Category Archives: Beach

The Carlisle Bay Resort, Antigua

Carlisle Bay Resort, Antigua

Sublime” – causing wonder or astonishment

We came to Carlisle Bay with high expectations. We took great care and much thought to choose Carlisle Bay. A large part of that decision was based on their website. My skeptical nature did cause me to worry.

During our flight to Antigua, I started to worry, to second guess our decision….”Were the photos accurate?” “Could it really be that beautiful?” “Should we have chosen one of the others?” Too late now!

We arrived in Antigua on time. The views from the plane were amazing. My buyers remorse disappeared instantly! Our ride to the resort was impressive. Antigua reminds me of St Martin 20 years ago, before St Martin was ruined with the inundation of timeshare units. Antigua has kept their virtue. Much more pristine.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of “junk” and the neatness of the locals homes. It was obvious that Antiguans are prideful of their homes and their island.

After driving through rolling hills and pastures surrounded by mountains, we entered a rainforest. Absolutely stunning. It reminded me of St Lucia. At that moment, I affirmed my decision that there is no need to fly 15 hours to Hawaii!!! The Caribbean has it all!

As we cleared the forest and began our descent into Carlisle Bay I suddenly felt very proud of myself…I DEFINITELY made the right decision!

Stepping out of the car, a bridge led us over a Koi pond surrounded by Bougainvilla and right into the Great House reception. The designers were extremely successful at blending Caribbean soul with modern sleek. Refreshingly charming.

First impressions are everything and Carlisle Bay made a magnificent first impression. How can I describe it…Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words!

Warm welcoming reception.

Think crisp White sheets, azure sea with sparkling crystals and the sound of palm trees in the breeze. Tropical , lush garden walkways. Absolute perfection!

You know it is a great resort when you can’t decide to stay in the room, or go outside! We did stay long enough to play with the luxurious Cappuccino Machine! (Funny how special little things are exciting!) It was great to have that in our room. Fresh ground coffee, espresso or cappuccino as soon as you wake!

Breakfast served on our balcony is something I am still thinking about! Fantastic service. Stunning views. I miss that!

Beach- Perfect. Kayaked on the smooth, clear rolling waters each morning. Sand that is meticulously groomed and soft, surrounded by the mountains. Montserrat mysteriously looming on the horizon of the bay…could not stop staring at the white lava covered slopes. It was perfect. Not to mention the fresh fruit kabobs & cool drinks delivered with a smile!

Cuisine – Wonderful. Romantic setting overlooking the beach. Open air, clean and crisp. Again, pictures are worth a thousand words! Great menu selection. Would stand up to the finest NYC restaurants. Presentation was very artistic. Service was lacking a bit, but very friendly (remember that you are on “island time”).

Lunch was amazing. Beautiful, serene views. The soft sound of the water lapping at the shore. We had a nice bottle of wine and fresh, fantastic Avocado and Tuna salad….and then, the chorus of children whining and crying began!

I will tell you the only bad thing that I can say about Carlisle Bay Resort is that it is such a romantic place yet the children seem to overwhelm the dining room. Carlisle Bay does a great job of segregating the families from the couples on the beach, and they can easily solve this problem by utilizing the other half of the dining room for families and leaving the romantic side for couples. It would make everyone more relaxed (including the parents that are stressed!).

Spa – Sleek, calming and very professional. Menu had many options. The massage was wonderful for both of us. Rates were very reasonable. Gym small but very nice equipment, very clean and motivating class schedule.Tennis – I don’t play tennis, but I was impressed! Great courts. Excellent tennis pros.

I highly recommend Carlisle Bay Resort! I would go back in a heartbeat! Worth every penny! Treat yourself!

This could be your view for the day!

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Filed under antigua, Beach, Family Vacation, honeymoon, resort, travel

My Favorite 3 Places

People always ask me “Where is your favorite place to vacation?” That is such a hard question to answer. Too many places!! It is like asking “What is your favorite song?”. Almost impossible to answer that!! But I am going to try. I think I can manage to narrow it to my top 3.

If I am thinking of a relaxing location that makes me appreciate every second…I can only think of the British Virgin Islands! OF course, St John (USVI) is amazing, and it is hard to not mention Caneel Bay, but sampling the variety of the BVIs manages to eek out as the winner! Ever been to Jost Van Dyke? Well, there is nothing there except a stunningly beautiful white sand beach (White Bay) with crystal aqua water that has to be the most amazing beach! Truly what my heaven should be. Not only is the place beautiful, it is also filled with the character of the Islands.
After swimming ashore (there is no dock) your first stop must be the Soggy Dollar Bar (Get it?) and of course you must start the day out with the infamous Pain Killer (Rum cocktail). The casual “yachty” atmosphere will make you feel as though you just swam off your own yacht – even though you didn’t! Feel free to play board games, try your skill at the ring swing game, all while chatting it up with all the other “pretend” and real Yacht owners. It really is a special experience. Take a nap in one of the many hammocks around the beach, under the trees. And as you glance over to the pristine water, with the islands on the horizon, I challenge you to NOT get up and dive in! It is impossible! You will feel compelled…the water is calling you!

NOT to mention..Peter Island, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and the Bitter End Yacht Club!
I will talk about # 2 and # 3 later……

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Filed under Beach, BVI, jost van dyke, soggy dollar bar, vacation

Miami South Beach

Miami South Beach

Okay, so this time it was a “business” trip, but as usual, it somehow turns out to be “pleasure”! We attempted to find the perfect Luxury Hotel to stay at while meeting someone for Business, and decided on the Ritz Carlton. We wanted to try something different from the others we have stayed at (Hotel Victor, Tides, Delano, Loews) and the Ritz had its’ Ups & Downs.

First Impression –

Lobby – Very warmly modern, with a splash of Art Deco.

Staff – Very pleasant, welcoming and accommodating.

Location – Excellent! Walk 2 blocks west and you are on Lincoln Road. Walking distance to all the action on the Ocean Ave Strip.

Rooms – Well…we were not happy (at first!) But let me tell the story………..

Our initial room (# 831) was a bomb. Not the interior. Ritz is very consistent with the interior design and comfort of the rooms. Decor (with the nautical flair) was simply Ritz. Nautical blues, whites, beiges. Expected and satisfactory. Just enough luxury without being over the top. The Ritz luxury items that are expected and make us smile…including the very plush towels and Bulgari toilettries. If we had come in the middle of the night, we probably wouldn’t have noticed the lack of Balcony and the horrible view!

Truth be told, Room # 831 was very confining…and maybe the worst view in all of South Beach! I have had better views in Detroit! Frank was not a happy camper!

We phoned the Guest services and were informed that there were “Lanai Rooms” available. Only $50 extra. Didn’t take to long to discuss that! Talk about $50 well spent! The room was exactly the same in the traditional Ritz decor, yet spaciousness, mood and view were amazingly different. NOW we had arrived in South Beach!

Welcome to room #382. Walking into the room we were immediately drawn to the wall of windows and the Balcony beyond. Wonderfully sized balcony with ample space for 2 lounge chairs and table, that overlooked the very “South Beach” pool area. Standing on the balcony, pulsing to the beat of the “Beautiful People” music eminating from the gardens, the hotel wrapped around the pool area. Very cozy. Also intriguing. The rooms surrounding the pool area were encased in Black Glass that appeared like dark reflective sunglasses. Interesting. Made me wonder what was going on behind those lenses. People “staring back”? “Making Love”?

“Dancing naked”? What was going on with the drapes open

that I COULDN’T see?! Mystery. Intrigue.

The landscaping was well manicured. Perfect. White on White with the black glass and the signature Ritz Blue enhanced the pool . Cool and serene. The crisp blue surface of the pool rippling in the breeze. Yes, I am in South Beach.

And then…the disruption. Imagine sitting on the lawn, in front of an ampitheatre on a starlit night, listening to Andrea Boccelli. Romantic, mood perfect, beautiful music. And then static starts blaring through the speaker system. An annoying static, like AM radio in a car! That is what it was like at the pool, at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach! look, I love kids. Raised 5 ! I know what it is like to take kids on vacation. I also know that kids will be kids. And it is tough to take them to a small boutique-ish hotel. The Loews would have been a great idea! When kids and floats consume the pools surface and turn it into a camp pool, that adults can’t wander into safely…it becomes a problem.

When the sunbeds that couples pay $250 to use for the day are next to 14 un-ruley kids fighting on the next bed…it becomes a problem. The Ritz Carlton should have rules about that. It was a spectacle all day, and the sunbeds on either side were vacated.

Parents need to take responsibility and if they don’t, the hotel staff needs to nicely correct the situation. There were families that had control of their children. Kudos to them!

Every day, from early morning till late, kids took over the hot tub. COME ON! Yes, they do have a right to go in. But what thinking adult would go in after 17 kids have been in and out all day! WE KNOW what warm water does to little kids!!! Maybe the Ritz Carlton should post a sign that the hot tub is for “Adults only”.

We should have done more research. Next time we go to South Beach for relaxation during a spring break…we would choose a more adult hotel. Guess that was ultimately our fault!

Notables that were definitely “Ritz Carlton”:

Staff – Wonderful, attentive and polite. From general service to water and juice being served Butler Style around the pool. Service was great.

$250 Charge for Sunbeds – Very fair. Large, plush towel covered beds that include 2 large bottles of H2O, 2 bottles of Champagne and a very attractive Fruit Plate. Nice way to spend the day in the sun.

Clientele – Very “Connecticut Style” wealth. A bit stuffy. An older crowd then hotels like the Delano or Hotel Victor. It is almost as though everyone staying at the hotel could be family! It is almost like a private club.

Lunch at the restaurant was a treat. If you are under the watchful, caring eye of Julian (the supervisor) and have the good fortune of Liz waiting on you…life (and lunch) is good! Service is the most important aspect to a great dining experience. The Ritz Carlton should be proud of thier staff. They did a great job.

As I return to my luxuriously padded lounge chair, I can’t help but notice the “Ritz Calrton Secret Service” patrolling the grounds. Suddenly opening umbrellas for fear of a sun shower…or is there someone famous in the midst? or is it ME?! I think it is me! That is how the Ritz makes you feel!

Lounging in the sun, in this atmosphere, it is hard to not have a glass of sparkling water and a glass of chilled wine at my side. Just another elegant touch. Once again, I feel blessed to be here. After all, it is the first day of spring (and it snowed in NYC this morning)!

Extra mentionables:

Hotel Mondrain – We went to dinner at the Mondrains’ Asia de Cuba. Very impressive…if you like Alice in Wonderland! I felt like we were in a fairytale. Everything was oversized. Strangely elegant and very white!!! Asia de Cuba was very over priced and the service was horrible. Would not return.

Settai – Heaven. Simply gorgeous. The pool area was comprised of 3 long sleek pools, surrounded by luxury sunbeds, Some of the sunbeds were encased in tall hedges. Absolutely stunning. Will definitely return! (con – Vodka and Orange juice $20!!!)

Miami South Beach…We will return!!!

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Filed under Beach, Cruise, FLorida, girls getaway, Miami, Ritz Carlton, South Beach, spa, travel, vacation, womens travel