29 September 2016

 
The Curtain Bluff Resort
Caribbean hideaway for all the family
TV travel expert Laura Hamilton introduces her baby son Rocco to some old-fashioned charm in laid-back Antigua
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he past 17 months have been something of a whirlwind. I welcomed my little boy Rocco into the world, then four weeks later I travelled to Austria with him where I learned to ski jump for the Channel 4 show The Jump. I then took on a seven-month house renovation project, filmed another TV series of Fort Boyard, and have shot more than 35 episodes of A Place In The Sun.

Rocco is a well-travelled little boy at the tender age of one. For a more relaxing interlude, my husband Alex and I booked a family holiday to Antigua, to the all inclusive resort of Curtain Bluff. After a 30-minute transfer from St John's Airport we arrived at Curtain Bluff. Built in the Sixties, this familyowned and run hotel was named by the late Sir Howard Hulford.
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Beach dining at Curtain Bluff
Pool and palms at Curtain Bluff
She maintains a very strong presence at the establishment and is a big part of the management team. She is often found talking to the guests at breakfast and once a week she welcomes those staying to visit Bluff House (her home in the grounds) for a cocktail party. All rooms overlook one of the hotel's beaches and the ground-floor suites with patios are fantastic for families. Waking up at 4am for the first couple of days (because Rocco was adjusting to the time difference) and lying in a hammock listening to the waves crashing was certainly no hardship. On the opposite side of the 'bluff' is the watersports centre.
Built on a 'bluff' (a rocky headland separating two beaches), Howard believed that when the rain fell on the headland it looked just like a curtain. On arrival, resident manager Wendy Eardley and owner Chelle Hulford (Howard's wife) were there to welcome us, and before I knew it I had a much-needed cocktail in hand. Chelle isn't just the owner.
"Lying in a hammock listening to the waves crashing was certainly no hardship."
The ocean this side is quieter and calmer and Rocco really enjoyed playing in the shallow, crystal-clear water. As part of the all-inclusive package, guests can waterski and wakeboard free of charge. Kayaks and pedalo boats are also available as well as daily snorkeling trips. After a waterskiing session, the staff are quick to offer you a drink and some watermelon, a nice gesture.

If you aren't into watersports but enjoy keeping active on holiday, the hotel has a well-equipped gym and a yoga programme. But best of all it's home to a fantastic tennis centre. The courts have been graced by many tennis stars, including Martina Navratilova. A week after my visit, Annabel Croft and Andrew Castle were booked to fly in and run a seven-day tennis-training academy.
"Visiting the hot tub on the roof terrace afterwards is a must and enjoying a glass of bubbly while watching the sunset is heaven."
Fun in the Caribbean surf
Both of the restaurants at Curtain Bluff had table service. One does offer a buffet service at lunch but it is of a high standard and the lobster salad - which seemed to make a daily appearance - was fantastic. The chef couldn't do enough for Rocco and the staff made it clear that whatever we needed for him they would make. Curtain Bluff may well have the most extensive wine list in the Caribbean.

The selection was fantastic. If you are visiting the hotel with children and want a few evenings to yourself, a babysitter, costing around ten dollars an hour, can be booked at short notice - well worth it if you want to make the most of the live entertainment. Each evening a different band performed and had I been a judge on The X Factor I would be putting a few of the singers through to boot camp as their voices were incredible. The resort has an award-winning spa so before our return flight home I treated myself to a 60-minute neck, back and shoulder massage.

The treatment rooms overlook the ocean and I didn't want my massage to end. Visiting the hot tub on the roof terrace afterwards is a must and enjoying a glass of bubbly while watching the sunset is heaven. While I got to use the spa, Rocco enjoyed being pushed on the swings by his daddy and although he was a little bit too young to join in with the kids' club, he loved visiting the hotel's tortoise and chameleons. Curtain Bluff offers something for everyone. Our visit was over all too quickly but we were there long enough to appreciate that Howard and Chelle had an incredible vision in creating this hotel. It's a place that doesn't feel so much like a hotel but more like you are being invited into their home and, with 85 per cent of their customers returning year upon year, this charming resort is extremely special.


Original article published in Sep 2015. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
Enjoy a beach sunset at Curtain Bluff
 
 
 
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