Travel professionals can’t help but like success stories, and Blue Waters Resort & Spa is surely one of them, what with its renovations and its growth in the North American market. That got my attention, so I recently checked in to check it out.
Hurricane Irma barely grazed Antigua. This island was once home to the maintenance facility for the British Navy’s Caribbean fleet; today, Nelson’s Dockyard is a UNESCO World Heritage site, replete with historic buildings with bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops. It still attracts sailors, too, only now the sailors are civilians on sailboats.
Despite being a serial visitor to Antigua, some things on this trip were new to me. Shirley Heights, a fortified lookout above English Harbour, is known for its Sunday parties, but now there’s also a party on Thursdays: Reggae Heights. The band rocks, as do the grilled meats and the view of harbor lights 500 ft. below. A must for clients who want a more mellow gathering than the better-known Sunday parties.
Love those Rays
Stingray City Antigua was new to me, too. I was impressed with our guide’s detailed backgrounder about stingrays and with his plea that we not impede their breathing. He and his mates care so much about the rays that they’ve named every one of them. FYI, the one-mile boat ride is bumpy, so tell clients to sit near the stern.
Although I’d sailed the west coast several times, on this trip I took a Tropical Adventures cruise that circumnavigates Antigua, passing white-sand cove after cove. At Green Island we stopped for a snorkeling tour and then enjoyed an onboard lunch with plenty of drinks. Later, we cruised home along the west coast, passing more lovely coves.
The coves at Blue Waters Resort & Spa are sweet, too, as is the resort, which has 56 rooms, 29 suites, four penthouses, and five villas. Managing director Gary Randall has overseen several years of renovations, and come October the resort will upgrade the Cove Suites. I hope they don’t upgrade too much: I stayed in one of those Suites and loved it as is. The layout features a semi-separate sitting area, a balcony overlooking our small building’s infinity pool, and a free-standing tub in a bathroom enclosed by louvered doors that could open out to the bedroom.
Randall told me that 75 percent of his guests are Brits, “but it used to be 90 percent, so we’re increasing the American presence. The demographic is getting younger, too, and my mission is to continue that.” To that end, he and GM Kevin Phillips have been updating the decor, cuisine, and activities, which now include rum tastings, yoga, and tennis classes, etc. (Complimentary watersports are available, too, and there’s live music several nights a week.) Even so, says Randall, “People come here primarily to relax.” Indeed, although some guests rented cars and explored the island, others rarely left the beach and pools.
Most guests were couples, but a few brought children who played in the Blue Waters kids club, which is appropriately small but has a professional staff and good activities. This adult went to the spa, where a massage therapist fully understood my explanation of where I was hurting, and then she applied the skills of a real massage therapist.
The chef, another pro, has trained his team not to overcook omelets, designs tasty lunch entrees for The Cove and The Palm open-air restaurants, and prepares sublime dinners at these and at air-conditioned Bartley’s. One night I had a potato-leek soup made with sweet potatoes and a swordfish entree that was a rebuke to hotels where the swordfish is rubberized.
At press time, rates for one couple, Jan. 12-19, started at $5,096 per week for a Deluxe Beachfront room with breakfast and WiFi, inclusive of the 22.5 percent tax. The Cove Suite described in this story costs $7,907 per week with tax. Blue Waters offers an all-inclusive option, too; a Cove Suite AI would cost $9,849.
Blue Waters Resort & Spa: bluewaters.net/agents