Room Key: Carlisle Bay Resort
Address: Carlisle Bay, Old Road, St. Mary's, Antigua
Reservations: (800) 628-8929 Or (268) 484-0002
General Manager: Andrew Hedley
Number of Rooms: 81
Rates: From $725 per suite, per night, double, in a Beach or Ocean suite to $1,850 for six people in a Carlisle Suite through Sept. 8 and from Oct. 13 to Nov. 3; from $790 for a Beach or Ocean suite to $2,050 for a Carlisle Suite from Nov. 4 to Dec. 20. Rates cover full breakfast, afternoon tea. Meal plan options available.
Closure: Carlisle Bay will be closed from Sept. 9 to Oct. 13.
Imagine a resort in the Caribbean where
the general manager greets every arriving guest and personally sees
them off when they depart. Imagine a resort where you can dine in
an Asian fusion restaurant with oversize, peony-pink chairs and
black-lacquered tables overlooking an outdoor lily pond with
Where you can
watch movies in a 45-seat screening room with a popcorn machine and
designer blue-leather chairs.
Where you can
enjoy an ice-cold beer or afternoon tea and sandwiches sitting in
your beach chaise under an umbrella.
Where you can
hone your tennis skills on one of nine tennis courts under the
tutelage of a resident tennis pro.
The resort, which
opened in December 2003, was the brainchild of Gordon Campbell
Gray, the man behind London's sleek One Aldwych Hotel.
Bay, Gray sought to bring to the Caribbean a minimalist,
contemporary look that was at the same time comfortable.
guests to kick off their shoes and to leave the designer clothes
and expensive baubles at home.
faced some stiff competition when it opened, including island
legend and neighbor Curtain Bluff and the all-villa Jumby
Gray knew that if
he was going to go toe-to-toe with these Antigua stalwarts, he
would have to infuse Carlisle Bay with the same qualities that made
One Aldwych stand out in London: consistently good service, smart
design and understated luxury.
Carlisle Bay special, and what our guests tell us impresses them
the most is our attention to detail," said Andrew Hedley, Carlisle
Bay's general manager. "We are passionate about the
At Carlisle Bay,
attention to detail was a warm handshake from Hedley when I arrived
after a tiring early-morning flight.
attention to detail was a beach attendant's offer of a fragrant,
chilled towel during the hottest part of the afternoon, a sports massage at the resort's
full-service spa that began precisely on the hour and lasted a full
60 minutes, and a basin of water placed by the entrance to my room
to wash the sand off my feet.
Carlisle Bay was
conceived as a sister property to One Aldwych, without the urban
ingredient. Gray once again
collaborated with London designer Mary Fox Linton to create the
resort's 81 rooms, which range from 780-square-foot units to
1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom suites that are popular with
No matter the
room type, units feature substantial, dark-wood furniture; large
sofas and chaises; and generously sized bathrooms with separate
walk-in showers and tubs.
The owners spared
no expense with such items as fiber-optic bedside reading lights,
CD and DVD players, espresso machines in the rooms and Frette bed
The walls are
decorated with British photographer Jason Taylor's
specially-commissioned black-and-white snapshots of local plants
and island life.
feature enormous earthenware Indonesian urns, wicker chairs and
I looked forward
each morning to breakfast on my balcony, watching the pelicans
dive-bomb for fish and sharing my sugar with the colorful birds
that dropped in for a meal-on-the-fly.
It surprised me
that families accounted for such a big part of Carlisle Bay's
clientele, representing about 30% of business from the
The remaining 70%
of the U.S. market is made up of couples. Not surprisingly,
Carlisle Bay's clientele is upscale and well traveled.
kids might want to request one of the Ocean Suites, which is where
I stayed. The units are strung along the beach between the
watersports center and the large pool.
Hedley said that
the resort makes an effort to steer families toward the more
self-contained two-bedroom Beach Suites, of which there are 27, and
the four Carlisle Suites with three bedrooms each.
popularity with families prompted the resort to open a $250,000
kids' club with a pool and play areas for children three and
The kids' club is
supervised by nannies who are trained to British standards and are
certified in first aid for children.
As for dining,
the Asian restaurant, East, serves a wide selection of creative
dishes, including tiger prawns in red curry, scallops seared in
sesame oil, a variety of sushi and sashimi and green tea creme
brulee for dessert.
A more casual
option is Indigo on the Beach, an open-air, beachside restaurant
that serves three meals a day and features a bar with an extensive
Indigo is the
kind of Caribbean restaurant where you can kick off your shoes and
enjoy grilled fish that the chef and his team caught that same
It seems every
resort nowadays must have a spa to compete in the marketplace, and
Blue, the 17,000-square-foot spa at Carlisle Bay, is a major
The spa offers
six treatment rooms and his-and-her locker rooms with walk-in
showers, soaking tubs and saunas.
Blue uses only
natural products derived from plants in such treatments as the
Tropical Fruit Scrub featuring fresh pineapple, mango and papaya. A
word to the wise: Don't show up for this treatment on an empty
In addition to
the treatment rooms, the spa has a large gym, a yoga/Pilates
pavilion, a juice bar and a beauty salon.
On the beach,
Carlisle Bay offers all manner of nonmotorized water sports and
scuba diving trips. Just after my visit in late June, the resort
was poised to add a 32-foot boat for fishing trips, sightseeing
excursions and snorkeling trips, among other activities.
boat, which can seat 12 passengers, is the kind of amenity that
keeps Carlisle Bay competitive with more established resorts on
It appears the
resort is succeeding: Three years after opening, Carlisle Bay
expects to achieve an 87% occupancy rate.
To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].