfolio of Anguilla’s more affordable resorts. There are currently 13 properties on the website (www.charmingescapescollection.com). Agents should reach out to Sherille Hughes ([email protected]), owner and manager.
Hughes also owns Paradise Cove’s sister property, Ultimacy Villas, for clients seeking a little more luxury and privacy. Of the eight rooms at this luxury boutique hotel, we were told the most requested is the Master Suite with Jacuzzi Tub and Seaview. It’s on the top floor and affords impressive ocean views.
Viceroy Anguilla: Location is what sets Viceroy Anguilla apart from other notable luxury resorts in Anguilla, as it sits on two beaches, Half Shell and Mead’s Bay. Half Shell is the smaller of the two, attracting less people because the water is a bit rocky.
We stayed in room #212, a modestly sized room with a king bed, flat-screen TV and a patio equipped with a hot tub and lounging area. For couples who don’t need all the bells and whistles, this room is a good fit. For families or smaller groups, however, go with the Five-Bedroom Villa. It comes with a golf cart to make it easier for guests to get around the grounds as well as a “Lifestyle Assistant,” which is Viceroy’s fancy name for a personal butler.
All penthouses, townhouses and villas at the property automatically come with a Lifestyle Assistant, but guests staying in other rooms can get one for a daily rate between $75 and $150, depending on the season.
The assistant works on eight-hour shifts, but personal requests can be made 24/7. Each guest is given the personal cell phone number of their Lifestyle Assistant. Tipping him or her varies and guests should note that there is an overall 10 percent gratuity charge included in the room rate for all staff members to share.
Agents should direct any questions to Judy Whidden ([email protected]), director of travel industry sales.