Cuisinart and its sister property The Reef in Anguilla are the ideal places from which to savor the vibe of one of the Caribbean’s most tranquil islands.
If your idea of paradise is a weekend getaway to the Caribbean, and that getaway entails lounging around under the sun (on the beach or poolside—take your pick), cold drink in hand to be sipped between dozes (or dips into your chosen body of water), then we’ve got the island for you. Anguilla, one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, situated just east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and directly north of Saint Maarten, isn’t the simplest place to get to, but it’s certainly worth the effort: Traveling there from the United States requires catching a flight from Miami International Airport to Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, then take a 20-minute ferry from there. The territory consists of the main island of Anguilla, 16 by 3 miles wide at its widest point, boasts a total area of 35 square miles. Its name, from the Italian anguilla, which means “eel,” references the island’s shape, which is why it has also been known as “Snake Island.”
If, however, the thought of a Caribbean island calls to mind throngs of tourists spilling out of cruise ships and overrated all-inclusive resorts, you’ll be happy to learn you’re mistaken. There’s an embargo on cruise ships, casinos and high-rise hotels in Anguilla, something that becomes immediately apparent on arrival. Tranquility hangs in the air here like a beautiful mist, enveloping guests like a warm embrace. Clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and the melodious sounds of laughter mixed with music are hallmarks of the experience across the island. Once you arrive at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, the only thing that changes about those earthy pleasures is that you find yourself enjoying them amidst a casual yet luxurious environment, where the staff is apparently as pleased to be there as you are (and after an initial interaction, will remember your name and even what you prefer to drink and eat). And it’s instantly understandable why.
The 99-suite, seven-villa resort, closed after Hurricane Irma, reopened a year ago in November after originally opening its doors in 1999. Not only was it fully restored to its original glory; there were upgrades and updates to the design as well as the addition of upgraded golf and spa programming and new restaurants. Changes to the rooms have been described as a “chic coastal aesthetic,” with wood-style flooring, handmade headboards and floor-to-ceiling windows, plus in-room amenities are Frette linens, bathrobes and towels, Nespresso machines, L’Occitane bath products and flat-screen Samsung TVs. The property also relaunched its 27,000-square-foot Spa by CuisinArt, with a new menu of specialty treatments that serve as the ultimate soothing coda to a long day spent baking in the sun.
The meticulously manicured property is nothing short of breathtaking, whether during the day or at night, when, while strolling across the grounds to dinner at one of the four restaurants, the lighting and landscaping transform into a magical paradise. Speaking of dining—a crucial component of any successful vacation, in our opinion—Mosaic, centrally located nearby the pool, is buzzing in the morning for breakfast, equally popular for lunch (and you can order lunch and drinks to be served at your cabana or lounge chair if you prefer not to budge once you’ve become comfy there) and also for dinner. Elsewhere on the property, Tokyo Bay offers a menu of traditional Japanese dishes, including sushi, as well as house-made noodles and dumplings infused with a local twist. And the resort’s lobby bar, Kazbar, is a Moroccan-style space that invites relaxing with a drink any time of the day or evening.
This is not the place to go for action-packed days, although if you feel the urge, after plopping down in the sun or pool for a couple of days, to get up and move around, there are watersports to be enjoyed—paddle boarding, glass-bottom kayaking and snorkeling—golf to be played on the resort’s 18-hole Greg Norman Signature Design championship course and tennis, on three courts available day or night. The impressive pro shop has every single thing you’ll need or want to play, too, so if you’ve brought nothing in your carry-on other than swimwear and sunscreen, worry not—they’ve got you covered, from clothing to equipment and accessories. You can even call ahead of your reservation and let them know what you’ll be needing for your outing and they’ll have it all ready to go for you upon arrival.
As sleepy as Anguilla may be, you don’t have to tuck yourself into bed after dinner. Particularly if you’re into live music, you’ll find lots of good options. One evening during our stay, we heard what we thought was live music in the distance followed by lots of laughter and merriment. We learned the next day that just a few steps down Rendezvous Beach is Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve Beach Bar, which is what we’d heard. It may look like a rickety old house ready to collapse, but the hot spot, constructed from old boats and driftwood, is a cultural landmark in western Anguilla, and Bankie himself, a legendary reggae artist, is a native Anguillan who people come from all over to see—and to perform with, including Jimmy Buffett.
Eight months after Hurricane Irma struck Anguilla in 2017, The Reef by CuisinArt—sister property to CuisinArt—opened its doors. Located on Merrywing Bay along the island’s southwest coast, the sister hotel of CuisinArt is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and was named the #1 resort in Anguilla, #2 in the Caribbean and one of the Top 50 Resorts in the World by the 2017 Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards less than a year after beginning operations. Here, 80 luxury accommodations range from golf-view and sea-view junior suites in the main building to breathtaking junior suites in the four beachfront buildings. It’s the perfect marriage, as guests of either Cuisinart or The Reef have extended dining and recreation options and can shuttle between the two properties to enjoy everything that each has to offer. As hurricane season draws to a close this month, it’s the perfect time to make your travel plans for a sojourn to this deliciously immaculate, serene, happy island.
Cuisinart Resort Golf Resort & Spa; visit cuisinartresort.com; The Reef by CuisinArt; visit thereefbycuisinart.com.