The Best Private Island
A tiny, private paradise just off the northwest tip of Antigua, Jumby Bay is the ultimate desert-island retreat. The first fabulous fact is that it's a mere 20 minutes from Antigua's airport. By limo and catamaran, no less. Stepping off on to the private jetty, you could imagine you had moved up in the world. Jumby is, after all, one of the favourite getaways of multimillionaires. (Paul McCartney spent last New Year's Eve here.) But you don't have to be super-rich. While there are 24 privately owned villas rentable for short stays, there's also a hotel catering for aspiring millionaires.
Owned by Rosewood (the company behind The Carlyle in New York and Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands), Jumby is the proud recipient of both an £18 million facelift and a new manager, Andrew Hedley, formerly of Carlisle Bay. The main hotel building consists of the lobby, a beachside bar and restaurant, while the suites ring the shoreline to the other end of the bay.
The suites are colonial-style, many with plunge pool. But the hallmark of the rooms is the outdoor shower and bath in a courtyard off the bathroom. Come nightfall, the stars appear - and stargazing in the bath is blissful.
The beach itself is quite possibly one of the best in the Caribbean: an immaculate sea of white, soft sand curving round a shallow bay, framed by swaying palm trees.
Bicycles and golf buggies are the modes of transport. Insects hum and drone in the sunlight, and the only other sound comes from the bold little yellow finches. The best advice on how to be a tourist here is absurdly low-maintenance: lie on the beach, explore the island and occasionally head over to the mainland for a wander.
On the west side of the island, where many of the private villas are located, there's Pasture Bay Beach. Here, from June to November, the resort's conservation programme looks after endangered hawksbill turtles as they shuffle up the beach to lay their eggs. For the rest of the year, however, your only company will be the occasional pelican.
The sunsets on this side of the island are spectacular. The hotel will deliver an afternoon tea or supper picnic. By late in the day, the sun is a large red stain on the water, and long shadows run together like rising floodwaters.
Use of Hobie Cat sailing boats and snorkels is free, as are the croquet set, the fitness centre and sunset cocktail cruises. And there are regular shuttles to the mainland. But the betting is that once you set foot on Jumby, you won't be going anywhere for a while.
Way to go
ITC Classics (+44 (0)1244 355 550, itcclassics.co.uk) offers seven nights at Jumby Bay from £4,395.