Last year, a friend in New Jersey asked where she should go for a quick Caribbean getaway with one of her girlfriends.
It was a tough ask as there are so many and a great variety of options.
An islander herself, albeit from the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, she mentioned St. Maarten, no doubt because of its multicultural flavor, culinary diversity and the fact it packs two nations, one French the other Dutch, in one small island.
Then she found a great airfare to Grand Cayman but she had been there for a wedding.
Antigua came to the fore and one of my childhood friends working there recommended Sandals, Sugar Ridge or Blue Waters for stays.
Our research mode – she on line, while I canvassed the tourist board, and within short order, we secured a pretty good deal at Blue Waters Antigua where she and her friend had the time of their lives.
Last month, I visited Antigua with a media delegation to cover Antigua Sailing Week and its attendant merry-making activities. I was delighted when the BBC’s Kymberlie Andrew, our British-Antiguan tour guide/ customer service trainer, advised that I would be accommodated at … your guess…you got it – Blue Waters Antigua.
Only minutes from the airport and nestled on the northeast corner of Antigua, where crystal clear Caribbean waters lap gently onto secluded white sand beaches, the 110-room Blue Waters, known in particular for its luxuriously appointed suites, is a jewel in the Antiguan resort crown.
And like many hotels and resorts across the Caribbean, they were experiencing a business revival this winter following the ravages of the global recession.
“I think we are seeing the trend towards longer stays …(also) the long lead in times are coming back. People are booking a year ahead again, the confidence is returning to the market and that’s what’s so hugely important,” said Blue Waters’ General Manager Alistair Forrest.
Antigua’s Minister of Tourism John Maginley is pleased with Antigua’s winter season performance with reports of improved arrivals and revenues over the previous season.
“We are (now) trying to create a little more buzz for the summer time – and are anxiously optimistic that the trend will continue,” he said.
Maginley, a former Davis Cup tennis player and captain, asserts airlift remains a priority for Antigua and Barbuda and he was pleased with Caribbean Airlines’ new nonstop flights from New York’s JFK Airport. “We are still talking to JetBlue (as we look) at all of our options for winter 2011-2012,” he said. In addition to traditional leisure travelers he added that the Caribbean Diaspora remained an important market, especially for cricket, carnival, Independence and other special events.
Antigua and Barbuda has plenty to see and plenty to do. The twin-island nation’s public and private sectors are locking arms to help further develop the main tourism industry, so there’ll surely be plenty more to come.