Holiday Snapshots is back with a bang this week with Lisa from Travel Loving Family! Lisa is a seasoned traveller having worked in the industry since graduating from working as a travel specialist to cruise ships – and she’s been to a whopping 80 countries and counting! After having two mini adventurers, Lisa decided to share her invaluable knowledge by setting up her fabulous blog, and I’m pleased she’s sharing her luxurious holiday to the Caribbean island of Antigua with us.
Over to you, Lisa…
What do you look for in a holiday?
Holidays with my husband before children were often road trips jammed packed with adventure and sightseeing. For the last few years however we have taken it a little easier when on holiday with our two young boys. As our boys get older and can join in with more adventurous water sports and appreciate visiting cultural attractions, etc we will start to incorporate more into our family holidays.
Where did you go?
Antigua in the Caribbean.
I was working as a Caribbean Travel Specialist for a luxury tour operator and needed to re-familiarise myself with the island to be able to sell it as a destination. My husband and I met whilst working on cruise ships and so had both visited Antigua on many occasions however we had never stayed at any of the islands resorts.
Myself, my husband and our eldest son, aged two at the time.
Where did you stay?
We stayed at three different resorts to develop my product knowledge of the luxury family accommodation in Antigua.
Our first few nights were spent at Carlisle Bay, a luxury contemporary resort located on Antigua’s south coast. We stayed in a beach terrace suite located on ground level with direct beach access. This worked particularly well during our son’s nap times when we could relax on the beach within hearing of our sleeping son. Whilst there we dined at the four resort restaurants which all served locally sourced ingredients. One morning we had the opportunity to see for ourselves just how fresh the fish was that was served in the restaurants!
The next four nights were spent, just along the coast line, at the award-winning Curtain Bluff. This all-inclusive luxury resort (listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List) is set on a bluff between two stunning beaches. We found the resort to be very laid back and friendly.
As all facilities are complimentary at Curtain Bluff we made the most of the water sports of offer. As a family we went on a paddle boat and also took a speed boat to snorkel over a coral reef. My husband also went on a scuba diving trip and a (very successful!) deep-sea fishing excursion.
The last few nights of our holiday were spent in paradise at Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort. The resort prides itself on being one of the most beautiful and undisturbed places in the world. It is set on a private island a few miles from Antigua and accessible only by boat. We had to force ourselves to leave our stunning private pool suite to enjoy the facilities on offer. Whilst there we explored the 300 acre private island on bikes, took part in some water sports and mingled with other guests at the resorts weekly beach BBQ.
All three resorts are all-inclusive (Carlisle Bay does offer a half board option too). Our familiarisation trip was organised via Abercrombie & Kent.
Were there plenty of activities for the kids?
All three resorts offered excellent facilities for children. To be honest we would not have wanted to put our son in a kids club too often because as full-time working parents at the time we wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. We did put Charlie in the kids club at Carlisle Bay for a couple of hours as the kids club looks after infants from as young as 6 months old.
Curtain Bluff and Jumby Bay also had dedicated kids clubs but children have to be at least three years old. We would love to return to Jumby Bay as they offer a turtle conservation program where kids can watch a turtle nesting on the islands wild secluded beach. I think taking part in the release of turtle hatchlings into the sea would be an incredible experience!
Your most memorable moment/s of the trip?
Swimming in the turquoise blue waters and finding lots of starfish was a very memorable moment!
Any sights, activities you want to shout about?
We spent a day visiting the islands main attractions – the historic Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour and Shirley Heights Lookout which is part of the military complex and provides incredible views over the whole of English Harbour.
Was it good value for money?
As we stayed as guests of the three resorts it was exceptional value for money! We flew with Virgin Atlantic direct from London Gatwick and managed to get reasonably priced flights too by booking during the Virgin fare sale.
Your top tip/s for the area?
Top tips taken from my post include:
• Do not miss the weekly BBQ party at Shirley Heights Lookout on Sunday evening. The food is delicious (particularly the jerk chicken!), the steel drum music is contagious and the sun setting over the English Harbour from a view-point of 490ft above sea level is truly spectacular!
• Visit Stingray City to snorkel with stingrays (and learn how to do the stingray shuffle!)
• If you are not a sailing enthusiast it is worth avoiding travelling to Antigua during the sailing regattas as hotels and flights can be pricey due to the spectators who travel to the island. (The main sailing event takes place during the last week in April). We visited in May, slightly outside of the peak season, and experienced great weather for our fortnight stay with just a few rain showers in the afternoons.
Would you recommend to a friend?
Yes absolutely! Antigua was one of my favourite islands when I worked onboard cruise ships as Shore Excursions Manager for P&O Cruises. I was therefore keen to return for a family holiday. Other islands I would recommend in the Caribbean can be found here.
Which photo is your favourite and why?
Our family photo taken at Shirley Heights. Although it is not a great family photo, I find it amusing as Charlie was very grumpy and fell asleep in our taxi two minutes after the photo was taken
What are the five holiday essentials you couldn’t live without?
Assuming I am travelling with my family, they would be –
• My huge bag with lots of sections for keeping our belongings organised.
• Several packets of baby wipes (I never leave my house without them!)
• Anti-bacterial wipes for wiping down grubby trays on the flight
• Snacks, snacks and more snacks to keep my boys entertained during the flight
• Sun protection – cream, glasses, UV swim suits for boys.
What is your most favourite place in the whole world and why?
We lived in Savannah, Georgia for three years. Charlie was born there and so it will always be a very special place for us.