There are eco-resorts and then there are lux eco-resorts. Hermitage Bay firmly belongs in the latter camp and demonstrates you don’t have to forego all your worldly comforts in order to save the fragile environment. This was a labour of love with owner and dedicated environmentalist, Andy Thesen who sought to build a five-star resort whilst retaining the spirit of this unspoilt paradise.
The use of sustainable building materials and architecture that blends in with the landscape is part of their winning formula, but also other key points such as the use of solar technology, sourcing food locally, and the use of natural cleaning and beauty products.
The island isn’t difficult to navigate around with the airport a 40-minute drive away and the capital, St John’s, or the idyllic Jolly Harbour in much less time than that. However, with 140 acres of tropical paradise at the hotel, it would take something quite stupendous for you to leave the grounds.
With scintillating views of the bay and lush tropical trees, you can easily see why Hermitage Bay is often regarded as one of the top five-star resorts in the Caribbean. Much like chefs letting their ingredients speak for themselves, they let their surroundings do the talking; they use dark local wood to blend in with the surroundings and the gardens that surround the property are not overly manicured. You won’t have to stare too hard to spot local amphibians and insects in their natural habitat.
The suites are spread out to ensure maximum privacy with some close to the beach front and others on the hillside with panoramic views of the surroundings, so the hotel helpfully provides a golf buggy transport service for those who don’t fancy strolling down a steep hill in the dark to the restaurant.
There are three types of suites on offer, with beach front and sea view garden providing easier access to the turquoise, warm Caribbean waters. However, my preference would be to spend slightly more of the holiday budget on their heavenly hillside pool suites. The views are picture-postcard perfect plus you get a spacious 144 m² and your own private pool to admire the sunset. There are Champagne, pastries, and fresh fruits on arrival, and a complimentary mini-bar that is restocked daily.
You get a roll-top bath or you can choose to be at one with nature and use the outdoor shower. Toiletries are often a neglected part of hotel reviews, but you can’t fail to appreciate the Aromatherapy Associates shower gels they provide which come with a relax and a revive version depending on your mood.
All-inclusive sometimes is mistakenly translated as ‘cheap and cheerful’ by the great British public. In the case of Hermitage Bay, it translates to ‘heavenly bliss’. They have a daily changing menu with matching wines for dinner and have successfully integrated a menu that shares the best of local Caribbean cuisine along with American classics and refined European fare. Hence, you get firm Caribbean favourites like seared tarragon red snapper sitting alongside more classical dishes like pan-roasted lemon pepper duck breast. Breakfast includes fascinating Antiguan options like cashew butter and guava sandwich with honey and Cavalier rum sauce.
The restaurant is open-air with tiered seating so you can soak up the tropical environment whilst also enjoying the nightly live music entertainment from local musicians. They are currently also offering in-room dining at no extra costs for those who prefer extra privacy.
Their garden spa specialises in offering therapies that balance the Chakra systems of the body and making sure the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being are all catered for. The stand-out treatment is their signature Siddhartha treatment rituals for couples. The rituals are conducted in your suite and use the aromatic Dorissima Siddhartha line of aphrodisiac spa products which offer delicious aromas of vanilla, Tonka, and grapefruit.
My top recommendation would be to try jet skiing with Jet Ski Antigua, and they can arrange to pick you up directly from the beach next to the hotel. It is the best way to see the stunning coastline of Antigua, especially the west coast where the water is calmer, shallower, and incredibly clear. Apart from the adrenaline rush, you can see the multi-million-pound mansions and resorts of Jolly Bay as well as the famous shipwreck of the Andes. The beauty of this is you don’t even need scuba diving equipment as it sits in less than 30 feet of water.
If you want to stay at the hotel, the amount of activities on offer is breath-taking. You can learn the cooking secrets of their executive chef with weekly cooking demonstrations using locally sourced ingredients. In fact, you can go on a farm tour to discover how the local tropical fruits are grown. They also have a fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment and all non-motorised water sports are included with your suite booking.
In a nutshell
If you need to re-charge and re-energise after the dreadful year that was 2020 – and frankly, who doesn’t? –
this slice of Caribbean paradise is just the place you need to book.
Hermitage Bay offers suites from £1,024.54 per night.