Claire Harper Claire Harper | April 2, 2021 | Lifestyle Feature
For those who don’t want to be nickeled-and-dimed during a lavish getaway, Jumby Bay Island is the epitome of boutique, all-inclusive escapism.
The stunning poolside scene of Lost Puffin, one of the island’s private residences available for rent
Nestled on the northeast coast of Antigua, a private island resort sits basking in glory. Once we arrive in Antigua, my fiance and I are picked up from the airport for a breezy five-minute drive to Jumby Bay Island’s private dock. Mere minutes later, we’re coasting through the waters by boat—the only way to access the island—headed for what’s known as the “crown jewel of Caribbean resorts.” One step on the sugar-sand beaches and it’s clear why.
A beautiful backyard view at one of the island’s private residences available for rent
We’re greeted by welcoming staff waiting with a refreshing fruity cocktail: Vacation has officially begun. Every moment that follows for the next four days is a culmination of pampering, relaxation and utter bliss. After a quick check-in at the thoughtfully designed open-air lobby, we’re taken by golf cart for a tour of the lush 300-acre private island. Cars are replaced with bikes here, and I couldn’t have been more excited at the thought. Luckily, each suite, villa and private residence is equipped with its own set.
A scene from Jumby Bay’s Sailing Academy, which welcomes both beginners and experts
Soon we arrive at our pool suite ($3,200 per night), one of the resort’s 28 refreshed suites debuted upon reopening in November 2020. A private gate opens to reveal a small front courtyard, while inside, light floods the coastal-inspired living room, boasting a sectional, a dining table, and plenty of beverages and light bites to indulge in (all part of the all-inclusive package). The bedroom carries the same coastal indoor-outdoor living vibe, with double doors that open to reveal our private pool, deck and lounge area, where we’d spend every morning eating breakfast (my go-to order being the freshly squeezed juices). But perhaps our favorite part sat in the rear of the suite: an oversize soaking tub secluded beneath towering trees in a private back courtyard. I didn’t hesitate to try it out while sipping a glass of bubbly.
The luxuries extend far beyond the bedroom, though, and soon we’re headed to our first meal: a private curated dinner on the beach. A canopy ripples in the wind above us as we sit at our table, surrounded by a circle of lights and intricate sand designs (which we later come to find are courtesy of our waiter). Champagne arrives first—a toast to us!—and we spend the next two hours immersed in delicious fresh seafood—think ceviche, lobster, shrimp and clams—and complementing wine pairings. It’s only night one, and we already know we’ll be coming back, perhaps on our honeymoon?
The front courtyard of our suite, complete with a hanging swing and vibrant local flowers at which to marvel.
The following days are spent lounging at our private beachside setup, complete with two plush lounge chairs shaded by palm leaves. Waiters stand ready to bring any libation or fare our hearts desire. The family-friendly resort also hosts a slew of activities—both for guests and their brood—like windsurfing, wakeboarding, yacht trips, sailing and more. Naturally, we opt for the sunset cocktail “activity.” Luckily, the resort has just debuted its collaboration with Casamigos, which includes the launch of the limited-edition Casamigos Margarita Beach Shack pop-up. We grab our freshly made margaritas (a mix of Casamigos reposado, freshly squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and two dashes of Regans’ orange bitters, they tell us) from the beachside bar and sip them among the most beautifully painted sky. It’s utter bliss.
The Estate House’s recently renovated bar area
But the best part about Jumby Bay is how you can feel like the only person on the island, but if you prefer company, you can be immersed in a socially distanced group moments later—during activities like wine tastings (one of our favorites thanks to the wonderful master somm); Gin & Golf, a mixture of sipping Tom Collinses and hitting sustainable balls made of fish food into the ocean; and afternoon tea and toasts in The Estate House’s outdoor courtyard.
Suites and villas are equipped with bikes for navigating the island
Our last night might be our most memorable. We hop on our bikes for a sunset cruise to dinner at The Estate House—a circa 1830 plantation house once the centerpiece of the island’s sugar plantation—helmed by chef Matthew Liddell and restaurant manager Patel Phillips. The menu draws on the culinary traditions of the West Indies mixed with modern island flavors. Appetizers include roasted sea scallops, foie gras terrine and mushroom veloute, among other delicacies. We can’t decide between two, so we order both—and we haven’t stopped talking about the rich lobster ravioli topped with caviar cream or the pithivier, a duck breast puff pastry, ever since. We spend the rest of the evening sipping fine wines and taking everything in, from our main course of beef fillet, a slow-cooked cheek ragout with parsnips and parsnip puree, pearl onions, baby carrots, bone marrow and black truffle sauce, to our sweet and savory pastries for dessert. We bike home, happily full and blissfully unaware of anything outside of this perfect bubble. The next day it’s time to depart, but as we step on the boat and wave goodbye we know this won’t be our last trip to Jumby Bay.
The 300-acre island resort sits just off the coast of Antigua in the West Indies.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF JUMBY BAY AND BY CLAIRE HARPER AND BY BRADLEY MOORE