Escape: Pulse: Family Holiday at Carlisle Bay
Family Holiday at Carlisle Bay
An Indagare member spent the holidays with her family at Antigua’s Carlisle Bay. She describes her experience below.
We just spent Christmas vacation at Carlisle Bay and had a chance to see how the resort has changed since our last stay, two years ago. We have returned to Carlisle three times for simple reasons: 1) it is a direct flight from New York, 2) it isn’t overrun with New Yorkers (when we travel we want to get away from our fellow Manhattanites), 3) it has a laid-back ambience, 4) the food is always fresh and delicious, 5) it is super kid-friendly with an all-inclusive kids club, early evening tea (which is essentially dinner) and a screening room, and 6) the tennis facilities are excellent (a critical factor for my tennis-addicted husband).
Here are more observations from our recent visit:
- The food service has vastly improved. The GM clearly took guests’ comments about slow service to heart and the resort now has a breakfast buffet including fruit, croissants and cereals, which has alleviated a lot of problems inherent of a sit-down, served breakfast. The resort has stopped serving food poolside, but food is now available on the pool patio. (It is still a little slow, but hey, it’s the Caribbean). A new brick pizza oven has been opened at the pool and was a huge hit with all the guests. Food at the two onsite restaurants, Indigo on the Beach and the Asian-themed East, was improved and had more variety. The kid’s buffet (which they call children’s tea), could use some healthier options as it was very carb-heavy.
- To our delight, the clientele and vibe remains distinctly British and most guests were repeat visitors. Some guests had returned five or six times, making arrival feel like a reunion and departure like the tearful last day of summer camp. Word from the GM is that Carlisle Bay is starting to target a U.S. market—hopefully this wont effect its British feel.
- Rooms are still minimalistic with some wear and tear and are in need of an update. (The resort indicated that they are working on this for next season). Closets weren’t big enough and were not in the bedrooms, so we had to use a rolling rack to hang our clothes. I do hope the resort updates its aesthetics as well—the lighting in the rooms is poor and they could add some textiles to create more warmth. However, the ability to open our room doors right onto the beach (and have the kids in a neighboring suite, quite overshadows those areas needing fixing.
We really look forward to going back to Carlisle again and seeing continued enhancements. The combination of laid-back luxury, kid-friendliness and beach-front rooms work for us. We recommend the half-day charter on the ‘Ivy’ boat—a beautiful large sailboat. The staff, (from Texas and the U.K.) couldn’t have been friendlier or more accommodating and took us around the island to a private beach where we went snorkeling.There are plenty of good restaurant options outside the resort including the casual Italian, Abracadabra (Dockyard Drive, English Harbour; 268-460-2701), Sheer Rocks (Cocobay Resort; 268-464-5283) with its dramatic scenery, Catherine’s Cafe (Antigua Slipway; 268-460-5050) and Carmichaels (Sugar Ridge Hotel, Bolans).