Anguilla has been getting a lot of press lately. The spotlight hit the British territory recently when the Four Seasons purchased the iconic Viceroy property. Like most meeting planners, I was excited to visit the island (a northern Leeward Island in the Lesser Antilles for those following my Caribbean series) and see for myself if Anguilla Incentive Travel was going to be a fit for my clients.
Anguilla has a small airport, but the best way to schedule group arrivals is to the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Martin/Sint Maarten. In the French town of Marigot, the ferry will take your guests on a quick and clean 20 minute, $53 round-trip boat ride, over to the island. But there’s a catch; to go from the Dutch/French territory of St. Martin to the British territory of Anguilla, guests must pass-through customs on both islands. Everyone needs to fill out the forms, stand in line, go through security, scan their bags, get their passport stamped, and wait in the holding area for the next ferry. Private transfers can be arranged for individuals or groups, but there is currently no way to pre-clear your guests. Don’t get me wrong, the island is well worth the time and effort, but keep this process in mind, and I’ll come back to it shortly.
I only had a short time on Anguilla, and my agenda was packed full. First up was the Four Seasons, followed by The Cuisinart Resort and Spa, The Reef, and the Malliouhana.
Anguilla Incentive Travel Resorts:
Four Seasons Resort
I know one thing’s for sure; as far as resort properties are concerned, if your group has a healthy budget, Anguilla is more than ready to provide your guests with a first-class experience at a magnificent property. The gem, as far as I’m concerned, is the breathtaking Four Seasons.
Each guest room is beautifully decorated and packed full of amenities that are perfect for incentive travel in Anguilla. Multiple room categories are available, and 80% of the stunning 181 rooms have full ocean views.
The Sunset Lounge is rumored to be the #1 place in the Caribbean to watch the sunset. I didn’t witness it this time around, but for either work or play, you can be sure I’ll be back to see for myself.
Three of the best restaurants on the island provide guests with plenty of options, but if a dine-around is on your agenda, or if your attendees are looking to venture off property for a meal on their own, there are 100 restaurants ranging from rustic to extravagant on this 16-mile long by 3-mile wide island.
As you would expect, the staff and service were impeccable, and we only had one unanswered question when it came time to leave this paradise; how would we ever top this?
The Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa
The owner of Conair (think hair products) and the Cuisinart brand, fell in love with Anguilla and hoped to make it his home. The government wouldn’t allow private residences to be constructed on oceanfront property, so he opted for a 93 room resort that he could call home when he visited the island. The resulting bright white property is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World collection and finds it’s architectural roots in the Greek island of Santorini.
Guests who stay in the classically decorated blue and yellow guest rooms have access to fabulous restaurants, a myriad of cooking and wine classes, the 27,000 sq ft award-winning Venus Spa, and the 18 hole Greg Norman Signature Design Championship Golf Course.
All Cuisinart assets on the island, including this property, The sister Reef Resort and the Golf Course, close for the low season between September 1 and mid-October. You didn’t hear it here, but a good source tells me that while the Viceroy closed each year for the same period of time, and the Four Seasons will be following that tradition in 2017, things may change in 2018. The Four Seasons is considering a year-round operation, and if that happens, Cuisinart will likely follow suit.
The Reef by Cuisinart
Modern, contemporary, but still every bit an oceanfront oasis, Cuisinart’s sister resort made her debut in November of 2016.
Everything about this 80-room property screams, “Millennial paradise.” If you have a group of 20-something winners, this would be an awesome choice. All guests have full access to the Cuisinart Resort and the Golf Course, so there’s always something to keep your attendees busy and entertained.
Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection
Since opening in 1984, and with just 44 guestrooms, this boutique resort perched cliff-side above Meads Bay and Turtle Cove beaches, has long been an Anguillan favorite for the rich and famous. Newly refurbished, it has a unique blend of modern meets warm and welcoming that I found very appealing. This is a place I could kick back and stay awhile.
The resort offers its iconic oceanside restaurant, the intimate Auberge spa, a two-tiered infinity pool, and access to three white-sand beaches. If your small group is looking for R&R, look no further. Just be sure your budget can handle some heavy-lifting; rates start in the $600 – $700 range.
Anguilla Incentive Travel Activities
First-Class Accommodations – check
33 sugary sand beaches – check
Golf and spa – check
No cruise ships, casinos, or crowds – check
What more could you want? Activities, you say? This is where we need to do some soul searching.
You can swim with dolphins. In fact, you can see the dolphin park from the ferry as you pull up to the island. We also saw six people riding horseback near the Four Seasons, so that’s an option. We heard talk of boats, fishing and walking tours of the old-town area. However, for groups of 25 or more, the concern is real. The island is developing, and one day soon may offer a larger group many options, but today, it would be a challenge. At the end of our site visit, we were set on booking rooms on Anguilla and offering daily activities on St. Martin, which is an activity mecca.
Now, do you recall the ferry and transfer process we talked about earlier? On that final day, when we reached the ferry terminal, the line was long, and the ferry was delayed. My inbound arrival stamp wasn’t clear enough to read, and 10 mins of confusion followed. We sat for almost an hour in the waiting area, and one thing became crystal clear. At this point in time, the ferry was best experienced as a one-time adventure and not a regular method of transportation.
Final thoughts: I loved Anguilla. Our clients loved Anguilla. We all agree that the 2018 President’s Club winners will fall in love with Anguilla as well. They will be staying in St. Martin, but we will give each attendee a round-trip ferry ticket to spend a day in paradise, finding their own shade of blue.
Wanting further tips and tricks on incentive travel? Check out our website and let us help you create the perfect trip for your group.