by Liz Fleming
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
They were eagerly awaiting my arrival, pushing to the surface to bubble an underwater welcome through the lily pads as I strolled over a pond, along a wooden walkway and into the low-key West Indian ambiance of the Carlisle Bay Resort on Antigua’s sunny south coast. That school of shimmering orange koi was only the first element of the hotel’s warm welcome.
The Carlisle Bay, a member of the World's Leading Hotels collection, offered a never-ending lineup of heavenly moments, beginning in my airy third floor suite - just one of the 82 elegant retreats that comprise the resort. None of the pristine white buildings rises higher than three storeys so the elegant resort feels unobtrusive – as if it has grown naturally at the ocean’s edge.
Carlisle Bay - Ocean Suite
After I’d rinsed the sand from my feet in the bowl of cool water at the door to my third floor suite (carefully managing not to step on the floating hibiscus) I found that deciding where to put myself was my biggest problem. Inside - the cool elegance of my all-white sitting area beckoned. Outside - a spacious sun bed dominated the corner of my massive balcony, shaded by climbing vines and lushly vivid tropical blooms. My inside bed was a confection of soft white linens and perfectly plumped pillows. The lolling choices were too many. Where should I luxuriate first?
But instead I headed to the water sports center at the end of the small beach for a kayak paddle in the sunshine, followed by some snorkeling and frolicking with the fish on a nearby reef. So our readers would miss nothing, I even made time for a visit to the bar for a cool cocktail and then the Blue Spa, to experience a traditional West Indian massage.
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Later, basking on my beach chaise, watching sailboats returning from their afternoon excursions, I thought I'd reached Nirvana. But then, a smiling member of the beach service staff hovered at the foot of my chaise. "We’re serving high tea."
A perfect pot of Earl Grey arrived, nestled on a tray of miniature cucumber sandwiches, dainty cheese puffs and warm-from-the-oven scones. This was truly heaven.
Though my time at the Carlisle Bay was all too short, I know I've found a West Indies retreat to which I'll be sure to return.
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Fall/Winter 2016 issue.