Under the art direction of the hotel’s new Belmond brand, the décor is dripping in laid back luxury, a tribute to the hotels $121 million-dollar renovation, showcasing the vision of both Rottet Studio Interiors and HKS architecture having just touched down at Princess Juliana airport, I sense my cares beginning to evaporate, as the warm island breeze caresses my shoulders.
I’m traveling with my husband, Steven, who also happens to be my partner in our design firm based back in South Florida, which now feels like a million miles away. This is his first time to Anguilla and my, maybe fifteenth. To say I love these islands cannot begin to express my insatiable affection – the warm turquoise waters, swaying palms, friendly locals, delicious cuisine, the infectious music, and the general laid back, unpretentious vibe that manages to keep luring me back time and time again. Our destination – the newly owned and re-invented Belmond Cap Jaluca, located on one of the worlds most recognised beaches, along the arched crescent of Maundays Bay – voted number one in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. The staff at the Belmond has already organised our transportation. Following the sign for ‘Belmond’, we make our way to the ferry. A rum cocktail is our welcome aboard. Trying not to spill, we raise our cup for a toast, strike up chatter with fellow ferry riders, and let the island adventure begin.
Glennis collects us at Blowing Point – the ferry terminal in Anguilla. He’s warm, full of knowledge about the island and sings us an uncanny rendition of ‘Boys To Men’. Twelve musical minutes later, a long, curved drive lined with sleek, white domes greets us, highlighting the resort’s signature Greco-Moorish architecture. A team of exceptionally attentive hotel staff holding a tray with two refreshing welcome drinks greet us, along with a resort map and an incredibly useful hotel itinerary for the next week.
Under the art direction of the hotel’s new Belmond brand, the décor is dripping in laid back luxury, a tribute to the hotels $121 million-dollar renovation, showcasing the vision of both Rottet Studio Interiors and HKS Architecture. The main area or heart of Belmond Cap Jaluca reads more like an island chic, open air mansion with tall, romantic arches, billowing white curtains, and oversized planters filled with large tropical flora. The lounge seating of plush sofas offers a front row seat to the breath-taking scenery of Maundays Bay just steps away – shamelessly showing off its electric turquoise water and powdery white sand. There are hidden treasures everywhere, libraries with books covering every topic from art and fashion to nature, history and religion, game rooms for those up for a clever challenge and the small but lovely Zemi Boutique offering elegant and effortless beach attire and other trinkets from around the globe.
`The décor in our room maintains a luxurious, old world, Anguillan charm, while renovations have included updated, dazzling, new world, modern comforts. For instance, every single room, suite or villa is ocean front with direct beach access. The spa-like bathroom features an oversized his and her tub while a glass wall leads out to the shower and onto a private walled-courtyard. Palm trees delicately rustle in the breeze almost in arms reach from our veranda. Both handsome and large, the veranda is comfortably designed with loungers, a dining table, and large potted plants overlooking the cerulean sky and pristine, chalk white powdery sand below.
A chocolate from our welcome arrangement is a tasty treat, then it’s off to the beach for a refreshing swim. Within seconds of our arrival, Belmond staff are arranging our loungers with towels and assorted comforts. We sync our portable speaker (courtesy of the Belmond Cap Jaluca) to our iPhone, order two Bloody Mary’s, and while away a solid hour, singing Buffalo Soldier and bathing in the sunshine. Paddle boarding is a mini adventure as we attempt to battle the mild current. We last 30 minutes before building up an appetite and decide to head back to shore. Off in the distance we see what looks like a vintage RV food truck with tables, chic oversized chairs, and a tiki bar all lined along the beach. This, of course, peaks our curiosity, so we take the stroll. Behold, The Cap Shack food truck serving up delicious fresh, local fish, tacos, shrimp, salads, conch, burgers, dogs and fries. We sit at the tiki bar, meet a couple on their honeymoon who had just come from five glorious days at Belmond’s sister hotel, La Samanna on French St. Martin, and collectively chat over the day’s fresh catch.
After returning our beach gear to the room, our explorations turn further afield. Ambitious in the hot sun, we go for about three miles before buying some cold drinks at a corner store and turning around. Making our way back to the hotel we come upon a local cemetery. An unusual, life-size boat tombstone calls our attention when, out of the blue, we hear a strange crying sound coming from a nearby grave. More than a little worried, we slowly begin to investigate only to discover two young goats had fallen into an open grave and were unable to get out. They heard our voices and began crying for help. My husband and I quickly set our drinks aside and leaped into the open grave to retrieve the baby goats. Once safely on land, they stayed with us for the next 30 minutes frolicking and playing just like two adorable puppies. Even the small goats exuded the same sweet, welcoming island charm we’d been experiencing from the moment we touched down onto this slice of heaven.
Touched and feeling quite energised and good about ourselves, we head back and jump on two of the property’s complimentary bicycles, which allow us to zip around the property collecting fruit and shells in our baskets, wave to our fellow hotel-goers and discover the Arawak Spa. My husband continues onto the gym, while I indulge in a deep tissue massage with Elizabeth, my Trinidadian masseuse. She is remarkable and I never want my 90 powerful minutes to end. We discuss sports injuries, saving the goats, the intricacies of Trini callaloo (a greenish goop like side dish made from dashing bush and okra), and where she learned her outstanding techniques.
Before I know it, it’s nearly cocktail hour. The spa staff calls me a shuttle back to my room. After a quick but decadent shower, we head to Maundays Club for the Managers cocktail party. A gorgeous indoor / outdoor, sundeck lounge, beautifully appointed with water feature, trellis and assorted, exotic imported furnishings. Aperitifs are flowing. Staff and guests are good company, while a small tapas is our appetiser of choice enjoyed while watching a magnificent sunset. An hour later we walk across to Pimms, the hotel’s waterfront restaurant, a perfect spot for dining oceanside, while watching playful fish dash around the rocky edge where the water meets the shore, listening to the gentle, rhythmic waves splashing beneath the soft island music caressing our ears inside the restaurant. The atmosphere is soothing and romantic and the menu is bursting with local, island flavours. I indulge in the lobster bisque with chive cream, seaweed and a local Anguillan Johnnie cake, followed by crayfish with charred carrot, cauliflower cream and spinach foam. My husband takes the squid over a medley of fava and white beans, pickled zucchini, grapes and toasted walnuts, followed by a sinful dish of duck breast, foie gras, and quince (which is a pom fruit resembling a pear) with a pumpkin cream sauce.
Full and deeply satisfied over a day well spent, we collapse on the loungers of our balcony gazing out over the Caribbean Sea and captivating moonlight and thank the twinkling stars above for our special time at the Belmond Cap Jaluca and all of the adventures still yet to come!