Sun, sea and incredible food at Carlisle Bay, Antigua

In search of your next sunny adventure? Let us suggest Carlisle Bay, located on the southern shore of the Caribbean island of Antigua; offering sun, sea, incredible food and more activities than you could possibly imagine, it is the perfect all year-round destination.

First impressions are everything and after visiting last November, Antigua most certainly left its mark from the get go. From being met at the airport with the iconic sounds of a steel drum band to driving along the dusty roads, taking in the fresh but warm breeze (the remnants of hurricane season) and looking out across bold greenery that floods every direction – you wonder if you’re reached peak relaxation already.

Then you arrive at Carlisle Bay, a luxurious beach and spa resort that opened in 2003 (and in recent years has had a design refresh), made up of 82 contemporary suites and overlooking a private bay, out to the bluest of seas and surrounded by a rocky outline. It is a view to appreciate at any hour of the day, but particularly beautiful at sunset.

The staff at the resort have a presence that carries an infectious stress-free mood among the guests. After you freshen up with a flannel and sup the cocktail provided, you make your way down the winding paths that are surrounded by the greenest of lawns and palm trees shading along the way.

The suite that hosted our three-night stay was the huge open-plan Bay Suite, complete with a huge four poster bed and a balcony with a view that reached out across the palm filled sandy beach, out to the open crystal sea. The décor is simple in design, cool and uncluttered with white and teal accents – just the thing to de-stress and clear the mind.

The resort caters for couples and friends on the one side and families on the other, with a number of suites to choose from. It goes out of its way to woo families with an extensive kids club, childcare options, and activities to entertain little ones aged six months to 12 years, plus a separate teens club. There are even film screenings held on-site.

The facilities

Carlisle Bay is one of the premier tennis resorts in the Caribbean with five courts, three of which are floodlit. You can hone in on your already skilled ability or take lessons with the resident coach. Great competitive fun amongst families and friends alike.

If water sports are more your thing, the team at Carlisle bay can take you from inexperienced to intermediate in everything from paddle boarding to windsurfing. The resort also has its own 36-foot super sleek boat which guests can charter for private island tours.

When you’re ready to relax and take some time out, try settling down on the jetty for a morning yoga class or enjoy a full body massage at the spa.

The food

You can dine to suit your mood – from a romantic date sinking your toes into the sand at the adults only Jetty Grill, to a more casual setting at Ottimo!, which serves Italian classics poolside. The resort has plenty on offer for taste and setting.

Enjoy the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner with the small luxuries in-between. You can also treat yourself to afternoon tea on the beach – bringing a small part of home to the Caribbean.

The surroundings

Antigua has plenty to offer throughout your visit, including 365 (yes, that’s 3-6-5) beaches. Take a boat over to Antigua’s Naval Dockyard and absorb some history of the island, or join other guests on a rainforest hike climbing high to see the beautiful scenery.

If you like to party (or simply want to enjoy a fantastic sunset that look just as good in pictures as it does in real life), you must check out Shirley’s Heights. Once the sun goes down, the BBQ and bar open up for even more fun.

Stay in a Garden Suite at Carlisle Bay from $575 (approx. £424) per night, based on double occupancy including breakfast and afternoon tea

Review by Joanne Toolan