Today’s article is a guest post from Cindy of localontheroad.com. Cindy is on the hunt to discover places with an emphasis on using local produce/products, sustainable practices, and a track record of satisfied guests.
Anguilla is a relatively small and flat island, but immensely captivating for guests seeking world famous turquoise beaches, kind locals, and plenty of fresh seafood. Travelers often make repeat visits due to low crime rates and the absence of high rises, cruise ships, nightlife, and motorized personal watercraft. Last month was our most unforgettable experience on the island, in large part due to discovering Las EsQuinas on Little Harbour and meeting villa owner extraordinaire, Robin Ogilvie.
Upon arrival, it is inevitable for guests to go through a series of “Wow” moments as you walk through the property. The vistas and sea breezes are truly stunning. The property has been designed to take advantage of trade winds and is perched on a point providing 180+ degree views. The home was designed with separate covered walkways, relaxing nooks, and “walls” that are really doors, so they slide back and disappear. The result is wonderfully spacious; you feel like you are outside even when you are technically “inside” luxurious surroundings.
The ocean breezes keep things cool naturally, but bedroom air conditioning is available if needed. The various separate buildings and walkways mean that you have privacy and quiet from the other suites. And the ability to close the hurricane shutters at night creates a dark retreat - do not be surprised to find yourself sleeping almost 11 hours straight after a long day of travel!
Each guest room reflects a place that the owner, Robin, has lived or traveled. They are named the Mediterranean, Morrocan, Balinese, and Mexican, and each space displays the character of the associated destination. Housekeeping was immaculate during our stay, everything always clean and tidy. The bathrooms are luxurious with natural stone vanities, make-up mirrors, and high quality soaps and shampoo. Reading lights, spacious closets, desks, and private balconies are features found in each guest room. Given your proximity to the sea, the sound of waves, and the fresh air breezes, the private balcony is the perfect place for a relaxing massage therapy experience.
Putting our experience at Las EsQuinas into words is quite a challenge. The website states, “Part bijou hotel, part sybaritic guesthouse, Las Esquinas defies definition.” Quite true! I have never stayed at a property that so eludes traditional descriptions. It has many amenities that one normally finds only at five-star luxury hotels. It has a quiet and private atmosphere that one might typically find only in a private villa. It has the type of quality morning fare reminiscent of boutique small inns or high-end bed and breakfasts. It has the most unique and exquisite furnishings and beautifully curated items you can imagine, and the charm of meeting Robin and fellow guests when your paths cross.
In the mornings, breakfast at Las EsQuinas is available during a wide window of time. It is generous and spoiled us. The first morning we enjoyed half a grapefruit and servings from a large bowl of fresh cut fruit. Combined with homemade banana bread (made using the front garden’s bananas), we were more than satisfied and ready to start the day, but then learned breakfast was just beginning! Scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon soon filled our happy bellies. It was like a bountiful homemade spread you would experience at a good friend or family member’s home. (Or perhaps at a villa with a private chef – but here it was already included in your room rate!) And then there was Robin’s signature sweet bread “Rhum Loaf” the next morning with real maple syrup. Think French toast baked and topped with rum and maple syrup. That’s right, rum and maple syrup. A decadent start to the Caribbean morning.
After breakfast our first full day, we chose to stay put and enjoy the property.
There are plenty of cushioned spaces where you can lay outside to sun, read, nap, or simply gawk at all the beauty surrounding you. Should more activity beckon, Robin has a closet with water equipment available for guest use: water noodles, life jackets, snorkel equipment, and even water shoes if you need to borrow a pair! My husband enjoyed kayaking and we both went out snorkeling repeatedly. For Mark, it was like going back to childhood adventures in the water, including one day when he and another guest even tried to catch a few lobsters with gloved hands.
Being mere steps from coral reefs with bright colored fish and laying down on a deserted section of beach while listening to the waves was heavenly.
Even though my husband and I both lean toward introversion in temperament, we looked forward to the times when our schedules overlapped with others and we got to hear their stories. A very special and idyllic night included a dinner at the villa with Robin and other guests, with local crayfish and homemade pumpkin soup. On another evening, my husband had the opportunity to meet the Governor and his lovely family over sunset drinks by the pool. (Meanwhile I was zoned out during a massage appointment upstairs, and missed the evening cocktails and Robin’s special roasted coconut.)
In regards to eating out, this was our first visit to the island without having dinner reservations planned and set for various nights before we arrived. I am normally an organized planner, but I absolutely loved the spontaneity this trip! May my old Anguilla vacation calendar rest in peace. By leaning on Robin’s knowledge and recommendations (as well as her ability to score last-minute reservations), we tried a variety of establishments that were new to us and had remarkable evenings. A real stand-out experience was our last full day when we went with Robin and other guests to Garvey’s Sunshine Shack on Rendezvous Bay.
No recap would be complete without noting all of the green and environmentally friendly initiatives going on at Las EsQuinas. Water is from cisterns, but the entire villa is on a special filter system. Purified drinking water is provided in your room each day and in the kitchen. And best of all – no plastic water bottle trash! Also, here the shower/bathroom water is captured in the villa’s plumbing and recycled to later water the landscaping. The soaps and shampoo are non-toxic. As mentioned earlier, the home is perched so that breezes are plentiful and air conditioning is not necessary. In-room Internet routers are optional (and the WIFI is complimentary).
I could truly go on and on about the property and our stay. The beautiful courtyard and palm trees. The 360-degree view up in the tower. The hospitable staff member J.R., who is a gentleman with many talents. We admired the gorgeous custom chandelier in the foyer that he built, along with all the beautiful landscaping throughout the property.
The gem of Las EsQuinas is the owner, Robin, who designed this villa as a labor of love and now shares it with the world. She is a genius in the details, and has created a true oasis. She personifies hospitality and warmth and genuineness. She is utterly charming and we left feeling like we had known her for years (and wished we had). We have stayed at several places on the island and all have their strengths to recommend them, but this place, with this wonderful new friend, finally felt like we have found our home away from home on the island of Anguilla.
In the end, it boils down to this: If you are considering a stay at Las EsQuinas, just go. Book as many days as possible. (Because trust me, you will not want to leave.) Bring a sense of wonder and awe and gratitude.
Getting there: Tourists from the United States usually fly into either San Juan (SJU) or St. Maarten (SXM) to access Anguilla. If you arrive in SJU, you will need a separate reservation for a one-hour flight on a connection carrier such as Anguilla Air Express or Cape Air airlines. Flying into SXM, there are more ways to connect to the island, as you have a choice of getting to the island via water or a flight on Anguilla Air Services (AAS). Boat transfer choices include public ferry, various private ferries (shared shuttle), and/or private charters.
Getting around: Taxi Rates are fixed and can be pricey. We rent a car on every trip to explore, but on your first day, you may want to take a taxi to get your bearings. We make reservations with local Ronnie Bryan, who will deliver the vehicle to you personally; service is convenient and we enjoy our chats with Ronnie each trip. Contact information: 264-497-6407, 476-6407 (cell), www.bryanscarrental.com.