This year was the first trip in a while where we only stayed for a week due to various commitments back home. Despite 2 full days of solid rain, we still enjoyed a terrific stay, albeit not long enough. Random thoughts & observations:
- We flew BWI-PHL-SXM coming down. Taxi'd to the public ferry. Picked up our Ronnie Bryan rental exactly 1 hour after landing in SXM. We flew AAS on the return to SXM, then to CLT and BWI. AAS was a great flight, plus we avoided the SXM check-in and security mess. I highly recommend AAS.
- The island seemed a little quieter than normal at this time of year.
- For the last 2 years, we've enjoyed Sunday Funday's at Ocean Echo with Omalie 360 playing, and we've really enjoyed the beach chairs, the food, the music, and the people.
- We stayed "home" at Carimar 2 nights, cooking shrimp scampi with friends one night, and ordering carryout pizza (excellent) and caesar salad (fair) from Cafe de Paris on the other.
- All of our dinners out were excellent...no disappointments. At Sand Bar, the tuna poke and fish bites were highlights. Veya was outstanding as always, with the amazing tasting menu. We went back to 2 restaurants we haven't visited in quite a while, Blanchards and E's Oven. After a few uneven meals a number of years ago, we stopped going to Blanchards, but decided to try it again. I have to say it was one of our best meals of this trip. The prix fixe menu has some excellent choices at reasonable prices, and service and staff were first-rate.Although the service at E's Oven was slow, we both had outstanding crayfish, large portions (6 tails per serving) for $36, which seems to me to be quite a value. The pumpkin soup is liquid velvet!
- On our final night, we went to the Sunset Lounge for drinks and to watch the sunset (and the people!), before going to Straw Hat for dinner. The Sunset Lounge has slightly different furniture and a different layout. Still architecturally stunning, but even under new management the service seemed slow. We considered ordering a bottle of Whispering Angel, but at $90 per bottle (seriously!) it gave us pause. Instead we enjoyed a martini and glass of champagne. The sunset was very nice, but when we politely asked an American couple to take our picture, the guy reluctantly agreed, and his response was one of annoyance & indifference, bordering on rudeness. I thought about saying something, but held my tongue. Life's too short.
- Straw Hat was a fitting meal to end to our vacation. Fantastic setting on the beach under the lights. The tuna flatbread is always one of our favorites, and the grilled mahi mahi with lemon beurre blanc sauce was cooked perfectly! Better yet, we decided to have that bottle of Whispering Angel, but at $48 instead of the $90 that the 4 Seasons wanted!
- Most lunches we ate at Carimar...salads with Rainbow Farms produce, and soups from Hungry's. Got carry-out lamb curry from Spice of India, and really enjoyed it. Also got a chicken roti from the Roti Hut. I've had chicken roti's from numerous places on the island, and the Roti Hut gets my vote for the best.
- One of our best experiences was spending the day on Merrywing Bay at the Reef. I know, I know, the main building is boxy, too tall, and unattractive. Otherwise, though, the resort is befitting of the Cuisinart standard of friendly, attentive staff, atractive landscaping, & top-notch foodservice. Merrywing Bay faces due east, so full disclosure, the usual easterly winds often make the water too rough to swim. We visited on a day with unusual west winds, so Merrywing was very calm and swimmable. The beach chairs are as good as any on the island, the swimming is terrific, and the staff (Auburn was a great guy) very friendly. Any sea grass had been removed and the beach raked clean. Beautiful views of St. Martin and Rendezvous Bay from the beach and also from Breezes Restaurant. The lunch menu includes a variety of salads, sandwiches and items cooked in the wood fired oven. We split a platter of warm, soft pita bread pieces with 3 dips: homemade hummus with olive oil and smoked paprika, whipped ricotta drizzled with truffled honey, and a cucumber, yogurt and mint sauce. More than enough for 2 people. With 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine, the bill was $75 minus 10% from the Anguilla Card. I would go back in a heartbeat to this beach and restaurant. Please check out the pictures (link is below)
- The Anguilla Card more than paid for itself, as we used it at Ocean Echo, Geraud's, Grand Vins de France, Sunset Lounge, Breezes Restaurant, Limin', Venus Spa, & Hungry's.
- We enjoyed spending time with so many friendly Anguillians, to name just a few: Dell at Ocean Echo, the staff at Carimar (Laverne, Cindy, Laverne, and Hermia), Auburn at Breezes at the Reef, Armel at Straw Hat, the bartender at Blanchard's (can't remember his name), 86-year-old Mr. Evans, who walked down from the neighborhood by B&D to the Malli beach every day for his daily swim, and of course Ronnie Bryan, who is Anguilla's greatest ambassador.
- Please check out the link below for some pictures, especially the ones from Merrywing Bay, as I think it has been getting somewhat of a bum rap in this forum:
Already suffering from the blues and counting the days till we return.