Nestled just north of St Maarten and 100 miles south east of the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla might not be the obvious choice when it comes to booking a Caribbean getaway, but for unpretentious solitary luxury away from the traditional tourist trail, it can’t be beaten.
This dream of an island suffered a battering at the hands of Hurricane Irma in 2017 but she’s back shining brighter than ever, with icing sugar beaches, a gastronomy scene among the best in the Caribbean and some stunning accommodations, from easy beachfront living to serious refined luxury.
Zemi Beach House falls towards the latter. Situated on Shoal Bay East in the north east of the island, it’s home to only 65 rooms across its six acres. The beachfront property is the very epitome of intimate; while its sprawling suites and beach villas might afford you all the space you need, the layout of the resort still feels deliciously private.
An experience anchored in tropical luxury, rooms are designed drawing inspiration from nature, with cane furniture, muted tones, Brazilian wood furnishings and sinks created from petrified wood in the enormous bathrooms. Each also has a view of the sea, the pleasure in which is not to be underestimated when enjoying a sundowner on your balcony and listening to the waves lap the shore.
For those who might be travelling en famille, the villas – opening out on to the beach – come equipped with full kitchens, laundry facilities, private pool access and the option to keep your fridge fully stocked throughout your visit. Alternatively the penthouse suites – favoured by certain A-listers, we heard – offer an unrivalled experience of rooftop pools and uninterrupted views of the bay.
Zemi’s spa is one of its stunning selling points. Built around a 300 year old Thai house that was trasported from Chiang Mai and rebuilt on the island, piece by piece, it offers an authentic Thai experience from the moment you cross the threshold. It’s home to the island’s only hammam, a meditation garden, an outdoor yoga deck with early morning classes, a peaceful enclave of shady hammocks for a post-treatment snooze and a body temperature vitality pool. A team of trained therapists provides a range of holistic treatments, including rejuvenating facials, marine salt scrubs, tropical scrubs and massages designed to improve circulation, hasten detoxification and release everyday tension.
While it’s a family-friendly resort, the adults-only infinity pool is a definite plus; surrounded by sun-drenched cabana beds and fringed with palm trees, it’s a peaceful alternative to the family focused main pool, looking out on to the beach. With sunscreen, bug spray, towels and water placed by the pool for guests to help themselves, and fresh fruit skewers handed out in the afternoon, it’s those little extra touches that make for a truly luxurious experience.
Despite the island being rich pickings when it comes to great food, Zemi’s offering is not to be sniffed at. The beachfront breakfast is irresistible, a literal toes-in-the-sand start to your day, while by night the restaurant transforms into a beachfront buffet with an every-changing menu, from an international menu to a local Caribbean night resplendent with hog roast and fresh grilled lobsters. Zemi prides itself on being a culinary celebration of sustainability, with its cuisine marrying fresh island seafood with imported delicacies, local herbs and seasonal produce.
For those after something a little more special, Stone is the resort’s fine dining restaurant, with a hand-crafted menu and fine wine list. For a post-prandial beverage, the elegant Bohio Bar & Lounge is open late with a dazzling cocktail menu, while the stunning Rhum Room offers over 100 small-batch, single-estate rums in its refined and elegant tasting room.
For a sublimely intimate experience, Zemi Beach House was a wonder of a hotel. From the freshly-baked cookies left on the pillow at turn down, to the beach bag in the wardrobe upon arrival and the makeup eraser cloth left in the bathroom, not details was left unthought of, and it’s little things like that which will keep guests coming back for more.