Earlier in the year, we decided to book an early winter escape with SeaDream Yacht Club, one of our favorite cruise recommendations at Frontiers. Ten days in the Lesser Antilles Islands seemed like a great way to start the month of December when the weather in Western Pennsylvania starts to turn nasty. We were to embark from St. Marten, but Hurricane Irma threw a curveball. Based on the damage done to that island, SeaDream rerouted us to begin our cruise in Antigua.
We planned to spend a few days on the island prior to the cruise – maximizing our time in warmer climes… and making sure that our attitude was fully adjusted to the latitude before we stepped aboard our ship! While we have some staff members who have been to Antigua, it is not an island that Kristene and I know personally. I remember being introduced to Hermitage Bay at a large luxury travel show last summer. Based on my discussions with the owner, Andy at that show and with all of the positive reports we had from returning clients, we confirmed a reservation and had an exceptional experience.
We arrived at the VC Bird International Airport on time via American Airlines a day before Pittsburgh was about to received its first freezing rain and snow storm. Timing is everything! Depending on where you live, there is also service to Antigua on Delta, United and Jet Blue. Air Canada also offers service and there are international carriers from Europe.
We were actually met by a representative of the hotel inside the customs area. They helped us expedite that process and we were in the transfer vehicle less than 30 minutes after landing. We had a very comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle with a driver who was quite knowledgeable about the history of the island. Driving time was about 35 minutes to the hotel gate. Antigua is one of the Leeward Islands and is just over 100 square miles. We were surprised at how little hurricane damage there was on Antigua – especially since 90% of the buildings on its sister island, Barbuda were either damaged or destroyed, a short 35 miles away.
Situated on the west coast of the island overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Hermitage Bay is a stunning, privately owned property that offers guests a romantic, tropical hideaway. It is an ultra-luxurious, all-inclusive resort that really focuses on privacy, relaxation and wellness with a staff committed to an unwavering high level of customer service, all with huge smiles.
Within minutes of arriving at Hermitage Bay, we were made to feel at home. The hotel provides exclusive accommodation with 30 individual suites, consisting of 17 hillside pool suites, 9 beachfront suites and 4 Garden Suites. Every guest accommodation promises spectacular island views and offers true privacy. The hotel has a very high level of repeat bookings. In talking to some of the regular guests, we found that several preferred the beachfront suites while others steered toward the hillside suites.
We were booked in Unit 22, which is a hillside suite. We liked it because it was still an easy walk to/from the bar, pool, restaurant and beach area, but was still elevated enough to provide a great view of the Caribbean and it had lots of privacy. Of course, it was also really nice to have our own plunge pool. Unit 22 is also located right next to the spa. With over 1,500 square feet of space and even a private outdoor “garden shower,” it is hard not to feel 100% at home at Hermitage Bay.
As you continue up the hillside, there are a number of other great suites with killer views. We particularly liked suite 35, 38 and 39. If you do not want to hike up the hill, the resort will quickly deliver you to your suite in a spacious golf cart. The beachfront suites were quite similar in design, but a bit smaller. With the sea in front of you and the main resort pool a short stroll away, plunge pools are not necessary. Our favorite was #12. The decor of the resort is contemporary and sleek, yet the open-air design/layout in a dramatic dark hardwood definitely confirms that you are in the heart of the Caribbean.
Both the cuisine and service are a crucial part of the experience at Hermitage Bay. The restaurant and bar are located near the beach with great views and intimate dining areas. The menus are a combination of Caribbean and European cooking, and change daily. The executive chef places an emphasis on local, organic ingredients — updating popular items and creating new favorites, all with distinctive island essence. A full wine list and deluxe brands are available at an additional charge. We were, however, quite happy with the wines and drinks served as part of the all-inclusive package. The staff are incredibly attentive and friendly.
After insisting on a full tour of the property, we spent most of our day enjoying the beach and the watersports. The sparkling bay is a huge property draw and the use of all non-powered beach and water equipment, along with instruction if needed is provided complimentary to guests daily. We enjoyed snorkeling right off of the beach. The small, rocky reef was incredibly beautiful with lots of colorful fish. In addition, there are double and single kayaks, windsurfing, sunfish and Hobie cat sailing. If you want to go diving, fishing or venture off the property to explore other pursuits, the staff is more than happy to make these arrangements for you. Hermitage Bay also has a fully equipped fitness center and a world-class spa earning a ranking on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List.”
We highly recommend Hermitage Bay to any of our clients interested in escaping to the Caribbean for a week of privacy and relaxation. Their inclusive rates are very competitive; and by booking through Frontiers, we can offer a suite upgrade on arrival (subject to availability), a $100 USD equivalent resort or hotel credit to be utilized during your stay, early check-in/late check-out (subject to availability), complimentary Wi-Fi, and for stays of three nights or more, you will receive complimentary roundtrip airport transfers.
Make plans to visit Hermitage Bay in 2018. It has received many international accolades and awards. You will see it in Condé Nast Traveler (The 100 Best Hotels in the World.) We invite you to enjoy this incredible Caribbean experience.