There are scores of hens – see above – and dozens of sheep, at Jumby Bay, the island resort off the north coast of Antigua. They are part of this luxury hotel’s working farm, and every Wednesday there is a farm-to-table dinner, right here at the farm. Unlike many private island resorts, the gal can confirm that, with 300 acres of island, hotel guests and those who are lucky enough to have houses here are not woken up by sounds of roosters crowing, or sheep baa-ing. There is so much space, indeed, that you can barely see any other buildings.
Jumby Bay has been part of Oetker Collection since it re-opened October 2018, and, already, chic décor by Patricia Anastassiadis, who also did public areas at Oetker’s Palació Tangará São Paulo. Here, the reception and lounges of the hotel are open-sided, more outside than inside, and big wall-hung mirrors accent the spaces even more. There are currently 40 suites, in single-floor semi-detached buildings: each suite has a private outdoor bathroom, and a more-public plunge pool: in addition are 16 villas, with private swimming pools and two to four bedrooms. Every unit comes with plenty of city-type bikes for getting around the enormous estate.
An original 1966 plan, fortunately turned down by authorities, had called for a 600-room hotel, plus 830 apartments, a church and an 18-hole golf course. There is no golf, and no apartments for sale, merely, somewhere half-hidden by trees, the private homes of the 52 investors who between them own Jumby Bay Island Company. They use the hotel’s main restaurant, and its pool grill and special events, which as well as farm-to-table include a Caribbean night and a white-night beach party. One challenge for operations, however, is that the hotel guests, who stay an average of seven nights per stay, are on all-inclusive, only paying for motorised watersports and for anything in the spa, say a Tata Harper or Germaine des Cappucini treatment.
Everybody, the island’s residents, hotel guests and the over-600 total employees, roughly half-half hotel and general services, commutes by flat catamaran shuttle boats that seem to ply the seven-minute crossing to and from the mainland every hour. Even the GM, Sandro Fabris, who arrived two days before my visit, comes to work by boat (I did it before in Venice, for many years, he recalls). The romance of a seaborne arrival and departure adds to the allure of a luxury hotel that has 45% repeat guests. And, I must say that my antipasti buffet lunch, with an order of cajun calamari to follow, was truly memorable. NOW SEE THE BOAT ARRIVAL, AND HAVE A MINUTE WITH SOME HENS