Hermitage Bay, a quiet all-inclusive resort on Antigua with just 25 rooms, some beach-front cottages, some hillside villas (with splash pools) amid Caribbean flowers overlooking the ocean, is running a deal. Book by April 30 for travel between Aug. 28 and Oct. 31, and get 40-percent off, by booking five nights and paying for three, or 10 nights (in suite category) and paying for six.
It's worth it, even in the steamy off-season for the Caribbean. Hermitage Bay, which is about seven years old, is a unique place, where you will be waited on hand and foot, but also where you can get down and dirty in the name of culinary adventure: Take advantage of cockle fishing with resort Chef Desi Bahnan, who brings you to a nearby saltwater lagoon to ferret out small clams buried in knee-deep mud with your feet. It's the messiest fun you could have, and later, he gives a cooking class on how to make cockle water, a delicious broth of clams, spices and veggies, much of which is grown at the resort's garden, also worth touring with Bahnan.
Besides the rooms, and spectacular food (much of it of Antiguan flavor, including saltfish atop a sauté of eggplant, pumpkin and okra for breakfast, and Caribbean lobster for dinner), the beach is a big draw, a sweeping crescent with cooling shade, courtesy of umbrellas and palm, sea grape and turpentine trees. If you're a sea glass fan, this place rocks. My girlfriend and I found tons of it on beach walks, mostly green but with the occasional harder-to-find brown and white.
Hanging by the pool is a lazy option, one with deck of green heartwood, in a resort largely made of the stuff. Owner Andy Therrien is a South African with a lumber-family background who knows his wood, and much of it at Hermitage is Guyana heartwood, green and purple, noted for its extreme hardness and durability.
The resort was named one of the Top Small Hotels in the Caribbean and one of the Top Luxury Hotels by Trip Advisor's Travelers' Choice Awards last year. Rates start at $965 a night. For more information and booking, visit www.hermitagebay.com, or call 855-562-8080.
Top photo, villa view, courtesy Hermitage Bay; bottom photo, beach walker, photo by Paul E. Kandarian