Once upon a time, when I was brand new to travel writing, I got an invitation to go to Cap Juluca resort in Anguilla. I had no idea where Anguilla was exactly, but had heard of Cap Juluca because of the celeb fan base (Jennifer Aniston, Janet Jackson, Bill Gates…the list goes on…). At the time, I had traveled, but in a college budget-type way. That trip was an eye-opener to what a luxury hotel experience could be, and in some ways set the course for where my life would go. I’ll never forget sipping a welcome glass of champs on that amazing beach; my first experience with a in-room massage, which spoiled me for spas; and that gorgeous bathroom, which kicked off a love for hotel design that continues to this day.
Cap Juluca went through some ownership changes in the intervening years, to mixed reviews. So I was thrilled when I learned it’s now back in the hands of the original owner, who runs it with passion. When I went back recently, it was like revisiting an old friend — the kind you haven’t seen in years but immediately reconnect with. And I’m happy to report that the luxury quotient is a high as I remembered.
The hotel is made up of low, whitewashed villas, lined up on a perfectly curved stretch of beach. Like most of the Caribbean, the beach is public, but because this is the only hotel on it, it feels deliciously private.
The lobby is as pretty as I remembered, with a gorgeous Moroccan-style chandelier. Cap Juluca’s Moorish design comes from the owner’s personal taste, but caught on across the island and you’ll see it at other hotels and villas, embodying Anguilla’s unique take on Caribbean chic.
Rooms are airy and chic, with tile floors, built-in seating area and a terrace that overlooks the sea. Some guests swear by the ground floor, where you can walk right out towards the beach, but I liked the privacy of being on the second floor, a little removed from it all. I slept with my doors open so I could fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves.
The bathroom was as fabulous as I remembered. In addition the huge soaking tub and rainshower, it has an open-air, walled solarium with a chaise lounge, so you can soak up the sunshine with no fear of tan lines — totally sexy.
Cap Juluca has added some frills since I was there last; namely, the gorgeous Jonquil Suite, a two-bedroom villa with its own private pool. It’s perfect for honeymooners seeing extra space and privacy, and the pool deck and lawn are ideal if you want to rent it for small events, like a welcome dinner.
Equally stunning is the master bath, with not one but two tubs. Seriously, I could stay in there for hours!
Cap Juluca has two of the prettiest restaurants in the Caribbean. Spice is a Moroccan-style tapas restaurant and bar, perfect for sunset when they often have live music. For a more romantic dinner, Pimms is right next door, further out on the rocks. A candlelight dinner with fresh seafood, a great bottle of wine and waves crashing on the rocks underneath you — that’s the definition of romantic Caribbean dining in my book.
Of course, they’ll also do private dinners on the beach, as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Cap Juluca is a great spot for destination weddings, due the privacy of the beach, but I also love it for a smaller anniversary trip or family birthday escape — any trip where you want to relax, slow down and reconnect without distractions.
Cap Juluca offers a full slate of activities: windsurfing, water skiing, Hobie cats, tennis with the onsite pro or snorkel trips on their private boat. But for me, what’s so great is the low-key vibe. At some resorts, you feel like you to stay busy all the time, or have to get up early to save lounge chairs by the hotel pool. Cap Juluca is the opposite — you don’t feel like you have to do anything. Consider it the Caribbean of old, in the best possible way: serene, quiet and beautiful, which is true luxury in my book. And ooh, that beach…