After a stylish 20 million dollar renovation, the Malliouhana remains the ne plus ultra of Caribbean hotels. It is perched on a bluff overlooking Meads and Turtle Bays; their two private beaches and an endless turquoise sea in Anguilla. When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt want to relax and get away from the paparazzi, they gather up their kids and head here. Brangelina, Tom Cruise and Kelly Ripa have all called the Malliouhana home at one time or another since it opened in 1984. “We dialed in the spirit of how people in the ’50s and ‘60s traveled – yachts, fine linens and exotic wonderment,” said interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan, who was selected to redesign this classic grand dame by Auberge Resorts. Although Anguilla is less flashy then St. Barths, you will still find Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Uma Thurman, Derek Jeter and Robert De Niro on one of this islands 33 breathtaking swaths of sand. Over the holidays you could have heard Paul McCartney singing as he strolled around the Malliouhana’s 25 lushly landscaped acres or glimpsed Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep talking shop over dinner in the hotel’s storied restaurant. Although traffic has picked up a tad over the last 10 years, as there are now six traffic lights instead of one, you will experience all the things you would expect in paradise: blue skies, warm waters, cool breezes, tantalizing food and honest hospitality.
The Jet Set
It’s a quick trip to Anguilla on your G6 or just take Jet Blue to St. Maarten like I did. Be sure and have the Malliouhana’s concierge order a speed boat that’s available steps off the tarmac; it will whisk you to the hotel in under 30 minutes. Riding the waves, with the wind tousling your hair, immediately connects you to island life. As I jumped off the boat and felt the sand between my toes, all my tensions melted away. The porters followed us into the sea with our bags balanced on their heads and a jeep took us to the top of the cliff where the Malliouhana sits in isolated splendor. A series of cathedral like arched rooms, that frame the multiple blue hues of the Caribbean, led us down through two comfortable lounges to the reception desks. Michael J. Fox, Ellen DeGeneres and Shaquille O’Neal are among those who have chosen to stay in one of the hotel’s 55 capacious rooms. Our living room had its own bar and, if you brought the kids, there’s another bedroom available right next door. The bedroom’s décor was a melody of pale blue and crisp white, cozy seating, colorful rugs, vintage photographs and objet d‘art. The sleek bathrooms proved big enough for the whole family. We also had two expansive porches to call our own with bright orange hammocks to nap in, a lower terrace which we used to drink champagne on and watch the sun take its last fiery dip into the horizon and a grass lawn that reminded us we weren’t floating on a cloud. This was an elegant, curated and memorable moment.
Everything is Perfect
Why not plan your activities in Anguilla ahead of time, because the secret is out the sailing here is yar and the winds are heaven-sent. Rent a catamaran and tell the captain to sail around the island and soak up the scenery. Don’t want to duck when the crew yells fore? Rent a cabin cruiser and go swimming and snorkeling in the picturesque coves and caves. The jagged cliffs turn gold in the sun and the reefs are swarming with fish. Watch the pelicans swoop down to snatch their lunch and, when you’re hungry, tell the captain to put down the anchor at one of the charming water side restraints. At the Malliouhana there are two fresh water infinity pools, one for laps another for lounging with a piña colada as you bask in the sunshine. Dramatic black and white stripped cabanas are poolside for those who prefer the shade. Want privacy? The hotel has its on beach that looks like a fantasy postcard. The pool boy will set up your chaise lounge and bring the hotel’s signature orange towels and a yellow umbrella to nap under as the waves lull you to sleep. The staff at the Malliouhana likes to say, “Everything is perfect.” And I whole-heartedly I agree.