My wife and I stayed at Anacaona for seven nights in early May. We had researched hotels extensively over the previous months in attempt to find the best accommodations that would suit our needs, which could perhaps be characterized as a quarter expectation on a nickel budget. We had actually booked two other very attractive properties (Frangipani and Ambia) and had planned to split time between the two. Then we took notice of Anacaona and were able to book our entire stay with American Airlines miles. With our nickel budget, this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. With apologies to Frangipani and Ambia, we changed course and headed to Anacaona.
On a Saturday, we arrived at the Anacaona front desk to a terrific person, Keneisha. She, along with Frank (Sales Director) and Delroy (General Manager), had been terrific in fielding questions from me about the island and the hotel over the previous weeks and months. After the warm greeting, cold (vanilla?) towel and equally cold rum punch, we were shown to our updated Superior room on the third floor overlooking the pool and Atlantic Ocean, exactly as I had requested.
The Anacaona is a beautiful property. Many reviews have described the resort as a work-in-progress. I suppose it is. However, I would say that if you considered the property to be a week, then the progress already made places the hotel at a Thursday-afternoon level. It’s well past the Wednesday hump and on its way to a happy hour on Thursday night with one day left to go, an easy Friday at that.
As we climbed the two sets of stairs to our room, we noticed the beautiful white archways everywhere, which are the staple of the architecture. Near the top of the stairs, we looked off to the south and could see over Anguilla to the Caribbean Sea and the beautiful mountains of St. Martin beyond. From inside the room as well as the private balcony, the view was equally impressive with the pool and grounds below and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. The room interior was very clean and comfortable. The tiles in the room and bathroom were warm. The furniture was contemporary. The air conditioner worked perfectly. I’m not sure if the TV worked, didn’t care. The bed was very comfortable and felt very inviting with the large wood headboard feature (we stayed in the room that is featured in the hotel website pictures). The shower literally never ran out of hot water. Like some other reviews I read, we did see a couple microscopic ants on the bathroom counter, however, who cares! It’s a microscopic ant – either kill it or ignore it!
The only complaint I have about the room was that we did not have any wireless internet access whatsoever. Other reviewers had encountered the same problems so, before my trip, I had called to inquire and was told that “all was fixed.” Not the case. The good news is that the wireless works great in the lobby, so I simply went down there to Skype home and talk to our son. No big deal.
The only other odd discovery was the snorkeling equipment situation. When we checked in, we were told that “you can absolutely borrow our snorkeling equipment anytime.” I thought great, we weren’t sure when we were going to snorkel, perhaps in a couple days. On Wednesday morning, we decided to grab the gear to head to Sandy Island. At the front desk, I was greeted by one of the more junior staff, and she said “no” to snorkeling equipment. I said, “What do you mean, I can’t borrow the gear?” She said, “We don’t have any available all week, other guests have checked them out for the week.” I said, “FOR THE WEEK?” Apparently, it is a wise idea to arrange for the gear at check-in. Again, no big deal.
The open-air hotel lobby is really quaint and charming. It opens to the Firefly Restaurant, which overlooks the main pool. Here we enjoyed a terrific manager’s reception on Monday night hosted by the gracious owners, Robin and Sue. From the pool, a winding path leads you through beautiful gardens, past a second smaller pool, past a few villas and finally arrives at Meads Bay. The path itself could use resurfacing eventually, but the three minute walk is easily accomplishable – and it is very pleasant (and totally safe). Would I be annoyed if I had arrived at the beach without my bottle of sunscreen and had to walk back up to my room? Yes. Is it worth $100+ per night to not have to remember it? No. All in all, the beach access is perfectly fine, especially considering the Anacaona beach chairs are directly adjacent (and actually in a better beach position) to the Viceroy chairs. There was no beach service (the shack was damaged a few months back), but this wasn’t a huge problem for us. Meads Bay is a really terrific beach.
But Shoal Bay might be better. Now, I don’t think I would want to stay at Ku or any other hotel on the east end of the island. Most of the good restaurants are on the west end (more on that later). The convex shape, as opposed to Meads Bay’s concave shape, feels slightly awkward. Shoal Bay is a bit more crowded and cramped than Meads. I mean this is relative terms. Shoal Bay feels about as crowded as Ka’anapali or Waikiki would feel if there were a nuclear bomb scare. And Meads Bay feels about as crowded as Shoal Bay would feel under the same threat warning. Shoal is a bit more lively with more beverages nearby and such. So, both Meads and Shoal have their pluses and minuses. But, to get back to my original point, Shoal’s water is prettier (at least during the time we visited). This is a hands down fact and cannot be debated. Meads is rougher, and the turquoise blue Caribbean water simply doesn’t extend as far.
However, Rendezvous Bay blows Meads and Shoal both out of the water, literally. The water (at least during the time we visited) is like perfectly calm turquoise blue bath water that extends for hundreds of yards. It was ridiculous. If you’re looking for the best beach on Anguilla (perhaps the world, though I haven’t seen them all), Rendezvous Bay is it. We rented chairs from the Anguilla Great House ($5 each) one day. The chairs are under palm trees blowing in the wind. The bar is steps away to grab a cinnamon dusted Rum Punch.
Two days later, we came back to Rendezvous and set up at Galvin’s “shack” about halfway in between the Anguilla Great House and CuisinArt. Galvin gave us free chairs, enticing us to frequent his blender, which we did multiple times. The margaritas are good. The mojitos are great. But the BBC’s are to die for. Ask him to play some of his music on his CD player. The CuisinArt was a good setting for lunch. The resort itself was fairly crowded. It’s very nice and very beautiful, but the grounds do show a little “maturity.” The formality of the resort, centralized around the pool and runnel down to the Sea, is very impressive.
My wife and I left our young son at home with grandparents, so our trip was intended to be full of relaxation. It certainly was, but we quickly remembered that life, without child, can be quite relaxing even when you’re doing a lot. We definitely scoped out a lot of the island, from restaurants to beach bars to resorts to multi-million dollar coastal estates overlooking St. Martin with a private beach (long story, but it pays to meet new friends in high places). We did charter the Chocolat Boat on Thursday to Prickly Pear and Sandy Island. It was very enjoyable. Captain Rollins is a trip. He is not a party-boat runner, so be forewarned. I would compare him to the crazy soup guy in that Seinfeld episode. He “suffers for his catamaran.” But if you get a chance to talk with him at length, you’ll find he is a passionate person, and he loves his simple life on the boat 6 or 7 days a week.
The first night we arrived, we hurriedly raced from the Anacaona to the Viceroy (which is an enormous property – the walk through the Viceroy grounds is a lot longer that the distance from Anacaona to the beach) for a sunset cocktail. This must be done. Love it or hate, the Viceroy is a statement to be seen. It screams opulence. The following night, we closed our night at Elvis’ Beach Bar. I can’t imagine two more different places, but we enjoyed them both immensely. We did see Bankie Banx at the Dune Preserve on Wednesday night – that guy is one talented folk singer (and he actually did perform as opposed to being too stoned to play).
Now for the best part of Anguilla – the food. Our first night was spent at Straw Hat. This is a short stroll down the beach from Anacaona, and it is exceptional. The setting is absolutely picturesque. It is directly on the beach, and the front tables overlook the surf and glow from tiki-torches. We ate breakfast at Geraud’s the next morning, and we’re glad we did. We tried to go back again Tuesday and the oven was broke. Jacala on Meads Bay is a great spot. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch there on Sunday. That evening, we headed to Davida on Crocus Bay. This place is gorgeous. The service was terrific. The dining room and bar overlook the water, where local kids were running up and down the beach. The only negative was that the restaurant was rather quiet. But, it was Sunday night (I think Sunday afternoon is a good time to visit this restaurant with live music, etc.).
On Monday, we ate lunch at Gwen’s Reggae Grill on Shoal Bay. The food was terrific. The water’s edge view was stunning. Again, I was told that Sunday afternoon is the time to come to Gwen’s. We missed this, and wanted Gwen to play some reggae music while we ate, but there was no music (not even on the stereo). For dinner, we ate at Veya, which feels like you are perched up in a treetop. Veya is a meal you will never forget. The owner plans trips to Massachusetts music festivals (answering the question, “If you live in paradise, where do you vacation?”). This is evident with the controlled music experience of the restaurant (Wilco, Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes). But it’s the food that’s the real treat, don’t skip dessert.
After discovering that Geraud’s oven broke, we ate at Café Veya (downstairs from the restaurant) for breakfast the following morning. We had an excellent omelet. We tried the Viceroy Grill for lunch. We were leery of the over-priced resort food. It was expensive, no question, but we split a sandwich and were sufficiently full with a good size portion. The setting was very nice, and it was a good placed to sit out a fifteen minute shower, the first of our trip. For Tuesday’s dinner, we didn’t have any plans or reservations. We heard good things about Mangos, but they were closed. We stopped by Trattoria Tramonto, but it was dead and we prefer to not be the only two people in a restaurant. Plus, is it me or does it kind of stink over by Cove Castle on the west end tip of the island by the salt pond? We tried to find Oliver’s, but it was difficult to find in the dark. We landed at Tasty’s and were seated at a nice table…right by the main road of the island. Yes, we were inside, but we were ten feet from zooming cars blasting bass music into our window. After downing a bottle of sparking water and with apologies to Tasty’s staff, we had to leave. It’s a fine place with what appeared to be a nice menu, but if traffic noise annoys you, avoid it. At this point, it was getting late, so we headed back to Straw Hat. On vacation, I hate dining at the same place twice, but I have no regrets. Straw Hat was even better the second time.
On Wednesday, we did lunch at Smokey’s, which had the friendliest service on the island. The setting (Cove Bay) and food (burgers, etc.) were very nice. Dinner was at Picante’s. This was very good Mexican food and very close to the Anacaona. There are no backs on the benches/chairs, which gives the place a fun casual feel, albeit not terribly comfortable. The margaritas are as delicious as promised. On Thursday night, our original plans were to visit Barrel Stay at Sandy Ground. We heard terrific things about it, but, in the end, we were wooed into the buffet dinner and folkloric theater at the Firefly Restaurant. This was a terrific decision. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was upbeat, and the theater was really entertaining and educational.
For our final dinner, we wanted to go upscale, so we tried Spice at Cap Jaluca. It happened to be pouring rain that night, but we found that Spice is a terrific place to enjoy the rain (in this event, take the second row of seating from the rail, not the front row). This was probably our most expensive meal, but in reality it wasn’t that much more than anyplace else. We did a wine flight at “Flights” beforehand. The service was warm and professional. The property is spectacular. We really enjoyed it.
We will walk away with terrific memories of Anguilla and the Anacaona forever. The Anacaona staff is comprised of caring and genuine individuals (as is the entire island). I know they went out of their way to make sure my wife and I had an amazing stay, and I really thank them for it. We will most certainly be back.
I will add that, while in Anguilla, we did “inspect” Frangipani and Ambia for future trip considerations. Ambia is a stunning property with gracious hosts and an intimate feel, and the only strike against it is that it’s not on the water. Frangipani was very nice - we didn’t see a room, but, from the pictures, the rooms didn’t appear any nicer than our Anacaona room. Plus, a parking lot view room was significantly more expensive than our ocean view with private balcony. I don’t think the infinite pool is worth the added cost (just drive over to Rendezvous Bay for your own mega-infinite pool).
- Also Known As:
- Sirena Hotel The Valley
- Sirena Hotel
- Anacaona Boutique Hotel Anguilla/West End Village
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Anacaona Boutique Hotel on the island of Anguilla is a small, intimate, privately-owned and privately-run oasis set in tropical gardens, overlooking (and just a few paces from) one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, the mile-long, white-sand expanse of Meads Bay. It has 27 stylish guest rooms, that include junior suites, 2 & 3 bedroom villa suites and two swimming pools.The goal is affordable chic. The property's amenities also include full beach service, ZaZaa boutique and both on and off beach massage centers. All rooms feature either King, Queen Bed or 2-Double Beds and bathroom with large shower, Balcony/Patio, Frette Linens, Mini Fridge, Air Conditioning,Ceiling Fan, Cable TV, I-Pod Docking Station, Iron & board, Laptop size in Room Safe, Complimentary Wireless Internet, Melita-Javapod Coffee Maker, Phone, Hairdryer and Locally Crafted Bathroom Amenities. ... more less
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