Friday, August 31, 2007

The "unique" Carlisle Bay Hotel

Well we are back in Jolly Harbour to our version of the "real world" after a lovely mini adventure to enjoy the luxury of the Carlisle Bay Resort.

Leni Miras and Bruno De'Oliveira are department managers at the lovely hotel and were kind enough to get a night there for us. Mykl also does environmental consulting for the hotel helping it to be recognized as "green" by the international organization Green Globe.
Carlisle Bay is the kind of modern five star hotel that tries to make sure that guests enjoy every second of their stay without them having to worry about a thing. As we approached the hotel, security called the front office and our bartender was even alerted. Can you imagine? Our own welcome drinks were being prepared as we got out of the car and our bags were being whisked away by hotel staff. Now i have had welcome drinks before many times, but this wasn't like the ones before. One of my good friends who i have travelled with just celebrated his 17th year as a recovering alcoholic and i remember him complaining about the alcoholic welcome drinks that many resorts shoved in your face. Anyway, this lovely refreshing cocktail was non alcoholic and delicious. Right there in reception our bar man welcomed us, told us what it was and was gone. Bruno showed us the hotel explaining everything as we walked towards our suite. Although i had been to the resort before, i had never seen Carlisle Bay's grounds during the day and was quite impressed with how nice they were. Our hotel room was 314 quite far up the beach in an area that had a lovely view of the bay and the volcanic island of Montserrat off in the distance. I was quite surprised by how massive the rooms were, and as you can imagine the layout was lovely.
I have seen the hotel described as being "new age" but as a friend remarked on my facebook page the other day....... "Carlisle Bay, sweet, asian minimalist. bold and refined." haha well i am not sure if they like it described that way but it isn't your typical Caribbean resort and although not what you would expect to find down here, its unique modern style and chic character enhances our tourism product without a doubt. If you think you have seen it all and done it all here in the Caribbean then a holiday at this place would change your mind. Antigua's hoteliers have been re-inventing the tourism product over the past ten years and couragous concepts like Carlisle Bay, Coco Bay, and Hermitage Hotel are helping Antigua attract a new generation of holiday makers. Anyway enough of that kinda writing. You guys may start to think that they are paying me.
One of the important genetic traits i have retained from my mother's side of the family is the physical need for a good cup of tea in the afternoon, and Carlisle Bay hotel not only provided for my tea craving but in their usual unique way, they enhanced the fix. Up until 5.30 pm you can order tea and have it anywhere you like. Now my good buddy Ed who worked on the Eco Tour with us during his gap year told me that if i really wanted to be proper i wouldn't "have tea", but would "take tea". So as if we were posh movie stars enjoying a luxurious "chic" holiday we "took" tea on the third floor suite with a view. It was magnificent. I bet you don't normally hear "taking tea" and magnificent in the same breath, but the little bites that they included with the tea made the whole experience while sitting in our robes.......quite unique. Just looking at the pic i took makes me want to go back tomorrow.

Now for all the regular would be tourists out there i am sorry to tell you that we didn't go for a sunset walk on the beach followed by a funky drink with the little umbrella. Being from here, we decided to enjoy the lovely room. Some BBC news, a bath in their huge tub, a complimentary sushi tray from the GM, and some more relaxing in the comfortable bed all nearly convinced us to miss out on everything else that evening that the carlisle bay had to offer.

However, dinner at East wasn't to be missed. At the main Pavillion bar, we met up with Bruno and Leni who was the MOD that evening. Of course we thanked them again for the lovely birthday gift and let Bruno pick a drink for us.

The bar man was the same young man who had come up with the lovely welcome drink and Bruno suggested that we try his specialty, The Barbuda Smile. This rum based drink had all sorts in it but the basil gave it a lovely unique flair. The bar man was talented and friendly and didn't just mix the usual suspects (or thats what it felt like anyway). I bet he invented new drinks as often as the check in and check outs came and went. Perfect!
East is described as an asian fusion restaurant and as the name suggests has a wonderful mix of all the delights one would expect with everything from Sushi to Pad Thai.
Lets not forget about the desserts with things like "the molten chocolate lava" or the "salty caramel ice cream"... lets move on shall we as i haven't had dinner yet tonight.
On the way back to the room from the lovely dinner we looked in their very fancy and unusual library with all kinds of photo "coffee table books", novels and masterpieces. There is something there for most people and they even had the book i am reading at the moment by Carl Hiaasen. We then passed by Carlisle Bay's huge pool for a few pics as the light from the almost full moon was breathtaking.

The photo is nice but it was way nicer that night. After several bottles of champagne that day and all the other luxuries that one would expect from a five star resort, room 314 didn't have to try very hard to send us off to a comfortable sleep.

Although the room was dark with the thick curtains drawn closed, behind the wall which separates the main room from the bathroom, the light coming in over the tub got me up fairly early. The view of the healthy mangrove estuary and farms nestled between hills in the distance was a nice contrast from the colourful bay and coconut trees on the other end of Room 314. As Mykl ordered breakfast and more tea from room service i watched a white heron feeding from a red mangrove root below. Green Globe would have been so proud. Thanks to the people who run Carlisle Bay and through mykl's expert advice, important steps have been taken to ensure that the resort's evrivonmental imact is kept to a minimum. I am sure that there are few hotels in Antigua that are trying harder than this one to be eco friendly. If you stay there you may not notice all the green aspects to the whole operation as many are behind the sceens, but things like eco friendly soaps and lotions in the bathrooms are things that you will notice. It was very interesting reading the eco friendly body wash label while i ran the bath for a second time. The quality of it all was very high end indeed. Recycling is big in this hotel as well as eco friendly lighting, water systems, and careful waste management which even involves local pig farmers! Our time came and went so quickly that we didn't have time to have lunch at the Indigo beach side restaurant which i hear is very nice. Next time!

By the end of it all we felt very relaxed and grateful to have been given the chance to stay at this very luxurious resort even if it was down the road.

The hotel closes this weekend for the usual end of season "fix up" and Leni and Bruno will be leaving the island after four years of service. They move on to more of the Campbell Gray properties abroad and Mykl and i will not be the only people on Antigua that will miss them. The rest of the management and staff at the luxury Carlisle Bay resort will miss them for sure too.


Ann Phelan said...

I love your review. I had hoped to inspect the hotel today to add it to my island listings but as you mentioned it closed today. Alas, another time.

Anonymous said...

what a birthday present!! great photos to accompany the text and i am sooo glad you inherited something from my side of the fam!! lol

Unknown said...

Happy Belated Birthday Eli! As usual your blog was interesting and thought provoking. It is great to hear that a hotel in Antigua is environmentally aware. It seems that these days being "green" has more to do with being trendy and less to do with lifestyle. In Vegas we are working on a couple of hotels that are going for LEED Certification. Although this is a great step I know that once construction is done the "green" concept will most likely be thrown out the window. It is refreshing to see a hotel (which uses so many of our resources) taking into consideration its long term environmental impacts. Education is key....thanks for spreading the word!