Should You Stay at Anguilla’s Most Iconic—And Newly Renovated—Hotels?


The breathtaking view of Milliouhana from the Caribbean Sea. (Photo: Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort)

With over 33 swoon-worthy white sand beaches, Anguilla is a mecca for those in search of those idyllic Caribbean views that flood Pinterest boards all winter. The35-square-mile island isn’t just about the beaches, though: It’s also home to some of the region’s most gorgeous and unique hotels, most notably Malliouhana and Cap Juluca. The two resorts put the island on the map when they opened in the 1980s, but the island’s actually changed a lot since then, with the addition of the golf resort CuisinArt and the L.A.-meets-the-islands Viceroy Anguilla. So the question, then, is this: Are Malliouhana and Cap Juluca still amazing 30 years later? I checked in to both recently to see.


The back story: When it opened in 1984, high up on a cliff overlooking picturesque Mead’s Bay, this boutique hotel was considered the most glamorous on the island. But by 2011, the property was in dire need of some TLC, so they closed for a bit. Enter Auberge Resorts, which brought the sparkle back to this beloved Anguillan hotel, with an 18-month, multimillion dollar renovation spearheaded by SB Architects, reopening in November 2014.

What makes it stand out: With only 44 rooms, Malliouhana has a very intimate feel — especially if you compare it to Viceroy, the sprawling newer resort down the beach. Almost half of the staff came back after the renovation — a fact that speaks to the intimate vibe of the hotel — and when I visited soon after the reopening, their excitement was palpable. Part of the hotel’s intimacy comes not just from its small size, but the genuine warmth of the staff.

The look: The dazzle starts as soon as you step foot inside the open-air lobby, which features shimmering mirrored mosaic tile floors and archways that perfectly frame the sweeping cliff-top view of the Caribbean Sea. The overall design by Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studios (who also did the amazing Hotel Jerome in Aspen) is the perfect combination of chic and cheery, with ruffled canary yellow umbrellas at the pool, bright orange loungers on the terraces, and floral print curtains in lieu of closet doors. The overall palette of teal, yellow, and orange feels innately Caribbean yet preppy at the same time, thanks to its bold, graphic patterns.


The lobby of the Malliouhana oozes serenity. (Photo: Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort)

The rooms: All but four of the guest rooms boast breathtaking ocean views, perched 80 feet above the shore. Inside, Hollywood Regency-style furniture is mixed up with Haitian artist Jasmin Joseph’s animal murals and glamorous black-and-white photography. While the original hotel prided itself on having no phones or TVs in the rooms, Auberge has included them, albeit in the living room mirror. For those who want easy access to the restaurant and pools, the main house is the best choice. If you prefer privacy, request the rooms overlooking Malliouhana’s private beach.


Oh, you know, just another spectacular ocean view…from bed. (Photo: Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort)

The perks: There are two lovely beaches here. First, there’s the main beach, which occupies a quieter corner of Mead’s Bay, a long stretch of beach that has the Viceroy at the opposite end. The Mead’s Bay beach has a water sports center, and is the spot for swimming and/or paddling. Next, there’s a smaller private beach on the opposite end of the Malliouhana property. It’s often overlooked by guests, and you may just have it to yourself, probably because the surf is rougher, with a kind of windswept, abandoned, Robinson-Crusoe feel.


Why stop at one beautiful beach when you can hit up two? (Photo: Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort)

If you prefer to sit poolside, there are two tiered infinity pools high up on the cliff. One is adults-only, and offers roomy, striped private cabanas with curtains for privacy; the other is the kids’ pool, which features a waterfall that little ones adore. If you have a chance, visit the spa to try an island take on a hot-stone massage — i.e. one with hot shells instead. And while Malliouhana only has one restaurant, the sea-to-table Mediterranean-meets-Anguilla cuisine there is exceptional.


There’s certainly no shortage of beautiful water at The Malliouhana. (Photo: Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort)

Who it’s best for: Couples looking for a sophisticated boutique escape, and families who don’t need a kids’ club. Families who went to the resort previously should note that the pirate ship water playground on the beach has been taken down, replaced by a small pirate ship playground in the back of the property. While there is talk of including a kids’ club, there isn’t one currently, and kids’ activities are now scheduled only during certain school breaks. However, the staff is wonderful and playful with the children, and babysitters are available with advanced booking.

The verdict: The resort has never looked more glamorous. The chic setting will be a draw for those looking for gorgeous rooms with an ocean view. With fewer rooms than before, the hotel feels intimate, and the service feels truly personal and top-notch. While guests who came to the original Malliouhana with children may mourn the loss of the pirate water park, the staff is still wonderful with families.


The back story: When the 179-acre resort opened in 1988, it set a new standard for luxury in the Caribbean, with its iconic Greek and Moroccan-inspired beachfront villas and a 4-to-1 staff ratio. While recent ownership disputes and litigation have caused three of its villas to close until further notice, the original owners, Charles and Linda Hickox, are back and overseeing the hotel.


These villas actually be your home for a few days. #PinchYourself. (Photo: Cap Juluca)

What makes it stand out: Cap Juluca may just have one of the most exceptional hotel beaches in the entire world. A little under 1 kilometer in length, the white sand beach is wide and roomy, overlooking a calm, vibrant blue sea. Although the entire island is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to beaches, Cap Juluca’s could just be the richest of them all.


So there are white sand beaches, and then there are white. sand. beaches. (Photo: Cap Juluca)

The look: The original architect, Oscar Farmer, was inspired by classic Greek architecture and Moroccan interiors when he originally dreamed up the resort’s now-iconic design. Of his vision, he has said, “I did not want to build an ordinary hotel. I was hoping to create a series of separate mansions. With their assembly of shapes, components and geometric forms, I hoped to wind up with a place of unusual simplicity, privacy and barefoot elegance.” Needless to say, he succeeded.

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The rooms: There are 70 guest rooms in 15 villas, 6 of which have private pools. Villas can be booked on their own, with up to 5 bedrooms. Highlights? The bathrooms, for starters, which have deep soaking tubs that overlook the beach. And then there’s the new 3,300-square foot Jonquil Suite. While most rooms still have the original white tile floors and design, this suite has just been beautifully revamped, with two master suites and an incredible indoor-outdoor bathroom with a plunge tub for two. However, most of the rooms, although repainted, feature decor that’s slightly dated. Pro tip: If you want to be closer to the water sports area and restaurants, request one of the lower-numbered villas; request a higher number if you’re in it for the seclusion.


Every day is Valentine’s Day at the Cap Juluca. (Photo: Cap Juluca)

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The perks: Cap Juluca is a celebrity favorite — Harrison Ford, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Gates, and Michael J. Fox are fans, to name a few. And it’s no wonder: Not only are the rooms located right on the never-ending beach, the villas are also set apart with enough space to provide for seclusion. The privacy extends to the amazing take-me-away spa treatments, which are done in your room with the doors open overlooking the ocean. It just doesn’t get more relaxing than that. And if the in-room spa treatments make you so addicted to the resort itself that you just can’t leave, good news: Cap Juluca has four restaurants on its grounds, so you don’t even have to leave the property.


Dining alfresco has officially reached new levels. (Photo: Cap Juluca)

Who it’s best for: Beach lovers who want their own space, without giving up service. While many hotels have beautiful beaches, you don’t have to share the sand here. There’s a huge amount of room to spread out, which makes it feel as if you own your own little part of paradise. Several bars are set up along the beach to whip up smoothies, rum cocktails, and homemade sorbet. But don’t let the beach bars mislead you: Even though Cap Juluca at one point didn’t allow children, it’s now a great option for families who don’t need a kids’ club (and with that beach, who needs one, really?). They don’t offer kids’ activities year-round, but during certain school holidays, they offer a huge choice, from basketball to pool games to face painting.

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The verdict: What you give up in sleek interiors, you make up for in the views: Your door opens onto one of the most spectacular stretches of sand in the world. Having tons of room to spread out at the beach, paired with beachside service in which you can order anything from sorbet to champagne, is a true luxury.

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