July 30, 2014

Travel

A Cap-tivating Escape

Imagine the ideal beach—a perfect crescent of white sand; impossibly blue water; with Moorish villas peeking out from between the palm trees. Cap Juluca: It sounds exotic, and delivers on the promise. But here’s the best part: If you start early from Southwest Florida, you can be there by lunch.

Getting there is a breeze. After landing at bustling St. Maarten, we were whisked into a speedboat for the 20-minute trip across to the island of Anguilla. While I loved the splashy James Bond treatment, ferries and short flights are other options for a less dramatic entrance.

Anguilla is an island with few immediate charms: flat, covered with scrub bushes and no real dramatic features … until you get to Cap Juluca. The location is superb, and the hotel’s design and layout are gorgeous. Built in a Moorish style—think domed ceilings, whitewashed walls and tile floors—Cap Juluca was designed to deliver a unique luxury experience. Three years ago, veteran hotelier Adam Aron bought the resort and enlisted Hans Maissen (former general manager of the Hotel Du Cap Ferrat and the Windsor Court, among other luxury palaces) to oversee a top-to-bottom renovation. Twenty million dollars later, Cap Juluca sparkles, and they aren’t even done yet. A buying trip to Morocco resulted in new furniture, artwork and accessories. A highlight includes a new reception area featuring a chandelier—or is it a piece or art?—consisting of more than 70 Moroccan lamps of all sizes and shapes.

Hidden behind a white wall and 10-foot doors, our villa featured a private pool, a huge living room and a bedroom with the requisite flat-screen television and DVD player. We even had a domed, circular dining room with a floor made of glass blocks. The best part is that every room and suite faces the dream-like beach, offering mesmerizing views of St. Maarten and St. Martin in the distance. A total of 98 rooms are clustered into 18 separate villas, which are spread the length of the mile-long beach. While this could mean a long, scenic walk to the restaurants, Cap Juluca has found a thoroughly modern alternative—a fleet of solar-powered golf carts that make getting around a snap. The great part is that the carts are everywhere, and no keys are needed—just hop in and go.

While the beach is fabulous, thereis more to do than sit and soak up the rays. The hotel offers sailboats, kayaks, snorkeling and even a water-ski boat. And they are all complimentary. Away from the water, there are other options. A full-time tennis pro gives clinics and lessons; an “aqua range” provides golfers a chance to launch balls into the bay (don’t worry—the balls float, and no animals were harmed in the making of this pastime). Horseback riding on the beach, yoga and a spa await those who are so inclined. And for people looking for the perfect complement to the “high tea” served every afternoon at 4 p.m. sharp, a manicured croquet court awaits. 

After a day in the outdoors, there are quieter pursuits. The resort boasts an outstanding library of more than 2,000 books and another 1,000 DVDs to satisfy kids and grown-ups alike. A handful of computers are there for folks who can’t unplug from the real world. Live music is performed each evening.

The cuisine, under the direction of Chef Rene Bajeux, offers local delicacies with classical French flair. Breakfasts and lunches are served at Blue, a casual, open-air restaurant sitting right in the center of the beach. In the evening, there are two restaurants perched on the rocks at the end of the beach, serving French and Asian-fusion fare. With waves crashing nearby—sometimes too close for comfort—it makes for a romantic and memorable evening. Finally, there is a terrific bar overlooking the ocean, perfect for a nightcap and a Cuban cigar.

All this doesn’t come cheap, with room rates starting at about $500 per night and moving swiftly north from there. But life is short, and Cap Juluca is worth every penny. Get the morning flight, and you can be in a fantasy world by lunch. If my family and I have our way, we’ll be there as well!

 

IF YOU GO

Cap Juluca Hotel
Maundays Bay, Anguilla, W.I.
www.capjuluca.com
Reservations: (888) 858-5822
Cap Juluca is offering special summer and fall packages, with savings of up to 40 percent from normal rates.

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