It’s travel back Thursday and I’m sharing how I made the ABSOLUTE MOST of my travels to celebrate my line sister’s wedding in Anguilla in October. When I told friends and colleagues that I was heading to Anguilla the most common response that I got was “where’s Anguilla”. Anguilla is a beautifully small island in the Caribbean most conveniently accessed by a 20 minute ferry from St Maarten. British Airways doesn’t offer direct flights on their route from London to St Maarten so I had a choice of a day layover in New York, Miami or Antigua. Tempted as I was to layover in New York and see family and friends for 24 hours since I haven’t been home since summer 2015, the opportunity to dip my toes in the sands of Antigua was too good to pass.
Eight hours after taking off from London on a Wednesday morning I landed in Antigua in the afternoon the same day and less than an hour later I was lounging poolside at Ocean Point Hotel. I chose a relatively modest hotel for the one-night stay knowing that the hotel in Anguilla would more than make up for the luxuries that the Ocean Point Hotel lacked. Instead of filling the day with tours, I was happy to spend the afternoon sipping caipirinhas by the pool and beach and rose early the next morning for the inclusive breakfast before heading back to the airport for my flight to St Maarten. I really saw nothing outside of the airport and hotel but that day gave me a head start on vacation mode before travelling to meeting my line sisters in St. Maarten.
I was the first of my line sisters to arrive in St Maarten on Thursday where we stayed for one day before traveling to Anguilla. We rented a two bedroom suite at the Royal Palm Beach Hotel which served as ground zero for us to catch up on everything we’ve missed since I last saw them at the bride’s birthday celebration in Barbados the year prior. We fell right back into the familiar groove that we’ve had since 1997, recounting stories that can only be curated during 20 years of road trips, birthdays, engagements, weddings promotions, home purchases, break ups, baby showers, sorority functions and any or no excuse to come together. While the line sister of honor went ahead to get settled in Anguilla, the rest of us (minus one) held our own bachelorette party without the bachelorette in St Maarten where more memories and stories were birthed. We indulged in our collective favourite food, each wincing as we took turns holding the lobsters that we feasted on at Skip Jacks.
Although the apartment was nice, the service was lacking at the Royal Palm Beach Hotel but nothing could dampen the excitement we had about being together again in the Caribbean and it was only one night after all. While half of our party of four headed off to Anguilla in the early afternoon the following day, one line sister and I attempted to fulfill our beach bum destinies in St Maarten but it was too overcast to maximize the prime sunlight hours before catching the last ferry to Anguilla. We had an unexpected VIP experience when arrived at the port early to find our crew awaiting us to take us privately to Anguilla as the last passengers of the day.
We arrived in Anguilla at sunset on Friday and I checked into the epitome of luxury at the newly converted Four Seasons Anguilla which was also the location of the wedding on Sunday. I quickly dropped my bags and headed to the sunset lounge where many of the guests were gathered already enjoying food, drinks and dancing which continued at the bride’s suite until a late hour. We had breakfast with the bride on Saturday and relaxed at the beach until the pre-wedding beach party started. The scheduled 4 hour party lasted well past and into the night as we ate, drank and danced between the many heartfelt speeches and toasts to the beautiful couple. After the party my line sister and I chose to relax in the ocean facing hot tub on the balcony before calling it a night; it was a perfect end to a perfect day.
The relaxation continued on the BIG day as guest lounged pool and beach side until the early afternoon before getting ready for the wedding. What a wedding it was! The bride and groom were the epitome of elegance, she wore a stunning couture gown and he wore a classic perfectly tailored tuxedo. The couple exchanged vows in a beautiful ceremony that was both emotional and chic. The cocktail hour followed immediately as the sun set painting the sky in gorgeous shades or orange and violet. The reception followed with more loving toasts over a delicious steak and lobster dinner and an energy that can only be found in the Caribbean filled the dance floor. As the night that none of us wanted to end came to a close, we left knowing that we had witnessed the pure magic of love.
While many guests left Anguilla the following morning, I stayed along with several others for most of the following day before taking a ferry back to St Maarten, because who’s actually in a rush to leave the Four Seasons in Anguilla? Once back in St Maarten we settled into the Holland House which was further away from the airport and not as newly renovated as Royal Palm Beach Hotel but gave us an opportunity to see another part of the island. We walked along the waterfront strip of restaurants and shops before settling on a restaurant for what turned out to be an underwhelming meal but we were happy to still be in the Caribbean, even if for just one more night.
The following day I strolled around the area and perused the shops where I found a newly opened boutique with pieces that I couldn’t resist buying. After shopping I returned to my room to pack and set out for my last meal before departure. I asked around with the locals to find the best lobster restaurant but was again underwhelmed as it didn’t compare to Skip Jacks. Satisfied that I had already had the best experience and anything to follow would pale in comparison, I headed to the airport where I met with others from the wedding party that were catching a flight back to New York just before my flight back to Antigua and then onwards to London. Watching the plane take off to New York gave me a severe moment of homesickness but I was soon on my way back home to London where I would be reunited with my family and be reminded that home is where the heart is.