Christmas on a villa holiday

Christmas In A Suitcase

Booking a villa holiday over the Christmas period is an excellent way to get the extended family together and to spend valuable relaxing time with children, grandchildren or just a group of old friends.  In this short article, we give you a few tips on how to make you’re your Christmas Day (or New Year’s Eve) celebrations go with a bang on your villa holiday.

Christmas Presents.

If you don’t have children with you, you may like to consider celebrating Christmas and exchanging gifts before you leave for your holiday or after you return. This needn’t limit the fun. With the right approach it can just add another great day, or at very least an evening, to your Christmas festivities.

If the thought of having no gifts to exchange on Christmas day leaves you cold, you could always reduce the collective luggage weight by opting for the ‘Secret Santa’ approach.

Secret Santa is a long-standing festive tradition in which members of a group all pull one name from their group out of a hat (or have name assigned to them any other random method). Their job is then to choose a gift for that person, and only that person. It is best to agree a maximum budget for the gift, which no-one should exceed. Technically, the identity of the gift giver should remain a secret and should never be revealed. However, guessing who selected the gift is often part of the fun.

When unwrapped and unveiled one by one at the dinner table, this can lead to a very enjoyable and entertaining spectacle. Fabulous fun for large groups and extended family holidays.  There are many apps available for organising your Secret Santa. Here’s one example that we came across

If you have very young children, you will probably want to take along a few gifts.

Think carefully about the weight, size and fragility of anything you intend to pack in your luggage. Also, think very carefully about any security issues that may arise. It may be difficult to explain that the brightly coloured rocket launcher in your suitcase is simply a child’s toy.

Wrapping Gifts

Airlines recommend that you do not not wrap any gifts before you fly. Airport security staff may unwrap gifts in your hand luggage or checked in bags, causing delays at security. And of course, leaving you with the job of rewrapping them.

Instead, pack wrapping paper in your checked in bags, and wrap your gifts after you arrive at your villa.  Don’t forget to pack a roll of celllotape. But even though your airline may permit you to carry scissors with blades less than 4 inches in length, it’s probably best to leave the scissors at home. Any well-equipped villa is sure to have a pair in the kitchen drawer.


Yes it’s cheesy, but a few Christmas jingles always set the scene on the big day.

Be sure to take along a Christmas CD or two or better still, compile an online playlist.

If you go for the online option be sure to check the box to ‘download’ the tracks in advance just in case you have no WiFi at the crucial moment.

Christmas Outfit

Spread the word before you leave. Make sure that absolutely everyone packs a festive outfit to wear for the big dinner.

You can give this your own spin. Whatever you choose From Christmas ‘Hawaiian’ Shirts and Santa Hats to Red Dresses, White Shirts and Christmas Ties, it is a chance to generate a bit of extra Christmas cheer and get everyone in the mood. A common theme always makes for great photographs in and around your villa too.

Don’t let your plans become too grand, whatever you choose should be light and easy to pack, easy to find and not too expensive.


We’re not suggesting that you drape the entire villa with tinsel and glitter. However, if you take a few lengths of tinsel and a handful of sparkly accessories, you will be able to wow everyone in the party with a beautifully decorated dinner table.

It is always an option to ask every member of the party to bring one item of decoration. Unveiling the collection of assorted decorations and arranging them around the villa could become an enjoyable and entertaining part of the celebration.


Nothing is more festive than after dinner games. They are a great way to extend the celebrations and to bridge the age gaps. Why not take a long a few simple games to play after dinner. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need pack heavy or cumbersome board games. With a little research, you may be able to simply take along a pack of cards, a pen and some paper and a few notes/prompts to remind you of a handful of games and their rules.

Of course, on a villa holiday at Christmas there is always a chance that you will be enjoying dinner outside on the sun terrace, by the pool or even down at the beach, so you may want to adjust your game selection accordingly.

Whether you play wink murder, spoons, charades or name that tune, you’ll have great fun and create many, many memories

If you need a little inspiration, there are countless suggestions for games online but here are a couple of links to get you going:

Table Place Names

Carefully prepared and packed in your luggage, a pile of festive place names for the dinner table will add a special touch to the big event and allow you to carefully adjust the seating plan to ensure harmony or hilarity.

Skype or Facetime

If you have any family members who can’t make it on your trip or friends at home that couldn’t come along with you for any reason, why not gather round an iphone, ipad or latop and call them up live on video with Skpe, Facetime or any alternative.

There are various ways to make video calls these days. But whatever method you choose, it is best to agree a precise time in advance and to be sure everyone in your party knows when it is happening. Make sure you make the call precisely at the agreed time and all should go to plan.

This is a lovely way to share the festive cheer, have some fun and to share a bit of love at the same time.


For some, cooking Christmas dinner seems like a military operation and an utterly unrewarding task. Whilst others thoroughly enjoy the hustle and bustle of the kitchen preparation and revel in the role of head chef and host.

If it is your thing, throw yourself headlong into the process and enjoy every minute.  But remember, there are no rules. You don’t have to produce the perfect, traditional Christmas dinner. This dinner is about the people and the connection between them.

Be prepared to break the rules and adjust the menu to make it easier for you to prepare and serve. It doesn’t really matter if you serve up burgers, pasta, seafood, curry or a beach barbecue buffet.

If cooking a big dinner is simply not your bag, why not consider the alternatives?

External catering may be an option in your villa. Whether you have food delivered or have dinner prepared by a visiting chef, it well be worth the additional cost.

Don’t forget that you can always book and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. In which case all the tips above still apply.

Whatever you choose to do, think things through carefully in advance and you will soon be enjoying your best Christmas ever together in a luxury villa in the sun.

Check out our range of ‘Family Party’ villas




Eebents On a Villa Holiday In Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda – Events In 2020

Antigua and Barbuda enjoy beautiful weather almost all your round and have enough beaches for you to visit a different one each day of the year without ever running out. That makes this sun-swept paradise the perfect place both to party, and to relax, which is why you’ll find there is always something going on.

With so much beautiful coastline, it is no surprise that many of the parties, events and celebrations are centred around yachting, boating and beaches. Here’s a year-round list of dates to add to your diary. But rest assured, whatever occasion fits in with your holiday or trip, the people of the Caribbean are always sure to give you a warm, friendly and enthusiastic welcome.



  • Helping Hand Foundation 6th Annual New Year’s Sports Classic: 5th January – 18th January 2020
  • Antigua Yacht Club ‘Round the Island’ Race: 18th January 2020   

  • Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge: (rowers begin arriving)
  • 5th Annual Sir Andy Roberts Community Spirit Day: 26th January 2020, Bolans Playing Field


  • Round Redonda Race: 12th February 2020

  • Jolly Harbor Valentine’s Regatta: 14th February – 15th February 2020

  • Antigua 360 Race: 21st February 2020


  • The Annual AUA Rohrman Antigua Triathlon: 7th and 8th March 2020

  • Superyacht Challenge Antigua: 11th March – 15th March 2020

  • SOOTHE: A Night of Neo-Soul, Jazz Rhythms and Spoken Words: 14th March 2020

(Tel: 268-732-7685)

  • Playing to Inspire 4 with the Duke Ellington School of Arts: 21 March 2020

Antigua & Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Kanneh- Masons

Venue TBC (Tel: 268-562-7600)

  • Antigua Yacht Club Annual Laser Open:


  • Antigua Class Yacht Regatta: 1st April – 7th April 2020

  • Antigua and Barbuda Horticultural Society Flower and Garden Show: 4th April 2020

(Tel: 268-463-2070)  

  • Good Friday- Easter: 10th April– 13th April 2020
  • Antigua & Barbuda International Kite Festival: 13th April 2020 Devil’s Bridge
  • Peters & May Round Antigua Race: 25th April 2020

  • The Annual Antigua Sailing Week: 26thApril -1st May 2020

  • GARD Centre’s Annual Farm to Table Benefit Luncheon: Gilbert’s Agro-Heritage Centre, Mercer’s Creek


  • Dockyard Day: 2nd May 2020

 Nelson’s Dockyard, (Tel: 268-732-6366)

  • Antigua to Bermuda Race: Begins in Antigua, 6th May 2020

  • Antigua and Barbuda Culinary and Bartending Competition: 8th May – 10th May 2020

  • Run in Paradise: Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K: 24th May 2020

  • Mikie Pigott Jr. Memorial Classic: 29th May 2020

  • Barbuda’s Caribana Celebrations: 29th May – 1st June 2020

  • Antigua and Barbuda Restaurant Week


  • ‘June is Romance Month’ Promotions

  • 29th Annual Whit Monday 4 x 1.5 Miles Road Relay & Walk: 1st June 2020

 Caribbean Union Bank Headquarters (Tel: 268-788-8783)

  • Showcase Antigua Barbuda: 10th and 11th June 2020

  • Antigua and Barbuda Yoga Week: 14th June – 21st June 2020

  • International Day of Yoga: 21st June 2020
  • Shiva’s School of Dance Annual Production: 20th June and 21st June 2020


  • Antigua and Barbuda Pineapple Mango Festival (PiAngo Fest): July – August 2020

  • 62nd Anniversary Celebrations of Antigua’s Carnival: The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival: 23rd July – 4th August 2020


  • The ‘Buy Local’ Arts and Craft Street Fair: John’s City
  • Carnival Monday: 3rd August 2020

  • Carnival Tuesday: 4th August 2020

  • Ounces Seafood Festival: 6th August 2020, Ounces Ice Cream Parlor & Grill, Parham

 (Tel: 268-562-4440 / 268-774-0047)

  • Urlings Seafood Festival: 8th August 2020
  • ABABW Federation Annual National Bodybuilding Championships: com/AntiguaBodybuilding (Tel: 268-778-9280)


  • 13th Annual Warriors Cup International Soccer Tournament & Youth Cup:

(Antigua & Barbuda Men’s and Women’s Club Team; Youth teams – U8, U10, U12, U14):

3rd September – 6th September 2020

(Tel: 268-786-0115; 268-562-6227/268-460-245

  • World Tourism Day: 27th September 2020
  • Francis Nunes Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament & Seafood Festival: 26th September – 27th September 2020


  • Antigua and Barbuda’s 39th Anniversary of Independence Celebration Events Begin
  • Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) Sports Tourism Tri20 Cricket Tournament: 4th October – 12th October 2019, Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium

(Tel: 1-268-562-7548)


  • Antigua and Barbuda’s 39th Anniversary of Independence: 1st November 2020
  • Antigua and Barbuda Independence Ceremonial Parade: 1st November 2020
  • Antigua and Barbuda Independence Food Fair: 1st November 2020
  • Jolly Harbour Yacht Club Annual Regatta:

  • Music for a Cause:


  • Antigua Charter Yacht Show: 4th9th December 2020

(Tel: 268-460-1530)

  • C. Bird Day: 9th December 2020
  • Gemonites Moods of Pan Festival:

(Tel: 268-464-5007)

  • Ana’s Restaurant Christmas Souk:

(Tel: 562-8562)  

  • Budget Marine Hightide Series:

  • Nelson’s Dockyard Christmas Day Champagne Party: 25th December 2020

  • Boxing Day Horseracing Meet: 26th December 2020, Codrington, Barbuda
  • Nelson’s Dockyard Old Year’s Night Party: 31st December 2020
  • Nelson’s Pursuit Race: Antigua Yacht Club 

Ongoing Events:

Seasonal Events:

  • Cricket Season: January – July
  • Netball Season: January – July
  • Volleyball Season: January – December
  • Horseracing Season: January – December
  • Basketball Season: February – July
  • Cycling Season – February – November
  • Turtle Watching Season – July – October
  • Football Season: August – February
  • Artisans Antigua Travelling Market
  • New Exhibitions at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda: throughout the year

For a list of the latest events, go to   

To find a villa in Antigua go to


Beautiful view from a villa in Antigua

All About Antigua


Villa holidays in antigua

Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.


On Antigua, life is a beach. It may seem like a cliché, but this improbably shaped splotch of land is ringed with 365 beaches of the finest white sand, made all the more dramatic by the azure waters, which are so clear they’ll bring a tear to your eye or a giggle to your holiday-hungry throat.

Meanwhile, the locals take the visiting mobs with a dash of grace that always has the backing of an English stiff upper lip should the situation get too dire. The island’s British roots are on display in many ways, but especially when there’s a good cricket test match on. Memories of the old empire, however, are far removed from the island’s beat, which has some of the liveliest steel-drum music in the islands.

Bordered on one side by the gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea and on the other by the rolling Atlantic Ocean, it has a coastline that has made it popular with beach-lovers and sailors alike.
Beach In Antugua


With 365 beaches to choose from, the country boasts that it has one for every day of the year. These range from tiny tucked-away coves to sandy open shorelines, while the island’s jagged inlets, bays and small harbours have given shelter to ships for hundreds of years.


Barbuda is one of those very few islands in the Caribbean that remains–and probably will remain for some time–so undeveloped as to seem positively deserted at times. With the exception of the guests of the island’s small number of accommodations, the population seems largely to consist of the graceful Fregata magnificens, or frigate bird. As the birds possess a marked preference for the northwest lagoon, Barbuda’s seemingly endless white and pink sand beaches are left to the peaceful wanderings of those lucky enough to sojourn here.


Temperatures generally range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September. Low humidity year-round.

Beach In Antigua


It would be difficult to overestimate the impact on Antigua’s history of the arrival, one fateful day in 1684, of Sir Christopher Codrington. An enterprising man, Codrington had come to Antigua to find out if the island would support the sort of large-scale sugar cultivation that already flourished elsewhere in the Caribbean. His initial efforts proved to be quite successful, and over the next fifty years sugar cultivation on Antigua exploded. By the middle of the 18th century the island was dotted with more than 150 cane-processing windmills–each the focal point of a sizeable plantation. Today almost 100 of these picturesque stone towers remain, although they now serve as houses, bars, restaurants and shops. At Betty’s Hope, Codrington’s original sugar estate, visitors can see a fully-restored sugar mill.


Antigua and Barbuda offer a mix of Caribbean culture, but with a nautical theme. The islands’ sailing heritage has left its mark, which is most noticeable during Antigua’s Sailing Week every April when the whole island gets into party mode.

But it’s music and sport that are the other main influences on the two islands.

Antigua is home to many of the Caribbean’s best steel bands and there are plenty of chances to see them in action, most notably at the Sunday night concerts at Shirley Heights or during the carnival celebrations.

But this isn’t all – there are also calypso bands and limbo dancing for the more athletic and many hotels and resorts put on evening shows which guests can take part in.

When it comes to sporting activities, cricket is the passion here and it is the national game of the islands.
It is played to the highest international standard and has made heroes out of home-grown players Sir Viv Richards and Richie Richardson who both captained the West Indies cricket team.

  • Antigua is one of the easiest places to get to in the Caribbean as there are so many flights to the island, with 11 weekly direct flights from London with British Airways & Virgin Atlantic.
  • This makes it ideal for families or travellers wanting to combine it with other islands as there are so many inter-island flights from Antigua.
  • Sunday “Jump up” at Shirley’s Heights is a most do for all visitors to the island
  • On Antigua it’s best to stay in the north if you regularly want to visit the shops and restaurants in the capital, St John’s.
  • Choose the hotel carefully as some properties are targeted at specific markets.
  • Antigua is steeped in culture and history with plenty of sightseeing opportunities. These include the capital St John’s, Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation, English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard.
  • Antigua is known for its 365 beaches – it also tends to get more sunshine than other Caribbean islands.
  • Recommend the catamaran trips, which are a great day out, or driving out and finding a beach that you can have all to yourselves.
  • The choice of water sports is excellent with diving, sailing and even kite-surfing. There are also attractions where visitors can swim with stingrays.
  • Try to visit Antigua during Sailing Week or Carnival to get a flavour of the parties and celebrations that are held across the island.
  • Tell customers to go to Shirley Heights on a Sunday evening for the excellent sunset concerts or “jump up”.
  • Affordable excursions- such as South Coast Horizons picnic and kayaking through the mangroves and a day on a private beach cost just £9 Adult and  £5 Child
  • With no minimum period of residency, getting married is easy and there are plenty of island hotel which specialise with dedicated co-ordinators
  • The Antiguan people are warm, friendly and extremely hospitable.

Check out our villas in Antigua here

Find forthcoming events in Antigua here


mosquitos in the medditeranean

How To Reduce The Risk Of Mosquito-Born Disease On Holiday

Diseases previously found only in the tropics have been discovered in European countries like Greece, France, Italy and Spain. A move that may concern those visiting Mediterranean beaches this summer.

The mosquito-borne disease include ‘Chikunguya’, a fever which causes fever and painful joints and ‘Dengue Fever’, a powerful flu-like virus. Whilst the risk of infection is still relatively low, travellers are being advised of the potential risk of mosquito bites and that they should take precautions to avoid them.

Here are a few simple tips to help you reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites whilst on your next holiday.

Avoidance of mosquito bites should always be considered the first line of defence against mosquito-borne infections.

There isn’t really a safe time

Different mosquitos bite at different times of the day. The mosquitos which spread malaria bite between dusk but the mostquitos which carry other diseases like Chikunguya and Dengue, tend to bite during the day.

Which means that bite-preventive measures are advisable at all times.

Insect Repellents

Although there are various insect repellents available , The NHS strongly recommend DEET N, N-Diethyl-m-tolumide above all others.

There are a few things to note about DEET.

  • A concentration of 20% DEET offers between 1 to 3 hours protection.
  • 30% DEET can offer up to 6 hours protection.
  • 50% DEET can offer up to 12 hours protection
  • Duration of protection DOES NOT increase with concentrations above 50%.
  • Concentrations above 50% should NOT be used on the skin
  • DEET is water soluble, so it must be reapplied after swimming
  • DEET induces a reduction in SPF, so a higher protection sunscreen should be used.
  • DEET should always be applied AFTER
  • DEET may damage man-made fibres, and plastics (watches, sunglasses, clothing).


Although they are not recommended above DEET by the NHS, Icaridin (Picaridin) and Lemon Eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8 diol, or PMD) may be used but their protection is not considered as effective or long-lasting.


Mosquitos cannot bite through loose fitting clothing so clothing which covers the skin is highly recommended where appropriate. Longs sleeves, high necklines and long skirts or trousers where possible. Exposed areas of skin should be covered with DEET (20% or above).

It is possible to buy clothing which is pre-treated with an insecticide which may further increase the level of protection. UK Travel Clothing brands Rohan and Craghoppers both have dedicated ranges of anti-insect clothing.

Mosquito Nets

Mostquito nets can offer enhanced protection from bites, particularly whilst sleeping. These can be even more effective if treated with an insecticide. Design and manufacture of nets varies, so it is important to check suitability, practicality and portability before you invest. Most nets are available as single or double bed options.

Remember that whilst mosquitos cannot pass through a net, they can bite through it. So don’t sleep with any part of your skin touching the net.

Room Protection

Check any door and window screens for holes and gaps. Try to keep the doors and screens closed at all times, not just at night.
Air conditioning can be an effective deterrent. Mosquitos are less likely to be attracted to a the room if it is.
Make sure any standing water is removed as it provides that perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.
Citronella Candles and plugin insecticide-emitting devices may have a small effect as an insect deterrent but they should never be relied upon on their own. Great care should be taken using candles indoors and they should never be used anywhere near loose clothing, soft furnishings or a mosquito net.
It should also be noted that candles, coils and plugins maybe trigger the symptoms of Asthma or other breathing conditions.

A Few Myths Busted

Finally, here are a few common fallacies that you should know the truth about:

  • Vitamins B1 and B12: There is no evidence that these vitamins do anything to repel mosquitoes.
  • Tea Tree Oil: There is no evidence that Tea Tree Oil is effective as a mosquito repellent.
  • Garlic and yeast extract: Whether taken orally or rubbed on the skin, there is no scientific evidence to suggest these do anything to repel mosquitos.

High Frequency Buzzers: Devices that emit high frequency sound waves, are completely ineffective against mosquitos. In fact, numerous companies selling these devices have been prosecuted and fined under the trade descriptions act.

Luxury Villa In Antigua

Night of Bliss at Blue Waters

TinaVilla Retreats’ travel expert Tina Moorcroft took a trip to Antigua to do a little research. As part of her trip she spent a night at Blue Waters, an exclusive luxury villa resort. Here Tina describes the experience in her own words.

I arrived at the idyllic tropical paradise at midday, after being greeted with a warm smile and a cool towel, I was whisked to The Palm restaurant for a spot of lunch.  Offering a Caribbean al fresco dining experience with the most perfect setting with views of the clear sea and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Luxury Villa In Antigua


Then it was off to view some of the properties on offer in this resort including Pelican House which can be split to either three or six bedrooms depending on your party requirements.  This villa has a private pool and patio and over looks the Caribbean Sea

There are also a variety of rooms available from a Superior Hillside Room which has twin or a king size bed and en suite; to a Cove Penthouse which features a separate living and dining area, kitchen and 3 en suite bedrooms.

Then next to the Spa at Blue Waters which is working alongside Elemis to provide a range of sumptuous treatments and a perfect place to relax and be pampered.

If you prefer a more active holiday then the gym is available with a variety of equipment and also accompanied runs or cardio lessons.

Not forgetting the children there is a fully staffed kids club and creche; which offers a whole range of activities to keep them occupied; even babysitting should you wish to have a romantic dinner in the four restaurants; there is something for everyone.

After a quick-change dinner was served in the Cove Restaurant with our host Gina who is the Executive Assistant Manager. Nothing was too much trouble and a delightful dinner was had by all.

After dinner; drinks and live music were available in the bar.  Most drinks are included apart from premium spirits & some cocktails, but details are provided on the bar menu.

After a long day; a wind down on the balcony of the Beach Front Room was required; watching the sun go down and the night sky fill with stars as far as the eye could see!

The next morning, I had the great pleasure of visiting Rock Cottage.  Nestled on the edge of the cove just a short walk from the main resort; this beautiful property had views to die for.  With a private terrace an infinity pool and five bedrooms, with views of the Caribbean Sea this place was out of this world.

This resort offers the privacy of a villa holiday with Pelican House, Turtle Cottage and Rock Cottage with the added bonus of all the amenities that are on offer in this luxury resort.

Definitely worth a visit!


Turtle Point Antigua

Five Great Reasons To Visit Antigua

If you fancy a trip to the Caribbean, Antigua should be right at the top of your list of places to visit.  Here are the five very good reasons.

  1. Beaches

Antigua Beach HolidayWith a different beach for every day of the year, Antigua has some of the best beaches found in the Caribbean, you are truly spoilt for choice!  As you are unlikely to have time to visit all 365 beaches, we’ve shortlisted our top sunbathing spots.

  • Dickenson Bay, located North of St John’s offers pristine white sand and shallow water which is perfect for families.  Head over to Sneaky Pete’s beach bar where you can hire sun loungers with snacks and drinks on offer.
  • Jolly Beach, located on the West coast offers a mile long stretch of sand on the waters of the Caribbean Sea.  Great selection of restaurants, water sports and amenities close by.  Have a bite to eat at Castaways, a laid back beach bar in a rustic setting.
  • Half Moon Bay, located on the East coast in a secluded spot.  A reef protects it from the full force of the Atlantic.  Take your own mask, snorkel, picnic and enjoy!


  1. Activities

Sailing in antiguaFancy sailing around the island in a day or whizzing over the rainforest canopy on a zip-line tour?  The selection of water and land-based activities in the Carribean is endless.

You can enjoy a family adventure, paddleboard in paradise on a remote Lagoon or choose to Scuba or Snorkel taking in the sights of the well-preserved coral reefs, and shipwrecks.  One of Antigua’s best-known offshore sites, Cades Reef, is now partly contained in a designated underwater park.

Visit Antigua’s landmarks on a self-guided cycling tour or join Trek Tours to view the most scenic and rewarding parts of Antigua.

If you are an adrenalin junky, hire a buggy and go for a drive along the off road trails.


  1. History

The Rich Maritime Hertiage in AntiguaLegend has it that when Columbus was near Redonda on November 11th 1493, he sighted the island and named it ‘Santa Maria de la Antigua’, supposedly after a chapel dedicated to a famous miracle-working virgin in Seville Cathedral, Spain. Antigua means ‘ancient’ in Spanish.

Nelsons Dockyard in the South dates from 1743 and is a good place to soak up the history of the Island. Within the English Harbour Area, it was preserved and restored to a National Park in 1985.

The yachts moored here are a sight to see especially during sailing week at the end of April.

cove restaurant antigua

  1. Cuisine

Antigua offers a wide variety or culinary options, from authentic Caribbean and specifically Antiguan dishes to those with a European influence.  Fish and shell fish are in abundance and you are likely to be served, Red Snapper, King Fish, Grouper, Swordfish, Lobster and Mahi Mahi.

Visitors to Antigua will find a varied and interesting choice of dining spots on the island from first-class, gourmet, to colourful waterfront cafés, beach bars and fast-food outlets.

Shirley Heights is the most southerly point on Antigua and the café and restaurant is famous for its Sunday night BBQ.

The choices are endless!


  1. Weather

Antigua BeachAntigua offers a warm climate all year round experiencing highs of over 30°C.  It is one of the driest of the Caribbean islands, with December to April being the dry season.

Get your sun cream ready your suitcase packed!

Find out more about our villas in Antigua here.







Jumby Bay Antigua

The Secret Of Jumby Bay

Luxury Holiday Travel Expert Holly BoothVilla Retreats’ travel expert Holly Booth took a trip to Antigua recently, taking time to visit the exclusive luxury holiday destination ‘Jumby Bay’. Here she gives us her views on this idyllic island in the sun which is home to an impressive list of celebrities.

Having heard Jumby Bay described as one of the most tranquil and picturesque of all the Caribbean islands, I’d been longing to pay it a visit. Two miles off the North Coast of Antigua, accessible only by a short boat ride, this secluded, self-contained paradise had an awful lot to live up to.

As I stepped barefoot from the teak deck onto the soft warmth of the wooden jetty, I sensed immediately that all I’d heard would prove to be true.  I was greeted by beaming smiles from the staff, who seemed genuinely delighted to welcome me to their tiny island paradise. Bubbling with pride, they took turns to introduce themselves as they presented luxuriously soft, pure white towels and an icy, fruit-laden cocktail.

My Jumby Bay experience had begun.

This unique island is completely car free, so I opted to explore by golf buggy. Which felt symbolic of both the pace of island life and its carefully maintained serenity.  My battery powered magic carpet swept gracefully between the palm trees as I cruised along the empty pathways exploring the island’s fifteen private villas, nineteen estate homes and of course the forty-room hotel.

Poinciana Villa Jumby Bay Antigua

My first stop was to drool over the impressive private villas.  Slack jawed, I stared longingly at the selection of luxury villas including Allamandra, Tortuga and Poinciana.  Contemporary, bright with a splash of tropical colour throughout, each a luxurious, tranquil hideaway perfect to escape the rigours and mounting anxieties of everyday working life.  From the outdoor bathtubs of Allamandra to the Caribbean inspired artwork of Tortuga, between them there was a villa perfect for anyone and everyone, with all these incredible homes-from-home united by the beauty of their individually mesmerising views.

Pure Turquoise was my next stop – an extraordinary Estate home. Designed by one of England’s most accomplished designers, built and furnished to the highest standards, this house has it all.

Pure Turquoise Villa Jumby Bay Antigua

Seven en-suite bedrooms (each with a sea front veranda), indoor and outdoor eating areas, beachfront gazebo, media and games room, a floodlit tennis court, basketball net, croquet lawn and Technogym fitness centre. Its own 200m stretch of private beach which plays home to Hawskbill turtles in the nesting season, along with a breath-taking 25m infinity pool that blends seamlessly into the sea.

As a travel professional, I have visited and viewed countless properties and I can honestly say Pure Turquoise is one if the finest properties I have ever seen.

Tearing myself away, I went on to enjoy a buffet lunch at the Veranda, which offers a great variety of delicious food including lobster quiche, fresh salads, selection of cheese, and an array of shamelessly mouth-watering deserts.

Adding to this quaint charm of this island retreat, a large amount of the produce on offer is grown on Jumby Bay’s own organic farm which has an orchard, a vegetable patch, a herb garden, and several chickens who wander the farm, providing fresh eggs daily in return for their stay.

Jumby Bay Farm

Finishing lunch, I retired to the soak up the sun. Sipping my mocktail, I relaxed and sat back to enjoy the shimmering afternoon sun, pausing only to consider which of the three crystal clear pools I would slip into first.

The swimming Pool at Jumby Bay Antigua

Of course, there were alternatives. For those with more of a taste for adventure, the water sports centre at Jumby Bay offers windsurfing, sea kayaking paddle boarding, sailing, as a well as water skiing, wakeboarding and of course scuba diving.

Saling at Jumby Bay Antigua

There is an equally impressive range of based activities on offer with a fitness centre, yoga sessions, three tennis courts and a fleet of bikes to hire so you can enjoy explore this peaceful island on two wheels.

Parents can easily enjoy a little down time by escaping to the Spa, whilst making the most of the nanny service, kids club or teen and youth activity sessions.

Jumby Bay Spa Antigua

In fact, this resort has something for everyone.  Whatever they offer, they offer it to the very highest standard – and they do it very well indeed.

As I finally stepped back from the motionless jetty to the gently -rocking teak-deck of the floating taxi, I nodded approvingly to the memory of Christopher Columbus, who discovered this remarkable island way back in 1493. Thanks to him, we can enjoy one of the most relaxing holidays in the modern world, at the island paradise of Jumby Bay.

Find out more about Jumby Bay Villas & Estate homes here

21 of the Best Things to Do in Antigua

Antigua is one of our favourite Caribbean islands because the weather is amazing all year round. The tropical climate means that it’s hot in every season, with highs of 31°C and above, and it rarely drops below 22°C.

It’s also a wonderful island destination for beach lovers. Pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters set the scene. So whether you’re taking a dip or basking in the sun, the island of Antigua is a beautiful beach paradise. In fact, there are 365 beaches on the island – that’s one for every single day of the year, so plenty to choose from.

But that’s not all. Antigua has so much more to offer, and there are so many exciting things to do during your stay. Book yourself into one of our luxury Antigua villas – and if you can tear yourself away from the pool, here are 21 of the best things to get up to.

Luxury Villas in Antigua

  1. Sunbathe at Dickenson Bay

There’s an unbelievable number of beaches here, so it’s hard to find the right one. But we think that Dickenson Bay should make it onto your list of favourites. Located north of St. John’s is a lovely strip of sand that’s pure white and so powder soft. The bay area is sheltered, making it ideal for an afternoon of sunbathing, and it makes a suitable spot for kids to play.

Restaurants and beach bars line the back of the beach, so you’ll never be too far away from somewhere to enjoy a spot of lunch or a couple of Pina Coladas. There’s a laidback vibe here, ideal for couples or families.

  1. Go kitesurfing

One of the best activities for adrenaline junkies on the island is kitesurfing. The warm Trade Winds blow here from December time through to August, making ideal conditions for the sport. Jabberwock Beach located at the north east corner is the perfect area to kitesurf, and you can get as high as 30 feet into the air.

With over a quarter of a mile in beach and a gentle curve, there’s plenty of room to practice at Jabberwock. This is one of the safest areas to learn the important skills of rigging, launching and landing your kite.


  1. Visit Nelson’s Dockyard

Located in English Harbour is Nelson’s Dockyard, a beautiful marine and cultural heritage site. It’s worth visiting just for a leisurely walk around. Stroll the streets and marvel at the 18th and 19th Century architecture, discover the lovely shops and boutiques, take photos of the dock, or join the hiking trails to get active and explore further inland.

Luxury Villa in Antigua

  1. Advantages of Private villas in Resorts

If you want the ultimate in Antigua luxury, we recommend booking a villa that’s set in the hills with views across the ocean. Nonsuch Bay Resort has exclusive villas that are tucked away for privacy, yet still close enough to the beach. The resort features 3 infinity swimming pools, a clubhouse restaurant and bar, and extensive water sport facilities including fantastic sailing opportunities, whilst the villa itself has its own private 20 x 12ft infinity pool. Enjoy 180° views of Ayers Creek and experience the Caribbean in style.

Likewise, the award-winning Blue Waters Resort offers three stunning private villas that allow for the ultimate in tranquillity and space, whilst still having easy access to the resort’s exclusive spa, 3 swimming pools, 4 restaurants and an abundance of water sport activities including free sailboat usage.

Luxury Antigua Villas

  1. Learn to sail

With hot tropical weather, Antigua is the perfect place for sailing. Chartering your own boat can be so much fun for families or large groups. It’s also a luxurious way of exploring the waters and different harbours of the island. Many of our luxury Antigua Villas even have sailing facilities and sailboat rental included!

If you don’t fancy chartering a boat yourself, why not arrive during Antigua Sailing Week and watch the exciting regatta from the shores? This is one of the most famous regatta events in the world. All the yachts setting sail is a wonderful sight to behold (bring your camera), and the atmosphere is always lively.

  1. Take a road trip

Road trip holidays in Antigua are a great way of seeing more of the island in a short space of time. Fig Tree Drive is the road that will take you into the Antiguan rain forest, or driving along the North Coast can be a good way of checking the island’s many beaches in one day. Some of the best beaches to visit up here are Jabberwock, Blue Waters, Runaway Beach and Fort James Beach.

If you are travelling with children, hiring a car can make it easy to get about. But be aware that not all the roads on the island are in good condition, so this is best suited to experienced drivers.

Antigua Views

  1. Swim with a stingray

Book an excursion with Stingray City and take a dip in crystal clear water, surrounded by sea turtles, squid and stingrays. The massive Southern Stingray can be found in abundance here, and you can get up close and touch them, feed them, and even hug them! Often labelled as the “puppy dogs of the ocean”, these creatures are super-friendly and love to get attention from humans.

  1. See the rainforest on a zipline

The Antigua Rainforest Zipline is one of the most adrenaline-pumping, pulse-racing ways you can experience the island’s rainforest region. The zipline courses range from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to witness the amazing flora and fauna below. The zipline adventure courses also feature wooden plank bridges and rope swings. And the grand finale, a 328 foot long zipline named ‘The Screamer’.

  1. Hike up to Shirley Heights

For one of the most incredible lookout points on the island, take the Carpenters Rock trail all the way up to Shirley Heights. This was once a military complex and military lookout, which is why it makes such a good vantage point for tourists. Put on your walking shoes, pack your camera, and start your trek at Freeman’s Bay or Galleon Beach.

Once you reach the top, you’ll have a panoramic view of the English Harbour below. You can watch the sunset here from 4pm to 10pm every Sunday, as there’s usually a barbecue and live music to welcome tourists and locals alike.

Luxury Villas in Antigua

  1. See the ‘Devil’s Bridge’

One of the most interesting rock formations to see during your stay is the ‘Devil’s Bridge’, a limestone arch that has been formed over hundreds and thousands of years. It is located on the island’s east coast, where waves from the Atlantic have crashed into the cliffs for centuries. Walk over the arch today and you will see geysers and blowholes below.

  1. Read a book at Darkwood Beach

If you’re looking for a quiet, secluded beach where you can read you book in peace, try Darkwood Beach along Antigua’s southwest coast. It has a lush green vegetation surround it, forming a cosy little area that’s hidden away from the world. Antigua as a destination rarely gets crowded, but if you really want to escape, this is the place to come.

The sand is soft and white, and chairs are available to rent from a stand nearby. Be sure to bring your hat and plenty of sun cream though – as there’s little shade on this stretch of sand.

Luxury Villas in Antigua with Pools

  1. Go shopping at Jolly Harbour

Jolly Harbour is one of the most popular resorts in Antigua, and it’s a bustling hub filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re looking for gifts or souvenirs, spend an afternoon here. You will find boutiques selling everything from local arts and crafts, and huge oil paintings, to children’s books. You’ll also find plenty of restaurant options at night, with local and international cuisine.

Our featured Sugar Ridge Resort is close by, with an amazing infinity overlooking the harbour area.
Luxury Villas in Antigua with sea views

  1. Try the Antiguan breakfast

Even if you’ve got a stylish villa with kitchen facilities, popping out for an island breakfast is a must. The Antiguan breakfast is like nothing you’ve tried before. It features salt fish which has been cured and then flaked into piece, sautéed onions and peppers, plantain, hard boiled eggs, avocado and salad, and a vegetable mash of pumpkin, eggplant and spinach. It can be served with Johnny cakes (a sweet fried bread), which is ideal for mopping up the juice. For Caribbean food newbies, we promise that it tastes much better than it looks or sounds.

  1. Go out for jerk chicken

Jerk chicken is a staple in the Caribbean Islands, and anyone who comes here simply has to try it – it’s like a traveller’s rite of passage in Antigua. Coated in spices and slow cooked over a grill or fire, there’s no chicken in the world that’s tastier. It does have a spicy kick, but it’s often mild enough for all taste buds and is a hit with young children too.

Some of the best places to try jerk chicken include Sandra’s at English Harbour, Coconut Grill at Jolly Beach, The Nest at Jolly Harbour, and Dennis Cocktail Bar and Restaurant at Ffryes Beach.

Luxury holidyas in Antigua

  1. Party at English Harbour

Want to experience Antiguan nightlife and immerse yourself in the local cocktail scene? There’s always something happening on this island. Head to the English Harbour and you will find many late night bars to dance the evening away. Like the rest of the Caribbean, Antiguans have a taste for rum. So be sure to try all the familiar rum cocktails, such as Caribbean Rum Punch and Frozen Rum Runners.

  1. Take a sunset cruise

Boat tours are a great alternative to sailing if you don’t want to charter your own boat into the sea. Book a sunset cruise and you’ll be able to enjoy the most jaw-dropping views as the sun sets over the horizon. Trips to Cades Reef are popular for both snorkelling and sunset combined, and tours usually include lunch and drinks when you’re on board.

  1. Go snorkelling at Long Bay

Spend the day exploring the colourful sea creatures swimming around at Long Bay. This area is one of the best and safest places to have a snorkel. The water is nice and clear so visibility is good, and the waters are calm enough for just simply taking a leisurely dip. The beach itself is stunning, with a laidback vibe to suit every kind of beach goer. It’s the ideal balance for people who want to enjoy relaxing beach time, but also want access to nearby bars and restaurants.

Sea views in Antigua

  1. Walk around St John’s

If you’re looking for something different than relaxing on the beach, why not visit one of the island’s many towns? St. John’s is often overlooked as a destination, and it’s less distinguished than some of the more popular areas. But a visit to St. John’s is still worth it, especially for the Antigua and Barbuda Museum. Inside, the gallery space is dedicated to the history of the islands so it’s a great place to learn more about the country’s past. Look through ancient artefacts, colonial objects and modern memorabilia related to Antiguan culture.

  1. See the plantation at Betty’s Hope

This historic site dates back to the 1650s, when English settlers discovered that the island had fertile soil for raising crops. This plantation is an important part of the island’s history and a sobering reminder of the long history of slavery.

The area has been restored and some of the original windmills now stand. Pop into the on-site visitor centre too, where there’s an interesting showcase of some of the original tools used by the slave workers at the time.

  1. Visit neighbouring Barbuda

Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda is a wonderful daytrip if you want something a little more off the beaten track. Barbuda has a tiny population in comparison, and is largely undeveloped. The entire island is fringed with glorious sand and offers vast space and remote beaches. Go to the island’s large lagoon area, which is popular with visitors and be sure to visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary too.

Luxury Villas in Antigua

  1. Enjoy a sea view BBQ

Fish fry events and beach barbecues are extremely popular in the Caribbean. With access to so much fresh fish, delicious lobster and juicy prawns, it’s no surprise that the locals love to dine al fresco. If you want to throw your own barbecue party, with a little more privacy, hire one of our luxury pool villa with BBQ facilities included.

Our stunning villa at Willoughby Bay is the perfect place to cook up a storm outdoors. There’s a great pool and patio area, with mind-blowing panoramic views overlooking the sea and a private beach.

Luxury Villas in Antigua with pool

The Sun is Still Shining for Villa Retreats!

So the traditional “summer” (if we can call it that!) is over, and with it comes the thought of long, cold nights, miserable rain and layering up to avoid the harsh elements of a UK winter. You may be thinking you should put away thoughts of lazing by the swimming pool, strolling along a beautiful sun-kissed beach and al-fresco dining under clear starry skies for another year, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Continue reading