A Shining New Star On Stunning Shoal Bay
Anguilla is a tiny island in the Eastern Caribbean, a few miles from St. Maarten with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.
Being a beach fanatic, I was concerned when I heard a brand new resort had taken root on Anguilla’s Shoal Bay, what I consider to be one of the most glorious strips of sand in the world. Part of the exceptional appeal of this little island is that it’s sparsely developed. There is a handful of five-star resorts and a smattering of high end villa rentals, a few mid-level stays and the odd B&B, but basically it’s a tiny community of some 15,000 residents living on an arid rock fringed with surreal aqua waters and scenic cliffs. As they say, Anguilla rhymes with vanilla but it’s twice as sweet!
However, upon my arrival to the new Zemi Beach Resort I could instantly confirm that any concerns I had about this new development were unfounded. It’s a glorious addition to the postcard perfect scene, and smartly designed to allow its unparalleled surroundings be the true star.
Outside, their bright white-multi-tiered complex cascades down the hill and spills fluidly into the sea via a serene infinity pool with a glassed in wall- and there is also an adult- only pool and lounge area on a separate level. Overall there are 54 beautifully appointed guest rooms and nine two and three-bedroom suites- all beachfront with oversized balconies. And the activities on that glorious beach include hobie cats and snorkeling – there is a pair of resident sea turtles living right out front- and they also offer weekly mermaid lessons! That’s right! Zemi is one of the hosts for the new Mermaid School International where women, men and even children can learn to swim with a tail and a monofin! I tried it, and it was such fun! They also have a wonderful children’s club with innovative activities and state-of the-art tennis courts.
For on-site dining there is Stone – an upscale Asian and Caribbean fusion enclave, and 20 Knots – a more casual indoor/outdoor beachside eatery with fabulous breakfast buffets and the a surprise of a brick pizza oven. Their pizzas were divine with a creative choice of gourmet toppings like the local spiny lobster Anguilla is famous for. And their Rhum Bar is exquisite. A classy lounge where you can try some the Caribbean’s best. I especially enjoyed their rhum education and tasting class. But beyond the spectacular beach, it’s their Zemi Thai House Spa that impresses the most.
Set apart, behind the resort, the focus is on an authentic 300-year-old Thai rice house that was rebuilt piece by piece. It is the nexus of this soothing oasis that features the island’s only hammam, a meditation pond amid a tropical garden, many multifunction treatment rooms, a fresh juice bar and a wellness boutique. It really is worth a visit all on its own. Very unique.
And overall, I can’t say enough about their super warm, friendly and highly efficient staff. They really know how to do upscale without the snooty. If you’ve never been to Anguilla before, I highly recommend your first stay there should be at Zemi Beach Resort to discover what barefoot luxury is all about. Problem is, you might never return!