Welcome to the Turquoise Travel Diaries, a collection of interviews, stories and excerpts from our fabulous team, as they travel around the world. Here at Turquoise we pride ourselves on unrivalled knowledge of the destinations in which we specialise, so that we can provide honest, expert advice to all our guests and fellow travellers. This week, we catch up with Sue, our fabulous Product Director and co-founder of Turquoise, to tell us all about the one and only Blue Waters Resort, Antigua.
- If you could describe Blue Waters in three words, what would they be?
Easy-going, inviting and de-stressing
- Would you say that Blue Waters was more suited to families or couples? Or both?
Definitely both! That’s what’s so wonderful about Blue Waters! The resort is spread over beautiful gardens overlooking the beachfront and there are a variety of swimming pools to choose from including a secluded adults-only pool. At meal times, the fabulous choice of restaurants and bars means that you can vary your dining location and enjoy privacy with a relaxed ambience without feeling like you’re seeing the same guests. Accommodation-wise, Blue Waters has it covered! I was lucky enough to stay in Turtle Cottage – a stunning four bedroom establishment with its own pool and decadent living space – definitely more a swish villa than a cottage! It is perfect for friends or a family travelling together. Pelican House offers a similar set-up with six bedrooms (which can be split into 3 two-bedroom villas), also with a private pool. The Beachfront Rooms are ideal for couples or if you can stretch the budget, opt for the additional space of a Hillside or Beachfront Junior Suite. The Cove Suites are a real hit with both families and couples – vast and private, they are set in clusters of six within three stunning private villas – each villa has its own pool shared between the guests. The crème de la crème of Blue Waters however, just has to be the five bedroomed Rock Cottage – beachfront decadence personified (the former residence of the owner) set high on the clifftop with unrivalled views! I could only stare in awe as it was fully booked when we were there so we weren’t able to get a sneaky peek inside! I believe it has played host to a number of high profile guests!
- What was your favourite thing on the menu?
All the food was amazing at Blue Waters (no hidden extras if you opt for all-inclusive) and there’s just so much choice but I have to say that the healthy lunch menu at Carolyn’s Beach Bar & Restaurant did it for me! It’s incredibly tempting to over-indulge on holiday so Carolyn’s enticing salads offered a chance for some light relief for my palate! I can recommend the feta and watermelon salad – delightfully refreshing and so easy on calories that you could be forgiven for succumbing to a cool, crisp glass of ‘M de Minuty’s prestige Rosé’ – a rather popular Pink in Antigua (slightly ironic given its Côtes de Provences origins)!
- What are the team like at Blue Waters?
Without exception, all the staff are so friendly and helpful but special mention must go to charismatic barman ‘Real’ – pronounced Ray-al (think Real Madrid!) Real has the biggest smile and he’s a dab hand at mixing your favourite cocktail! Top tip – head to Blue Waters’ brand new Pelican Bar at sunset and ask Real to make you an Antiguan ‘Old Fashioned’ Rum Punch – life just doesn’t get any better than this! What’s more, if you return to the Pelican Bar after dinner, you might be lucky enough to hear Real sing and even play a tune or two on his guitar! Clearly, the team are led from the top – the wonderful GM, Alistair Forrest, is also a budding musician – on his rare days off, he plays in a local band called Flashback – in his words …‘an eclectic collection of veteran musicians playing 70’s light rock and country music’ – Alistair plays acoustic guitar and keyboards! Blue Waters is privately owned and it is still very much a family affair – personal friendly service is a hallmark.
- Antigua is such an amazing island to explore, if you could recommend one excursion what would it be?
For first-timers to Antigua – a Sunday visit to Shirley Heights is a not-to-be-missed Antiguan institution! Shirley Heights is a famous, elevated Lookout (part of the Shirley Heights military complex) on a southern tip of the island overlooking English Harbour and it is here, every Sunday from 4pm, that one of the longest running Sunday barbecue parties in the Caribbean takes place – it’s as much a Sunday tradition as going to church! Listen to the rhythms of a steel band whilst enjoying spectacular views – this is ‘the’ place to be on a Sunday! There’s no denying that it is quintessentially ‘touristy’ – but every visitor to Antigua has to do it at least once! A great piece of advice I learned locally was to go to Shirley Heights for sunset and then venture back to your hotel for dinner – this way, you avoid the big crowds.
- Did you manage to try any of the local restaurants? Are there any not to miss?
I can highly recommend ‘Sheer Rocks’! Depending on your level of indulgence, you might need to adjust your purse strings but this has to be one of the most stunning ‘must-visit’ dining venues on the island! From Blue Waters, you can either jump in a taxi (about 30 mins) or splash out and charter the hotel’s swanky boat ‘Monterrey Blue’ for a few hours! ‘Sheer Rocks’ (whose young innovative British owners have a passion for promoting local produce and artisan growers) is perched on a clifftop at beautiful Ffryes Bay, further down the west coast from Blue Waters with mesmerising views out across the Caribbean Sea! Enjoy a dip in the plunge pool , cocktail-in-hand (with obligatory Instagram pic) before relaxing over a delicious tapas style lunch – the tables are all draped four-poster style. You don’t get more chilled in the Caribbean than this!
- In terms of logistics getting to Antigua, the hotel and around the island, do you have any top tips?
One of the best things about Blue Waters is its proximity to the airport. It is located in Soldiers Bay on the north-west tip of the island, only 4 miles from the airport (about a 20 minute transfer). In my mind, this makes it the perfect fly-and-flop destination – fly direct with BA from Gatwick in 8 hours, disembark, grab your luggage and you can be at the hotel in less than 30 minutes! It’s also very easy to go exploring. The hotel can arrange taxis or one of the friendly driver guides from St James (our ground handling partner) can take you around. St Johns (the capital) is so close that it’s worth a visit – try Cecilia’s for an authentic ocean view lunch in a Caribbean chattel house. English Harbour in the south provides an insight into the island’s history and its connection with Horatio Nelson. Rest assured, one taste of Antigua will leave you wanting more! I was definitely smitten!