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Report from Festive Season

East Coast
Level Contributor
352 posts
47 reviews
Report from Festive Season

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.

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
7,497 posts
10 reviews
1. Re: Report from Festive Season

A winner of a review. And you really nailed a lot of things like The Reef that looks to us like a huge glass office building and Blanchards BS which always delivers.

We like Blanchards restaurant more than you obviously do but I do know what you mean when you say that the menu is getting tired. They even deleted that wonderful ravioli appetizer and replaced it with something that doesn't compare in delicacy. Wonder why they did that.

Jacala for us was outstanding and we are looking forward to our soon-to-be visit again.

Sorry to hear that the tourist trade is not up to snuff when 'tis the season to be jolly. Hope it picks up.

Have heard little to nothing about mosquitoes these last couple of months. I think the windy days have kept them at bay.

Thanks for taking the time to post.

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,258 posts
34 reviews
2. Re: Report from Festive Season

Really informative TR. We have never visited at this time of year so it was so interesting to learn of your impressions of the island.

I'd checked in on the webcam a few times and had noticed that, although lots and lots of chairs set up, there did not seen to be many people around. Seems like not just FS was quieter than expected.

I agree with you that PP can be hit or miss depending on how many boats are in. We've had magical times and nightmares in that beautiful place, as you say, best to check first.

Will certainly put B&D on our list for this summer. We hope to catch Omalie 360 when we visit - not good form of OE not to tell you they weren't coming but they probably needed the business of customers buying drinks/food whilst waiting. Such a shame to sit around and be disappointed on New Year's Day.

Thank you so much for posting - enjoyed reading! :)

Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Anguilla
Level Contributor
11,292 posts
311 reviews
3. Re: Report from Festive Season

MickiD - thank you for taking the time to post.

I am sorry to hear about Omalie 360 - I know what it is like to go to see a band and not have them show - very disappointing.

I could not agree more about Blanchard's -we went a few times and could never see the hype and have not been back, too many other places for us.

We have not been to PP, and I have heard what you reported, hit or miss - we do not like crowds, so we have avoided.

Thanks for taking the time to post - it is always fun to read reports, posts, insights and comments about Anguilla, helps a lot :-)

Happy New Year.

Ellen

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
49 posts
23 reviews
4. Re: Report from Festive Season

Agree with your review, MickiD! We have been on island since Nov 14, and the traffic is definitely down from prior years, but while I hope it picks up for the island, it is great to be able to get reservations anywhere we want and on very short notice. That being said, we do not like Blanchards, so won't eat there...but the Beach Shack still delivers fun food in a more efficient manner than prior years, and everything there tastes great - especially the frozen lemonade with a shot of rum! ;)

I too went to Prickly Pear (early in Dec) on Chocolat and had a fabulous time on a "girls day out" when a friend had her 72nd birthday. We ate at Allan's (included in the trip price) and both the fish and the ribs were outstanding (plus the nice dry rose Jacquie bought for the birthday celebration!). Capt Rollins was top shelf and spending the leg of the trip from PP to Sandy Island for a stop in one of the 2 trampolines on his boat was such fun - getting a bit wet as fun and refreshing. I was disappointed in how much they charged for a rum and tonic on Sandy Island ($10), but am glad I did not order a Pina Colada ($20), as you can't send it back when you hear the price..... :) Capt Rollins got us back to Sandy Ground and dingied us ashore about 3:30 and then we walked over to Elvis's for a last birthday drink of the afternoon (mamawanna of course) and another rum and tonic. It was the best trip I have ever had to an off island and I can't thank Capt Rollins enough for providing us with such an awesome day!!! Really awesome!!!

I would like to recommend to anyone still coming to check out Falcon's Nest and Artisan Pizza in Island Harbor. Falcon's Nest is closed on Mondays, but is open every other day. They have great rum punch (served in a nice heavy real glass glass, no plastic) for only $5, and the snapper we had there ($20 with 2 sides) was the best fish my hubby has ever had and I agree!!! They had sides other than just French fries and their potato salad was great! They had wahoo, mahi and snapper (each $20) grilled, steamed or fried and they also have lobster ($40) and chicken wings, fish bits, etc....something for everyone! Lauren was out waitress as even stopped to explain that another table (seated after us) was getting their food faster because they had requested it "fried" instead of grilled (as we had), very sweet of her to explain, and the grilled fish was worth the wait. Artisan Pizza is the best pizza I have ever had! Thin, thin crust and about 15 different pizzas to choose from (roughly $20-25 per pizza and each of us ate a whole pizza. I had the lobster pizza ($25) and they had a lot of lobster on it with fresh, uncooked spinach on top - it was marvelous!!! And for dessert....the gelato...incredible and served with a chocolate filled cookie and blackberry. I had the white chocolate, but I heard today you can even get 2 different scoops if you want.....so many great flavors - salted caramel, mango, white chocolate, regular chocolate, strawberry, and more (only $6 and great way to end a meal, especially with good friends!!!

We also had a great meal at Sandbar - sesame crusted tuna on a wasabi slaw with soy sauce, and garlic prawns. You need to make a reservation there for sure. They were packed last night and the 2 nights we were there earlier in Dec. Dolce Vita is hopping, and so is Roy's! Pumphouse has $.50 wings on Mon night (10 wing minimum, but that's only $5) and the wings are so large you can feed 3 people with 10 wings! Add a Caesar salad and you have more than enough. Trattoria Tramonto was also excellent every time we went there for lunch (I never understand why folks go there for dinner when you get that beautiful beach and chairs with lunch - and you can make a start on exercising off the lunch by walking to Sherricks Bay and back.....the beach is dark when you are there for dinner.......everything there was perfect (as always). Did not do anything yet at Four Seasons, so I missed Cindy Crawford and the other celebs being there, but I am more interested in those huge yachts anchored in Crocus Bay ;)

Haven't seen Omalie 360 yet, but want to, but will check to be sure there is no reason they won't show.....Omari is back on the island and gave a great show last Sunday when we spent all day at DaVida. He sang all his old songs as well as his new ones.

Anguilla is not disappointing at all and I wish all the businesses a very successful 2017 (but am enjoying how easy it is to get to all restaurants without making reservations WAY in advance). Happy 2017!!!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
362 posts
5. Re: Report from Festive Season

sailingirl1, I laughed out loud when you mentioned the rum punch at falcon nest. I know, right! What a great deal. Only $5!!!! A real cocktail that you could easily pay $15-$18 for at one of the resorts.

When they served it to me the first time, I was so excited and blown away, I took a video of it, and sent it to my friends who also love Anguilla.

Big fan of falcon nest. I'll try and find the video and post it. You made my day that you had the same reaction. Such great owners too. You can underestimate them because it's a beach shack, but they really know what they are doing. Top notch!

Edited: 6:56 pm, January 06, 2017
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
480 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: Report from Festive Season

Wait the water park is in front of The Reef Hotel? I thought it was in front of Smokeys? Or do we now have 2 water parks? Or maybe the hotel is located on same beach as Smokeys...then again I thought Reef was by Cuisinart...would love to know if you have a moment to reply.

South Jersey
Level Contributor
880 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Report from Festive Season

I_riNyc: I'll chime in here. Smokey's is on Cove Bay and has the waterpark in front of them. This year it seems to have shifted closer to the restaurant than it was last year, when it seemed more off to the left.

The Reef by Cuisinart is on Merrywing Bay (site of the former Sonesta Resort) where the failed Temenos was started. Merrywing is the next bay from Rendezvous Bay. No waterpark there.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
480 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Report from Festive Season

Thanks RelAXA, sitting st JFK stressing AA with a 2 hour delay, I'm beginning to think my flights to Anguilla are jinxed. Not sure if u followed my last years diverted trek. Will post for advice on a different thread

East Coast
Level Contributor
352 posts
47 reviews
9. Re: Report from Festive Season

We took our boat from Cove Bay....while on the dock (and from the water) we could see the Reef straight ahead

and the Water Park to our left, in close proximity. It isn't the front of the Reef, but a nice blank wall with windows

on both sides, which makes the view all the less appealing. The Reef and Water Park are

maybe 1/4 mile apart.

NJ
Level Contributor
2 posts
25 reviews
10. Re: Report from Festive Season

I see a bunch of comments about Reef hotel looking like a bank / hospital. I am planning to come to the Island with my family and understand that this hotel does not fit the island vibe - but the beach front suites are great value and have modern bathrooms (wife will be happy). can anyone comment on the beach in front of the the Reef hotel? I have two young kids (5 & &) and just want a fun family vacation with that beautiful blue water. Also, is wind an issue in April on that beach? Thanks in advance for all the input.