Stay the Night: Carlisle Bay
Luxury and family friendly doesn't always work. But this hotel in Antigua has cracked it, says Kate Simon
Sunday 05 October 2008
Is there any room for kids at a five-star hotel? Surely the last thing you want when you're paying those sorts of prices is to hear children squealing – even your own. My son has been shushed on some of the finest strips of sand in the world at hotels purporting to be family friendly. Not much fun for him either.
But at Carlisle Bay on the south coast of Antigua they've paid attention to detail and are successfully bridg-ing the age gap. The solutions are no-brainers, ensuring peaceful co-existence of the generations.
A run of the rooms has been allocated to families, the rest are reserved for adult guests, minimising friction. And the fact that all rooms are on the shore means everyone naturally spills on to the beach in two distinct areas.
The kids' club is run by active, experienced staff in well-designed premises, with a fun and varied programme of activities. And while children can eat with parents in either of the two restaurants, under-sixes aren't allowed in one of them after 8pm.
But, crucially, Carlisle Bay offers a rare chance in the Caribbean for kids to play with local children. Since opening five years ago, the hotel has maintained close links with the neighbouring village, Old Road, employing many of its residents and taking an active role in improving the life of the community.
The hotel sits on a public beach and that status is observed – when school's out the kids come down to play. It may prompt the adults at the far end of the sands to look up from their bodice-rippers, but only for a moment.
This is a sister hotel of London's One Aldwych, so expect styling with similar understated panache. There are four types of suite, but all have king-size beds, sitting areas, big bathrooms, and balconies or terraces with day loungers. Satellite TV, CD/DVD, Wifi and Gaggia espresso machines are standard.
The food and drink
Indigo on the Beach offers grills, seafood and salads, with views of Montserrat's smoking volcano. East serves some of the finest Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese food in the Caribbean. There are also three bars.
Work out in the gym or on the tennis court. There's a large pool, too, and a yoga pavilion. The Blue Spa offers a wide range of treatments. The hotel is adding weekly on-deck ocean racing to its comprehensive programme of activities. Beyond the gates, The new Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour (antiguarainforest.com) offers tree-top derring-do and the island's main historic attractions, English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard, are nearby. For more go to antigua-barbuda.org.
The ground-floor suites offer easy access for guests with disabilities and there are ramps into the restaurants.
BA Holidays Prestige Collection (0844 493 0752; ba.com/holidays) offers seven nights at Carlisle Bay from £1,629 per person, based on two sharing, including return BA flights from Gatwick, B&B accommodation, return in-resort transfers and free UK connecting flights from most regional airports. The hotel is offering special Vitality Weeks this season.
Carlisle Bay, Old Road, St Mary's, Antigua, West Indies (001 268 484 0000; carlisle-bay .com).
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