Opened in 2003, Carlisle Bay is set on a lush, isolated section of Antigua’s south coast and has a 21st-century design that feels more contemporary than Caribbean. With muted shades of grays, whites, and greens, the hotel projects an uncluttered, understated luxury. Its most remarked-on feature, though, is the way it appeals to both couples and families by keeping the two separate. Each group has its own cluster of rooms at its own end of the beach, and never the twain have to meet, except perhaps for lunch at Ottimo, the poolside Italian restaurant. The crescent of beach is tucked into a sheltered bay, so the waves seldom do more than whisper up onto the white sand, against a backdrop of forested hills. It’s all very restful, but the long list of free non-motorized watersports and the extensive kids' club ensures everyone has plenty to do.
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Half an hour from the airport, Carlisle Bay is on the southeastern, calmer side of the island, where visitors will find the more protected of Antigua’s 365 beaches. Although relatively secluded, the hotel is only 20 minutes from English Harbour, where England’s Horatio Nelson built a dockyard in the 18th century. Today, the harbor serves as the focal point every spring for one of the Caribbean’s premier yachting events—Antigua Sailing Week. Would-be Admiral Nelsons can even sign up for Carlisle Bay’s three-day learn-to-sail program. The hotel can also arrange snorkeling and diving tours, deep-sea fishing excursions, and for landlubbers, golf. Adventurers might want to try a helicopter fly-around of the nearby volcanically active island of Montserrat.
Need to Know
Rooms: 82 ocean-view suites. From $635 low season, $995 high season, including breakfast. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out noon. Dining options: In addition to Ottimo, the Italian restaurant with wood-burning pizza oven, a half-dozen dining venues range from dinner-only East, where couples go for the Pan-Asian cuisine and romantic setting (children under six are discouraged after 8 p.m.), to the open-air Indigo on the Beach, which serves everyone from kids in bathing suits to grown-ups without shoes, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Spa and gym details: The Blue Spa has six treatment rooms, one for couples, and a wet room and sauna. The adjacent gym is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and has trainers available on request. There’s also yoga, Pilates, and nine tennis courts.
Who’s it for: With families housed in accommodations sitting on their own beach at one end of the resort and couples at the other, both are equally happy here. Our favorite rooms: First-floor Beach Terrace Suites, at the end of the beach reserved for families, allow guests to step right out onto the sand. For adults not traveling with children, the Ocean Suites nearest the jetty are the quietest. Up the romance quotient: Have the hotel arrange a private dinner for two at the end of the jetty that juts into the bay.