Rubbing Shoulders with the Stars at St James’s Club Antigua:
It has been a while since I’ve flown long haul – older and perhaps a little grumpier the idea of flights between eight and ten hours out to Antigua and back home filled me with dread. A necessary means to an end, I was grateful for an aisle seat and good in-flight entertainment. And for the cheerful welcome at V C Bird airport, complete with steel drum and rum shack.
Arriving tired and rather hot at St James’s Club we sat in the lobby, checking in while tasting our first rum cocktails…
‘Everything you want to eat and drink while you are here is free, except bottles of wine’
Still, sightly numbed by the flight, when I got to my room I checked the fridge. It was well stocked with water, soft drinks and a huge plate of fresh fruit . There was a bottle of Antiguan rum. In fact, there was everything I might need.
The largest bath I’ve ever seen came prettily decorated with flowers. As did the rest of the bathroom. And, at the risk of sounding sad, the walk-in shower seemed like the best sight ever. Until I walked out onto the balcony, where as the saying goes – a picture paints a thousand words.
My bed was vast and there was a separate ‘lounge area’ looking out over the bay. I opened the doors to look out at the sea, a tiny bird flew in. It flitted around the beamed ceiling, stopping for a few minutes to peer down at me cautiously. Opening the balcony doors as wide as possible, my visitor soon decided to depart. A gentle welcome to a tranquil and relaxing island.
I’m not really a resort person. For the most part my travel has been independent – although not particularly risky – camping and family exchanges in my youth, visiting my own parents who had a habit of taking up residence in new countries on a regular basis, staying in cheap hotels when touring with choirs and orchestras, staying in rather nicer hotels when travelling on business and holidaying usually in self catering accommodation or occasionally in boutique hotels if I fancied a city break. I had little idea what to expect at St James’s Club and was pleasantly surprised.
Little things made a big difference. Things like the golf carts to transport everyone around. While it’s good to walk, the heat when you first arrive in the Caribbean can be overwhelming. And for families with small children, older people or just those who are a little tired, the idea that you don’t HAVE to walk everywhere is wonderful.
The space surprised me – immaculate gardens, lots of pools and beaches, places to be quiet and relax – other places – bars, courtyards and a livelier pool where you could get a real Caribbean vibe. All within the confine of the resort. It’s somewhere you can be as private as you like – perhaps one of the reasons that Nicole Scherzinger chose to whisk the X-Factor girls over there when she was judging last year.
There are four restaurants – my favourite turned out not to be fine dining which seemed incongruous in this charming, friendly and open place but the larger and informal coco club with wonderful views out over the bay where we dined on salads and simple, grilled dishes served with Caribbean spices.
The Spa, where for an hour or so you could dream of being Sophie Ellis Bextor and have your facial by the same lovely beautician who looked after her on her recent holiday was small but beautifully laid out with the option of treatments outdoors or in a private room. Sadly even after an hour or so of pampering, I didn’t quite make the grade and I doubt I’ll be appearing on Strictly Come Dancing any time soon.
Although if you WERE planning on auditioning this wouldn’t be a bad place to get fit. Apart from the free sailing and kayaking, St James’s Club has a small gym and six tennis courts.
Would I go again? A great option for families or couples where one person might want to explore while the other relaxed, I could see myself returning very happily in the right circumstances. There are plenty of activities within the resort but it’s also very easy to explore and the staff are more than willing to help by arranging transport and suggesting excursions. And, they even serve afternoon tea – although of course, Antigua was once a British Colony. For me, the impeccably clean rooms, great service and range of activities on site made the trip very easy.
Many thanks to Elite Island Resorts for hosting this trip
To Francine and Charmaine from the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
I travelled with Virgin Atlantic and stayed in the Royal Suites at the St James’s Club Antigua
7 nights in Antigua with Virgin Holidays , including scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick direct to Antigua, all-inclusive accommodation at the 4 star St James’s Club and Villas and airport transfers starts from £1,375. Price is per person based on 2 adults travelling and sharing a Standard Club room, including all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 24 June 2014.