English Harbour

*The islands of the Caribbean consistently rank among the top international travel destinations for American tourists.

However, most Stateside travelers to the region limit their experiences to just four islands: Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bahamas and Puerto Rico, without considering the rich and memorable vacation experiences that can be found on other islands.

Over the next year, this column will shine a light on several Caribbean islands that US travelers should immediately add to their itineraries. First up is the beautiful getaway – Antigua.

Located in the West Indies, between its sister isle Barbuda and equally close to Montserrat, the island of Antigua is famed for its protective beaches that are known worldwide as a peaceful haven from ring violent storms. Antigua is equally known the quality of its resorts and the island offers a nice mix of activities that will please even the most demanding traveler.

Getting There: Air flights are available for US travelers to Antigua via gateways services by American, United, Delta and US Airways. I flew an open-jaw itinerary out of JFK, and came back thru Miami for a direct connection to LAX.

Lodging: The properties that I visited and stayed at during my week long stay that provided me with a chance to experience different views of the island. All were lovely: with comfortable accommodations, excellent food and overall service that was immaculate.

Curtain Bluff Resort
A family owned, established property, the Curtain Bluff Resort offers more of a laid back and tranquil experience. The property has an old-school refinement and elegance that is complimented by its positioning on a bluff located between two beaches. It’s the kind of place where you want to climb into one of the property’s many hammocks and lose yourself in tranquility for days. My room (like the rest) had easy access to the beach and the property also boasts amenities that includes a championship tennis center, a fully equipped watersports center, a fitness center and excellent spa facilities. – Grade: B+

Blue Waters Resort
Modern and luxurious, the Blue Waters Resort is what dreams are made of. Located in close proximity to the center of this property offers a variety of options ranging from freshwater pools to glorious beaches. The management team at Blue Waters is top-notch, which is immediately evident by high-quality standards seen throughout this property. It’s a well-appointed property offering a variety of room categories and boasts world-class restaurants, spa facilities and sporting activities that include tennis, water sports and golf. The staff at this property was exception and exercised great attention to every detail of my stay. Blue Waters is the kind of place where you are free to rejuvenate your mind – the service beyond first rate – all you have to do is check in and leave everything else up to them. I highly recommend. Grade: A+

Sugar Hotel & Spa
Nestled in the hills overlooking the beach and St. John, the Sugar Ridge property offers an alternative view of Antigua. The vibe at the property is one of seclusion and exclusivity, which is further accentuated by the well-appointed rooms that offer great views of the oceans and surrounding hillsides. My group enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the property’s hillside restaurant that featured world class cuisine and excellent service. Although this property is one that visitors might not expect on an island, it will surprise and delight many as a viable alternative to experience a different view of the island. Grade B+

Things to Do:

Antigua Sailing Regatta
I was lucky enough to arrive on the island at the start of its annual Regatta Season, which provided a unique opportunity for me to participate in the endless festivities set in English Harbor. A highly coveted international yachting race, the place was loaded with activities: from the Sunset Barbeque at Shirley’s Heights Lookout, to drinks and revelry at the famous Cloggy’ s Restaurant, the scene is fantastic and one that you are sure to remember. My group also chartered a yacht of our own and took to the high seas to witness the spectacular display of races by crews from all over the world. It was spectacular! – Grade A+

Swimming with Stingrays
A must-do for any visit to Stingray City for a snorkeling experience with stingrays. Now who would have thought that these funny and awkward looking creatures could be so much fun? But they are and I had a blast spending an afternoon in the Caribbean seas enjoying their company. – Grade A+

Nelson’s Dockyard, Devil’s Bridge, Heritage Quay
Antigua has a great mix of urban, historical and shopping attractions to fill your time spent not at the beach. From the naval museum and nature trails found at Nelson’s Dockyard, to the interesting excursions you will find at Devil’s Bridge, the island offers an abundance of leisure activities to meet your every mood. I highly recommend that all visitors check out the robust urban vibe in St. John and the shopping at Heritage Quay that will give fashionistas access to the an array of local and regional designers.

My trip to Antigua offered me the opportunity to relax and unwind to a totally new Caribbean experience. The island has just the right mix of things to do to keep tourist busy, without the rush feeling you might feel in other destinations. The people were also friendly and eager to show you a good time on their island. It was a great trip and a destination that I look forward to visiting again. Grade A

For more information about Antigua, visit: http://www.antigua-barbuda.org/

Gil Robertson IV

Prius V
I was thrilled to hear that a Prius V would be waiting for me to test drive during a recent trip to Atlanta. With its well-known reputation for fuel economy and superb handling, I have been a fan of each incarnation of the “ultimate” hybrid, so it was great enthusiasm that took the wheel of my ride to begin a weekend driving around the “Peach” city.

Wow Factor: Alongside its exceptional fuel economy (51hwy/48city), the Prius V is stacked with driver benefits that includes: solid maneuverability, good pick up and excellent leg room. Additional value comes in the form of 5 available trim levels that divers can chose from to match their on-the-road personality.

Ride: Power by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motor/generators, the Prius V is also equipped with a versatile powertrain that allows divers to pick modes ranging from Normal, Eco, Power and EV. Added performance value also comes from its solid suspension and steering systems, which all come together to offer drivers a great overall driving experience.

Comfort: The digital display on the Prius V comes with great new high-tech options that will enhance your ability to manage your drive. Clever interior design features also gives the Prius V’s improves cargo space that will meet demands of everyday drives.

Spin Control: Toyota has another winner on its hands with the Prius V. With its competitive price at around $24,000, fuel efficiency and trim options, you can expect to see a lot of these ride’s on the road in the coming months.

Grade: A

Gil Robertson IV is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and president of the African-American Film Critics Association.

Visit www.robertsontreatment.com

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