Carlisle Bay offers understated luxury on Antigua's southern coast. The resort has dedicated sections for both families and couples, and successfully appeals to both with its lovely white-sand beach, calm ocean, free non-motorized water sports, and impressive kids' club. The 82 rooms are modern and sophisticated if not very distinctly Caribbean, and the food is both expensive and unimpressive. But the extensive features and services (many of which are free) still make this one of the island's top luxury options.
A lovely beach, extensive features, and separate sections for families and couples
For travelers seeking a truly full-feature resort, Carlisle Bay is one of Antigua's best bets. It has just about every activity one could desire, including tennis, sailing, kayaking among the mangroves, windsurfing, paddle-boarding, motorized water sports (on a separate cove so as not to disrupt the tranquility of the beach), free group yoga classes, movie screenings...the list goes on. Despite the many offerings, the vibe remains mostly tranquil, and the white-sand beach is lovely (if not quite as wide or long as beaches at other properties).
For families, Carlisle Bay provides the perfect combination of peace and activity: Peace for the parents, activity for the kids. There's a great kids' club for kids from six months to six years, and it's free for children over two. There are also free organized activities for kids seven to 12 and a teens' club for kids 13 and up. But those traveling without younger guests needn't worry too much about being overrun by kids, as the resort reserves one end of the resort for families and the other for couples.
The decor in the rooms and common spaces is modern and luxurious, but the Caribbean influences are very subtle; some may prefer a resort with more distinctive Caribbean charm. The food is a significant downside, as it's mediocre and extremely expensive (which is common for Antigua). For many travelers, the setting and features will amply compensate, but others may feel that the resort doesn't quite live up to its advertised five-star status. Competing Caribbean properties such as the Four Seasons Resort Nevis might offer more for your money.
On Antigua's southern coast, about 30 minutes from the airport
Carlisle Bay is located on Antigua's southern coast, to the west of English Harbour, which is a popular yachting destination. The island is small, and driving from one side to the other usually takes under an hour, though it should be noted that roads are in poor condition.
Antigua is a former British colony that's known for its multitude of beautiful beaches. It's also known, however, for its high prices and mediocre food. St. John's, the island's capital, is home to the only airport as well as a harbor where large cruise ships can dock. The southeastern shore has protected harbors with calmer waters, and English Harbour is the site of a massive week-long sailing regatta in the spring. The eastern shore gets beautiful sunsets.
Modern, understated rooms, all with balconies or terraces and at least partial ocean views
Carlisle Bay's 82 rooms are all suites with modern technology, balconies or terraces, and ocean views. The decor is modern and sophisticated, with a subdued color scheme of white, gray, and sage. The Caribbean influences are subtle: wooden ceilings, plantation shutters, and on the balconies, white wooden railings and rattan furniture.
Ocean Suites are located on the calm, couples end of the resort and have a separate sitting area and direct ocean views. Beach Suites are best suited for families, featuring a master bedroom with king bed and second bedroom with two twin beds. Ground-level Beach Suites have direct beach access. The Carlisle Suites are the largest option, with three bedrooms and room for six. All units have direct ocean views except for the Garden Suites, which have partial ocean views.
Balconies or terraces with day bed and at least partial ocean view
Carlisle Bay has a stunning white-and beach and, thanks to the location on the protected southern shore, calm waters where kids can swim safely. The beach isn't as wide or as long as the beaches at some other properties, however -- it's about a third of a mile long -- and on one end it abuts modest local homes.