21 October 2013

Ahhhhh, Anguilla! October 2013

It's no secret that my husband and I love Anguilla.  We've been vacationing there pretty regularly since we first tried it back in 2009, sometimes even being lucky enough to go twice a year.  You see, my husband teaches and every October he gets a short fall break. Since our birthdays also fall during October and November, we save our pennies and forego any birthday presents and generally are able to  squeeze in a 4- or 5-night visit to the Caribbean in October, which is also peak hurricane season. Meaning, basically, that the beaches are virtually empty of tourists. Just another perk in our book.

October also happens to be a month when many Caribbean restaurants and hotels close down for vacation and renovation, so this trip was quite different from previous ones. The place we usually stay is closed through the end of this month, so we had to scramble to find someplace else--it was actually the perfect opportunity to try a villa in a different location on the island.  While still technically in the West End, Sweet Return villa is more centrally located than any place else we've stayed and it turned out to be perfectly lovely.

Anguilla from the air
Our travel day was a long but relatively easy one, about 12 hours door-to-door from the time we left our airport hotel to the time we arrived at Sweet Return. We opted to fly Anguilla Air Services from St. Maarten to Anguilla, and for us it's completely worth the extra $25 per person each way over the private ferry boat service--and if you take into account all of the tips we disburse when using the boat, the price differential isn't even that much. We also prefer the immigration & customs process at the airport over Blowing Point AND you get the chance to see Anguilla from the air, so I think we'll always fly to Anguilla in the future.  Ronnie Bryan left us a car in the parking lot, we stopped by Albert Lake to pick up some provisions, and hit the road for Sweet Return.

The directions were fine and easy to follow: basically, when heading west, turn right off the main road right before you get to the new Cuisinart entrance.  The road was terrible, though, and each time we came or went, I mentally apologized to Ronnie for putting his car through that. Stacian met us at the villa and showed us around, explaining the ceiling fans, showing us where to find various things like beach towels & beach chairs, and lastly presenting us with a cheese & wine platter.  That was completely unexpected, especially since we'd negotiated a lower rental rate, but quite welcome.

Our hospitality platter
Once Stacian departed, we opened up all of the doors and windows (all screened) to the breezes and sat down to take it all in.  The villa is very nicely situated, facing south toward St. Martin, with constant breezes that always kept us comfortable.  In fact, we didn't even change out of our long-sleeved travel clothing.
Sweet Return
We were pretty tired, and after snacking on the grapes, cheese, and crackers, we decided that there was no real need to head somewhere for dinner.  We could simply enjoy the villa, read, and nosh as the mood strikes us.  In hindsight, I do wish we would have gone out to Flavours for dinner, as it was a restaurant we wanted to try, but which ended up being either closed or hosting a private event for the rest of our stay. C'est la vie. We were both worn out from our day of travel, and just as we were about to head inside to unpack after the last light had faded, the power went out.  It only lasted about 30 minutes, but luckily we had seen that the villa had flashlights plugged into outlets in the kitchen and our bathroom, so we used those while we unpacked our suitcases. Once the power came back on, we shut up our bedroom, turned the a/c on, and sighed with contentment as we finally got horizontal.  DH went straight to sleep while I read for a bit, but we were both in the land of nod before 9:00 pm. 'Cause that's just the kind of wild and crazy folks that we are.

Here, then, are some photos of and around the villa. It was a very nice place to stay, with comfortable, stylish, yet sensible furnishings for the environment.  It was elegant and offered a nice level of luxury without being fussy.  I felt like I could kick back with impunity. In short, it was a very liveable and gracious space. There are two bedrooms on the main level that are nearly mirror images of each other, with en suite bathrooms.  We chose the bedroom on the left as you look at the above photo.  Each bedroom has a full set of sliding doors and two windows that can be opened up to the ample breezes.  In truth we probably would have been comfortable without air conditioning, but we used it nonetheless. The king-size bed was quite comfy, and it was either a Tempurpedic mattress or one with a Tempurpedic top.  Each bedroom also has a large trunk-like piece of furniture that Stacian explained can be opened up to make a twin-size bed. The bathrooms were done in a stone tile that was both attractive and practical, and the towels were uber-fluffy. Downstairs there is a third bedroom with a private pergola and separate entrance.
This trunk unfolds into a twin bed
The patio & pergola of the lower level bedroom
Between the bedrooms is the primary indoor living space, comprising kitchen, dining area, and living area, plus a separate little sunroom off to the side.  There is a TV and entertainment center, but we never used it. The dining table is large and solid with a glass top, the sink overlooks the yard, and they even provide a kitchen "map" indicating what items are in which cupboards & drawers.  There is one sofa and there are three matching chaises longues (one pair and one single one by the tv) in the living space, too. A coordinating sofa is in the sunroom, too, as well as cabinet holding all of the bar glasses & tools.
The kitchen
The cabinet & drawer "map"
The sunroom
The bar
The two chaises longues
View of pool and St. Martin beyond from the dining table
We also appreciated the little touches, like the matching chandeliers & sconces in the living area, the glass jars filled with sand from the different beaches on the island, lined up like squat little soldiers, and the globe in the sunroom.
My DH in particular loved this chandelier




But most of all, what we appreciated were the pool and the views (well, except for all of the power lines). We spent a lot of time outside, either reading in the shade, taking the early morning sun, or kicking back in the pool.  The sliding doors in our bedroom faced full east, so we slept with the curtains open in order for the sunrise to wake us up in the morning--then we'd either head out to the chaises longues to enjoy the earliest morning rays if the cushions were dry, or thrown open the doors and crawl back on top of the bed if it had rained in the night. We didn't have a full-on sunset view, but we craned around, we could get close to one.  The plot of land behind the villa has an incomplete house on it, as does the plot of land to the one side, and the rebar from both construction sites shows up in most photos where I tried to snap the sunset.


The first sunrise we were awake for
The eastern sky at sunset
Sunset behind the neighbor's house
This shot was from the window in the sunroom
If you squint, you can just make out Saba's shadowy outline in the middle of the photo
And that just about brings us to the end of our tour. We really, really liked our space at Sweet Return, with its privacy, views, and pool.  While we missed being directly on the beach, it was pretty neat being at a relatively high point on the island and seeing so much of the island.  We could look beyond our pool to the salt ponds and Rendesvouz Bay, or over land to Cuisinart and Temenos. We enjoyed seeing the lights of the island and on St. Martin twinkling in the twilight. It was the perfect place for relaxation for five nights, but I can also see how it would be perfect for actual island living.
A tired but happy self-portrait. 

25 comments:

  1. Ah - just beautiful Emily - Sweet Return looks very nice- glad it met your expectations.

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    1. It was *really* nice and I'm glad we chose it. Now I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Caribella in about a month!

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  2. You make us feel like we are there with your description and all the pictures. Great job and thanks so much.

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    1. Just doing my part to make sure everybody's DIF is really at fever pitch. ;)

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  3. Thanks Em for a lovely account of a place I'd never heard of before. It looks very nice indeed and the views are stunning.
    Pepper24

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    1. Yes, Sweet Return was very sweet, indeed. I'd absolutely go back again if I were visiting at a time when Caribella was closed.

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  4. Seeing both your smiles says it all - must go back to Anguilla ASAP!

    Love reading your trip reports - more please!

    Roxanne

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  5. WOW. This is beautiful! Do you think they'd rent it out for just a day?

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    1. I think there's a 3-night minimum, but it's always worth inquiring!

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  6. Yay! I've been waiting to see when your Anguilla posts would start. :)
    Beautiful pictures and great descriptions. Loved the owners created a kitchen map for guests - what attention to detail!

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    1. I actually thought of you when I saw that, thinking it would be something you'd appreciate. Glad I was right. ;)

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  7. very nice Anguilla blog which I've tweeted! Curious Emily if you knew about /attended the Anguilla Lit Fest which has taken place the last two years?

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    1. Trudy, I've read about the festival but haven't participated. Maybe one day! Our vacation times are mostly tied to the times of year when we can get off work, which is summer time and Fall Break, though.

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  8. I love reading your reports...hubby and I are heading back next month...staying at Carimar beachfront villa for a week. The villa looks lovely...I would love it...hubby likes being directly on the beach. Anguilla is our favorite place...keep your pics and reports coming! Kathy

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    1. Carimar is where we stayed on our first trip to Anguilla and it was a super place for our initial vacation. Total class act, all the way.

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  9. We too stayed at Carimar for our first trip, and it is lovely and probably contributed to our addiction to Anguilla. We have come back every year since, and even though we do not stay there, we know people who have been going to Carimar every year for 13-20 years. The Carimar staff is wonderful!

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    1. Yes, the Carimar folks are a class act. And if Meads Bay hadn't become so busy, I'd probably return there again & again, too.

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  10. Emily, thanks for the info on Anguilla Air Services. Very professional, fun flight, and we did not miss the seemingly interminable wait at the police station on St. Maarten. We got to Blue Waters a good 2 hours earlier than when we took the boat, in the daytime which I conflated into "an extra day!"

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    1. Two hours of extra daylight in Anguilla? That's definitely an extra day! ;)

      Yeah, we really enjoy using AAS now.

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  11. Hi Emily,
    I was so happy to find your site! My husband and I leave for Anguilla and Sweet Return for two weeks in April to celebrate our 40th anniversary and his 61st birthday (I married him on his birthday;>) I loved reading all that you had to say about Sweet Return! The pictures were great! Did you have any problems with the construction sites or noisy neighbors? The houses look close! We LOVE Anguilla and our first trip there was on our 10th anniversary 30 years ago. We have stayed at Cap Juluca but then started staying at villas. I thought the price at Sweet Return in April was a good one. Thank you for this great story on Sweet Return! ~Teresa~

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    1. Hi, Teresa. No, we had no noise or construction issues at all.One of the neighbors had a couple of dogs who barked if we approached, but that's it. Hope you enjoy Sweet Returnfor your dual birthday/anniversary celebration!

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  12. Hi again,
    Thanks for your reply. Did you go through the rental company Where To Stay to rent Sweet Return? I was hoping you wouldn't say anything about dogs barking because we are completely surrounded with neighbors with dogs barking a lot here where we live. I was hoping to escape that for two weeks! We'll just have to deal with it if there is a problem. Did the dogs bark at you when you were on the patio/swimming? We stayed at a villa on the east side of the island there on Anguilla two years ago and the neighbor's dogs barked at us EVERY time we were out in the pool! Well, during the day we will be at the beaches anyway. Thanks again,
    Teresa

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    1. As I said, the dogs only barked if we approached them. I think you'll find the neighborhood quiet enough to suit your needs.

      We booked through the owner directly.

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Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)