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Successful Anguilla

Travel & news discussion about Anguilla

Successful Anguilla

Postby KarenS » Tue May 09, 2006 7:43 am

From thepeninsulaqatar.com by Rosemary McClure: "Anguilla — derived from the French word for “eel,” a reference to the country’s narrow shape — is 16 miles long and 3.5 miles wide. Other than 33 sun-swept beaches, there’s not a lot to see.
Away from the coast, small concrete-block homes dot the scrubby terrain, and goats graze on brush. The island is a low-key beachcomber’s paradise, with two stoplights, friendly residents and a laid-back attitude. Crime, although not nonexistent, is so rare that many doors have no locks.
Unlike many colonial regions, Anguilla was so happy under foreign rule that it fought to stay that way.
The English colonized it in 1650 but eventually found the soil too poor to support a plantation economy. Britain recommended an island union of St Kitts, Anguilla and Nevis, but the Anguillans rebelled, causing English troops to intervene. Their island became a dependent territory in 1980.
'It’s not like some other places in the region,' said Victor Banks, minister of finance. 'Anguillans own the shops, the banks, the businesses, and 95 percentown their own homes. They have power. And they like to share their island with others.' Anguilla’s hospitable service, uncrowded beaches and high-end resorts have turned it into a Caribbean success story.
Construction of villas and hotel rooms is booming, the island’s first golf course will be completed in November, and unemployment is so low the country must import labor.
Last year, the island’s main runway was expanded to allow private jets to land. My island tour took me past some of the villas those elite guests occupy. I peeked inside, pretending I was a show-business mogul with $6,000 or so to burn nightly.
Altamar, a trio of houses on a deserted beach, ranked high on my list of wanna-stay places. The stark white villas have soaring open spaces, fitness centers, home theaters and double kitchens — 'for people who like to entertain,' said a staff member. From there, I zipped over to Covecastles, a group of 15 villas. The luxurious beachfront homes are a geometric fantasy of high ceilings and beautiful views.
My drive eventually took me to The Valley, the island’s capital and its only real town. It is unassuming, with a few businesses, a police department and a hospital. The three cars at the stoplight on Coronation Avenue probably would be considered a traffic jam. I kept going, heading for Shoal Bay, the island’s best-known beach.
I had read quite a bit about Shoal Bay Beach, which, according to magazines , is home of the whitest sand on the planet. It’s also one of the few places that may be crowded. About 60,000 day-trippers from St. Martin descend annually to snorkel and swim.
Rain and winds kept the crowds away the day I visited. But the hype was right: The sand is white and fine; the water clear and aquamarine, even with storm clouds overhead. A refurbished all-suite resort called Ku opened last fall at Shoal Beach. I had heard it had reasonable prices, so I strolled through its grounds and looked at a suite.
The resort isn’t elegant or grand, but it’s cool, with large rooms. . There are full kitchens, and each suite is oceanfront or has an ocean view. It was still pricey, but the tab — from $355 to $475 per night in high season — was nearly half that of many places I checked.
'It’s totally different' from Cap Juluca, said Sue Ricketts, marketing director for Ku and Cap Juluca. 'And it’s supposed to be different. We’re looking for a younger market, families with kids and teens, the children of the people who go to Cap Juluca.'
I wandered back out to the beach, where it was raining, and dived into Uncle Ernie’s beach stand for shelter.
While I munched on barbecued chicken and pigeon peas and rice, an island staple, Ernie Harrigan, 87, told me about life on Shoal Beach. And he took credit for Anguilla’s success as a tourist destination.
'I’ve been here 22 years, and I started it all,' said Harrigan, who may be the island’s most famous restaurateur, although his cuisine—ribs, lobster, crayfish, burgers—costs less than $10 per meal. Add $2 and he’ll serve you a Heineken beer.
Harrigan’s prices are bucking a trend. Anguilla’s wealthy visitors enjoy dining out and have no trouble finding restaurants that cater to their palates; $100 per-person dinners are common at Blanchard’s, Pimms and Oliver’s restaurants. But there’s a bonus to dining out here; the local restaurants can be a good place to see superstars."
Karen for Caribbean-On-Line.com
KarenS
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