Jumby Bay Island, Oetker Collection
Laid-back yet upscale, timeless, secluded
Jumby Bay, Antigua oetkercollection.com
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At a Glance
Stunning suites for couples, suites and villas for families, private residences with butlers and chefs for multigenerational groups or friends traveling together—Jumby Bay is a perfect spot for a getaway, a milestone birthday celebration or an intimate wedding. Just two miles off the mainland of Antigua, the island retreat opened in December of 1983, after Homer Williams turned his family’s home into an exclusive 12-room resort. Since then, the resort has expanded to 14 villas and 22 residences and the island’s 300 acres of land—80 percent of which encompass beaches or nature sanctuaries—remains privately owned. The 40 suites, with ocean views and floor-to-ceiling windows, have private entrances and ample indoor-outdoor space, access to tennis courts and a fitness center and are just steps from the beach. Some residences have a croquet lawn, putting green, basketball court and a media room. The all-inclusive Oetker Collection property has a kids’ club, waterfront activities and a sailing academy. There are multiple restaurants, including the Pool Grille overlooking the ocean; Veranda, on the waterfront; or the Beach Bar. Dinner at the Estate House is a must.
The Standout: 300 acres with bikes or golf carts only (no cars)
Don’t Miss: Pop-up events such as Dinner at the Farm, White Night Beach BBQ and the West Indian Hang Out. Also, the brand-new Ocean Suites are ideal for families looking for connecting rooms and feature colors and textures reflective of the island’s natural beauty.
- The scenic boat ride transfer by catamaran
- Huge range of villa options that prioritize privacy, pools and water views
- Nighttime beach walks with the seasonal Hawksbill Turtle Project to monitor nesting activities
- Coming across the sheep at oasis-like Jumby Bay Farm while biking on the island
Jumby Bay Island Review
Similar to Mustique, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jumby Bay Island is located on a private island that belongs to an association of homeowners and is a member of the revered Oetker Collection that includes such icons as Le Bristol in Paris and Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the French Riviera. Some of their sumptuous Estate Homes, strung along the coast like precious pearls, can be rented exclusively through Jumby Bay. The resort occupies much of the island’s west coast, where a large swimming pool, tennis courts and a beach restaurant and bar are situated. One of its greatest charms is the setting: a private island just off the coast of Antigua with no cars. Guests drive around its 300 acres on one-speed bikes and golf carts, which contributes an air of timelessness and seclusion, and makes it much beloved by families. Kids feel independent here and parents can relax. The water is shallow and calm, ideal for little ones.
While the setting is indeed gorgeous, it’s the easygoing, friendly vibe that sets Jumby Bay apart. This is particularly clear during the weekly pop-up dining events. Every week the resort hosts a White Night Beach party, where guests kick off their shoes and sip rum punch on the island’s sandy shore; a West Indian Hangout, a Caribbean themed night set at the Pool Grille; and Dinner at the Farm, a rustic and elegant farm-to-table meal sourced from the Jumby Bay farm. Families and honeymooners mingle while cocktails are freshly shaken and live tunes from local musicians fill the air.
The resort underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2009 and the results are splendid. There are three types of accommodations: suites, private villas and Estate Homes. Meanwhile the private villas, with two to four bedrooms, and sprawling Estate Homes are sprinkled around the island, a bike or golf cart-ride away.
Suites: Housed in clusters of whitewashed bungalows, the spacious suites have an open floor plan with large living areas, colonial four-poster beds, teak furnishings and an elegantly subdued palette of beiges and shades of blu. Most suites also have an outdoor bathing area with a soaking tub and a rainfall shower in a small, sun-dappled courtyard. If being close to the restaurant, tennis court and lap pool is important, be sure to request a suite near the hub (though all accommodations come with bicycles, so getting around the fairly flat island is easy).
Estate Homes: When it comes to matching guests with Estate Homes, Jumby Bay works hard to find the right chemistry; the owners are understandably protective of their carefully designed houses, which feature lots of personal mementos. There’s sprawling Lazy Lizard, an Asia meets Caribbean-blue-style residence, where each suite sits in a freestanding pavilion set around an expansive pool. Also lovely are Oleander, whose soaring white interiors gives it a Martha’s Vineyard ambience on a grander scale, and Lost Puffin, a Sweden-inspired modern home designed for entertaining families and groups of friends. Each Estate Home has its own staff, including a maid, gardener and personal chef. If you’re traveling with young children, you may want to be based on the north shore, close to the protected Pasture and Jumby Bay beaches.
One of the relaxing aspects of staying at Jumby Bay is that meals are included for those in suites and villas, though guests in private residences may also choose to dine in the hotel restaurants at a discounted rate. In the past, regulars have complained about uninspired food, but that has changed under the new management since the 2009 renovation. Breakfast is served at The Verandah Restaurant, with a good buffet (including fruit smoothies to order) and a menu that might include lobster frittatas. Most people head to The Pool Grille for lunch (the fish tacos are sublime). If you are in the mood for fine dining, The Estate House is quite dreamy in the evenings, when it is lit by flickering candles.
In terms of activities, days at Jumby center on relaxing in the sun with the occasional dip in the warm sea, though water activities, like snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing, are also available and complimentary. Along with palms, the beach is sprinkled with loungers, thatch umbrellas and white day beds. Jumby is inclusive, so there’s nothing to sign when you accept the bottled water, fresh juices and sorbets that are brought to your beach pad throughout the day. Between the Estate Homes’ lavish private pools and the island’s many beaches, guests have a way of dispersing widely.
If you’re here between June and November, don’t miss a nighttime excursion to see the hawksbill turtles at Pasture Beach. The resort’s renowned turtle program, The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, is sponsored by the homeowner’s association, which takes pride in the schedule of research and education spearheaded by its dedicated field directors, staffers and volunteers. After dark, team members patrol Pasture Beach and call in sightings so guests can join them to see these critically endangered animals, whose population on Jumby is growing again. Those that sign up for this experience can determine how late in the night (or early in the morning) they wish to receive calls from the Hawksbill team. But even if you’re not lucky enough to witness mother turtle lay her eggs or a cluster of teeny turtles scuttling toward the ocean, Pasture Beach is a truly romantic spot at night, because the homes around it agree to keep their lights dim (to keep from confusing the wee turtles) and masses of flickering stars illuminate the dark skies.
A note on reaching Jumby Bay: From the Antigua airport, the resort’s staff will arrange a short car transfer to Jumby Bay’s private dock and then a seven-minute ferry ride to the island.
Who Should Stay
Jumby Bay is a great choice for families, large groups of friends and travelers seeking top beaches and all-inclusive service, with a private island location and luxurious five-star amenities.