Beaches, beaches, beaches – Antigua’s famous for them and the stable of seaside resorts that line her shores. All that’s nice for the typical traveler, but on a recent visit to this warm and welcoming isle I found a property that uncommon travelers will find to be a cut above… literally!
The fantastic view up top is from the pool at Carmichael’s, the swanky formal restaurant nestled at the highest point of the sublime Sugar Ridge Luxury Boutique Resort. From the entrance along the road you see snaking up the middle of the image, the resort spreads out and up a fairly steep hill, a collection of one- and two-story units espousing an easy-going, understated elegance both inside and out.
Nope, there’s no beach here, which for any adventurous traveler is a great thing. After all, there are 365 beaches in Antigua; why get yourself tied primarily to one stretch of sand because you paid a bunch to stay at a hotel there? Sugar Ridge encourages you to get around the island, which of course, is right in line with our style of uncommon travel.
Also to our liking, Sugar Ridge’s luxurious accommodations.
Each of the two-story units like the one above houses four individual accommodations. Rooms on the upper floors have large verandahs equipped with an outdoor dining area and a day bed for lounging. Lower floors have all that too, plus a cozy plunge pool that’s perfect for two.
You might think that grouping four units in one building like this might lead to some privacy issues. Not so at Sugar Ridge.
All around, lush, well-kept gardens featuring a mix of flagrant flowering shrubs and fruit trees, further amp up the romantic tropical hillside hideaway feel. Verandahs here were also designed expressly to enable guests to avoid most prying eyes, while also maximizing views of Jolly Harbour and the surrounding seaside below.
Views like this are great, of course, but don’t be surprised if the ultra-comfy beds at Sugar Ridge lead you and your significant other to miss a few of them…
As with the exterior styling, natural earth tones combine nicely in the rooms with rich, dark woods and burnt red/orange accents to create a living environment that’s as cool and relaxing as it looks. Rooms at Sugar Ridge are also equipped with all the basic bells and whistles – Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, in-room mini fridge, electronic safe – ensuring added comfort and peace of mind.
Back down the hill at the entrance to Sugar Ridge, you’ll find The Sugar Club, the property’s less formal dining option, a second pool area, and spa, yoga, and fitness center facilities far more expansive than you’d typically find in a boutique property of this size.
The reason they’re so large, as General Manager Keith Martel explained to me, is that the resort caters to both visitors and locals alike. In this way, it’s easy to meet and make friends with residents while working out in the gym, relaxing in the spa, or enjoying a drink at the bar upstairs.
But, that’s not the only way Sugar Ridge helps guests get in tune with the local scene in Antigua.
As we noted earlier, the property also partners with a number of local beach bars and restaurants, even going so far as to allow guests taking advantage of the all-inclusive plan at Sugar Ridge to maintain signing privileges on select menu items at participating independent off-property establishments.
Sugar Ridge also makes sure to advise guests of major local events, assisting in ticket sales and also providing dedicated shuttle transportation. I’m not talking about the tame tea and crackers type events usually associated with exclusive resorts either. During my stay in mid-August, a major cricket match was being held pitting Antigua versus Guyana. To say it was the talk of the entire island would be an understatement. To note that it was also the talk of a luxury property like Sugar Ridge, whose staff arranged for me and other guests to attend, was a bit of a great surprise.
All too often around the Caribbean, the poshest resorts are also the ones that are most disconnected from the local scene. Sugar Ridge is different, which makes it just about perfect for me.