So....we are back from a lovely, delightful 7 days back "home." We had been to Anguilla many, many times between 1990-2009 and then hadn't been back for an assortment of reasons. Among them was that we felt the need to explore other places like Turks - where we went last year. Without disparaging anywhere else, I will tell you how I felt on the short trip from St Martin to Anguilla via the outstanding Anguilla Air Services. As much as I hate looking down during the short flight, as soon as we could see the island my husband told me to open my eyes. I did, and started to cry. We truly felt as though we had arrived home after being away for much, much too long. The feeling of landing and seeing our tiny little beautiful airport, breathing the air, smelling the smells and beginning to see familiar faces is indescribable.
We began our romance with Anguilla in the early 90s at the Sonsesta, then when it sadly closed, stayed at Frang, Cuisinart, Malliouhana and Viceroy (maybe CoveCastles in between). Malli was our favorite and if I knew how to attach photo's I would show you a pic of our yellow Labrador rescue. His name is Malli. 'Nuff said :)
We stuck it out with Malli til the bittersweet end and are so delighted that John Vasatka and his team have renovated it with such good taste and kept all of the charm and beauty intact. It is gorgeous. The pools are stunning, the entrance is extraordinary, the room was beautiful and comfortable, the restaurant fabulous. John is a lovely, kind man with a true, genuine love for the island. The staff at Malli are terrific - they are happy and enthusiastic and you can see it comes from the top.
That said, we had pretty crummy weather for most of the trip but it really didn't matter to us. We had 3 sunny days out of 7 and made the most of it. Here are some reflections from an old-timer:
Congratulations to AARF. We did not see one stray dog on this trip. Back in the 90's there were dozens everywhere. Not one this time. Amazing job.
Shoal Bay is the one place that really changed. A lot of buildup there.
Great meals at our faves E's Oven and Mango's (shout-out to Saint Claire our old friend from Sonesta - great to see him!). Liked Blanchard's Beach Shack a lot - made lunch super easy.
But the biggest warm hug and accolades to our all-time favorite place - Straw Hat. We were there at the beginning - when Peter & Anne had their gorgeous spot on the water. And then at the beginning of Straw Hat Part 2 when they moved to Mead's. And here they are now - the best meals and service we have had anywhere in the States, Europe or the Caribbean. And it comes with being able to put your toes in the sand on the most beautiful beach in the world.
Much of their staff has been with them from the beginning. I would fly to Anguilla and stay only 5 minutes to get a hug from Armel. It's that good. And delightful, fun Doris making everything happen while taking the time to chat with all the customers and making sure everyone is happy. And the food. From the bread to the snapper with shiitake mushrooms to the seafood pasta, tuna carpaccio (we ate a lot there :) - everything is 5 stars, A+. Peter and Anne have gone through a lot to create this magnificent restaurant and we are so happy for them.
We were sad to leave but happy that, to paraphrase Dorothy, if we ever go looking for our heart's desire again, we won't look further than Anguilla. We will hopefully be back soon.
Thanks to everyone for all their posts and helpful information here - this is a wonderful forum.
Bonnie and Doug