Just Back From…Carlisle Bay, Antigua

cb_bayviewWhen I went to Carlisle Bay on the island of Antigua two years ago, it was still a relatively new resort that was off the beaten path. But it appealed to me because it met my key requirements for the time:
 
1) it was a direct, painless flight from NYC
2) it had a kids club that would take my youngest at 20 months
3) There would be a seperate bedroom for the children and;
4) the room would be directly on the beach (While riding golf carts around a resort can be fun for the little ones sometimes, it gets old REAL fast) .
 
Trust me, there aren’t that many Caribbean resorts that can check all of these items off.

When we were there, we were excited about being able to open the doors of our suite (most of the rooms at the resort are suites) and step right onto the sand, which made life very convenient. The fact that the kids club, movie cinema (providing kids movies in the afternoons) and kids daily evening buffet were included in the

kidscarlisle

my girls hanging out while we were having lunch at the beach restaurant

price of our room was a major plus. The laid back vibe mixed in with an international crowd (mainly Brits…but we were excited not to be surrounded by other New Yorkers for a change) suited us just fine.  And, there is sort of a “bungalow colony” feel to the place, where everyone hangs out at the beach at night and kids roam free, as the suites are at your footsteps. 

Alas, there were some annoyances – like the relatively small pool, slooowwww and inconsistent service, lack of restaurant alternatives near the resort, and a staid menu in the main restaurant.  But, overall, the pros outweighed the cons.

So, I’ve been eager to hear feedback  from anyone who has been to CB since to see if anything has changed and finally it’s here…a couple (no kids so it is a different perspective for a change) just returned from the resort (which just opened last week for the season). Here is their take on the place.

” With a backdrop of green hills and rain forest and Montserrat on the horizon, Carlisle Bay resort is perfectly located on a secluded private beach in Antigua (pronounced Anteega not gwa). Don’t be surprised if you are the only American guest among all the Brits with well-behaved families in tow. This boutique resort is laid out well so that all the super-sized suites are oceanfront. I recommend booking the garden-view rate so you can save some money, which you’ll need to cover the bill at the two very expensive restaurants on the property.
Rest and relaxation is the theme here, so if you are looking for some adventure, rent a car for a day and explore the island. Interesting scenery, free-grazing animals, good local restaurants, historic English Harbor and St. John’s for so-so shopping. A highlight of venturing out was meeting some of the Antiguan people who weren’t “trained” to interact with and service guests.
carlisle_suite

Suite at Carlisle Bay

What we loved:  My husband was very very happy playing tennis every morning with Ken, the resident pro. Learned he doesn’t have good balance (family curse). Surprise rain showers, sunsets from jetty, the milky way every night. Swimming in the warm sea.
Room service was excellent — better than in the restaurants at the hotel. Piano player and steel band couple of evenings was special.
What we didn’t love:  The menu at Indigo (the main restaurant) never changed. Switch to the kids menu for delicious mac-n-cheese and ribs. Rooms are not as polished as they should be for 5-star resort (cushions and
indigo

Indigo restaurant on the beach

pillows could be freshened up; mirror in bathroom replaced). Our mattress and pillows were very uncomfortable. Cleaning service erratic, some days it was in the morning, some days it was in the late afternoon. Spa was nothing special. The pool looked murky and overdosed with chemicals.

 
Beware:  Bug spray, bug gel, bug roll-on, bug candle and bug zapper found in your room might help keep things itch and welt-free. Fortunately, bugs liked the Brits best.
Special tips: For entertainment, don’t miss Shirley Heights Saturday night – a steel drum and reggae band. Great view.  At the spa, book a massage with Cassandra.  Go to nearby OJ’s Restaurant on the beach (catch the sunset at 6:30), order the grilled snapper with garlic. Skip dessert!  Also good, Commissioners Grill in St. Johns. Try some fungee (cornmeal with okra, like polenta).
What we missed: Le Bistro restaurant, which is far from the hotel (comes very recommended, even by Gourmet Magazine…may you RIP). Flying above the rainforest canopy, strapped in a harness, dangling from a cable 300 ft above the jungle (really glad). “

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