Anguilla is a small sliver of land, just 16 miles long and three miles wide – which is why it earned a name that translates as "eel". It is one of the more exclusive, if sleepier, islands of the Caribbean, with some of the best beaches to go with its low-key, lazy atmosphere.

The whitewashed Moorish-style domes of Cap Juluca rise like a mirage in the shimmering heat as you approach along a water-flanked driveway.

Its attractions are obvious: the hotel's 179 acres are fringed by two miles of pristine white beaches by a turquoise sea. This, coupled with the legendary joviality of the hotel's manager, Eustace Guishard, is the reason that most guests have visited the hotel before.

Location, location, location

Maunday's Bay, Anguilla, Leeward Islands, British West Indies (001 264 497 6666 The resort is situated on the south-west coast looking out over the sea towards the nearby island of St Maarten.

Time to international airport: Wallblake airport is a 15-minute drive from the hotel; a taxi costs about £13. With no direct service from the UK to Anguilla, the best access is to fly on BA, BWIA or Virgin to Antigua , and connect there for the final 45-minute hop to Anguilla.

Are you lying comfortably?

The 58 deluxe rooms and suites, plus half a dozen private five-bedroomed villa with their own pools are strung out along the mile-long arc of Maunday's Bay, and surrounded by tropical gardens. Rooms are on the palatial side with Balinese and Caribbean-inspired furnishings, and louvered doors opening on to a terrace or balcony where breakfast is served. Our bathroom had a double soaking bath of almost swimming-pool proportions.

Freebies: There are Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom. Snorkel gear, kayaks, catamarans, windsurfing and water-skiing are free to guests and there is also tennis, croquet, a fitness centre and a pool.

Keeping in touch: In keeping with the getting-away-from-it atmosphere there are no televisions in the rooms but there are telephones, and fax and e-mail are also available.

The bottom line

Double rooms usually cost $420 (£287), but until 21 December there is a special offer of $350 (£240). A private villa will set you back $3,645 (£2,491).

I'm not paying that: Carimar Beach Club (00 1 264 497 6881, costs from $140 (£95) for a double room.