Per square mile, no other Caribbean island can compete with the quality of beaches and resorts in Anguilla. It’s a place where the white beaches are truly white. Like bleach white. Perfect. The stuff of dreams. The bays are ribboned with hues of water ranging from deep cobalt to light sapphire, and the properties have long welcomed A-list celebs with rarefied elegance.
Mainland flights connect in nearby Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, which host the region’s mass tourism crowds. That leaves Anguilla to focus on a highly targeted, high-end audience with postcard attributes so stunningly obvious upon arrival, even seasoned planners are impressed.
“The island’s beaches are absolutely beautiful, the best I’ve seen anywhere,” says Rosa McArthur, CMP, with MeetingPlanners Plus, just back from a FAM trip this summer. “Most of the hotels don’t have traditional meeting space, so they use other areas on the property for meetings…. [But] for small board meetings and incentives, they have a lot of options. The other thing that stood out, there’s a real feeling of privacy on the island. Even within a hotel you can have a lot of privacy.”
Anguilla is flat so activities on land lean more toward the 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course, fine-dining and days at the beach, versus a lot of various eco-activities. Meanwhile, the water provides endless opportunities for upscale boat trips.
“Any activity related to the water is popular…,” says McArthur. “It feels so nice when you’re out on the water.” Group options include snorkeling at one of seven marine parks that surround the island, sailing to one of several nearby cays, and fishing.”
After the beaches, McArthur says the hotels are the main attraction for groups in the range of 100 pax.
The newest addition is the 166-room Viceroy Anguilla, featuring private sundecks and plunge pools. “It’s very beautiful,” says McArthur. “The Viceroy has a subtle elegance, not the typical bright Caribbean colors. It has a mixed product with traditional sleeping rooms as well as villas.”
A little more classic Caribbean in style, Malliouhana Hotel & Spa is a lushly landscaped landmark property set on a rocky bluff above the beach. “The Malliouhana has a real Mediterranean feel and very nice spa,” says McArthur. All rooms have an ocean or garden view, or both, while the Michel Rostang at Malliouhana restaurant ranked #1 in the Caribbean in 2008.
The 93-room CuisinArt Resort & Spa is seemingly plucked from the Greek isles with its whitewashed villas set along the gorgeous Rendezvous Bay. Noted for its top-rated dining, the resort features a high-tech hydroponic farm and herb garden supplying fresh produce to its two restaurants and regular featured dinners. A “kitchen stadium” offers cooking classes and demos, while the twice-weekly barbecue buffet is an island event.
McArthur also suggests scoping out one of the many private villas. “Some of the larger villas have 6-7 bedrooms with a theater room, living room, kitchen, private pool and even spas,” she says. “It’s perfect for a corporate incentive…. This is definitely a high-end island.”