“While some paparazzi-stalked stars and financiers choose glitzy St. Barts as their see-and-be-seen Caribbean island, just a hop, skipper and puddle jumper away is a destination for A-listers looking for a more under-the-radar experience. They’ve traded in their Louboutins for the barefoot-casual vibe of Anguilla — and for good reason.”
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Look who is awarded the top spot - Viceroy Anguilla!
This sunny tax haven in the Caribbean has attracted the likes of Beyoncé and hubby Jay Z. Perhaps its cerulean waters are what inspired the two to name their daughter Blue. The Viceroy Anguilla is the popular spot for celebs (Sandra Bullock and Michael Jordan are two of many who have stayed here) with its cool Kelly Wearstler-designed interiors, ocean views and lengthy list of alluring amenities (like a basketball court, two-story spa and cooking classes).
I’ve taken up bicycling again for the enjoyment of it, to recapture some semblance of a bygone level of fitness and, as it accidentally turns out, to the amusement of other….younger…staff here at Viceroy Anguilla. So glad I can entertain them….. On an island barely 13 miles long by 3 1/2 miles at its widest point, with absolutely impeccable weather 360 days of the year, it makes perfect sense. Last week on a day-off I opted to ride to mid-island to see my dear friend Carol at ZimZala for a haircut. On the return trip I stopped on Back Street to enjoy a panoramic view of Road Bay and Sandy Ground, the same path guests take on Viceroy island bike tours. It never gets old. Sandy ground is, of course, home to Elvis’ Bar (biggest TV screen on the island), Johnno’s Bar (Sunday Jazz), The Pumphouse (great bar food and LOUD music)….all of which come to life around 11:00pm, as well as The Sand Bar (great tapas), Roy’s Bayside Grill (the lobster soup), Barrel Stay Restaurant,….and a postcard view from up above on Back Street…right across from the Irie Life Store (all things “Anguilla”).
Later, deciding we were long overdue for our usual stroll with dog Bradley on Meads Bay Beach, I was able to capture the last few rays of the sun, escaping between distant storm clouds and the horizon. As ALWAYS seems to happen, we met new friends, this time from Connecticut staying just down the beach from Viceroy.
As you may have heard, Viceroy Anguilla is becoming a very popular destination for prospective brides and grooms, but there are also clear indications that girlfriends who used to converge annually on Sullivan Island, South Beach or Destin Beach for a week or so, now seem to be migrating to Anguilla instead.
This week, a bridal magazine photo shoot was in the works, and I was able to capture several lovely shots depicting what potential brides have to look forward to at this extraordinary backdrop. Occasionally the bride-to-be, looking for something a little unique will have a former Navy Seal/Photographer swim out into Barnes Bay, taking shots of the ceremony with Viceroy in the background….but it’s still tough to beat all of that blue ocean to set off such an exquisite bride.
As for dressing down, girlfriends just off the beach were enjoying the fellowship of old friends, over grilled lobster or snapper for lunch at Bamboo Grill.
We stopped in at Anguilla Garden Center yesterday; had a few pots in need of plants, so off we went. AGC was coming into full bloom for the season, a bit like springtime in much of the US, November on Anguilla is when the earth returns to life in response to cooling temps and seasonal rains. A rare one-stop shop on Anguilla, the offerings span from an array of lovely ornamentals, to fruit-bearing trees in vast varieties, to specialty herbs, to virtually anything else conceivable that might support one’s lust for color and fragrance in one’s life, indoors or out.
Still, some things tend to be universal, like Tash with his little one, biding their time as Mom makes just the right selection for whatever occasion was in the works.
Island guests often make it a point to relate how wonderful the local tomatoes are on Anguilla, invariably followed by “ARE they really local?” They really are. I stopped by today to deliver an unexpected something cool to drink and found my good friend, Jerome Richardson and his co-workers, ”stringing up” this year’s crop of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, interspersed with sweet peppers, season peppers, lettuce, butternut squash, cucumbers, chives, and various herbs I cannot begin to distinguish. Jerome’s customers include some of Anguilla’s finest restaurants, who frequently prepare their menus to coincide with what’s coming fresh out of his fields. Oh, and freshness on Anguilla is often measured in terms of hours, rather than days or weeks. Jerome’s “Island Greens”-brand lettuce and tomatoes, picked in the morning, often appear in guest’s caprese salads that evening. Want still fresher? He opens his table up to the community on Saturday mornings on mahogany row, next to the ball field…a kind of one-man “farmer’s market”….but you’d better get there early.
Like the Swallows returning each year to San Juan Capistrano, so recent buyers are beginning to arrive at Viceroy Anguilla, taking up their residences for a week, or a month, or more as our little island awakens from its low-season rest. Life is still slow at this point, just prior to the heightened activity of the season, as one-by-one the restaurants….Blanchards, Picante, Jacala, Straw Hat, Veya, The Sand Bar, Trattoria Tramonto, Italia, Tasty’s, Hibernia and….of course…B&D’s Barbecue….hang out their signs, signalling they’re again open for business. There are just too many to list on this acknowledged “foodie” island.
Just last week owners of one of Viceroy’s lovely 1BR suites were in-house, a tax attorney arriving from Pennsylvania, as was the Italian physician who owns one of our iconic roof-top suites; the latter in final edits on a forthcoming publication, going to press very soon. Yesterday, our newest buyers from Texas arrived to their ocean front villa to find it….perfect, and the views as expected…flawless. Next week, the now retired (garment trade) owners of yet another ocean front villa arrive, previously splitting their time between NY and Hong Kong, now returning ”home” to their newest refuge in the Caribbean.
After traveling across the Caribbean for about a week, storm swells generated by a then-comparatively-mild Sandy, visited Viceroy Anguilla today and yesterday. Fortunately, the venom is gone, but the passion remains as she puts on quite a show for guests and employees.
While Anguilla’s abundant sunshine may tend to warm the body (and it does so beautifully), it’s the seamless color gradients which follow the often bold contrasts of sunset, that warm the soul, and sharpen the imagination (could that be the Black Pearl on the horizon). Beaches, famous for their talcum textured sands shine in the light of day, but virtually glow with the later, low-placed dying sunset, my favorite time of day. It is at this time of day that my wife and I relate best, relaxed and unassuming. Any residual tension, irrespective of its source, melts with the green flash of a flawless, cloudless sunset, ushering in….twilght for another 45 minutes or so, with a full moon asserting its command over the evening, emerging above Blanchard’s Beach Shack….the perfect end of today…a low afterglow foretelling just the inverse sequence at tomorrow’s reawakening of the sun after its Caribbean slumber.