• Saturday, October 21, 2017

Curtain Bluff Resort Antigua

Curtain Bluff Antigua – The Exclusive All-Inclusive
March 20, 2013
By , Founder and Editor-in-Chief

“Luxury all-inclusive travel.” We’ve all fallen for it at one time or another. Tread carefully and read the fine print, lest you find yourself gawking – saucer-eyed behind a pair of Thierry Lasrys – as Honey Boo Boo’s bikini-clad entourage dominates the adult pool. If you have standards but like the sound of luxurious value, Curtain Bluff is your answer. Chilled-out yet five star, Curtain Bluff has had 50 years to perfect its pitch. This Antiguan mainstay is set on a headland overlooking two of the island’s most beautiful beaches.

Good For: Couples looking to get treated like grown-ups, and families who want to keep it low-key and real in understated luxury.  

The Highlights:

  • Sunday afternoon at Shirley Heights, listening to the steel drums, watching the sunset, and drinking a classic Dark and Stormy.
  • Partaking in the weekly cocktail party at Bluff House with owner Chelle, resort GM Rob – who’s also the unofficial mayor of Antigua – and the storied hotel guests. You’re rubbing elbows with hitters, but would never know it.
  • Afternoon lunch at Catherine’s, sipping rosé, and admiring the “boats.” If you’re lucky, you’ll see the Maltese Falcon, the largest sailboat in the world, which calls Antigua one of its home ports of call.
  • Spending a day at the beach, actually multiple days on the beach, doing absolutely nothing.

What to Know: Antigua is an unassuming, classic scene. This is where CEOs and old-school wealth come to relax incognito. You won’t find topless table-dancing or ostentatious shows of wealth. It’s the antithesis of “if you got it, flaunt it,” but those who come here definitely have it. Antigua is where you fall asleep at the acceptable hour of 10:30pm, or if you’re really wild, 11pm. You won’t need a vacation from your vacation, because Antigua is it. With direct flights from NYC, it’s an optimal weekend getaway. 

Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Antigua is not a private island, but feels like it, with regulars who have been visiting annually for the past 20 years and more. This is a place that you came to as a child (for those of us who grew up with Daddy Warbucks), then as an adult, and eventually with your own family. Antigua’s premier accommodation is Curtain Bluff, which is like Cheers, where everyone knows your name, or at least will by the end of the stay. Set in the village of Old Road, this is not a limbo-line resort bubble. Staff is almost all local, and give you an authentic experience – it’s five star but not about sucking up. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to a suite, because you’re worth it. The suites come with a private deck, soaking tub, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Curtain Bluff is all-inclusive, but Sandals this is not. Think lobster salad for lunch, linguine with clams dug right off the beach in front of you, and Alain Ducasse’s protégé pan-frying Caribbean grouper for dinner. And did we mention the open bar? It starts serving at 10:30 every morning, not that we know that from experience. Insider tip: Shell out a little extra dough for a wine-tasting with sommelier George in the 25,000-bottle cellar. It’s worth it.

Let’s Get Physical

You could chill on the beach, all vacay-like, or you can Olivia Newton John it and get physical. While you’re scuba diving, your plus-one is perfecting his backhand at tennis at the championship courts. After your morning sun salutations, you can hit the lap pool or squash courts. Or go for a full spa day, with masseuses who have been brought in from Indonesia. Yes, this is the best massage you’ll experience outside of Asia. Our tip is to schedule treatments at 5pm, and take in the sunset in the outdoor relaxation room while sipping champagne.

Carlisle Bay, next door to Curtain Bluff, offers a day pass, for those who want to sample the life of leisure. The social center is the pool area, which has a restaurant with a wood-burning pizza oven and a relaxed beach scene a few steps away. Restaurants at Carlisle Bay, particularly East and Indigo on the Beach, are chic, people-watching scenes.    

Field Trips

Many guests never leave the resort, but Antigua is far more interesting than your average Caribbean isle. It has a heavy British influence, and you can meander by car, from historic ruins to taking in the views from Shirley Heights and English Harbor. Off-site restaurants are worthwhile field trips, including the French café Catherine, where the rosé is as chill as the atmosphere, and the Antigua Yacht Club, owned by a Dutch couple, who represent with tasty frites and grilled fish. Abracadabra is the big night out, turning from restaurant into dance club. From Wall Street to Penny Lane (that’s Sir Paul McCartney to you), it’s no wonder Curtain Bluff is where the hitters hang. Venture off the premises and you may even rub elbows with Antigua regulars Jimmy Buffett, Keith Richards, and Armani. They’ve been known to hang in the city center – sometimes all together. If that’s not “luxury all-inclusive,” we don’t know what is.