Jumby Bay, Antigua & Dorado Beach Club, San Juan

JUMBY BAY

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Jumby Bay is set on a 300-acre private residential island, 6 minute private ferry from the mainland of Antigua, this resort is one of the true five star properties in the Caribbean with the highest of levels of service and all the modern amenities one could dream of.  It is set on three sugar white sand beaches sprinkled with the most amazing starfish in the bright turquoise sea.

Jumby Bay is a private island with no cars, where kids can be totally independent, ride bikes everywhere and parents can relax. It is ideal for honeymooners as well or anyone looking for a getaway with the most gorgeous pristine sand beaches, turquoise sea with a very friendly low key vibe. Managed by Rosewood and reopened in 2009 after a $28 million renovation. The property now has 28 new to die for suites (to make a total of 40 rooms) two new restaurants, one with a infinity pool, and a lovely new open air spa. www.jumbybayresort.com

 

Your days at Jumby center on relaxing in the sun with the occasional dip in the warm sea, though water sports, like snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing. Along with palms, the beach is sprinkled with lounge chairs, thatch umbrellas and white day beds; plates of fresh fruit and homemade cookies stock the counter of the fabulous beachside bar. Jumby is inclusive, so there’s nothing to sign when you accept the bottled water, fresh juices and sorbets that are brought to your beach pad throughout the day. Between the Estate Homes’ lavish private pools and the island’s many beaches, guests have a way of dispersing widely, and when I visited, it never felt crowded.

 

Of the four resorts I visited on my trip, all were right on the beach and each was wonderful and distinct. Carlisle Bay and Curtain Bluff are both on the southern side of the island near the rainforest so a pleasant surprise to wake up hearing the birds singing happily in their environment. Carlisle Bay has a very good kid’s program and more manicured feel, and it is quite moving to note that Curtain Bluff has been involved with the local community in the best possible way. At Jumby Bay, which, as noted, has just emerged from a multi-million-dollar renovation, I was impressed to find such a high standard of luxury, from the gorgeous new Estate Suites to the delicious food and low key vibe. And it was fun to discover Hermitage Bay, a romantic hideaway on a lovely cove and a place I would like to go back and stay!

 

Needless to say, there is a resort for any type of traveler and a beach for every day of the year!! They take great pride in saying there are 365 beaches on this gorgeous island!! Many people assume that so far south the weather will be unbearably hot, but in fact the weather is quite consistent year round, varying by only about 7 degrees. The important difference is that the trade winds calm down, so it feels hotter, but not unpleasantly so, and the water is divine for swimming.

DORADO BEACH, A RITZ CARLTON RESERVE

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Dorado Beach is the world’s second Ritz Carlton Reserve resort, the first being Phulay Bay near Krabi, Thailand. The Reserve brand envisions properties on a smaller and more intimate scale than traditional 400+ room Ritz-Carlton resorts.  In the 1960’s heyday, Dorado Beach was a playground for Hollywood royalty and the international jet set. In December 2101 a top to bottom redesign was completed and it is hoping to reclaim its glamorous past. It was originally conceived by Laurence Rockefeller and built in the 1950’s and now thoroughly renovated by Ritz Carlton.

I was lucky enough to just spend a few nights here on an annual awards trip through my agency, Brownell Travel. The level of luxury at the Dorado Beach resort (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/DoradoBeach/Default.htm) sets a new standard for Puerto Rico. In todays world, new construction would not be permitted so close to the beach, but the footprints of the original buildings have been utilized, grandfathering these prime beachfront locations.

 

Every guestroom is beachfront, and no building is higher than two stories.  Guests have shown a clear preference for rooms in buildings 1-5, the west wing of the resort, which stretch along the two large swimming beaches. These rooms are now sold separately, at a premium over the east wing, so that you can be guaranteed a room along these beaches.  East wing rooms in buildings 6-11 border the rockier east wing beaches and sell at a discount. Their added advantage is that guests can hear the soothing sound of the crashing surf at night.

Dorado Beach has lots of recreational possibilities with two large swimming pools, three championship golf courses, tennis courts, non-motorized boats, nature trails, a wonderful spa, and an Ambassadors of the Environment program for kids. The daily resort fee, expensive at $95, includes WiFi, bottled water, and more but I am hoping this fee will be reduced.

Service has some hiccups as we experienced intermittent meal service, inconsistent housekeeping, and misunderstandings with our butlers who failed to respond in a timely manner. I know the staff and GM are working hard to work out these issues but with the backing and reputation of the Ritz I know they will do so. I feel some of these issues are a cultural issue but can be overcome. I think if you are aware of all of this then the Dorado Beach is a resort I can recommend for almost any type of client… romantic, family oriented, or honeymoon and a easy getaway for US citizens.. no passport needed! 😉

 

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