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The mini-trip that wasn't...

Mystic, CT
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for Anguilla, The Valley
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The mini-trip that wasn't...

My annual vacation to Anguilla is always in May, but with the help of frequent flyer miles I was able to squeeze in an extra trip this year in March, for a 4 day weekend. I left Connecticut on March 9, just as snow started falling, though it was only an inch or two. After connecting in Philadelphia I arrived in St. Maarten close to 230pm. I had not reserved a sea shuttle so just walked out the door and GB told me they had one leaving in 10 minutes. They hustled me and 3 others over to the dock, said pay on the other side, rushed us through the paperwork, on we were off to Anguilla in minutes.

I picked up my Ronnie Bryan rental car at his lot, and was on my way to my home for the next 4 nights, the incomparable Las Esquinas. I had been there before to visit, but had never stayed. Robin is such fun and a great hostess so I was really excited about my digs. I had the Mexican Suite, looking out over the pool and toward St. Martin from my huge balcony. My bathroom on the side of the building also had a great view, and both indoor and outdoor showers.

Fortunately I was there and settled in with time to spare before happy hour, where I met two other guests, a lovely couple from Toronto, and then we were joined an hour later by a very cute young couple from London. Such a cosmopolitan group!

After Happy Hour I made my way to Sandy Ground, and Elvis's for a special delivery. I had been charged with bringing a NE Patriots Tom Brady Super Bowl shirt, so I dropped that off and had a quick cocktail with Elvis.

Dinner that night was at Sand Bar, where I once again ordered too much food. Delicious White Bean Dip with Pitas, Tuna Poke, and the famous Sand Bar Fries.

Off to bed with the sound of wind and waves from my sliding balcony doors. BTW, it was very windy throughout my stay, and sitting out on the balcony at night required a sweater or robe, a new experience for me in the Caribbean.

The next morning I joined Robin and the Canadian couple for breakfast. Las Esquinas breakfasts are a treat. Every day there is either a fruit salad or fruit smoothies, then a hot cooked breakfast..today's was a delicious potato frittata. Much as I enjoyed them, I did have to skip a couple of breakfast entrees, just too much food for me as I'd be going out for lunches as well.

Now my normal abode on Anguilla is the Rendezvous Bay Hotel, so I made my way there for a day on their beautiful beach, with lunch at The Place. It was very peaceful, just a few guests, no boat guests, so I had a great day. The Coconut Shrimp for lunch and a couple of rum punches didn't hurt either!

Sadly, I did get some bad news on this fabulous day. The New England snowstorm predicted for Tuesday, my return day, was now being called a blizzard, and airlines were advising rebooking! Didn't have to ask me twice, I changed my flight to Thursday instead! So much for the mini-trip idea!

Driving back to Las Esquinas I spotted a good size herd of goats trotting along Gumbs Highway at a pretty good clip. It seemed every day I saw this group in one direction or the other, and they brought a smile to my face every time.

When I arrived back at Las Esquinas, rum punches were being served around the pool with all of the guests, so I joined in. Too soon, it was time for a shower and change, then I was off to Veya. I had not made a reservation and knew I was taking a chance on a Saturday night in season, but perfectly willing to sit at the bar. The hostess greeted me and recognized me as a repeat guest, and said she had a table for me, no problem. I broke out of my habit of always ordering the same thing there, and tried the Fish Chowder and Butter Poached Lobster with Risotto. Yum!

On Sunday I started out at Ocean Echo, and heard a bit of Omalie 360's music, but it was too loud for me to sit in the restaurant for lunch. I made a spur of the moment decision to try Jacala, and got a beautiful table on the patio. Good Jacques was in attendance that day, and Ely took very good care of me. I had their delicious Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad and the Conch Salad.

This day was Moonsplash Sunday so I drove over to the Dune to check that out. However, the number of cars convinced me it would not be the place for me. I went on to Sunshine Shack and just relaxed there for a bit.

I called Mango's late in the day to see if I could get in, and Kim told me to wait until a bit later and she could squeeze me in. Had their wonderful Caesar Salad and Lobster, half done Brazero style and half with Garlic Butter. Fabulous as always.

Monday I went back to Ocean Echo, and it may have been that day or the previous day that I met fellow TA poster CTKathy while we were chatting in the ocean. Always nice to put a face with the name!

Monday night Robin and I went to Spice for dinner. The original plan was Pimm's, but then we remembered Omalie was there that night, so we sat in Spice, but ordered from the Pimm's menu. The music was nice, just right for dinner entertainment. I had a delicious Fish Soup, and finally, Grlled Crayfish! No visit to Anguilla is complete with out it. We shared a decadent chocolate dessert.

Tuesday (my original departure day) was moving day, as Las Esquinas was full. Since I am a travel agent, I decided to try Manoah to check it out. I have only stayed on the East End once, at the former Ku, so was looking forward to a little change of pace. I had asked for the beachfront Liz building, but they said it was sold out. I'm pretty sure it wasn't...occupancy was very low during my stay. At any rate, I managed to suffer in a beautiful oceanfront one bedroom suite in the Deanna building. I have written a review, so won't go into more detail here. I checked in about noon and headed out to the beach, where my London friends from Las Esquinas were also settling in for a nice beach day in Manoah's oh so comfy chairs ($30 per person for non-guests). We enjoyed wonderful beach service from Reiney and Claron (aka Piranha), and bar service from Justin (formerly of Cuisinart). Waves were pretty big for Shoal, so I didn't go in the ocean, but had a few dips in their very nice pool.

That night I was happy to try Madeariman's for dinner, as I never drive to the East End at night. It was fabulous, escargot and rack of lamb.

Wednesday was another glorious beach day, and the waves were down enough for me to venture into the surf. I had lunch at Manoah, ribs and fries, okay but nothing special, and nothing else on their menu that appealed to me. It is a beautiful spot and hotel, but they do need to amp up the dining scene. My friend Beverly who lives on island came to visit in the afternoon, we had a nice time catching up. She has raved in the past about Falcon's Nest so we talked about that for my dinner choice that night. I was really tempted to just go back to Madeariman's, but she convinced to try Falcon's. It was very good, picnic tables, feet in the sand. I tried their famous Fish Bits, yummy, and fabulous Grilled Lobster. I couldn't even touch the salads that came on the side. Too full!

Thursday, sadly is departure day, for real this time. I flew Anguilla Air Services to St. Maarten. If you have just carryon luggage, this is so easy! There is a kiosk if you haven't already printed your boarding pass, you go through their own security screening, with no wait, and head straight to your gate. None of the long lines downstairs!

Flights were uneventful, home by 11pm, and back at work 9am the next day!

So two very different stays. I just loved staying at Las Esquinas, and it forces you to mix things up a bit and head out to different places (although there are very comfy lounge chairs around the beautiful pool, and a little beach right there if you just want to snorkel, kayak or paddleboard). For first-timers, Robin will help you plan out your day, with driving directions and restaurant recommendations. Manoah is beautiful, and I hope they do well. I was surprised (and sad) to see the island so quiet in peak season.

Thanks for reading (mostly about my gluttony). Counting the days until May!

New York
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1. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

I enjoyed reading your trip report.

London, United...
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2. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

A great report. How lucky that "an inch or two" of snow turned into a blizzard. Not often you can say that!

Las Esquinas sounds wonderful! Manoah may not be my cup of tea but I will check it out as I am spending some of my 4 week trip this summer on SBE, which is a first for me.

I have heard/read mixed reviews of Falcon's Nest but sounds like it is worth a try - on the ever growing list it goes.

And you are back in Paradise in under 2 months - wonderful!!

Thanks for posting :)

New York City, New...
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3. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Getting stuck on Anguilla, there is nothing better. And Las Esquinas....sigh...my dream spot, its so beautiful, if I wish hard enough..maybe one day!!! An unplanned lunch at Jacala is like winning the lotto in my life. Thank you for the report, loved it!

Philadelphia...
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4. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Dearest Char: Can you believe we missed each other by just one day? But I certainly left you with the killer wind and rain didn't I? Unreal. The week after you left the throngs descended. Spring break, so don't feel too bad. That first week in March is usually the quiet before the storm, if ya catch my drift.

I think we have decided to pack in the March month from now on. Too risky. Every single year (but one) we had snow at home the first week in March (and that one time it was too warm to snow so it rained instead!) Back to the drawing board for us.

One of these days we'll get it right, kiddo!

:-)

Mystic, CT
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for Anguilla, The Valley
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5. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Pepper I too was sorry to have missed you. I neglected to mention, however, that weather for me was spectacular. Yes it was windy, but not uncomfortably so, kept things cool on the beach. Lots of sun each day and in 6 days saw not a single raindrop.

Boulder, Colorado
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6. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Charlene what a great way to escape a bit of winter! It was so fun to read your trip report especially as we did the same - Las EsQuinas and Manoah but in the reverse order. We turned that gorgeous and spacious Mexican Suite over to you. That view off the deck is amazing! While at Manoah we too tried Madearimans for the first time and very happy. Yes hopefully Manoah will get their food program up to the quality of the rest of the property! We were lucky to meet famous Peps and hubbie --- what a delight! It is always a treat to meet forum persons!!! So now the countdown is on for May! We look forward to you showing us your favorite place on Rendezvous! See you pretty soooooon!

Columbus, Ohio
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7. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

I greatly enjoyed all that gluttony, especially the lobster parts. Split two ways at Mangos? Brilliant! And I've been mentally drooling over that butter poached version at Veya for some time now. Except for the parsnip aspect. Shudder.

What a wonderful trip & report. I can't believe it's just an appetizer for your next one in May!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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8. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Char, very nice, Robin is such a sweetie, how lucky you got to spend time with her, and at the new Manoah, a really beautiful property. I am not a east ender, but I think I would like Manoah, it looks so luxurious.

I laughed at your "good Jacques" comment - fortunately, we have never experience "bad Jacques", he has always been gracious and charming. We love Ely, he used to work at DaVida and is just a doll.

Thanks for taking the time to share.

Ellen

Mystic, CT
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9. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Kyla I don't recall any mention of parsnip in the lobster at Veya..that would have scared me away. It was a spinach risotto, which is not a fave, but I wanted to try something different and it was delish. For every lobster dish I had, I would have happily had Crayfish instead if the had been available but weather affects availability. I live in lobster country so have it here often, but Caribbean lobster is different. And yes, the split lobster choice at Mangos is perfect.

Edited: 8:52 pm, March 30, 2017
montreal
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10. Re: The mini-trip that wasn't...

Enjoyed your adventure! Thanks!