My wife and I visited Montserrat during the New Year’s holiday. We found the island and its people to be very welcoming, and this friendliness was reflected in our stay at Gingerbread Hill and its hosts, David and Clover Lea.
Montserrat as a destination is an adventure and not for those who simply wish to sit around and be catered to. However, if you are looking for a fantastically unique experience of a culture which likely will over time become more like other developed islands in the Caribbean, Montserrat is the destination of choice.
Montserrat is still a British Colony, or to use the current terminology, a British Overseas Territory. Having lived in England for seven years, there were hints of this in signage and driving habits, but otherwise the pace of life here appears to be quite relaxed and therefore relaxing to visitors.
Getting to the island is an adventure in of itself – navigating the airport in Antigua and the flight on an island-hopper twin prop plane was part of the experience! Be sure to pack some extra clothes and toiletries in a carry on as we did not receive our luggage at the same time we arrived to Montserrat. Thankfully the Leas were gracious and kind enough to help get our luggage to us within 2 days. The currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar and our Canadian bank card worked fine in the only international instant teller / cashpoint machine on the island – at the local branch of the Royal Bank of Canada.
We chose to stay at Gingerbread Hill after doing our due diligence on Tripadvisor and chose the “Heavenly Suite.” We were charmed by the layout of this one-bedroom apartment with its large kitchen and panoramic views over the island and the Caribbean waters. We thought that the apartment was much larger and nicer than it appears on their website and the view more spectacular. David Lea met us at the airport and gave us a briefing of what we needed to know to enjoy our stay on the island, even stopping at a grocery store on the way in from the airport so we could pick up some essentials. Gingerbread Hill offers to arrange a rental car and we would strongly recommend this. Although Montserrat is a small island, its hills make it very difficult to cover without wheels – unless of course you are a triathelete!
We also took advantage of purchasing the island tour (by car) offered by Sonny Lea. This was one of the best experiences of our visit as Sonny is a terrific guide and has a wealth of information about his home island. He spent several hours covering the accessible areas of Montserrat and bringing us to several vantage points where we could see the volcano (still steaming away), the buried capital of Plymouth, the former airport, now deserted, the MVO, and other parts of the island affected by the volcano’s eruption over ten years ago. We also took up the opportunity to share a meal with the Lea family which was both reasonably priced and fun. There was no shortage of interesting and stimulating conversation. It was also very convenient to have access to laundry facilities right where we were staying.
One slight drawback of our visit was that because we visited over the New Year holiday, many of the restaurants on the island were closed. Nevertheless, grocery stores were open and close by and the fully furnished kitchen made it easy to cook our meals. One restaurant where we ate and would highly recommend for a treat (as it was a bit pricy) was the Royal Palm Club – we enjoyed an excellent meal and terrific conversations with the owner and our waiter.
All in all it was a terrific experience!
Patrick & Julia
- Also Known As:
- Gingerbread Hill Montserrat, Caribbean
- Gingerbread Hill Hotel Montserrat