Antigua: Sun de-luxe

Enjoying the water sports at St. James's Club, Antigua.

Enjoying the water sports at St. James's Club, Antigua.

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Nestled among honeymooning couples and excited families, Albertina Lloyd laps up the sun on the popular Caribbean island of Antigua.

As we drop anchor in an idyllic empty bay, just around the coast from Antigua’s bustling Falmouth Harbour Marina, and dive off the boat, I feel like I’m in a James Bond film.

Then when I’ve swum to the nearby sandy beach and dried myself down, out of the bushes appears a smiling stranger in a bikini carrying cups. “Would you like some rum punch?” she asks.

As I’m made to feel welcome by these tourists camping right by the beach, I now feel I’ve truly landed in this Caribbean tropical paradise, and sit enjoying their fire, watching a wild pig they’ve befriended snuffle around their tent for scraps.

The scene is so romantic, I’m almost reluctant to leave. But the champagne and food served on our boat back to the hotel lures me away.

Antigua is famous for its beautiful beaches, friendly atmosphere and gorgeous weather, so my boyfriend and I decided it would be the perfect place to unwind.

The island’s lovely warm temperature remains fairly constant all year round (dipping only slightly in winter) so we knew we’d have nothing to fear on the weather front, and as we wandered hand in hand along the beach watching the sun set on our first night, it was easy to see why so many people choose this no-fuss luxury for their post-wedding break.

The island boasts a myriad of accommodation options, from super-luxe hotels to all-inclusive package resorts, and I decided to book us into a couple of different kinds to keep life interesting.

ST JAMES’S CLUB

This all-inclusive beach resort is perfect for couples, families and singles, with a bucketful of entertainment and activities on hand.

It also offers honeymoon and wedding packages, and one morning, as we lie side by side on silver sand under the shade of a coconut tree (sipping more rum punch) we see a bamboo gazebo which has been erected at the end of the beach for a wedding. In the distance even the wilted pink flowers of a ceremony gone by look romantic in the tropical setting.

Life at this resort is mainly spent adjusting to the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere, alternating between dips in the sparkling water and trips to beach bars for cocktails to cool off from the sunshine, as we lounge around enjoying each other’s company.

As the sun slips behind the trees, we head back to the luxury of our Royal Suite to change for dinner.

With an enormous bed, sitting room area, beach-view balcony and bathroom that seems bigger than our flat at home, it’s an inviting place to put your feet up after a hard day lazing in the sun.

On the other side of the complex are a number of villas called the Reef Suites. These have stunning views and self-catering facilities, able to accommodate couples, groups or families, but aren’t advertised in the hotel brochures, so try requesting them when making a booking and you might get lucky.

If you think you’ll get bored of lying around in the sun with a book and a cocktail, there are activities including pedal boats, windsurfing, sailing on small catamarans and tennis. Or for those who really need help letting go of work, a spa.

And for keen fishermen, the resort even has its own deep-sea fishing boat, the Susie Q, on an 18-slip marina.

GALLEY BAY

Anyone who really wants to get away from it all in Antigua should head to Galley Bay, an adults-only hotel which feels very intimate.

Set in its own bay between a lagoon and a stretch of sand, the beach-front suites and open-air Gauguin Cottages with private plunge pools are set in beautiful gardens, and the resort feels like a well-kept secret.

This all-inclusive resort has everything St James’s Club has to offer, but with an added feeling of peace and quiet, crucial for that romantic getaway. The resort will even arrange boat trips for couples to picnic alone on a private beach around the coast, which is especially handy if someone’s planning to pop the question.

A tour of Antigua is a bit like a tour of Hollywood Boulevard as we pass Eric Clapton’s house, Jean-Paul Belmondo’s old mansion, the home of Armani and Timothy Dalton’s beach pad.

But by the end of the holiday we have stopped looking for things to do outside the hotel and taken up residence on our sunbeds under a tree, carefully positioned between the sea and the bar.

Becoming a beach bum in Antigua certainly helped me to relax and spend time with my boyfriend, while not worrying about work. Maybe sometimes sun, sea and sand are all you need.

TRAVEL FACTS

* Albertina Lloyd was a guest of Kuoni Travel which offers seven nights’ all-inclusive in a club room at St James’s Club, Antigua, from £1,245 in June, including transfers and return Virgin Atlantic flights ex-Gatwick. Connecting BA flights from Manchester and Glasgow start at £40 return.

* Kuoni reservations: 01306 744 444 and www.kuoni.co.uk

* For further resort information visit www.stjamesclubantigua.com and www.galleybayresort.com

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