It is not uncommon for beach resorts to market themselves as ‘paradise,’ especially in the Caribbean. But it’s an accurate way to describe Jumby Bay – a private, 300-acre island off the coast of Antigua, accessible only by boat. The luxury experience begins the moment you step off the plane, as dedicated airport staff greet guests with the implied importance of diplomats, expediting the customs process. From there, an SUV whisks you down to a private marina where a glossy catamaran is waiting to cruise over to the island. On arrival, you’ll be welcomed with a rum punch that is so strong, you’ll forget you haven’t had to touch your luggage since landing.
Logistics are not your concern at Jumby Bay; everything is taken care of. You won’t even need to sign a check, since everything is included in the rate, from Barbudan lobster and Moet & Chandon Champagne to a variety of motorized watersports than can be booked at a moment’s notice. Also included is a kids’ club, with an extensive schedule of activities from farm tours to sports and science classes, where young minds can be entertained for hours on end, allowing parents to have an actual holiday.
But on to the spectacular, postcard-worthy scenery. There are crystal clear waters and pearly-white sand beaches framed by majestic palm trees and bougainvillea in a rainbow of rosy hues. Every design element is styled to showcase the tropical splendor in a way that feels traditional yet polished: there are bamboo umbrellas lining the beach with plush white sun loungers, grand colonial architecture, and each year, the interiors are refreshed with local art, culturally significant symbols, and modern furniture. All the requisite resort leisure facilities are glossier than usual, with three infinity pools, three tennis courts, and a well-equipped gym.
For an al fresco workout where you can immerse yourself in the pristine environs, bicycles are parked outside each of the suites, with tricycles for toddlers, and built-in baby seats for families. Or, if you’re inclined for some action on the water, venture over to 22 Knots, Jumby Bay’s Water Sports Center, and book wakeboarding, waterskiing, or tubing. Snorkeling and diving tours are also available, as are kayaks, paddleboards, wind surfers, and sail boats.
On select days, guests can join an island circumnavigation tour, which explores the other side of the island, where most of the palatial residences are located, owned by some of the world’s most renowned industry titans. Some residences and villas can be rented out and are essentially their own hyper-private resorts, with swim-up bars, butlers, chefs, and multiple rooms.
For such an exclusive, supremely luxurious enclave, the vibe is surprisingly unpretentious. Guests are mainly British and American, all very friendly with impeccable manners. And socializing is subtly encouraged, with a calendar of events including a White Night Beach Barbeque, sunset rose on the sandbank with a DJ, and dinner at the island’s farm, hosted in a rustic, convivial setting on picnic tables.
For more of a fine dining affair, the Estate House is excellent, located in a heritage building that is bursting with old-world charm. A piano player sets the scene, and entering though the grand, mosaic-painted 1830 Bar always prompts guests to pull out their camera. On the menu, you’ll find local, seasonal fare including dishes like scallops with Iberico chorizo and green gazpacho, red wine cured steak, and parmesan souffle. Vintage Champagnes from Veuve Clicquot, Krug, and Louis Roederer are available alongside a selection of wine from the world’s most revered wine regions. Cocktails are also excellent here and are as refined as anything that you would find in a chic metropolitan cocktail bar, like Bemelman’s or Le Fumoir – a contrast from the pina coladas that you’re likely to be consuming on the beach.
During the day, the dining scene is decidedly more casual: breakfast is typically served at the Veranda restaurant (buffet and a la carte), and most guests head to the Pool Grille for lunch. Each restaurant boasts panoramic views of the glittering blue sea and offers extensive menus that are sure to appease the most discerning palettes. For lunch, you’ll find Caribbean classics like conch fritters, octopus, and sweet plantain served with Tiki cocktails and a variety of Casamigos margaritas. Or, if you would prefer to remain on the beach, island-style cuisine like fresh crudites and soft-shell crab sliders can be ordered to your sun lounger.
There is indeed a lot to do outside, but if you’re seeking some extra rejuvenation, book into the spa, where a variety of treatments are available, ranging from Tata Harper facials (appropriately natural and free of any chemicals), or a lymphatic massage, performed by an expert therapist. The lemongrass-scented space instills an instant sense of calm, with a soundtrack of waterfalls flowing and birds chirping.
As for the rooms, there are options to suit all travelers: larger villas for multigenerational groups, pool suites that are ideal for couples and families, and recently refurbished ocean view suites with indoor and outdoor baths and showers, stylish entertaining spaces, and ultramodern décor. The high-beamed ceilings add to the sprawling sense of space and the color palette is a serene mix of fresh white and blues, complimenting the serene surroundings.
Everything at Jumby Bay has been designed to showcase Antigua in the very best light, and the upgrades have been ongoing since Oetker Collection took over the property from Rosewood in 2017. The German-owned hospitality group has a way of elevating properties into the most stunning representations of a destination: there’s the legendary Hotel du Cap in Antibes – the epitome of French Riviera elegance, the opulent Le Bristol in Paris, and the buzzy new Hotel La Palma in Capri. Jumby Bay serves as an example of the ultimate Caribbean beach resort, with everything that you could want and absolutely nothing that you don’t.