In Antigua, Sara Waxman doesn't have to look far
iARRIVE ON SUNDAY and head over to Shirley Heights Lookout on English Harbour to watch the sunset. The sounds of a steel-drum band are mesmerizing and suddenly I’m swaying to the music. The crowd on this plateau is in the hundreds, and there’s a sense of camaraderie and fun. Everyone knows that this is the best barbecue on the island. The aroma is intoxicating. I pass my plate to the grill man, and he piles on ribs, chicken and fish until I say stop, then with Rum Punch in hand, I squeeze onto a bench at one of the picnic tables and gaze out at sea and sky. “You’re a long way from home, Sara Waxman,” I say to myself, and I know that my vacation has begun.
Lounging on my terrace at the ultra modern South Point Hotel on Falmouth Bay, a vista of world famous mega yachts is spread out before me. The all-black Maltese Falcon, a 289 ft. clipper sailing yacht rented by the likes of Tom Hanks and Hugh Jackman; the gorgeous Shemara, a 212 ft. motor yacht, its sail soaring into the sky; and many more. Summoning up courage, I ask for a visit on the extraordinary
Rosehearty, a 183.73 metre majestic sailing yacht recently sold by Rupert Murdoch for $29 million. To my delight, the answer is “welcome aboard.” I take off my sandals, not to scuff the highly polished wood floors. Captain David Hutchison points to the huge map of Canada hanging in his office, and proudly tells me that they have recently returned to these warm Caribbean waters from a voyage through the Northwest Passage. In the galley, a handsome young chef from France is chopping veggies for dinner with the precision of a surgeon, while a huge stock pot simmers gently on the back burner. In a small lounge, a young woman from Rhode Island is busy at her job, cleaning all the spots off furniture covers and fabrics with an astounding array of products. A deck hand tells me, “a lot better than being cold in England right now.” This is a world away from my normal. Not surprising that there is great concern for security, when the entire vessel is a jewel, agleam with tons of polished chrome.
Adventurers have come to Antigua from many parts of the world and have chosen to stay and follow their dreams of creating unique restaurants.
Sheer Rocks |
With an extraordinary sense of style, young British owners Kate Taylor and Alex Grimley have created a divine restaurant and inn that is terraced on a cliffside, protruding over the rocks right on the sea. We climb down a series of wooden stairs to be greeted by cocktails served while we relax on extravagant four-poster daybeds. A more seductive and romantic spot would be difficult to find. Leaving this luxury lounge for lunch in the airy bougainvillea-draped dining room is almost a pity. Alas, no opportunity today for a quick dip in the azure blue plunge pool. On this hot sunny day in February, a selection of exuberantly flavoured tapas dishes is just right for sharing. Simon Christey-french, the young Australian chef de cuisine, is proud to explain his innovative menu concept. Tempura pumpkin flowers with lemon ricotta is light but not weightless. Using locally sourced ingredients from artisan food producers, farmers and fishermen, Simon has created dishes that are intricate but unforced. Deceptively simple tuna carpaccio perfumed with pink peppercorns is quite perfect. Everything is made in-house, even the delectable ice cream and sorbet.
Papa Zouks’ Fish and Rum Bar |
“Some people chase money, I prefer to chase happiness,” says German émigré, film producer Bert Kirchner. He found it in a funky little rum bar that he named Papa Zouk after a man who lived in poverty but loved to dance to zouk music. Bert will tell you the story of the fire that burned his place to the ground, and of the generosity of strangers and well-wishers who came bearing bottles and insisting he rebuild. This place is iconic, fun and friendly, where you might find yourself sitting with strangers, but it’s okay. Walk over the carefully groomed gravel courtyard into the dining room. Don’t expect formality or bother asking for a menu, Bert will come by and shmooze and tell you what fish is available. “Robert De Niro says that this is the best red snapper he ever had in his life,” says Kirchner. Yes, I will agree with De Niro and add, “This is the best rum punch I ever had in my life.”
Jackie O’s |
Owner Lance Leonhardt is originally British, but I would not be remiss in calling him a charming “homme du monde.” He is a “been there, done that” kind of guy with impeccable taste who came