I am not usually one to take a beach vacation (too pale and easy to burn, as well as a little fidgety when faced with too much time on a lounge chair) but my recent trip to Anguilla to attend a close friend’s wedding was just what the Doctor ordered. Four days/3 nights in paradise was the perfect amount of time to totally decompress. Wedding details aside (it was incredible from start to finish), there are some good tips to share if you are planning a trip yourself.
I found the easiest way to travel from New York to Anguilla was via Jet Blue which offers a direct flight from JFK to Sint Maarten arriving at approximately 11:30 am. From there we were transferred to a small private ferry which took us to Anguilla. Because Sint Maarten is Dutch, and Anguilla is British we found ourselves passing through immigration several times en route. Luckily the airport is tiny, so this wasn’t too much of a hassle.
The trip was a breeze, and the gentlemen in charge of the ferry were filled with riddles and jokes (as well as beer and rum punch) which made the journey quite pleasant. We also were lucky to experience calm seas, which I understand is not always the case. There are direct flights into Anguilla if we had chosen to transfer in Miami, but the boat ride seemed more atmospheric (and only took about 25 minutes).
After clearing customs and immigration at Blowing Point Ferry Terminal and picking up our luggage, we were brought to the Four Seasons Anguilla which would be our home away from home during the long weekend. We were happy to be greeted with cold towels and rum punch by the very amenable Four Seasons staff.
The resort which was built in 2010 as a Viceroy Hotel was purchased by the Four Seasons chain in 2016. The views from practically every vantage point of the hotel are absolutely picture perfect. The soft white sand, palm trees, blue skies and puffy clouds set against the azure water is breathtaking. Do be aware that the exterior spaces are the best part of the property, the accommodations need a little TLC.
We were booked in a spacious one bedroom ocean view suite (with a hot tub on the balcony) which was decorated in primarily beige and brown. On close inspection the furnishings were showing their age, but not so much that there was reason to complain. This is pertinent only to manage expectations. All of the staff we encountered were unfailingly friendly and good spirited, which helped to temper the slow service in some of the restaurants and bars.
During our trip we had celebrations planned throughout the weekend, and they all took place in what I understand are the hotspots on the island. Dinner the first night was held at Blanchards, regarded to be one of the best restaurants not only in Anguilla, but in all of the Caribbean. The setting was stunning, and we enjoyed cocktails on the beach followed by a tremendous feast and dancing.
The next day consisted of sun and relaxation in anticipation of the wedding ceremony at 4pm. I am not sure what the weather is normally in Anguilla at the end of May, but it was HOT! We went for a quick walk around the property before settling in for breakfast.
We opted for the buffet, and enjoyed the omelette bar, as well as the fresh fruit juice and excellent coffee.
After a glorious day on the beach (pretty well hidden under well placed umbrellas and slathered in sun cream) it was time to get dressed and head to the Malliouhana for the wedding ceremony (gorgeous) and cocktails. The Malliouhana is a very different kind of property than the Four Seasons, it is much smaller and more luxurious. The decor is also filled with whimsy and color, right up my alley. The entire wedding party had taken over the Malliouhana, otherwise I would have opted to stay there. If I ever return to Anguilla, that is where you will find me.
The wedding reception moved seamlessly from the Malliouhana to the Savi Beach Club in time for us to catch the sunset. I am not sure how the set-up and service is normally at Savi, but our entire evening was just outstanding: the food, the service and one of the best wedding bands I have ever heard.
We were so tired from dancing non-stop that we didn’t make it to the after party back at the Malliouhana, but we were able to rouse ourselves Sunday for one last celebration at Leon’s at Meads Bay (a very authentic beach “Shack”) which is also part of the Malliouhana. We were kept sated with endless cocktails, as well as Caribbean specialties including Johnny Cakes, ribs, rice and peas and Banana Splits with homemade ice cream. Swimming, beach volley ball and more dancing ensured everyone had a great time.
We retired back to the Four Seasons with friends for a final dinner on property. We ordered at the bar and devoured an assortment of Asian inspired dishes which were good, but nothing to write home about. To be honest we all agreed it was time to get home and stop eating and drinking for a few days.
We packed up and were ready for the reverse journey, though our boat ride back to Sint Maarten was a bit quieter and more sedate than the trip over. We were bid farewell by a very large Iguana sunning himself on a rock by the dock.
The food offerings in the airport are terribly slim, though there was a Dutch specialty store where I purchased a bag of aged Gouda snacks which tided me over on the flight home.
Anguilla is an absolutely a heavenly place for a wedding, and if I was a beach vacation type I would definitely return, booking a ocean view suite at the Malliouhana. (As an aside, people also seem to love Cap Juluca, a Belmond resort located on the other side of the island) which we did not have the occasion to visit.