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Jumby Bay, Antigua

If you want glitz and glamour in the Caribbean, then head for somewhere like Sandy Lane in Barbados. For understated luxury, head to Jumby Bay, a private island off Antigua, it will be an unforgettable experience.

jumby-bay-holidaysJumby manages to brilliantly combine luxury with a distinctive Antiguan feel. It has soul and character. As a private island of 300 acres which is small enough to cycle around and yet big enough to keep you busy exploring, Jumby offers the ability to switch off and relax. Staff are attentive but not obtrusive. With only forty individual suites and rondavels you won't be bothered by crowds and there is a distinct feel of exclusivity. It's perfect for couples, both young and old, and is popular with honeymooners. But equally, Jumby Bay is very child and family-friendly. So don't be fooled, there is plenty to do on Jumby Bay if you want to – so whether you want to kayak or learn to water-ski, play tennis or leisurely explore the island by bike, there's lots to keep you busy.jumby-bay-holidays003 And being all-inclusive (save for vintage wines and champagne), you don't pay extra for anything and you have complete peace of mind. Staff at Jumby can organise boat trips to nearby Bird Island where you can snorkel around the reef. Those who want something a little more sedate can enjoy rum tasting or there are nature walks to see the island's flora and fauna. Between September and November, visitors are in with a chance of seeing the endangered Hawksbill turtle as they lay their eggs or as the eggs hatch. A truly memorable sight for those who manage to time their visit as I found out.

jumby-bay-holidays002The island functions as a cooperative, whereby the owners of the forty-three private villas (twenty of which can be rented out) own the resort. They have delegated the day-to-day running to Rosewood, the American hotel operator, who do a magnificent job. As a result, everything is kept beautifully tidy and an army of staff tend to the island every day. Indeed, the homeowners fund the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, a conservation project to protect the rare Hawksbill turtles. The main beach is truly beautiful with crystal clear water and charismatic beach staff who bring round cocktails and fruit kebabs. All without disturbing the peace. The rooms are luxurious but not decadent, tasteful but not ostentatious, with even the lead in accommodation, the characterful rondavels (or standalone 'huts'), offering a standard that is hard to beat anywhere. Think glorious four-poster beds and an outdoor shower so that you can look up at the stars. If you can afford it, the pool suites offer a little more glitz, with private pools and walled courtyards, but they almost seem unnecessary on Jumby Bay even if you have the finances, such is the standard. All the restaurants are fantastic in their own way, ranging from the casual Pool Bar, its name not doing the standard of food the justice it deserves, to the more formal but characterful Estate House, housed in an old colonial building complex, which offers stylish and sophisticated dining by candlelight. The three bars offer different drinks menus, with each suiting a specific time of day.jumby-bay-holidays004

Jumby Bay is not without a few minor faults (expect everything to be done at a slower pace for example), but somehow they don't really matter. Indeed they add to the charm. The well-heeled crowd return to Jumby again and again. They come to get away from things and to switch off, not to name drop or talk business. So if you want efficiency of service, this may not be the place for you (although I wouldn't be surprised if Jumby manages to convert you!). But if you want character and a smile, go and experience Jumby Bay for yourself. You won't regret it. A warning though – you may experience serious withdrawal symptoms upon your return.

 

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