Floating Away to Jumby Bay >>> London to Lazy in 9hrs #LWSY
Archive post dated 2014: Last November I found a little piece of paradise (although I did have another unexpected trip there this January for 4 days for a design project I’m involved in). Jumby Bay is reachable only by boat, and without a car in sight. Just an 8 hour flight from home, and a 6 minute boat ride and I went from London to lazy for 4 days of utter paradise.
Taking the most civilised day flight from London Gatwick, the moment you step off the plane at Antigua Airport you are discreetly ushered to your waiting car who’ll take you on a short drive to Beachcomber, the island ferry port to catch the Jumby Boat.
Since its discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1493, this isolated island, today known as Jumby Bay (named after the Antiguan word jumbee, meaning playful spirit), is a much sought after retreat of rarefied yet relaxed luxury that’s just moments from the coast of Antigua and yet worlds away from the crowds of the Caribbean.
The Jumby Boat transfer at the hotels private dock on Antigua Island
“It may be for its postcard-perfect beaches, lapped by clean, crystalline waters. Or for its rich biodiversity, including one of the world’s primary preserves for hawksbill sea turtles. Or for its intimate, private setting of 300 acres — with no cars, beach vendors or jet skis. Whatever the draw, Jumby Bay is the stuff of dreams.” I’ll second that.
With no hint of urban intrusions, and no indigenous population, this privately owned hideaway, managed by the Rosewood Hotel Group has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Nowadays, the entire island, of just 40 guest rooms and suites and a collection of privately owned villas and estate homes which you can choose to rent, some at eye-watering prices, the resort’s 250 local staff return to the mainland every night, leaving just a sprinkling of staff, homeowners and guests. As I said, it’s totally private.
You can see why those who flock here do, you may pass a movie star or international sportsman on the beach, and everyone will just offer a small acknowledgement to each other, as if to say, we all know we’re lucky to be here aren’t we…
We arrived mid-afternoon to a warm welcome by the hotel staff at the island jetty, and with our first rum punch in hand we sat here at the Verhandah Bar finally soaking up the fact we’d made it. I don’t think either of us could quite believe we were finally here after weeks of excitement.
You can walk or cycle everywhere on Jumby Bay island, but as we’d just arrived a golf buggy took us to our room, Suite 45, a pool suite with ocean views where once again, our jaws dropped as we were shown around this beautiful suite.
Arrive through the antique privacy gate and entry courtyard and into our elegant one-bedroom suite. Over 1,300 sq. ft. of living space, the suite features a living room with a vaulted ceiling, separate master bedroom with a spacious bathroom and a private outdoor garden with rain shower and tub (which was an absolute dream in the evenings). Overlooking the sea with a vast terrace and a private pool, we’d found the ultimate relaxation retreat.
Our pool and views on to Jumby Beach
Although we’d arrived late afternoon we made it just in time to head to the Pool Grille which sits above the beach with spectacular ocean views over to Antigua. The infinity pool in front meant you were never to far from the water for a post lunch dip if making it just 50m to the beach was too much of a stretch.
Serving casual bistro lunches, salads, sandwiches and grilled seafood we headed to the Grille for lunch every day. Jumby Bay is an all-inclusive island. Once you’re paid up, everything is included, daily breakfast, lunch and dinner (there is a separate menu for speciality wines but we were very happy with the wines selected for each meal), so drinks – cocktails and house wine by the glass, afternoon tea was served every afternoon, access to resort fitness and tennis facilities were complimentary, and the water sports centre offered snorkelling, sailing and boating excursions all included in our stay.
We arrived on a Sunday, the night of the weekly White Night dinner on Jumby Beach. An evening when all the home owners and hotel guests are invited to share tables or choose private tables at the waters edge to enjoy a beautiful barbecue style dinner whilst we are entertained by fire eaters and traditional dancers. It was a lovely way to meet fellow guests, everyone intrigued with each others reason for their stay on the island (mainly family holidays, anniversaries and honeymoons).
Back on our bicycles and home to our suite which was transformed in the evening light…
There is nothing like waking up and rolling out of bed straight into your own pool. Once I had ticked that off my list it was time to head over to breakfast via a walk along Jumby Beach…
Breakfast was a wonderful affair, take your pick, anything you fancy and the chefs will just whip it up…
Our first morning was spent on the new Jumby boat, for a morning of snorkelling at Paradise Cove just a 15 minute ride from the island.
After we arrived back on dry land, we cycled over to Pasture Bay on the other side of the island, and a very special place for me to go and say a little prayer for my dear friend in London who’s brothers ashes were scattered there just a few years ago.
On the northern flank of the island, the secluded sands of Pasture Bay offer ultimate privacy. Along this perfect crescent a backdrop of palms and sea grape hedges offer the ultimate hideaway. The waves here roll in from the Atlantic and invite a rich marine and bird life, which includes the endangered hawksbill sea turtle.
If you fancy a quiet, romantic oasis one lunchtime, the hotel will be happy to arrange a private picnic, allowing you to hide away for an afternoon with the beach all to yourself…
Never not on the move, and after lunch at the Grille, it was time for some laps in the 25m pool. Well a couple of laps and a splash around on my part while he did some laps. Surrounded by tropical gardens and giant loungers, poolside food and a drinks service is of course also available for whatever you might fancy.
Starfish spotting on Jumby Beach. This gentle arc of white-powdered sand, fringed with palms offer the ultimate vista for a chilled out afternoon under the thatched bohios or in one of the hammocks strung between the palms. I went for a hammock every time. Nothing says holiday like falling asleep in a hammock.
The other magical thing about this beach are the unexpected treats you’re offered throughout the day. Every 45 minutes a tray of goodies are walked down the beach, whether it’s homemade fishcakes, frappucinos or a frozen daiquiri. Heaven.
Whatever you might request, a cocktail, cold water, culinary treats or fresh towels, the Jumby beach butlers will invariably offer it to you before you even think to ask. We got rather used to it, but as they all said, “Enjoy it!”.
Sundowner Time at Jumby Beach Bar. From 10am-6pm island star Genny will serve you any cocktail you could possibly want. Talk to Genny, you’ll love her, full of stories, remembering everyone who’s previously visited, she’s wonderful with introducing you to fellow guests on the island.
For our second evening we were invited to join fellow guests and home owners for ‘Wine Down’ at the Beach Bar before dinner a the Estate House. An opportunity to meet other guests and trade stories of our day, did we go snorkelling, or what shall we do tomorrow?
The Estate House is the epitome of stylish Caribbean dining and the more formal option for dinner on the island (the restaurant is a dinner only location). Surrounded by fragrant gardens of palm trees, hibiscus and wild orchids, this ivy-clad colonial house built in 1830 was once the heart of the island’s sugar plantation.
The romantic terrace takes centre stage and upstairs you can enjoy the rustic old-world elegance of the Estate Bar, serving a mix of classic rum cocktails. The perfect spot for a cocktail before or after dinner. We enjoyed a beautiful Italian inspired menu before an unexpected rum tasting class up in the bar afterwards. Safe to say we didn’t cycle home that evening…
Sweet treats left on our pillow that evening. The first time my logo has been made into chocolate!
You couldn’t wish for a more beautiful walk on the way to breakfast. Jumby Beach was just in front of our Pool Suite so to walk across this sandy paradise every morning was the ultimate in paradise. After breakfast we decided to take our bikes and explore the island a little more. I wanted to re-visit the Estate House and see the place in the day light, a beautiful old Colonial House, the lawn in front takes centre stage for the islands New Year celebrations.
Below is the entrance to Lazy Lizard, one of private villas we were invited to visit, and one of the most fabulous homes available to rent on the island. This exceptional and very private beachfront estate offers a series of eight pavilions clustered around a free form swimming pool with a floating dining pavilion set inside, five tropical acres of paradise.
After an afternoon of exploring, we ended our day at the Verandah bar, and dinner at the restaurant. Think panoramic Caribbean views, dinner under the stars, with a brasserie style menu. Gorgeous.
Simple and quiet, just as we liked it…
Our last morning at Jumby Bay, with an afternoon flight to catch we spent the morning soaking up the last few rays on the beach, before making it Sense, the island spa, both for a massage before catching the boat back to the mainland.
The Rosewood Spa is a haven of serenity, reflecting the open-air architectural grace of Jumby Bay, treatment rooms with vaulted ceilings and stone entryways, inspired by the island’s own sugar mill ruin, carry the scent of tropical gardens that wind their way through the sanctuary.
“The entire spa experience, which embraces indigenous healing traditions, is characterized by Rosewood’s guiding philosophy, A Sense of Place.”
We both opted for the Signature Massage, which uses smooth warm Nautilus Shells, with a signature custom-blend of essential oils and soothing sounds of the sea, to relax the mind and body just in time for our flight back to London.
The most picture perfect time to leave, sunset…
Time to say goodbye to Jumby Bay, we were both devastated to leave. We vowed to return and hope one day we will…
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Images ℅ Rosewood/Riva PR/ LWSY
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