Not much is posted on these boards about Anguilla. Probably because not many people go there and those who go do not frequent these boards. We recently had a marvelous vacation (Apr 21-28)so, forgive the lenth, here are some impressions.
Getting there: Flew from Boston on AA via SJU. Early into SJU. American Eagle only 30 min late to AXA. Immigration and customs a breeze at Wellblake. Note: There are 5 flights a day from SJU to and from AXA with American Eagle. You may be late or on a different flight but you will get there.
Were met at airport by representative from Malliouhana and directed to a cab. Checked in and were whisked off to our unit in a golf cart.
The Hotel: Malliouhana is one of the premier hotels on Anguilla. People mainly stay in hotels since there are no rental villas to speak of. Cap Jaluca, Cuisnart, Cove Castle, and the Sonesta are other mainstays.
M sits atop a bluff with Meads Bay on one side and the ultraprivate, Turtle Cove on the other. The main building is open air beautifully decorated, spacious. You are greeted by the owner as you check in.
The main building has the office, bar, restaurant and main hotel rooms. There are villa type units on the beach and back in the gardens. All units have verandas looking out to the water. The view is to the northwest so sundown watching is a notional pastime.
We stayed in a Junior Suite. These are grouped together and overlook Turtle Cove which is a small beach ringed by the bluff. There are loungers and umbrellas on Meads Bay and Turtle Cove and attendents to bring you whatever. Our suite had a huge bedroom/sitting room with couches, tables, large king size bed. Open by siders to the decking/porch. Addiionally there is a sitting room with hide a bed (if you want to bring kids (no way would I take a kid to Anguilla)). A huge bathroom with shower, large tub, 2 sinks, etc.
We had breakfast brought to our unit and ate outside overlooking the ocean each morning. (the one gripe we had about M was that the Breakfast is an a la carte menu charged extra. Should be part of your room charge like most everywhere else).
The staff was numerous, friendly and attentive. They will do everything for you.
We rented a car thru the hotel. It was brought to us and we conviently left it at the airport when we left. "Leave the keys in the ash tray and I will pick it up."
said the rental guy. Driving (on the left) was easy. Roads are flat and though poorly marked we found our way around. there is only one main road.
Activities: Scilly Cay. We had been tipped on these boards about Scilly Cay and had seen the TV show with B Smith so knew to go on Sunday when there was live entertainment and to make reservations ahead of time. We arrived on Sat and went the next day. You drive (or are let off by cab) at a dock and flag down the water ferry to get you over (2 min trip). Scilly Cay is a small island with nice beach and pretty bottle cactus garden ringed by a fence made with conch shells. Centally there is a covered restaurant/bar. You are greeted by Eudoxie and Sandra Wallace the owners etc and place your order (lobster, crayfish, chicken or veggies). I had the lobster/crayfish combo that was great. Spicey sauce over the grilled shellfish and spicey pasta side. Also had the famous punch which is 90% liquor and 10% fruit juices. We ate and listened to the music and danced the afternoon away. We were mello after a couple of hours so went back to our place to sleep it off.
Scilly Cay is wonderful. Those who complain about the cost don't understand what the true value of the experience is. (It cost $130 for 2 with lobter and 2 drinks each). We loved it and would do it again.
Trip to St Martin: Anguilla has no shoppng to speak of so to satisfy our "need" we went to SXM. Wed is market day so we went then. It is very easy to get to/from Anguilla/st Martin. Ferries run every 30 min from Blowing Point Anguilla to Marigot, SXM. $2 departure tax and $10 fare for 20 min trip. We went over early and had coffee/pastries in a patiserie in Marigot. Spent the morning shopping in the market and stores (with the cruise ship people (black socks before they went to Orient Beach)). Had lunch at La Vie en Rose watched the world go by then returned to Anguilla to escape the crowds. Got some good stuff in the market etc.
Beaches: Anguilla is famous for its beautiful beaches. There are many. they are long and wide with soft/silky sand and gentle surf. The beach shelves off gradually so the water color is that blue/emerald for a great distance. Some beaches have restaurants and places to rent loungers/umbrellas others are remote and almost deserted. take your pick. We opted for our own Turtle Cove since it was so close and private (usually we were the only ones there).
Lunches: We went to lunch places on the beach to sample them and see other hotels. Went to Uncle Ernies on Shoal Bay. Great place, local color. Cheap food (good) and beer. Also went to Cuisnart (Mediterraneo) and Cap Jaluca (Georges). these 2 hotels are upscale, elegant on the beach facing St Martin. the clientele is younger (lots of newly weds).
The People: One of the nice things about Anguilla is the people. Uniformly friendly, gracious, gentle. they love their island and it shows. We felt safe at all times.
Restaurants: Very expenxive. Everything is imported (except seafood) so expensive. Mostly Caribbean type cooking with French or Italian variations. Most menus heavy on fish and light on meats.
We had read the Blanchards book and were looking forward to gong there. However reports from locals and people we met who went were so negative we did not go. (There are so many good places we did not want to waste a night).
Our favorites were: Overlook (high on hill looking over main harbor), Mangoes (on the beach at surf level, musician with guitar wandering around singing for you), Olivers (also on the beach), and Tramontos (on the beach facing SXM with opera music playing--what a romantic setting), and Koal Keel (in The Valley in an old plantation house--ask for the tour of the wine cellar and old part of house after dinner). the only disappointing meal was at Maliouhana which we thought over priced and not very good.
Overall meals cost between $100 and $130 for 2 without wine.
We thought more expensive than St Barts.
Most days we spent on our beach and would venture out for meals and the trips mentioned above.
Going Home: American eagle on time to SJU. while waiting in the Anguilla airport got to know the customs inspector who was having coffee. Again very friendly and proud of his home.
San Juan Airport: this is one of the great adventure sports in the Caribbean. Unfortunately this is often harrowing. Going the loong trek thru customs was easy. they have added a step to have your baggage sensed, I guess for agriculture/hoof and mouth stuff, before sending it on to your connecting flight. Our SJU adventure was minor but typical. Our flight was scheduled from gate 3 (those who know SJU realize the terminal is a long bldg with gate 1, the American Eagle gates, at one end and gate 19 at the other. Not soon after settling in there was a gate change to gate 18. so down we go. then 20 min later a gate change to gate 7 (at least not all the way back). Well the flight was 1 hour late (which got us a free showing of Billy Elliot) and we arrived back into Boston safe and sound.
Ovrall impressions: Anguilla is a marvelous place, not for everybody, that is peace and quiet and elegance personified. Very romantic. Its strong points are the people, beaches and food.
I would not recommend it for people who are cost conscious and I would not recommend it for kids (the kids would have a good time but their parents would have a better time alone).
Sorry for the lenthy report. Thanks for reading.