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Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

New York
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Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

I just thought I'd share my experience as a first-time visitor to Anguilla and my experience at the Elements Villas on Long Bay Beach.

Anguilla was actually different than I expected. We have visited many of the Caribbean Islands, including Providenciales, Grand Cayman, Bahamas (Paradise and Harbour Island), Bermuda, St. John, Virgin Gorda, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, staying in villas at each except Grand Cayman. Based on tales about restaurant quality and the large number of high end villas and hotels, we sort of expected Anguilla to be most like Provo. Our actual experience was that it was most similar to Virgin Gorda, even leaving the topographical differences aside. By that, I simply mean that outside the hotels and villas directly on the beach, the place is less developed than I expected, maybe a little more run down. A good measure of this is the number of half-finished houses, seemingly abandoned, and wild dogs. Anguilla has plenty of both. Though, as advertised, there are also great hotels (Cap Juluca looked beautiful and the Four Seasons is a stunning and enormous property), great villas and great restaurants. All in all, if you prefer lack of development, I would probably recommend Virgin Gorda over Anguilla and if you prefer a more upscale and tidy place, I would probably recommend Provo, but just because an island isn't your absolute favorite island doesn't mean you didn't like it. We certainly enjoyed Anguilla.

The Elements Villas and Long Bay Beach in general were fantastic. The beach was deep and the sand was great. The ocean along the whole stretch was sandy, not rocky. There are rocks and coral about 15-20 feet in across the whole stretch, but the ocean gets deep enough fast enough that that didn't inhibit playing/swimming in the ocean in front of where the rocks/coral started. The beach was almost deserted at all times. The only people we ever saw were people staying at the other villa in Elements and there is more than enough ocean frontage that that didn't take away from the privacy at all. Lots of spots to get out of the sun down at the beach (the boat house and then also tables and chairs with umbrellas under the trees). While not in the same category as T&C or some places in the Bahamas, the water in Anguilla is a lovely blue, pretty typical of what you find in the US and British VIs, and there were no seaweed issues while we were there. The snorkeling from the shore right in front of the villas was ok. Certainly not in the category of the Caymans or even VG, but fun enough for kids. We saw lots of "lobsters" and fish, though no real reef, more rocks with some coral.

The service at the villas was the right level for us. Someone made breakfast in the morning and mixed drinks in the afternoon, but not a full chef service (we prefer to go out for dinner). The villas interiors were stunning. The tennis courts were in excellent condition. There was guy at the boat house to help with the kayaks and paddle board if you needed the help. They set up beach chairs and umbrellas every morning and also brought out water and drinks if you wanted.

The only negative I would offer about the villas is lack of a skype phone, though the villa's wifi was excellent. If you are planning on doing some work while on vacation, dealing with getting a cell signal and trying to connect to US toll free conf. call numbers was a nuisance.

Among the restaurants we went to, Coba was by far the best and the most stunning, though Pimms at Cap Juluca and Veya were also terrific. While it certainly wasn't bad, I'm not sure I would put Blanchard's in the same category. Because we were a party of 6, we had to make reservations every night and fill out a form with a CC authorization in advance and pdf it back to them, which is just irritating and I've never encountered it on any other island.

Southwick...
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1. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

Thanks for the report. The impressions of a first timer are always interesting.

Anguilla definitely has a ramshackle, "lived-in" feel. What look like half finished houses are actually works in progress with the owners schedule dictated by finances and material availability. Many houses are built with the anticipation of a 2nd floor, hence the re-bar and plumbing poking through the roof. Stray dogs are a concern, but there is an active rescue group, AARF, trying to deal with the issue.

"OK snorkeling" is the best that you can hope for on Anguilla. Especially after visiting other snorkel havens.

I've never heard of the written reservation confirmation system. That would be a hassle.

Consider going again and exploring beyond the villa/resort bubble. The charm of Anguilla is there waiting to be discovered.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

I've always been curious about the Elements Villas. They look beautiful. I suspect many forum members here might not be able to totally relate to your Anguilla vacation. The cost of staying at Elemrents for one night, most people are trying to spend for a week.

I think when people think high end on Anguilla, it's maybe Cap or Four seasons at $1000 per night or lower.

That being said, did you venture to other beaches, like shoal bay east, of Rendevous Bay? Do you just like to stay in the privacy of your villa surroundings, or do you like to explore local establishments and interact with the locals and other guests?

it does sound like you enjoyed yourselves. It's always interesting to understand what a particular traveller is looking for and the type of experience they are used to.

Yours is not the typical anguillan vacation, which is neither bad or good, it's just different.

Thanks for the report.

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3. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

I have to say, the Elements villas were pretty much exactly as advertised. Price-wise, while certainly not inexpensive, if the alternative is 3 or 4 hotel rooms at the Four Seasons, I am really not sure you are spending much more. But yes, for a couple, there's no sense in it. But, that's not who rents these places.

We went to Mead's, Barnes, the Cove and Maunday's. Didn't make it to Shoal Bay. We took a drive one afternoon and saw the Valley, had a few drinks, got forgettable BBQ etc. In general, I'm more than willing to spend time off the beach and there are places in Bermuda and the Bahamas I could spend all day (or Old San Juan in PR), but candidly I didn't see anything in the Valley crying out for more of my attention. I wouldn't recommend anyone go to Anguilla for anything other than to enjoy the beach. If one is interested in an Island's history, quaint old towns, nightlife or active pursuits like hiking etc., there are obviously far better options in the Caribbean and frankly they probably all compare unfavorably to Mexico/Mayan Riviera in that regard. But again, this is not meant to suggest we didn't enjoy Anguilla. It was planned as a beach vacation with the family and that's what it was.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

You are correct regarding the Valley. I think you missed some great stuff though. SBE is beautiful with several fun beach bars and restaurants. More on the local, casual side, which I really like. i think lunch at sunshine shack on rendezvous bay, is another really fun local experience. Trattoria Tramonto on Shoal Bay West makes for a great lunch and beach day, as well, just to name a few.

Yes, you are correct? Anguilla is about the beaches, but it's also about the friendly locals and great restaurants too.

I didn't realize you had such a large family, but I still think there would have been better options to allow you to experience the charm of the island. You went super private and exclusive. The Elements villa could be anywhere, so I understand why you didn't really get the full experience.

Thanks for sharing.

Bradenton, Florida
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5. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

Anexparrot,

I think your trip report points out the obvious fact that we all have different perspectives on "the perfect vacation". And when you think about it, that's a good thing. How terrible would it be if we all wanted to be on the same island at the same time? From my research, either Anguilla wins you over and the addiction begins or it's just another vacation. It sounds like the latter for you.

When I think about our vacations through the years (most of them Caribbean) I reflect fondly on the time we shared together experiencing a new culture, exploring new beaches, interacting with the locals, soaking up the sunshine, the sunset and the twinkling stars. I remember snorkeling and chasing sea turtles, sailing, eating fish that were caught that morning, and sitting for a few hours at a beach bar and just RELAXING.

I'll add as a caveat that our first Anguilla trip will be later this summer, so we'll see. In fact, we've NEVER vacationed in the same place twice (just too many beautiful destinations on this planet)! This trip will be just the two of us (kids are adults now), and we were searching for a "off the beaten path" to simply relax. We will mix it up with a few of the "high end" spots as well as the more casual beach bars. My expectation? My expectation is to make new memories, seek out all that the island offers and be grateful that we are lucky enough.

London, United...
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6. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good holiday and I'm glad you enjoyed your time on Anguilla - we love Long Bay too.

Interesting you thought Coba your best meal. That place rarely gets a mention on here.

There are few Caribbean islands that do not really have a town to wander around and Anguilla is certainly one of them. Although The Valley is called the capital it isn't really worth spending any time there unless you need something from Tackle Box. I haven't been there for years.

We love exploring the island, driving around and stopping off at the little beach bars and boutiques, chatting with the locals and limin'. However, I recognise that is not everyone's cup of tea in the same way your holiday wouldn't suit me. Each to his own and if we are content that is what matters.

Glad you loved your villa - very important - and thankfully Mother Nature provided the beautiful beach (it comes and goes).

Thank you for taking the time to post your experiences.

Edited: 2:59 pm, April 27, 2017
Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

Enjoyed reading your perspective and comparisons. I'm curious, out of the islands you mentioned plus Anguilla, which do you consider had the best restaurants??

Glen Mills...
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8. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

Just wanted to plug Coba. It really doesn't get mentioned here enough. We had dinner there this March and it is now on our list.

It's always nice to get a different perspective on the island. We like Virgin Gorda too, one of our favorites, but it didn't capture our hearts like Anguilla.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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9. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

I have visited Long Bay many times and am always amazed at that beach, deep and wide with such deep sand. The show “Coupled” was filmed at Elements, it was fun to see the inside of those stunning villas.

The credit card requirement is fairly new, the restaurateur’s would hold a big table and then the party would not show – or even call. Since they only have a short window to make their money, they implemented this practice.

Too bad you did not see Shoal Bay East, Conde Nast named it one of the top ten beaches in the world, it is spectacular.

Thank you for taking the time to post, I enjoyed your report.

Ellen

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10. Re: Trip Report - Elements Villas/Long Bay

To Linda: probably a tie between Anguilla and Provo. We didn't have a bad meal in Anguilla, but in order of our favorites:

1. Coba (everyone's favorite both for food and ambiance, the ceviches were terrific);

2. Veya;

3. Pimms;

4. Tokyo Bay (food only, hated the ambiance, but have to admit it was top quality sushi);

5. Mallihouana;

6. Blanchard's

We tried to try Jacala, but they failed to respond to a couple of emails and a voicemail and so out of spite I didn't try again once we got to the island.