ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA —Tour operators, airlines, policy makers, trade and media attending Showcase Antigua Barbuda earlier this month got to see the charms of these islands in person, just like their clients.
The 281 square-mile island of Antigua is recognized for its collection of 365 white sandy beaches and its experiences for all kinds of travellers.
Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), told Travelweek there are exceptional experiences waiting for everyone in Antigua and Barbuda. “The beauty of our destination is we have a little bit of everything when it comes to price points and properties. We are well suited for families, for couples, for all really, but the demand is also there for different types of travel.”
James adds: “There is a lot to do on the island, whether swimming with the stingrays in the open ocean, taking a catamaran cruise around the island, to going over to Barbuda to have lunch at the only Nobu restaurant in the Caribbean, or just experiencing the beautiful pink sand for the first time.”
Home to one of the longest-running sunset barbeque parties, Shirley Heights is the place to be every Sunday (and now Thursdays too) for live music, local food and experiencing the natural beauty of Antigua. Perched 150 metres above Antigua’s English Harbour, locals and visitors alike can purchase local goodies, dance to the music from live bands, and bask in the views of the beautiful sunset.
Stingray City & Laviscount Island
A perfect excursion for the family, travellers can interact and feed the friendly Southern Ray stingrays. Located in Antigua’s offshore islands, a shallow stingray pool with white sand bottom is only a five-minute speedboat away from the land base. This excursion gives your clients the option to get as close to the stingrays as they would like, all while learning all about the animals themselves with opportunities to take pictures as well.
About a seven-minute boat ride from Stingray City, visitors can get the opportunity to feed and learn about the Giant Aldabra Tortoise, the planet’s oldest living animal, as well as interact with iguanas, parrots, and other birds on this private island. There are standalone tours as well as a combination tour with the stingray experience.
Barbuda is known for its pink sandy beaches. It’s only 63 km away from sister island Antigua, so travellers can take a short flight or a 90-minute ferry to the island. Barbuda offers the perfect spot for those seeking the beautiful beaches, connection with nature and a tranquil getaway.
A DESTINATION OF ROMANCE
Speaking with Travelweek, Tourism Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez notes that Antigua and Barbuda was awarded the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination at the World Travel Awards four times in a row. A long-time favourite for weddings and honeymoons, Antigua and Barbuda have no residency requirement to get married. So whether clients are flying in for the week or cruising in for just the day, “almost every property on the island has wedding planners, packages and people there to take care of everything needed on that special day,” says Fernandez.
To celebrate couples coming to get married or honeymoon, for the month of June 2022, to-be-weds and honeymooners arriving at Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport will be fast tracked right through customs to immigration through the new ‘Love Lane’, decked out in pink.
“We congratulate our tourism authority, and the marketing aspect of the ministry that have come up with these great ways to keep the interest there for our travellers such as romance month and the Love Lane,” says Fernandez.
HOTELS & WHERE TO STAY
St. James’s Club & Villas
Located on the Atlantic side of Antigua, sitting on 10 acres on a peninsula, St. James’s Club & Villas is an all-inclusive resort that has 240 rooms, suites and villas along with many dining, activities and relaxing amenities for guests. With eight dining options and multiple lounges for entertainment and service all around the resort, guests will find something to enjoy anywhere. Along with this there are available water sports, activities, a Kidz club, and fully functioning marina.
Part of Elite Island Resorts, the resort features its Tranquility Body & Soul Spa, where guests can experience one of the exquisite treatments with a wonderful backdrop view to one of its two white sand beaches.
Courtney Miller, GM, St. James’s Club and Villas, “There is a genuine warmth and welcoming you see when you visit the island. Us Antiguans want to show off the island and extend that hospitality when your guests visit St. James’s Club & Villas.”
Sandals Grande Antigua
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, billed as the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Resort, is located on Antigua’s famous beach, Dickenson Bay. The Resort features a two-part experience, with the Caribbean Beachfront Village on one end and the all-suite Mediterranean Oceanview village on the other.
Guests can experience unlimited dining at 11 restaurants, 7 bars, Scuba Diving experiences as well as daily and nightly entertainment. Guests visiting Sandals Grande Antigua will experience the romantic, relaxing and fun holiday of a lifetime.
Pineapple Resort and Beach Club
All-inclusive and adults-only, Pineapple Beach club offers 180 guest rooms in six categories, perfect for couples, singles, families and groups looking for an authentic Caribbean holiday. Recognized as Antigua’s ‘Most Laid Back All Inclusive Resort’, there are a multitude of activities, bars & lounges, dining, as well as the Tranquility Body & Soul Spa. With over a quarter mile of beachfront, and beautiful turquoise water and white-sand beaches, Pineapple Beach Club welcomes its travellers with its friendly staff and atmosphere.
The Verandah Resort & Spa
Also part of Elite Island Resorts is The Verandah Resort & Spa, located on 30 oceanfront acres and an ideal place for a family vacation with something for everyone. The all-inclusive resort features incredible cuisine, entertaining nightlife and daytime activities and is the perfect spot for both fun and relaxation. Not only can guests enjoy water sports & activities, mini golf, a fitness centre, Kids Club and a variety of restaurants and bars, Verandah also features the Tranquility Body & Soul Spa, perfect for pampering and relaxation.
WHAT’S NEW IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Recognizing that the pandemic has held up a lot of projects, Minister Fernandez shared some of the excitement from Antigua & Barbuda as the tourism industry here looks forward to 2023.
In Barbuda, the Peace Love and Happiness project is a US$2.5 billion investment project, to be completed in a couple of years, which will feature 250 rooms in one part of the island and 30 luxury villas in the other part as well as a 18-hole golf course.
In Antigua, Fernandez shared that there are projects from Marriott Group, Sunwing Group, Sandals, Royalton, and more, and that the priority in these different projects is ensuring the sustainability and the environmental department play a key role.