Jumby Bay occupies part of a 300-acre private island found two miles off the coast of Antigua. Despite the isolated location, the island is surprisingly accessible – a short drive and a private catamaran hop takes guests from Antigua airport to the resort in under half an hour. On arrival, it’s customary for guests to be greeted with a cold towel and a rum punch to help them ease into the seriously laid-back ambience of a resort that describes itself as “a soul-soothing retreat”.
The resort is situated in a former island sugar plantation, with the original classic Spanish colonial plantation house dating back to 1830 housing the resort’s ‘Estate House’ restaurant. Accommodation consists of a 40-room hotel which underwent full refurbishment in 2009 and private villa accommodation which can be rented.
Jumby Bay promotes a relaxed and extremely civilised house-party feel, with its own brand of luxury; a hippie-inspired take on traditional Caribbean opulence. The resort’s “worry-free rate policy” removes the need to sign for services as the vast majority are included, even house wines and an unlimited open bar. Use of sailing boats and snorkels, the croquet set, fitness centre, and sunset cocktail cruises are all available gratis. No need to remember your room key either, as the resort dispenses with them – though rooms lock from the inside, and all have safes. A sense of peace pervades all parts of the resort with its absence of cars – golf buggies and bikes are the way to get around, and the noisiest islanders are the entertaining little yellow-breasted bananaquit finches. It only takes about 20 minutes to cycle around the island – the perfect way to explore the island’s white sand beaches and inspect the curious black-and-white sheep, introduced in the 18th century.
Elegantly-designed accommodation offers guests their own secluded hideaway. Rondavel-style suites have separate bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms with a large walk-in shower and private outdoor gardens with rain showers. Suites are enclosed by an enveloping terrace with sea views and a hammock for wiling away the hours in luxurious idleness. Pool suites are for those who seek grandiose luxury. An entry courtyard is accessed through an antique privacy gate, leading to a grand living area with a vaulted ceiling. A separate master bedroom has a spacious bathroom and the private outdoor garden has a rain shower and tub and private pool.
The recent refurbishment programme gave Jumby Bay a purpose-built spa for the first time. With a serene oceanfront setting, the ‘Sense’ spa offers an elegant, open-air sanctuary in beautiful natural surroundings. Spa services are inspired by the island’s local traditions and abundant natural resources, including de-stressing treatments using warmed bamboo and healing oils made from the local ‘neem’ tree.
The aforementioned ‘Estate House’ restaurant offers Mediterranean-inspired fine dining with the menu’s highlights including ‘palm heart salad’, lobster risotto and ‘crisped whole island fish’. ‘The Verandah’ is both a restaurant and a bar, with newly added beach-side dining for a toes-in-the-sand elegance. Cuisine is a mix of Caribbean and European featuring freshly caught seafood, meats, and salads.
Many visitors arrive on the island of Jumby Bay with ideas of planned visits across to the main island of Antigua. Very few make a start on that list, preferring instead to luxuriate in the resort, only returning to the main island to reluctantly depart for home. Visit between April and November and you may catch a rare glimpse of the protected Hawksbill turtles that lay and hatch their eggs on Pasture Beach – resort guests can request a call when the hatchlings start their night-time walk into the waves. The discerning turtles choose wisely, delivering their young to the utterly safe and super-relaxed beach sanctuary of Jumby Bay – a perfect secluded hideaway with impeccable service and luxury facilities.