Review: Why Blue Waters Resort & Spa Antigua Is a Haven of Quiet Luxury and Tasty Fare

Kelcie Gene Papp
May 24, 2024

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ANTIGUA, W.I - At around 14 miles long and just 11 miles wide, when you visit Antigua, you discover a new, small island, version of yourself. 

Heading 326°NW on one of the smallest countries on earth, you’ll find yourself 10 metres above sea level at the five-star Blue Waters Resort and Spa.

Secluded and only a 15-minute transfer from V.C. Bird International Airport, you’ll receive 'The Pelican Quencher' upon arrival. It’s an ensemble of local passion fruit juice and fresh lime presented in a chilled, heavy-bottom glass tumbler (a nod to their plastic-free commitment) crowned with rosemary—an ebullient harbinger of the adventures ahead. 

First thoughts? We’ve found a very well-kept secret: Indulgent enough to feel luxurious yet cosy enough to feel akin to home.

Apace with the pacifying cream and stone, the lobby is punctuated by the vivid, crystal-clear azure. Everywhere I turn, the Caribbean Sea is glancing at me. Almost sentient. Under the tandem pirouette of a host of ceiling fans, the waves susurrate atop of sand. And I can’t stop staring back.

Atmosphere

The sharp lime of The Pelican Quencher seems to hit my prefrontal cortex and I take the lounge. Full-bodied calm. Enough to feel like a treat yet comfortable enough to inspire a sense of fondness. If you’ve booked a penthouse suite, villa, home, or the grand Turtle Cottage, this is just the start of your new daily reality. 

Ensconced on Soldier’s Bay's jubilant coastline, Blue Waters percolates hush. Its 17 acres of sprawling tropical foliage, accompanied by the lapping of the sea, hosts both hummingbirds and the audacious Carib Grackle alike. Striking a neat balance between retreat, character, and relaxed luxury. Seclusion, character, and laid-back luxury are shrewdly coalesced in an idyllic setting.


According to the University of Sussex, listening to nature’s sounds alters the brain’s default mode network; indicative of a shift to a more reflective, restorative state. 

We’re not talking about simple mental respite; but a physiological change. Heightening parasympathetic activity – our body's way of rejuvenating and healing itself​​. Thoughts find clarity, creativity is kindled, and decisions become more insightful.

Accommodations

The resort is a practical blend of accommodations facing the sea. Cottages and villas, some of which are divided into well-appointed suites, line the shore working hand in glove with several larger houses available for complete rental: Pelican House, Turtle Cottage and, sat on a bastion of privacy on its headland, the expansive Rock Cottage; often frequented by the likes of Lionel Richie. 

Pelican House, Turtle Cottage, and Rock Cottage are three grand homes, ideal for multi-generational family gatherings, and provide abundant space, privacy, and comfort. Not to mention GRIND and Nespresso coffee pods for morning rituals as sacrosanct as the Antiguan sunrise itself. 

The Great Room and Ktichen Island of Turtle Cottage

Interior Design? Envision Rudick's Palm Beach Chic in lockstep with the quaintness of Cotswold style. The kitchens showcase classic shaker-style cabinetry, exuding timeless refinement. Throughout, the walls are painted in subdued shades, reminiscent of Farrow and Ball's Slipper Satin and the gentle depth of Elephant’s Breath, contributing to an ambience of subtle opulence at every turn.

Master bedroom and En-Suite of Turtle Cottage

In the bedrooms, smart plush meets sumptuous softness. The bathrooms mirror this commitment equipped with claw-foot tubs and spacious showers. Each is enriched by organic Neem Avenue amenities.

Master bedroom inside Pelican House

The mornings? Think of the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in consorting with the salted air. Each home is a retreat from the world in the margins of time. Allowing generations to share tales and laughter, and with the paid convenience of tray service.

Dining

The breakfast spread, a compelling affair, and celebration of local fare, included a focus on local plates. Fried plantain and saltfish, quickly became a cherished daily highlight,  alongside everything else you’d find at a five-star Carribean resort. 

For those who care about coffee, the roast is dark. Along with oat, almond and soy alternatives to milk at the ready. 

Blue Waters hosts five distinct dining venues, each with its unique setting.  The Pelican Bar, perched with views of the bay, offers a casual respite, steps away from the tea terrace and the Palm Restaurant. 

Nearby, Veronica's Bar by the pool offers refreshing signature cocktails and antipasti. It’s a lively embodiment of the Caribbean spirit, offering a relaxed atmosphere with bay views. 

If you seek mammoth pools and water aerobics, here is not your bag. It's about serene jazz at a conversational volume, perfect for reading, chatting, and mindful relaxation.

The Cove Restaurant blends Caribbean and French cuisine with fine-dining inventiveness in a candlelit setting with ocean views. Its entrance is marked by flaming torches and candlelight. 

The Reef Restaurant offers casual dining poolside, while The Palm Restaurant, with its view over the sea, nestled within verdant gardens, transitions smoothly from a relaxed Caribbean café by day to a more polished dining venue by night. 

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is your ideal spot for delightful tasty plates accomplished wonderfully well.

The food here is very good. Whether it’s an avocado, cucumber and plantain salad, blackened catch of the day at The Palm, or a lobster Thermidor at The Cove - enjoying well-prepared meals soon turns into a beloved routine.

Final Impressions

If you value your mental, emotional, and professional well-being, you’ll treat your vacation time with the seriousness it deserves. From WhatsApp to LinkedIn, from emails to the boardroom, and New York to Cannes—if you’re an executive leader in brand marketing, you're perpetually synchronised with an unyielding tempo.

Blue Waters is a generously smooth 60+-year-old rum of a resort. And, this family-owned five-star retreat, a jewel in the Caribbean's crown, navigated the stormy seas of the COVID-19 pandemic with remarkable dexterity, to boot.

The Managing Director, Gary Randall's comments in our brief interview with him reveal not just a story of pandemic survival, but one of clever transformation. During the pandemic's enforced pause, the resort implemented a strategic overhaul of its human resources, which proved to be a game-changing move. This recalibration focused on enhancing efficiency and elevating service standards in a landscape dotted with independent hotels. In Antigua, Blue Waters stands out not only for its commitment to an evolved service ethos but setting a new benchmark in multi-generational guest experience.

Nice to Have

The lounge areas, currently adorned with weathered white slipcovers, are ripe for a refresh. Introducing renewed, plush fabrics would elevate these spaces, mirroring the resort’s luxurious ambience and creating bright, welcoming nooks for prolonged relaxation.

A proposed 'Café Blue,' equipped with a commercial espresso machine would offer guests a delightful little coffee shop experience to recharge away from the sun's rays. Serving locally roasted coffee and a daily-changing selection of artisan baked goods, this café could also feature a menu of customisable smoothies with health-focused options like protein powders, alongside freshly pressed juices, catering to those seeking a nutritious start to their day. Perfect for guests who prefer a lighter, casual breakfast option.

Lastly, the beverage selection would expand to include premium non-alcoholic options, beyond the virgin cocktails currently offered. This would cater to a broader range of preferences and support a more inclusive drinking experience at the resort. 

Out of Office

As the Managing Director of a prestigious five-star Caribbean resort, one might wonder where Randall finds respite and inspiration. His sanctuary of choice? The Faena Hotel in Miami, which he vividly describes as "Claridge's reimagined by South Americans."

Randall's selection of the Faena for his personal retreat is a lesson in merging classic luxury with exotic, vibrant flair, resonating with discerning brand leaders in search of unique and culturally enriching escapes. As the head of a luxury hotel brand, his preference not only showcases his taste for quality but also highlights to executives the importance of rejuvenating in a destination that exemplifies both opulence and authentic spirit. This choice reflects a broader trend among luxury connoisseurs who seek out exceptional, immersive experiences without compromising comfort.

This is precisely what's fascinating about Randall's influence on Blue Waters. His knack for blending classic elegance with lively cultural elements cleverly defines the ethos of the brand. Each Blue Waters property embodies this philosophy, offering guests a luxurious yet genuine experience that embodies Randall's vision for immersive, high-end travel.

Kelcie Gene Papp
Founder & Editor