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Spa & hotel review: Curtain Bluff, Antigua

Hannah Doherty books in for an Ultimate De-Stressor treatment at Curtain Bluff spa

Setting
From the moment the plane touches down in Antigua, I feel like I’m experiencing the world through some kind of all-sensory Instagram filter: the steel band in the arrivals hall, the aquamarine sea and golden sands in the distance as we leave the airport; the pastel-hued homes lining dusty roads; the expanse of forested hills — and all of it bathed in the golden glow of the afternoon sun.

Just a half-hour’s drive away, Curtain Bluff Resort is perched above the Caribbean Sea on a cliff woven with hibiscus-lined paths and edged by two sun-bleached beaches. Bay Beach, to the west, is dotted with palms and shaded sun loungers and is gently lapped by glassy waters. Across the outcrop lies Surf Beach, with waves crashing onto the white sand and hammocks swaying in the sea breeze.

Clambering out of the car, I barely have time to register the wall of heat that hits me; the staff have leapt into action, expertly manoeuvring my bags from my clasp while handing me an ice-cold Caribbean rum punch — all the kick I need to wake me from this post-flight, sun-drunk haze.

Sleep
Situated right on the edge of Surf Beach, my spacious suite is light and airy — and the close proximity to the shore allows for a real taste of island luxury: a private patio leads straight onto the sand, and floor-to-ceiling French windows offer uninterrupted views of the seascape.

Back indoors, the bed and settee are piled high with cushions in soft blues and sea greens; freshly picked crimson flowers are laid out on the bedspread and on towels in the bathroom, which boasts a vast bubble bath and shower and is decked out in rich golds and creams.

Come evening, the sea breeze wafts in through the screen door as the cooling hum of the ceiling fan and the hiss of the waves lull me into a deep slumber.

Eat
Forget any preconceptions you may have about dining at all-inclusive resorts: this is fine dining at its best. Curtain Bluff’s two restaurants — the terraced Tamarind Tree and the beachside Seagrape — serve a mixture of local and international fare, and — hell-bent on eating my way through as much seafood as I can manage — I spend my evenings gorging on seared tuna, snapper fish, scallops and mahi mahi. The food is mouth-wateringly tasty, the live music adds an infectious buzz and the wine flows freely all night.

Breakfasts are a lighter affair: I snack on homemade banana bread and fresh fruit and languidly sip on milky coffee in a sunny corner of the Tamarind Tree’s terrace. On Sundays, breakfasts are enjoyed Antigua-style, with plates piled high with pumpkin fritters, roasted snapper fish and vegetable stew.

Spa
After spending a few days taking full advantage of the resorts’ all-inclusive watersports options, from a vigorous aqua aerobics class to trying (and failing) to master water-skiing, my muscles feel like they’ve taken a pummelling. In need of some TLC, I book an Ultimate De-Stressor treatment at the spa, a 60-minute, full-body massage.

I’m curled up on a lounger on the spa’s roof terrace, sipping on a fresh lemongrass tea and watching ominous-looking clouds roll over the sea. Built on the edge of the bluff, surrounded by lush greenery, the spa offers spectacular views, with the near-panoramic seascape obstructed only by the occasional palm frond.

As the first raindrops begin to fall, my therapist, Cheryl, arrives to lead me to a cosy treatment room with a huge ocean-view window. With music softly playing, rain pattering on the glass and the sweet scent of the energising oil filling the room, Cheryl begins to knead my body from top to toe. I’ve asked for hard pressure, and she delivers just the right balance of firm hand and gentle touch — the knots in my back are soon gone, and my slightly sunburnt skin soothed by the moisturising oil. After an hour of bliss — passing in what feels like an instant — Cheryl shifts the bed into a sitting position before exiting the room, leaving me perfectly positioned to stare dazedly out to the ebbing, flowing waters.

Couples should try the signature Caviar and Champagne Massage, an indulgent treatment that ends with a bottle of bubbly being tantalisingly poured all over your freshly pampered skin.

Highlight
Make the most of Antigua’s rich marine life with a boat trip to Cades Reef for a spot of snorkelling in dazzlingly clear water. With the morning sun warming every inch of my body, I float dreamily through the calm waters, spotting unspoiled coral, brightly coloured fish, scuttling crabs and even a lone stingray slipping along the seabed.

Essentials

Curtain Bluff offers deluxe rooms, all-inclusive, from $820 (£616) plus 22.5% taxes per night, based on two adults sharing.

curtainbluff.com


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