Very intimate places

By | Category: Travel destinations

This is the name given to locally owned, boutique hotels on Antigua, that Caribbean island forever linked with the great cricketer, Viv Richards and whose other regular guests include Paul McCartney, Piers Morgan and Eric Clapton.
Obviously grouped as VIP’s, these small hotels are a sustainable way of making sure that the revenue earned from visitors stays in the country. They range from ones in historic locations such as Nelson’s Dockyard to ones on the beach. None are bigger than 30 rooms and most are much smaller. They fit the island, this small sun-drenched, water paradise that is more widely known for its beaches and water sports. And Viv Richards who made Antigua much more widely known. And Richie Richardson who organises a four day cricket festival every November. But there is more to Antigua than just the beaches and cricket although many would say that is paradise enough on its own.
Take Boggy Peak, now known by some as Mt Obama. The highest peak in Antigua has smaller ones nearby making it attractive to walkers and hikers. Or Frigate Bird Sanctuary which is becoming an increasing magnet for tourists as bird watching becomes ever more popular around the world. Or Betty’s Hope, a sugar plantation where shortly you will be able to travel through it by train and where you can see the Antiguan Black Pineapples being grown which, some say, are the sweetest you’ll find anywhere Except they’re not black. Boringly it’s just a name.
With any island, here has to be fresh food and Antigua and its partner Barbuda have the spiny-tailed lobster as one of the local delicacies. With 365 beaches (has anyone ever counted them?) – one for every day of the year – beach barbecues serving succulent, fresh fish and shellfish have got to be on everyone’s to-do list.
Back to beaches then. And the warm waters of the Caribbean. You can’t get away from the main appeal which is why there are so many regattas, races and sports fishing events. The May regatta attracts boats from all over the world including the UK. And divers are exploring the waters as well. There are over 50 wrecks close to the two islands, reefs to attract the fish and, of course, the pink sands.
But it still isn’t overrun with big hotel brands and it hasn’t become one of those countries where images merge into some androgynous beach paradise. It has its own identity and, more and more, tourism development is run by locals with the benefits going back to them.

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