From 2002 through 2011, it has been a family tradition for our family and friends to fly to Anguilla and stay at the Malliouhana during the Memorial Day holiday. After nine consecutive years, we knew the hotel inside and out and many fond a memory was made there. When Malliouhana closed for renovations, we were distraught. Despite the fact that the guest rooms and public spaces were indeed tired and overdue for a makeover, we were displaced. We made do for the following two years at other places while Malliouhana was undergoing its renovation but it wasn’t the same. We wanted our hotel back.
Where: Malliouhana, an Auberge resort in Meads Bay, Anguilla
What: A luxury resort perched on a cliff overlooking Meads Bay, Sandy Island and the Caribbean Sea
When: June 10-16th, 2015
Why: End of school year family vacation
The opening of the Malliouhana late last year was the hottest opening in the Caribbean for quite some time. After being closed 18 months for a much needed redesign, the resort (now under the Auberge Resorts brand) re-opened in November, 30 years to the day of its original opening in 1974. In addition to full-scale upgrades to the 44 rooms (almost all with dead-on ocean views), two open-air restaurants and freshwater pools have been added. In less than six months since it’s opening, the hotel – enviably located on 25 ocean-front acres on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean sea – has collected all sorts of accolades such as appearing on the Conde Nast Traveler 2015 Hot List and Robb Report’s Best of The Best.
Many of Malliouhana’s loyal guests over the years have been curious to know if the former hotel’s spirit and iconic white buildings were able to stay intact after the renovation and management change. Thankfully, guest contributor and Malliouhana aficionado, Romi Howard, went back in June to find out. Read on.
From 2002 through 2011, it has been a family tradition for our family and friends to fly to Anguilla and stay at the Malliouhana during the Memorial Day holiday. After nine consecutive years, we knew the hotel inside and out and many fond a memory was made there.
When Malliouhana closed for renovations, we were distraught. Despite the fact that the guest rooms and public spaces were indeed tired and overdue for a makeover, we were displaced. We made do for the following two years at other places while Malliouhana was undergoing its renovation but it wasn’t the same. We wanted our hotel back.
When the Malliouhana reopened in late 2014 under the Auberge brand, I didn’t hesitate to make our reservations. Although excited to return, I was a bit nervous that the architectural design of Malliouhana’s iconic white facade and some of the hotel’s personality would be lost during the renovation and management transition. Thankfully, both were intact.
WHAT WE LOVED
- The refurbishing of the resort, while not 100% complete, is meticulously and beautifully redone to compliment a new modern zen Caribbean aesthetic. We were pleased to see that the former architecture was retained into its current design, something we were worried would be lost in the renovation. The bar in particular certainly retains its old school charm from the previous hotel.
- The new double infinity pool is beautiful.
- The breakfast each morning in the nautical-themed restaurant – a delicious buffet of fresh baked goods, fruits, yogurts and cereals (note that hot breakfast is an additional charge).
- The service. Sam and all the staff at the pool and beach really go out of their way to cater to your every whim, including having lunch brought down from the main restaurant and set up on tables right by the beach for us one afternoon.
- John Vasatka, the General Manager, is a gem and really went the extra mile to ensure our stay was as perfect as possible.
- The meals at the main restaurant were delicious. Jeremy Bearman, the Executive Chef, infuses his culinary expertise from Rough Tomate with Caribbean flair to create incredible dishes.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LOVE
- The private beach lacks some basic facilities such as restrooms. For example, there is no nearby restaurant to access so you need to go to the restrooms in the gym (not yet renovated) which is less than ideal. Hopefully this will change soon.
- The spa is oddly located and very small. While the design itself is beautiful, the spa is now located in an old converted villa behind the main house next to the garden view rooms.
- Lack of sufficient lighting at night along the pathway by the junior suites made it difficult to see (especially after a glass of wine or two) and moreover a dangerous hazard to all the beautiful (but very slow moving) snails who come out at night. My daughters were in nightly snail patrol.
ROOMS TO GET
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to check out the various categories of rooms at the newly renovated resort in addition to the one we booked.
All the rooms with the exception of the four Garden View deluxe rooms (800 square feet) face directly onto the ocean.
Ocean view premium rooms at 800 square feet are the predominant category of rooms available and are primarily located in the main house with the exception of two buildings each with two rooms (two upstairs and two on the main level) that have this category of room as well. The rooms in the main house are slightly smaller then those adjacent to the house, however the views are better as the main building is more elevated.
There is a possibility of having connecting rooms but keep in mind you can only do king to king connecting. There’s no king to queen connecting option as an alternative, which I found a little odd but a minor quibble.
As a family of four, we booked the Ocean View Junior Suites. At 1,700 feet, it was very spacious. Do keep in mind that junior suites provide two queen size beds, so if you want the children a bit separated you need to request roll away full beds or blow up queen beds, which were available at no extra charge. We found this to be the best option for a family of four. All junior suites are located to the right of the main building, a short walking distance away, with immense patios and access to a separate more secluded beach if desired.
There are 2 two-bedroom Ocean View Suites at 2,500 square feet sandwiched between the junior suites. Each have a separate sitting area between each bedroom but personally I think a family is better off with two connecting rooms. I felt the sitting area to be small and not particularly well situated.
GOOD TO KNOW
Interestingly, the junior suites do not have bathtubs but the ocean view premium rooms do. Something to consider if you like a soak in the tub. Additionally, there is no separation of sitting area and the bedroom in the junior suites. If you are seeking privacy, you are better off getting connecting rooms.
The villas on the beach are not yet renovated – we were told that is the next phase.
The amazing sunsets, particularly at the Mallihouana hotel bar.
Stop at the Sunset Lounge at the Viceroy hotel for cocktails at least once prior to heading out to any of the below restaurants for dinner.
WHERE TO EAT ON THE ISLAND
Anguilla has amazing selection of restaurants and over the years we have been to almost all of them. A few of our very favorites include:
Dolce Vita. Incredible Italian restaurant on the beach in Sandy Ground.
Jacala. A French-Caribbean restaurant with a distinct St. Barths-style vibe and is only a three-minute beach walk from the hotel. The owner and executive chef used to run the former 5-star restaurant at Malliouhana. Many private yachts pull right up and moor their boats and people come to shore for lunch. Tres chic.
Straw hat. Reliably delicious seafood with a Caribbean twist in a wonderful beach front laid back setting
Veya. Located in a tree house between Meads Bay and Sandy Ground, this restaurant has the most delicious food run by two American ex-pats.
Blanchard’s beach shack. A must for lunch – do not miss! Hands down the best fish tacos in the Caribbean.
Sandy Island. Charter a boat for a few hours, snorkel in some secluded caves, then head over to this paradise in the middle of the sea. This island has some of the best ribs, snapper, lobster, rice and peas you’ll ever taste and the rum punch is potent!
Da’vida. Beach grill and restaurant right on Crocus bay.
Sandbar. great for tapas and cocktails on sandy ground.
Tastys. Real local food.
The Restaurant at Malliouhana, of course. The setting is fantastic.
If you would like to visit Malliouhana, a variety of appealing special offers (all include complimentary daily breakfast and extra amenities and perks) are worth exploring:
Fete your Family: Stay 4 nights and receive the 5th free though August 30th. Book two rooms for your family for a minimum of five nights at Malliouhana and in addition to your 5th night free in both rooms, enjoy a welcome amenity of fresh tropical fruits and chocolate chip cookies, full breakfast daily, one family dinner and a s’mores evening by the fire pit.
Suite Summer Special for the month of August. Book a suite and receive 15% off PLUS a 5th night free when booking a 2-br suite or Junior Suite.
Island Escape – Stay 4 nights and get the 5th night free through December 17, 2015.
Photos courtesy of Romi Howard and Malliouhana Hotel