A former British colony visited by Columbus, Nelson, and innumerable sheltering pirates, the gorgeous tropical paradise of Antigua has evolved through recent decades into one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious destinations. Fringed by immaculate white sand beaches, studded with plants and palms and boasting some world-class dive sites, it offers both a lively island culture and secluded oases of utter tranquility. Set in these surroundings, and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, these five all-inclusive resorts provide unparalleled backdrops for scenes of romantic or familial bliss.
Dickenson Bay is among Antigua’s most famous beaches, a long and languorous stretch of soft white sand sloping into a tranquil, azure sea. Numerous resorts and hotels have fought for a place along this sought-after seafront, but none quite reach the same class and grandeur as Sandals, an all-inclusive hotel chain with beachfront structures on several Caribbean Islands. Their Antigua offering contains two distinctive resorts: you can stay amid the chic, upmarket stylings of the Mediterranean Village, with its vast poolside piazza; or in the palm-studded oasis of the Caribbean Grove, cloaked in lush tropical gardens. Taken together, the resorts have a total of eleven world-class restaurants, and offer easy access to every island activity you can dream of.
If you desire a little more exclusive seclusion during your Caribbean getaway, then unless you’re Richard Branson, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than Rosewood Jumby Bay. This upmarket resort encompasses an entire island, located a few miles off Antigua’s north-east coast. An ancient coral reef, elements of the island’s natural world have been carefully preserved, and guests meander their own private Eden of rocks, grass, wildlife, palms and pristine beaches. Stylish bars and cafes blend into this beautiful backdrop, and 40 elegant rooms and luxury villas are sprinkled across it, all a few minutes walk from the glittering Caribbean Sea.
Hermitage Bay offers supremely elegant accommodation amid a slightly wilder slice of Antigua’s resort-dotted landscape. Twenty-five individual suites line a secluded cove, eight on the beach itself and a further 17 overlooking the bay from the lush green hillsides rising out of the cove’s warm white sand. Rustic wood exteriors blend into the tropical surroundings, built with timber sourced from sustainable Guyanese forests. Humid mangroves enclose the cove, hosting a verdant eco-system where wildlife thrives on the dense vegetation. There’s even an organic kitchen garden on site, providing the raw ingredients for the hotel’s superb restaurant.
A sojourn at Galley Bay provides one of the world’s top experiences of laid-back luxury. With 40 acres of gorgeous tropical gardens, a three-quarter mile beach, three al fresco restaurants, regular Caribbean barbecues and frequent evening entertainment, it’s a blissfully chilled-out hideaway only seconds away from the sun-kissed Caribbean Sea. Accommodation is provided in guests rooms with sublime sea views, or in "Gauguin cottages" tucked away in the lushly vegetated gardens. Visitors looking to balance out the decadence with some exercise can swim in lagoons and plunge pools, hit the jogging trails and tennis courts, or take advantage of the resort’s complimentary water sports.
Cocobay’s collection of pastel-colored cottages, spread over a lush green hillside with dramatic views of the sea below, offer one of the most romantic destinations in the Caribbean. Each cottage has its own private verandah and is furnished with custom-designed wooden furniture. The same is true for the resort’s four larger plantation houses, which provide utterly sumptuous accommodation for a family or for two couples traveling together. The whole style creates a more stripped-down, authentic Caribbean ambience, which means no TVs in the cottages – but every detail is precisely arranged and every barefoot step couched in supreme comfort.