Magazine article The Spectator

Islands in the Sun

Magazine article The Spectator

Islands in the Sun

Article excerpt

Hate crowds? Haven't booked your summer holidays yet?

Want to feel like you're getting your money's worth just this once? If so, let me make a suggestion. Instead of going to the south of France or Puglia this summer, why not try the Caribbean? It may sound perverse, going when the mosquitoes, jellyfish and hurricanes are at their worst, but if you pick the right island, you may find the climate and conditions pretty much the same as they are in high season, with the added bonus of swimming in sea water which, unlike the Mediterranean in August, is relatively sewage-free. Think! The satisfaction of getting a holiday for £2,000 than it should be! The bliss of not bumping into either Michael Winner or a biggie while swimming in the sea! Really, I can't see why everyone doesn't do it, although I am very glad they don't.

Of all the luxury five-star Caribbean resorts out there to rattle around in, the one I would pick, having been there at Easter, would be Carlisle Bay in Antigua, which was opened by Gordon Campbell Gray in 2003, the sister hotel to his One Aldwych in London. Situated on the undeveloped south side of the island on a crescent-shaped bay, this 82-room resort is lucky enough to get cooling breezes all year round and can be flown to directly from Gatwick in less time than it takes to drive to Cornwall on a bank holiday Friday.

In one respect, Carlisle Bay is all that you would expect, with the tropical cocktail on arrival, the air-conditioned gift shop selling high-rise Prada bikinis and British Vogue for £10, the rose-petal-strewn spa. . . but contrary to what our snotty Notting Hill friends warned us against, there was no retired dentist couple from upstate New York at the next table celebrating their sixth wonderful stay here. And no, the steel band at the Wednesday night allyou-can-eat beach barbeque did not play 'I Just Called To Say I Love You'.

Campbell Gray has a lot of taste, as anyone who has ever been to One Aldwych would know. Each of the simple but luxurious suites is stocked with Gaggia coffee machines, Dean & DeLuca cookies 'n' cream chocolate bars and Molton Brown products in the massive marble bathrooms. Charles and Camilla, who were there the week before us, would, I'm sure, have appreciated the very decent rosé in the kitchenette fridge and the fluorescentlit Mary Fox Linton-designed library, which I read in while the kids played Playmobil and looked at YouTube on the two computer screens. Meanwhile the Just Gay Enough cuisine is perfect for everyone. …

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