We just returned from our 15th holiday season in Anguilla and I thought I'd provide a few thoughts/observations. As always, our trip was wonderful, with superb weather and interactions
with what seems to be now family on the island. We rent a villa and our decisions are
pretty much limited to which chair to sit in and whether to use the Kindle or read a paperback, so
I'll spare you details of our days.
-It was, by far, the quietest we have seen the island this time of year. It was easy to get any reservations we wanted and the number of private planes at the airport (often a good barometer)
was noticeably lower. We also learned that many villas were not rented out and that the Four Seasons was not at capacity. I imagine a lot of this is due to fears of zika. As for the Four Seasons, I suspect many people are not aware it even exists and that many of the usual Viceroy visitors
would not be interested as the vibe is a bit different.
-We went to Prickly Pear for the first time in years, with a stop at Little Bay en route. Johnno's on
PP is great, but there were MANY boats on the island, mainly day trippers from St. Maarten, so the atmosphere was not calm. It is a very special place, but I'd check in on
whether a lot of charters were expected before I booked again.
-We also went to Ocean Echo for the first time. The food is fine and the atmosphere is very
pleasant but we went specifically to see Omalie and they didn't show on Sunday, New Year's Day.
We pulled ourselves away from football to hear what is meant to be a wonderful group. They were confirmed to play at 1:30 and didn't come....we learned later that some of the group had family in town and they changed their plans. The restaurant didn't let us know, so we hung out
for longer than we would, hoping they show. Not communicating with customers on one of the busiest days of the year is probably not the best move.
-Veya was wonderful, as always. The specials are always inventive and the service very warm and friendly. Picante is one of our favorite stops on the island, but the pacing can be break neck this time of year as they try to turn their tables over. Maybe because we went a bit later and there
weren't as many new arrivals, our dinner had a calm that isn't the norm.
-For the second year in a row, we were disappointed in Blanchard's. It just doesn't seem as special, the menu is tired and the service is workmanlike. Not a bad choice, just not an exciting one. On the other hand, Blanchard's Beach Shack gets better every year. They really have nailed this concept, with a fun, broad menu and lovely setting. The food seems to be delivered more efficiently and it's a pleasure to be there.
-For those who have never tried B&D: you are missing a fantastic Anguilla food venue.
We now order by phone and pick up our meals, rather than eating on the lawn. Absolutely everything is fantastic, but shout out particularly for the ribs, chicken and johnny cakes.
-The Reef: it's hard to believe that the design of this building would even be considered, let alone built. From the water, it looks like either a hospital or bank. We didn't go in but it's rather an eyesore and that seems to be the consensus of locals as well. Of course, it might well be a terrific hotel, and it is certainly well located, but gosh, nothing about it says Anguilla. For purists, seeing The Reef and the inflatable water park together as they are might be too much. Not sure how the water park is doing, as it wasn't open when we were there. If it is a plus for locals, I'm all for it.
We are so happy to have discovered the haven that is Anguilla so many years ago and this year,
as ever, it didn't disappoint.