The Caribbean waters swirled together in twists of turquoise and dark blue as we descended upon Antigua, a British Commonwealth nation along with its sister island of Barbuda. I peered down at the white sand beaches below me, trying to picture that 365 of them really exist on Antigua- one beach for every day of the year! The Haute Holidays team just returned from a wonderful visit to this beautiful Caribbean island and is eager to share all we learned! We stayed at Hermitage Bay and explored a few other resorts as well- these will be covered in another blog.
Hermitage Bay is a 5* adults-only all-inclusive that is in a more secluded spot on the west coast of Antigua. Who should stay there: those wanting to relax and be pampered by 5* service and seriously good food.. it is a favorite spot of honeymooners and couples on a romantic holiday!
Book Hermitage Bay through Haute Holidays Travel and receive a $100 resort credit– I suggest using it in the spa or super cute gift shop!
After customs, we met a Hermitage Bay representative who led us to our taxi. A 30 minutes-ish ride later, the last few minutes of which cover an unpaved gravely road, and we were at the Hermitage Bay gates. A small circular entry led us to an open-air lobby which immediately struck me as so Caribbean. I love hotels with a great sense of place, which in this case meant rich, dark wood floors and walls accented with bright, colorful pillows.
We were greeted and shown to our hillside suite by Jermal. He emphasized as he settled us in that if we needed ANYTHING at all, to just dial zero, or ask for Jermal. He looked us in the eye. “It’s like my mama says- have no fear, Jermal is here!”
But let’s talk about our ROOM! Hermitage Bay has 17 hillside pool suites, set in three tiers, all of which afford ample space and incredible views over the Caribbean. Hillside pool suite (#33), located in the middle, became our oasis/home for the next four nights. The wraparound patio, furnished with sofa, lamps, table & chairs, two lounger chairs, and a day bed.. AND a pool!.. was my favorite spot!! Curling up on a daybed with a cup of coffee or watching the sunset with a glass of wine from the pool were the little luxuries that made my day. The decor has an Asian-Caribbean vibe, again with lots of dark wood, in addition to bamboo accents throughout the room. There is wifi, TV, and minibar (which is included of course!) along with a spacious and separate bath. The shower is outdoors, and was seriously refreshing as there was always a nice breeze blowing through it. The walls of the room contain louvered screened shutters which you may keep shut, or open to let the sea breeze in.
As far as room categories go, it is important to note that Hermitage Bay has just three room categories- below the Hillside Pool Suites are the Beachfront Suites (literally sit right on the beach) and then the Garden Suites are tucked in just behind the Beachfront. There is absolutely no bad location- only your choice as to which views & access you prefer! And of course, price point, as the Hillside Pools start highest, followed by Beachfront, and then Garden.
The first night we were tired from our travel day (departure from DFW around 5:30am and quick connection in MIA meant we were at the resort by 2pm!) so we relaxed on property and enjoyed our first gorgeous Antiguan sunset before heading to dinner. You must dismiss any pre-conceived notions you have about all-inclusives when you sit down to eat at Hermitage Bay. All the food is local, fresh, and organic. The menus change daily, and are denoted with dietary requirements- gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and vegan. The juices fresh-squeezed, the sauces light.. I confess that I lost a pound while there. Wasn’t trying, and I never felt hungry! The food is THAT good, and Hermitage Bay prides itself on it.
Our second day, we allowed ourselves the luxury to sleep in a little, of COURSE first enjoying coffee on our deck, before heading down to breakfast. I set a really important goal for myself today- and that was to RELAX. True confession- I don’t relax well. If Hermitage Bay could not chill me out, no place could. Do you think they succeeded? 🙂
After some time spent swimming in the sea, enjoying a heavenly massage, and a dip in our pool, and mission was accomplished. Sometimes, the best plan is doing nothing. This evening we headed over to Sheer Rocks, a cool bar & restaurant perched on the rocks with fab sunset views. After a couple of cocktails and a beautiful sunset, we headed back to Hermitage Bay for dinner.
After a busy third day of meetings and work, we were so thrilled to spend some more time at Hermitage Bay the day after! Non-motorized watersports like snorkeling, SUP, and sea kayaks are complimentary, and the resort is situated on a calm bay- perfect for these activities. They also include a little 30-minute boat ride with one of their watersports guys, which is a fun way to see the coast! Jamiel escorted us to the boat and asked if we’d like to see a nearby shipwreck that protrudes from the sea, or a ride to the south to cruise along Jolly Harbor. We chose the latter, and he pointed out different beaches and resorts along the way.. we even saw Sheer Rocks where we had just been a couple days prior! I always loved getting on the water for a different perspective when I travel to the beach. Jamiel was great and we enjoyed our time out with him! Afterwards I jumped on a stand-up paddleboard and made my way up and down the shore line a few times.
Soon it was time to eat, and lunch, as usual, did not disappoint! I am pretty sure I could eat fish and rose every.single.day for lunch (and dinner!!) and always be happy.
After lunch and on a whim, we grabbed a couple pina coladas and continued our relaxation party for just a bit longer. This afternoon brought some more meetings and a lovely ride over to English Harbor to see the southern side of the island. With a local taxi driver, we headed up to the Shirley Heights lookout, a former military lookout point which hosts Sunday barbecues, and then down to Nelson’s Dockyard. Another significant spot on Antigua’s history which dates from the 1700’s, the dockyard was occupied by the British Royal Navy as a lookout and naval repair yard. Today it houses shops, restaurants, and a dockyard museum located in the former Admiral’s house. It is a little quieter in the summer, but was a really nice spot to visit and get a feel for Antigua’s history!
Back at Hermitage Bay this evening, we enjoyed one last delicious dinner and headed to the bar for a nightcap. As I sipped on a rum concoction and swayed to the sounds of the steel drum band, Levique behind the bar danced up a storm while he shook cocktails. I also realized that we were sitting among couples- two honeymooners and one anniversary couple. I mean- Hermitage Bay is tres romantique- it is obviously a great honeymoon spot!
But the anniversary couple, as it had turned out, had actually celebrated their honeymoon at Hermitage one year before and just returned for their one year anniversary! I asked why they chose to return to the same spot, and in addition to having fallen in love with the property, they had fallen in love with the kind Antiguans who had made their first stay so special. They went on to describe how on the last night of their honeymoon, the front desk manager made a point to find them on their last night and give them a big hug goodbye. “I normally say goodbye the morning of departure,” she explained, “but my mama passed away, and the funeral is tomorrow.. so I won’t be here. I wanted to make sure to say goodbye tonight.” I felt teary-eyed before the couple finished their story and I could tell they were emotional, too. It is that level of true and sincere dedication of the staff to their guests that will draw you in.. and bring you back years later as well.
Our trip ended too soon, and I hope we have a chance to return one day.. we would love to visit again with our friends Zeke, Jermal, Jamiel, Anthony, Levique.. and all of the other Hermitage Bay crew who made our stay so special!
We would love to help YOU plan a trip to Hermitage Bay, or Antigua, as well! Please feel free to reach out by filling out the form in the “set sail” tab.