Four years ago, my husband & I spent an idyllic honeymoon in Anguilla (at the Cap Juluca resort)—a deluxe slice of paradise in the British West Indies—so to say I’d been aching to get back since is the understatement of a lifetime. I had also yet to see the much-anticipated and very controversial Viceroy Anguilla; that happens to be decorated by one of my favorite designers, Kelly Wearstler. After recently meeting with the sweet, petit duo (Kelly Wearstler & mogul husband Brad Korzan)—while doing some creative consulting for them—I was even more compelled.
Getting to Anguilla is an adventure on it’s own. If you don’t have a PJ or a small fortune to fly to the island directly, you can (do what I’ve done twice now) and catch a reasonable direct flight to St. Martin. You land in the Dutch side of St. Martin, go through customs, take a half-hour cab to the French side of the same island, go through customs, take a 45-min boat ride to Anguilla, go through British customs, and then you’ve got a 15-minute drive. The streets are not well marked and everyone gives you directions by way of “large tree” or “old stone church”, but there are so few roads, it’s almost impossible to get lost.
The Viceroy is at the west end of the island in an area called Meads Bay. After about 15 minutes of dusty roads speckled with modest shelters, the sight of the grand Viceroy entrance is a startling one. In perfect mid-century-glam Wearstler-fashion, large slabs of marble, smooth waterfalls and pedestals-of-fire lure you into the enclave and deliver instant chills: of fear and excitement.
Upon arrival, you are swallowed into a dark, ornate lobby—robust with decorative bobbles—and then spat out into a vast, sun-drenched colonnade of empire palms flanked by two marble halls that direct you out to the water’s edge. Jutting out from the top of a craggy reef cliff, sits the head of the Viceroy. Waves crash up against the rocks from below and (if you’re a Bond girl) you can’t help but think ‘ooh, villain lair!’.
According to forthcoming Anguillans, this particular part of the main structure was so impulsively built that during storms large waves pound right into the main restaurant, Coba, and flood the space—damaging the exquisite decor and custom furniture—regularly. Adventurous diners have reportedly requested the up-close experience at the risk of being abandoned and soaked. This phenomenon comes as pure amusement to some locals whom dreaded the construction of the resort from the get-go: native Anguillans and visitors alike covet Anguilla for it’s serenity and small-town-security, so such a large compound threatened the volume of outsiders coming to the island.
A cucumber-infused-vodka bloody mary (in an alligator-skin seat at the Sunset Lounge bar) and the alluring infinity pool nearby will help you forget this dichotomy immediately. As it turns out, the private pool-side cabanas and spa are not to be missed either. And if you get a spa treatment, you are welcome to use to the private patio & pool that overlooks the ocean: it’s incredibly sexy! I’d also recommend dinner at Coba: the view is to die for, the food is excellent, and the sound of the crashing waves is energizing.
A member of the delightful and attentive staff gave us a tour of the lodging options at the resort. Each room and suite is meticulously decorated a la Wearstler, and with great attention to privacy. The Residences (villas & townhouse) are delicious, multi-suite, beach-front homes equipped with pools, to-die-for outdoor showers, gigantic bathrooms, and gorgeous professional kitchens.
Although we found that most of the seating in the resort is challenging to actually sit in (exhibit A, shown below), I was pleased to see the beachy-take on some of Wearstler’s signature pieces—like the seagrass-upholstery on her typically leather Souffle Chair. I was impressed that she was not only able to blend her rock ‘n roll signature with the natural surroundings, but also make them sing. With all the opulent lounging, dining, bathing and recreational options at The Viceroy Anguilla, the guests will never want for more (nor a flight home)… but maybe just one more cucumber-infused bloody mary…
MY ANGUILLA RECOMMENDATIONS:
Rental car: Bass Car Rental. They can meet you at your hotel or ferry. Beats catching super-pricey cabs everywhere. And it’s so fun to be able to freely explore the whole island.
Fishing: If you like hard-core deep-sea fishing, take a day-trip with local fisherman, “Nature Boy” Webster. His family (of Irish decent, though you’d never know from his sun-kissed skin) has been living on Anguilla for 300 years. He’s a fascinating guy to spend the day with.
Dining: Don’t miss Veya, Straw Hat, Blanchard’s, Blanchard’s Beach Shack (is the best bang for buck on the island). Le Bon Pain Bakery makes the best cafe latte, baguettes, sandwiches and pastries on the island.
Don’t Miss: Bankie Banx Dune Preserve beach bungalow/bar. It’s the funkiest place you’ll ever see (treehouse meets shipwreck) and Bankie is one cool ass, sexy ol’ rasta. They regularly have live music, and make great drinks & bbq.
Sandy Island: an incredibly beautiful & tiny island about a half mile off the shore of Anguilla. Pack a book, some serious sunblock, snorkeling gear and your wallet and go for the afternoon. They have a hut with a nearly-full bar and a great seafood menu, but other than that, it’s just sand and water. You can catch a shuttle boat from the dock in Sandy Ground (ask the bar tender at Johnno’s: they will keep you rum-punched-up until the boat arrives to pick you up).