Places to stay on Anguilla, and a return to tranquil Meads Bay: Travel Weekly

My first stay on Anguilla’s Meads Bay was more than 20 years ago, and I was a little apprehensive about returning. In memory, it was the best shoreline I’d come across in the Caribbean: uncrowded, wide beaches, family-friendly surf.

Upon returning earlier this year, I was happy to find that, although there has been some additional development, there are still long stretches of beach fringed only by coastal grasses and low shrubs. And the development I did see was tasteful and with some welcome additions: more dining options, from upscale to barefoot beach cuisine.

While I’d still characterize Meads Bay as uncrowded, in high season one might want to take a short walk to lay a towel down closer to the less-developed center of the bay, particularly if staying at the eastern end. But even at its most crowded, it’s still sparsely populated, relatively speaking; unlike Shoal Bay at the other end of Anguilla, one sees few of the cruise ship passengers ferried in from St. Martin.

West for Four Seasons

On this trip, my first stay was at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla, anchoring the western end of Meads Bay (and rounding the bend to have additional waterfront on Barnes Bay). Built as a Viceroy, it was converted in 2016 and, in addition to its rooms, suites and penthouse, has four- and five-bedroom villas and three- and four-bedroom townhouses, many on the water.

According to a taxi driver, the detached residences are magnets for sports superstars. Each villa and townhouse comes with a dedicated residence assistant, one of whom, assigned to my family, not only made sure the refrigerator was kept filled with cold beer for my adult sons but invited them to join him and a friend for a few games of basketball.

Service is Four Seasons-perfect, with a nod to island informality. The breakfast buffet is outstanding, and at night that same space becomes Salt, the resort’s most formal dining room (the name refers to Anguilla’s former economic engine). There are additional excellent casual bars and food outlets on the property. (General manager Diego Angarita said that all the food and beverage outlets will be renovated over the next three years and that a new spa will be built.)

The view of Meads Bay, looking west from the terrace of a centrally located Tranquility Beach resort suite.

The view of Meads Bay, looking west from the terrace of a centrally located Tranquility Beach resort suite. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann

Tranquility Beach in the middle

I also spent a few nights at Tranquility Beach, toward the center of Meads Bay. A smaller property with only 12 suites and three villas, it nonetheless provides five-star service, with beach butlers mixing drinks and handing out chilled towels (and occasional frozen treats). Each accommodation has a terrace with a hot tub and a full kitchen.

There’s a small gym, and although there’s no restaurant on the property, there are plenty of choices just a short walk in either direction along the water. Tranquility Beach can also arrange for local celebrity chef Kylon Hull to come and cook a meal in your unit. He and sous-chef Frankie Hodge prepared a brunch for us that ranged from saltfish and johnnycakes to lobster eggs Benedict, with a side of guidance to local attractions that we might otherwise have missed.

The pool at Malliouhana, at the eastern end of Meads Bay.

The pool at Malliouhana, at the eastern end of Meads Bay. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann

East to Malliouhana and beyond

Anguilla’s original five-star resort is the venerable Malliouhana, located at the very eastern end of Meads Bay. Built in 1984, it will celebrate its 40th birthday on Nov. 1.

During a site inspection, I was impressed with its sense of place. In contrast to the decidedly contemporary interiors of the Four Seasons and Tranquility Beach, Malliouhana leans into its Caribbean roots and colonial period decor (Anguilla remains a British Overseas Territory).

If you’ve exhausted the food offerings on Meads Bay, there’s an excellent restaurant at Relais & Chateaux member Quintessence on Long Bay Beach, just a short walk east of Malliouhana. That hotel has a sense of many places. The owner is a collector of antiques and art, and in both the hotel’s public areas and its rooms and suites there are pieces from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

It’s an amazing collection that manages to fit together as a whole while offering plenty of detail to study. It is so varied across maps and calendars that the stylized “Q” at the start of the property’s name could equally stand for “quirky” in the most positive and entertaining sense of that word.

There is no shortage of attention-grabbing five-star properties on Anguilla, including Cap Juluca and the Aurora Anguilla Resort and Golf Club, both on the southwest end of the island, but the sum of a Meads Bay vacation transcends the offerings of its individual properties and restaurants to create a sense of community across its coastline. I doubt I’ll wait 20 years before my next visit. 


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