When a hotel is long-established and you’ve had the pleasure of visiting it several times over the years, there’s always the danger that you start to assume you know what it’s all about. Despite regular training sessions, despite gazing longingly at new photography and despite reading all the updates, your best efforts to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest are often still overridden by that best learning tool of all - memory!
I remember being told that the hierarchy of learning is words, pictures, emotions - in ascending order. So it stands to reason that if you’ve visited a resort, eaten a delectable meal there, slept peacefully, relaxed on the beach, swum in the pool and so on, then those thoughts are conjured forth when you’re asked to describe that resort. It's one of the reasons we ensure that our Inspiring Travel Specialists travel regularly, so they can share personal memories and experiences to help you to find your perfect destination and resort.
So although I knew all about the programme of enhancements that much-loved Blue Waters in Antigua had been through over the last few years, it wasn’t until I visited a few days after their re-opening in September that I really “got it”.
My last visit had been four years previously and from the moment I set foot in the re-imagined entrance this time I was wowed by one enhancement after another. The open-air lobby, all clean lines and contemporary styling with dashes of bright colour, allows a tantalising glimpse through to the tropical gardens and intense blue of the Caribbean Sea beyond and invites you into the Pelican Bar; scene of many a pre-dinner rum punch to the gentle strains of a solo piano or easy-listening duet.
Dining options abound, so you’re spoilt for choice, and all have been upgraded over the course of the last couple of years. Bartley’s features air-conditioning, a welcome change on occasion, and in its new clothes is every inch a fine dining restaurant. If al fresco is more your style, The Cove has never looked better and serves food befitting its status as one of Antigua’s destination dining experiences; it speaks volumes that even this early in the season with several hotels yet to re-open, there was barely a free table the night I dined there.
If lazy days by the sea, either on the beach or at the beach pool, are your style, then you don’t have to move far for lunch with Carolyn’s Beach Bar and Restaurant serving light bites - although for those with hearty appetites there’s still the option of repairing to The Palm Restaurant. The beach pool itself is another of the enhancements of note; it's so close to the beach that your toes are almost in the sand, featuring unencumbered views of the sea through stylish glass walls. Definitely the best of both worlds if you’re a pool lover rather than a beach babe.
And speaking about spots in which to relax, you really are spoilt for choice at Blue Waters. If you want a change of scenery from the beach pool, head up to the adults' pool for a serene couple of hours, or curl up on one of the comfy chairs or lounger that are dotted about the resort in quiet nooks and crannies. The resort uses its space so well that even when it's running at full occupancy, it doesn't feel overly busy.
When you've had enough of taking it easy, or you feel you need to work off a few of those extra calories that you're bound to have consumed regardless of whether you chose the bed and breakfast or all-inclusive meal plan option, you can head to the gym, play tennis or sample the variety of non-motorised watersports. My exercise of choice was in the gym, and (rather surprisingly in my experience) I wasn't the only one, as plenty of other guests were taking advantage of this well-equipped, air-conditioned facility too. Of course if you work out hard, nothing beats a good massage to ease aching limbs and here again the "new" Blue Waters scored a hit with a small but perfectly formed spa facility situated in a quiet corner of the resort.
As for the accommodation, once again you'll feel spoilt for choice. Overall the décor blends the classical and traditional Caribbean, with stylishly refurbished Superior Hillside and Deluxe Beachfront rooms, located close to the heart of the resort, really looking the part.
If it's a little more space and privacy that you seek, the Cove Suites will fit the bill perfectly. Each of the four, three storey blocks offers one, two or three bedroom suite configurations - including a three bedroom Penthouse on the top floor of each - in a contemporary style, with the added special bonus of a pool that only residents of that block can access.
Alternatively, for larger families who want a "home from home" feel and their own space, there's Turtle Cottage and Pelican House. The former has four bedrooms, whereas the latter is cleverly designed so that it can either be a six-bedroom villa or two separate three-bedroom villas. If you take the whole of Pelican House the only point to note is that the two halves don't connect internally, only externally via the pool and garden, but the benefit of that design is that if you're taking the three-bedroom configuration you do feel private - no worries about unwanted noise seeping through inter-connecting doors! I can certainly vouch for that last point; I was fortunate enough to stay in one half of Pelican House and I didn't hear a peep out of my "neighbours"! Our shared pool area at Pelican House was a popular spot in which to relax during the day, unsurprisingly given the beautiful sea views and location just above one of the resort's three beaches, and an equally attractive spot for sundowners. In fact, the only challenge was dragging myself away to experience other aspects of the resort!
Both Pelican House and Turtle Cottage provide the feeling of an oasis of living space within touching distance of the main resort facilities, which for me was the perfect combination. If, however, you truly want to feel secluded, Rock Cottage is the one for you. Situated on a private peninsula that no other guests are permitted to access, you'll forget that you're staying in a resort and feel as though you're simply at home; albeit a home with superb 270 degree views of the myriad blues of the sea, with the warmth of a tropical sun to sit and read your book in, an infinity pool to take a cooling dip in and with a concierge service to ensure your every need is taken care of.
All too soon it was time for me to say my farewells but I left with a whole new set of Blue Waters memories to cherish and share. If you have the chance, I urge you to head over to Antigua and create some of your own.
Our team of Inspiring Travel Specialists can create a bespoke Blue Waters luxury holiday, tailor-made to your exacting requirements.