AT A RESORT WHERE AN ANYWHERE-ANYHOW-anytime-you-want-it attitude prevails, your options arc almost limitless. Afternoon tea, for instance: At this stylish hotel on Antigua, it s an elegant experience featuring an irresistible spread of confections and crustless sandwiches, of which guests can partake anywhere they choose-Perhaps you ll sip your Earl Grey on the terrace of your suite Or have cucumber sandwiches served under your beach umbrella, steps from the aquamarine bay. And such flexibility isnconfined only to tea. Lunch is graciously delivered poolside, and appetizers and aperitifs can be enjoyed in the grand lobby, where louvered shutters invite tropical breezes. You might dine on the deck at Indigo on the Beach, where every table has an ocean view, or have a private table on the sand for a romantic dinner a deux at Coconut Grove. In a resort where pleasing guests is the priority, therealways a charming staffer at your service, ready to serve you in a different spot every day if thatwhat you desire. Even room service is an opportunity to impress Swaddled in a fluffy robe and seated on my sea-view balcony, I savor a morning repast of piping-hot coffee, fresh-squeezed juice and a basket of sinfully delicious pastries. But the highlight is the groaning platter of tropical fruit, laden with heaps of mango, papaya and kiwi. My comment (completely innocent, I swear) about the variety of fruit I d been brought the previous morning had obviously been noted and duly transmitted up the food and beverage chain At Carlisle Bay, special requests are considered welcome challenges, and staff and managers do whatever it takes to meet them. Itno wonder that resort loyalists love the staff as much as the hotel itself.
IS ABOUT FOOD, WINE AND FUN,”DECLARES THE SOMMELIER AND WITH THAT, six slightly sunburned diners are off to an effervescent start, quaffing flutes of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne paired with foie gras en papillote. The presentation is novel (enveloped in cellophane, resting in a sea of vegetable consomme), and as we unveil the French delicacy, there s a collective murmur of appreciation. Even the cardiologist in our group sighs with pleasure as the liver yields its creamy richness, tempered by the grapefruit and lemon notes of the sparkling white, CuisinArt Resort & Spa, on Anguilla, is owned by the kitchen-appliance company, so the focus on food comes standard. A hydroponic farm yields produce for Santorini, where an intimate six-course chef s-table dinner ($175) is served in a candlelit salon. As the evening progresses, we three Italians, two Jamaicans and a Southern-fried American discuss everything from favorite destinations to first loves, conversation stimulated by the procession of culinary delights The subtle flavors of clam risotto are enhanced by a 2006 St. Supery sauvignon blanc. Perfectly roasted asparagus and Parma ham accompany striped bass. And the fresh-basil sorbet is simply sublime. Then therethe fillet, served with a 2004 Antinori Tignanello with aromas of cherry and blackcurrant that arc the perfect complement. And for dessert, strawberry tiramisu,, which vanishes from my plate. By the end of the meal, we all part as friends, exchanging promises to keep in touch. And the guilt I feel for breaking my diet is far outweighed by my happiness that I ve worn an elastic-waist dress.
YOUR FIRST MORNING AT BELIZE LAMANAI OUTPOST LODGE WILL BE AN EARLY ONE. YOUBOLT out of bed in wee-hours darkness, roused by a commotion in the trees outside your cabana. The howler monkeys have arrived; munching on leaves and fruit, they move through the branches in noisy groups of a dozen or more. The big males bellow to announce the trooparrival, and from as far off as three miles, males from other troops bellow in response. Fortunately the coffee brews early here. Fuel up and set off on an easy 30-minute hike through towering ceiba trees and strangler figs to one of the wonders of the ancient Maya world: the beguiling ruins that give the lodge its name. The steep stone steps of the 100-foot-tall High Temple carry you above the tree canopy, and from here, the jungle —mist-cloaked in the pre-dawn gloaming and ringing with a chorus of hooting and whooping and chirping —meets the dark water of the broad New River Lagoon. And youalone. There are no tour buses unloading throngs of point-and-shooters. Itjust you and the spirits of the Maya, who settled this sacred place some 3,500 years ago. explore a place like Lamanai in the company of hundreds of tourists is one thing,”says Australian expat Mark Howells, who opened the lodge more than 20 years ago, to experience it in solitude, with no one to keep you company but the critters of the jungle, well, thatsomething altogether different.”
IT S SAID THAT WETHE SUM OF THE CHOICES WE MAKE IN LIFE. IF THAT S TRUE, then I m a lazy-river-riding, spa-going, luxury-shopping, reef-gawking kind of woman, At least that s who I am when Iat the Cove On a recent quickie visit to this resort within a resort at Paradise Island s sprawling Atlantis in the Bahamas (see marine life in the bahamas), time in my room was spent only to shower, dress or sleep. In the morning, I was one of the first riders on the Current, the mile-long not-so-lazy river that winds through the massive Aquaventure water park. Next stop: Cain at the Cove, a slick adults-only pool where butlers service plush cabanas and you dare not rise from your lounge chair unless youin swimsuit-model shape. It felt as if I covered each of Atlantis 171 acres, stopping to feed hungry hawksbill turtles and survey the impressive predator lagoon, grateful for the thick plexiglass between me and the boldiv staring blacknose sharks I tried my luck in the casino and then shuttled over to Marina Village for some power shopping, followed by wistful browsing at the Crystal Court, where Versace, Cartier and Ferragamo competed for my meager winnings, Later that afternoon, I passed a dreamy jo minutes at the spa, where a Balinese massage put me into such a blissful stupor that I almost missed my reservation at NobuAtlantis outpost. Sitting over an artfully arranged platter of unagi, I lamented the fact that there was still so much left to do. When would I possibly fit in the rock climbing, water-slid riding and swimming with sea lions I d planned? What about the trivia competition at the Royal Towers? Walking with sharks in the Mayan Temple? After a day of countless options, it seemed I still had one final choice to make: when to return.