April 30, 2012- Day One
My journey to Antigua began bright and early this morning as the car service picked me up at 4:30 a.m. Of course, I was ready to go. JFK-Antigua was a non-stop flight to heaven! Direct from New York JFK and still on Eastern Standard Time, take a left at Cuba, pass over Haiti and land in a magical oasis!
As soon as I stepped off the plane, I regretted not wearing shorts! The warm, balmy air immediately took the dampness from my bones! Yep, I was in paradise, and I could smell the salty sea air calling my name like a proper old English friend. After quickly going through customs, I was greeted by an extremely friendly islander from the Office of Tourism. He took me to The Inn at English Harbour where we drove down a lane flanked by beautiful bougainvilleas and hibiscus.
I checked in, took in the breathtaking views, and made my fantastic suite Mar Central. Perfect, as they even had business cards made for me with my name, hotel and local phone number. I’m ready to rock, so tonight I’ll explore the grounds, walk on the beach, watch the sunset, have a fabulous dinner and a MARtini, and enjoy the 85 degree weather!
Discover the photos of my suite on my Facebook profile. Tune in daily to this continuing post as I document my daily activities and fun-in-the sun.
And there you have it – for today!
May 1, 2012- Day Two
May Day! May Day!
All aboard! My day began early as I met up with my host, Dean Fenton, from the Department of Tourism in the city of St. John’s, ready for a fun-filled day on “Mystic”, the largest catamaran I ever did see! This would be a snorkeling and sunbathing journey, while being served some of the yummiest cocktails in the world. The Captain’s Special was made with coconut, rum and who knows what else “Ò I did not care! I took in the experience as any seasoned reporter would! I was an island guest and would never want to upset the Captain of any ship. And can you believe it: there was an elaborate buffet complete with an onboard barbeque! Unlike my older brother, who is an avid competitive sailor in California, my sailing experience extends only to owning the right outfits. I can look the part but that’s about it. However, the captain and his crew made me feel comfortable and were quite attentive to this landlubber’s needs!
I was thrilled to explore the corals beneath the beauty of the rich blue sky. I was in search of Nemo; but what I found was his whole high-school reunion. I had nothing to “coral” about. I took a moment to float and acknowledge the moment and capture in my mind forever this unique blessing.
I returned to the hotel excited at the prospect of a lobster dinner, only to realize that I am as RED as a lobster! Note to self: SPF 12 does not work for my fair skin. What was I thinking!
Antigua is the Las Vegas of the Caribbean: I just found out that you can get married here without proof of residency “_ I’m in trouble as I love the island, love the people and I’m a relationship type of guy!
Continue to follow the pictorial experience on my social media profiles.
And there you have it “Ò for today!
May 2, 2012- Day Three
Taking in the “Rays.”
The more time that goes by while I’m here, the more I find reasons to stay. Antigua romances its visitors with endless sunshine and delightful breezes all built on a deep history that makes one proud to discover such an island. The beaches are just the beginning as today I discovered Antigua’s deep sailing heritage. This week is the 45th annual Antigua Racing Regatta, which began in 1967 with only ten boats; today it has more than 200 entries! So, to understand why this is one of the biggest Regattas on the international sailing circuit, I went back in time to Nelson’s Dockyard. Originally built in the 17th century, it is strategically unique as it provides excellent protection from Mother Nature’s hurricanes. In the early 18th century the British Royal Navy also realized that English Harbour was able to provide a safe haven for its fleet from the French Navy. Currently, the dockyard is one of Antigua’s most beautiful national parks housing a vast array of shops, restaurants and an intriguing maritime museum. It is the most calm, unspoiled and protected harbor in the Caribbean.
One if by land, and two if by sea: this is my second day on the water since my arrival. I was driven to the village of Seatons, and a short boat ride on the calm waters took me to Stingray City where I leaped into the clear blue Caribbean to feed and pet the enormous stingrays. Unsure of what to expect from this unique experience, I was pleasantly surprised by their friendliness and willingness to be petted. Their bellies are smooth and silky and their backs are inclined to be “prehistoric” to the touch. With squid in hand, I soon became their new best friend. Incredibly enough, these delightful creatures will forever be engraved in my mind.
So, the islanders are great and so are the fish! Can this trip get any better? What will come of tomorrow? I’m sailing and taking in the rays now that I have my SPF 30 of course.
Make sure you follow the pictorial experience on my social media profiles! It’s all good, Mon!
And there you have it – for today!
Day Four-May 3, 2012
Sailing Inn “_
This morning I was off to follow the races at the regatta. I left the Inn early for a yachting class hosted by the folks from On Deck Caribbean Tour who were incredibly thorough in providing the nomenclature (a fabulous term I learned today!) regarding the ins and outs of the vessel. Quite frankly, I felt like Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island “Ò and I was so hoping that there wouldn’t be a pop-quiz when we docked! The rolling waves were over 9-feet high, and I felt that a tsunami was invading my stomach. Luckily for me, a fellow passenger, my new-found Avatar, was turning putrid shades of green before my very eyes, and when the captain asked if she would like to be rescued, my inside voice was screaming “Please say yes!” She didn’t disappoint me and when she whispered “Yes, please,” I rejoiced! Here’s what I know: I love boats, I love the nautical look, I love the water, I love the beach, I love making a splash — but put them all together on the high seas and this man is MARserable! My Californian brother would be appalled because he would have savored each and every moment. A dinghy for the ding-dongs who couldn’t handle it soon appeared on the horizon as the S.O.S. was heard far and wide. We did not disrupt the group TOO much, but made a hasty disembarkation via the stern.
I returned to my beautiful sanctuary at the resort — in desperate need of a shower and wardrobe change. Our media group was scheduled for lunch with Susanna and Enzo, the Italian owners of the charming, historical Inn at English Harbor. Knowing that the Italians are into superb design aesthetics, I wanted to put my best sandal forward. I was honored to be seated next to Susanna, and I immediately felt that we were kindred spirits. This was heaven: not only was I enjoying world-class accommodation; but I was meeting the very couple who make all of this happen.
The Inn at English Harbor is one of those places that can quickly become your home away from home. Perfectly situated on nineteen blissful acres, this magnificent and MARvelous hotel is like no other. You are in with the “in” when you check into the inn! I’m checking in and the only checking out I’ve been doing is absorbing all the finishing touches, details and services this resort has to offer: tennis, swimming, water-sports — or a lazy afternoon under a gazebo. Not bad for a guy at work!
Fabio, the longtime General Manager at the inn (and known to me only as Fabulous Fabio) will personally welcome you and make sure that paradise is everything you want it to be — and then some. So, if you are getting married, honoring a birthday, taking a holiday, or merely celebrating the opening of a new toilet seat — whatever the reason may be, large or small, the sMARt thing to do is to pack your bags and head on over to The Inn at English Harbour. Don’t harbor this idea — just do it!
Follow today’s pictorial journey on my social media profiles.
And there you have it — for today!
Day Five- May, 4, 2012
It was a good morning for me, as I was asked to be a guest on a live television program, Good Morning Antigua Barbuda, the Caribbean equivalent to The Today Show. Dereda Samuel Whitlock, Director of Antigua & Barbuda Department of Tourism, joined me for this live broadcast. I wore white from head to toe to highlight my now-golden tan! The local TV experience was a blast and a real treat, so much so that I already have some new island fans!
I returned to my suite and had an epiphany moment: I am staying in Suite Sixteen while my house, Rosebrook Gardens, is celebrating her Sweet Sixteen! No wonder the gravitational pull spanned beyond the Atlantic Ocean to make me feel right at home. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
A wardrobe change was in order as the rest of the morning would be poolside and beachside, with a drink by my side! While swinging on a hammock, I took in the rays that filtered through the palm fronds. I was letting my hair down (what’s left of it anyway), enjoying the rocking motion, closing my eyes and feeling as if Antigua was cradling me to sleep.
The morning quickly became the afternoon as lunch plans were in order. I was off to Buba’s Hide Out with sensational views of Mount Obama and Body Pond. This colorful local restaurant offers not only traditional food but great reggae too, as Buba’s youngest brother is a musician: check out Dread and the Baldhead! I left with a full tummy and an autographed CD of his greatest hits.
Tonight is my last night in paradise so I’m stepping up my attire and putting on a fabulous pink gingham sport coat that has been patiently waiting to come out of the closet! I’ll complement it with fabulous white trousers (which have been out of the closet for a long time) and join the media bunch for a final hurrah!
When I eventually return to my King Farouk canopy bed, I’ll struggle to close my eyes; so instead of counting sheep, I’ll count the ships in the harbor.
This marks the end of my assignment, as tomorrow morning I’ll say my goodbyes as MAR Central will pack up and relocate to Connecticut. I have been so fortunate in visiting this most hospitable island. I met some incredibly delightful people, discovered some fascinating places “Ò and my journal explodes not just with the written word, but with memories that will last forever. I’ll be back no doubt, but until then I’ll have my MARmories!
Follow my pictorial experience on my social media profiles.
And there you have it!