12 July 2013

All Caribella, All the Time

Sunset seen from the balcony
I have had a few requests to post more information about Caribella on my blog, as there's a decided dearth of information about it online, and most of what is out there comes from one other person and me. I've posted photos on my blog before, including a photographic tour of Barnes Bay, where Caribella is located, but here's a no-holds-barred review.
View of our building from beach
DH and I went to Anguilla for the first time in 2009 but we didn't stay at Caribella until our second visit in 2010. This year marked our fourth stay there, and if they weren't closed in October when we also visit the island, we'd probably never stay anywhere else. (Well, future vacations from vacation notwithstanding.)
Caribella, as seen from West End Bay
Caribella ticks all of our boxes for vacation: it's spacious, comfortable, quiet, and beachfront, with full cooking facilities and optional a/c in the bedroom--and all of this while providing an excellent value. They offer discounts on stays of 7 nights or more and they also reward customer loyalty. On top of that, it's Anguillian owned, which makes a difference to travelers like us.

Pair of sea grapes next to Caribella
We also love Barnes Bay.  It's a beach with character, and the ever-shifting sands and erosion make it look like a different place every time.  Despite the fact that Viceroy is right there, it tends to be one of the quieter beaches on the island--except for Friday and Saturday nights, when Viceroy does blast the music pretty obnoxiously.  But back to the beach.  Viceroy on one end currently has a very rocky beach, but that may change with Viceroy's seriously misguided efforts to create some breakwaters.  On the far western end of Barnes there's a perfect little swimming cove--I love walking there each day and taking a dip there in the early mornings and late afternoons.
Barnes Bay, looking west
Barnes in front of Caribella, looking slightly toward Viceroy
Rocks down by Viceroy
My personal swimming cove
DH standing on the other side of the swimming cove
This year we stayed in unit #2 for the first time, which is the upper level of the building closest to Mango's.  Up until now we'd always stayed in unit #6, the upper level of the building closest to Viceroy.  We like different things about each units.  While we like the actual layout of #6 better with the beautiful view from the master bedroom, unit #2 was breezier by far, both outside and in.

DH on #2 balcony on a rainy morning
Our favorite thing about both units is the oversized, covered balcony.  We bookend our days there, spending our early mornings and late afternoon hours with a book in one hand a beverage in the other. They're also perfect for watching the summer thunderstorms pass overhead and out to sea and deep enough that we can sit outside in all but the most driving rain and not get wet. Both balconies have a table with four chairs, plus two chaises longues.  The furniture is simple and chosen for its outdoor durability moreso than its comfort.  Fair enough.  The view is slightly better from #6 because the sea grapes do not block any of it like they do with a portion of #2 (as you can see in the photo, the view is still good, though), but it was definitely breezier on balcony #2.

Balcony of #6
The living room in #2 is a bit larger because it runs the length of the unit. The room is furnished with a loveseat, sofa, and chaise longue, all done in wicker with tropical print cushions. It's definitely a dated decor, but the furniture is in good repair. While the living room layout is different in the units, the furniture itself is identical.
Living room in unit #2
Living room in #2
Living room in #6
There's a bar that is incorporated into the kitchen in each unit, and here my clear favorite was in unit #6.  It was there that I sat and did most of my computering. In unit #2, however, the bar is so high that the barstools provided aren't tall enough to sit in and eat from the bar comfortably.  This is a little strange to me. You can see the relative heights in the photos by seeing how far the backs of the chairs come up vis a vis the counter.
The bar in unit #6
The uncomfortably high bar area in #2
The kitchens themselves are comparable in terms of amenities. Our kitchen this year was slightly bigger and easier to work in, but the dark mahogany cabinets made it feel like a darker space to work in, even with the overhead light on. Both have a microwave, a toaster, and a blender, plus the usual pots & pans, dishes & flatware.  Again, nothing fancy but very functional. If we wanted bread toasted to look golden brown, we'd have to run it through the toaster a couple of times.  And using the oven is a hassle in both places because of the pilot light.  (Gas ranges in both units, FYI). For this reason, I really wish that toaster ovens were provided for those times when we want to heat something without using the big oven.  On this trip we at in the unit more often for dinner and the occasional breakfast, whereas in the past it was for breakfast and the occasional dinner. Apparently this year the siren call of Geraud's pastries or sandwiches for breakfast was just too strong!
DH in action in #2
Another shot of #2
Kitchen in #6
The bedrooms are pretty comparable in size and number of windows, but our bedroom this year was noticeably cooler by 2-3 degrees than the rest of the unit and thus was more comfortable.  The king bed is on the plain side, and the ensuite bathroom was smaller this year. I think the a/c works better in unit #2, which is ironic because we only used it for a few nights during our 15 night stay--it was really quite comfortable without it. Quite different from unit #6, where our one night with non-working a/c was miserable, even with the floor fan directed on me through the night. On the other hand, I missed having a great view of the sea from our bed like we had in unit #6, where there was a large sliding door leading to the balcony.
Louvered window view of the sea from our room in unit #2
Master bedroom in #2 

Second bedroom in #2 (with optional a/c)
Master bedroom in unit #6
Second bedroom in #6, with no a/c
Both units are a little spartan, but they are definitely clean and comfortable. This is clearly not a place where decor or ambience takes center stage, but at the price we pay, we don't expect that at all.  The water pressure in the bathrooms is adequate, if not especially strong; it's about what we have at home with well water, so I'm used to it.  Other guests who have a strong water pressure at home may be disappointed. The hot water supply has always seemed plentiful, though. There are occasional cracks in the plaster and the walls are fairly bare.

Flowering oleander on the property
Sea grapes on the beach
Another nice touch at Caribella is that they provide beach chairs and umbrellas (one each per guest) and  a small cooler.  Barnes Bay doesn't have a ton of shade at any time time but it becomes negligible after about 3:00 or so.  We like to sit under the sea grapes in the morning on Barnes and keep the umbrella for later in the day.  The chairs sit low to the sand and have three different recline settings, plus there's a small pouch on one arm to hold a beverage, or in my case, a camera.

The sea grapes by Caribella
Above all, as I said above, we love that balcony.  Every afternoon we return from the beach and shower, then sit outside to continue reading until sunset.  It's breezy and beautiful, it allows my hair to dry naturally without a hairdryer (they do provide one, though), and we sit in companionable silence until it's time to watch the sunset.  Even the subdued ones are beautiful in their own way.

If you're looking for a a stylish place where form takes precedence over function, or a place with full service and fancy amities, Caribella is probably not for you.  If you want to be where the action is, or if you want to be surrounded by luxury, Caribella is probably not for you.  However, if you place a high value on, well, value, and if you want a comfortable and casual beachfront villa, with minimal service beyond housekeeping, then Caribella is definitely for you.  Especially if you want to support locally-owned establishments when you travel. The ladies who take care of you, Rose-El in the front office and Vandra & Gloria in housekeeping, are all lovely people and every year we look forward to seeing them again.
L-R: Gloria, Rose-El, Vandra


  1. Caribella looks a lot like Nathans Cove, very cozy.
    Do they have laundry facilities for guests to use?
    Also, is the cooler a water cooler or a Playmate type cooler?
    Thanks for all the details Emily, really great of you to take the time.
    DH read it also, and thanks you too!

    1. Ellen, you're my most faithful commenter and I thank you for that!!!

      There are no laundry facilities for guests but Vandra and Gloria will wash clothing for guests--I think the charge is very minimal. I also sometimes wash a few things myself by hand in the sink and then use the clothes drying rack out on the balcony.

      I don't know what a water cooler or playmate cooler is in this context, but it's a small, hard sided cooler, one where the top pops back on a hinge. it has a small handle. it would be enough for a couple of small beverages and a lunch, or maybe one six-pack of cans. we didn't use it on this trip since we usually plan to each lunch out, so we just take a frozen bottle of water with us each day to the beach, wrapped in a kitchen towel to absorb the condensation.

      I know y'all are sad to leave your beloved Nathan's Cove, but I hope that Caribella can be a new home for you on Anguilla, too.

  2. Thank you Emily - your cooler is a Playmate! :-) We are sad to leave Nathans, they have served us well, but we treasure our peace and quiet and are hoping to capture that once again at Caribella.
    Thank you for all your posts, it is such a pleasure, I have you on RSS feed, so I always read your blog, but I am afraid I am a James Patterson gal! :-))
    Luck to you,

  3. A very balanced and comprehensive overview of Caribella. However I was really surprised to see the microwave oven above the stove in both units - not allowed in the UK. The views from the balcony look lovely and the rooms nice and spacious. Thanks for the information, always interested to see other accommodation.

  4. Thank you for this comprehensive review of Caribellas. We are thinking about staying there in late June and your post really helped. I am so excited. Thank you so much.


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