Carlisle Bay

Old road, Antigua and Barbuda

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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Race a Yacht Like a Pro in Antigua

Watching sailing from a distance can be like watching an insect’s funeral procession: white specks slowly moving across a blue background. But if you get out on the water, a boat race comes to life. Deckhands sprint across the decks, sails powerfully unfurl, and hulls crash into towering waves. During Antigua Sailing Week, Ondeck Ocean Racing can give you the sailing equivalent of courtside seats at a professional basketball game. The company’s Chase the Race experience puts six passengers aboard a Farr 65 racing boat with a pro crew that’s not out to win but works hard enough to keep you close to the action. Antigua has been the last stop on the Caribbean winter regatta circuit for nearly 50 years. I’d always thought it was the after-party scene that made Sailing Week most appealing, but actually riding the waves made me want to give up my landlubber status. The Ondeck adventure also included a hands-on sailing lesson that covered the physics of wind and the mechanics of hoisting a sail without straining your back. I eagerly clambered around the decks to yank ropes and take the wheel as often as I could. Salt spray hitting my face, wind power palpable in my hands, I was hooked. Ondeck offers short recreational sailing trips and pro training—and I’m seriously thinking of enrolling.

Experience the Very Definition of Caribbean Luxury

Pop quiz, hot shot! Define Caribbean luxury in 2 words or less. My answer is easy: Carlisle Bay. The moment I walked across the dark wood bridge (flanked on both sides by billowing, flaming torches) that carries guests over a reflecting pool into the heart of the property’s great house, I somehow suspected this truth. Then I was expertly shown to an ocean suite. Then I knew for sure. The rooms are a unique blend of modern, clean lines and classic, West Indian touches. From the charred coconut tree trunks serving as planters, to the unique prints gracing the closets, to the curved mahogany day bed on the oceanfront balcony, to a flawless orchid that’s refreshed daily, the rooms are near perfection.

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