Follow the stars to Anguilla

by Carrie.Mitchell

One of the Caribbean‘s smallest and most unspoilt islands, Anguilla provides a haven for high profile celebrities looking for an exotic beach break away from the paparazzi

With over 30 epic beaches, the finest luxury resorts, dozens of sprawling private villas, and not much else, it’s easy to see why celebrities would be attracted to Anguilla. The likes of Mariah Carey, Beyoncé Knowles, P Diddy and Meryl Streep have all holidayed here and they keep coming back, largely thanks to the rare privacy they‘re rewarded with and the year-round sunshine.

The most famous of the island’s many five-star resorts is Cap Juluca, which retains its revered reputation by inviting publicity-loving stars such as Paris Hilton to holiday there… and sending her candid holiday snaps out to celebrity news desks across the globe.

Not wishing to expose my stretch marks to a worldwide audience, when I visited the island I opted for something a tad more private. Malliouhana Hotel & Spa is an intimate, family-owned hotel, where everything is done with a little less fanfare and a little more taste. Malliouhana’s staff would never publically divulge their many famous guests, but I did manage to squeeze a couple of names out of them. Brad and Jen apparently holidayed here in happier times.

Sitting atop a coastal bluff along unspoilt Meads Bay, the Mediterranean-inspired resort boasts some of the biggest hotel rooms you’re likely to come across. Marble bathrooms, private terraces, and classic furnishings combine to make the rooms veritable havens of calm, and it’s refreshing to find no TV. Why would you need one with such stunning views across the turquoise sea to gaze upon? Indeed, the view from my room is so captivating, I opt to enjoy breakfast on my terrace every morning, with a little sugar-loving bird providing all the company I need.

One of the hotel’s biggest draws is its gastronomic reputation. The award-winning wine cellar is hailed as the best in the Caribbean and its highly lauded restaurant, overseen by French celebrity chef Michel Rostang, serves up some of the finest nouvelle cuisine outside France.

Dining outside the hotel is just as impressive an experience. On Meads Bay, Blanchard's (264 497 6100),  the island's most famous restaurant, is a must-visit, offering a divine menu of fresh, simply prepared local seafood in an intimate candlelit atmosphere. Tasty's (264 497 2737), on South Hill, is an equally charming little restaurant, with simple Anguillan dishes with a hint of French flavour and flair.

When you’re not eating, drinking or sunning yourself on the deserted beach, keep things chilled with a pampering treatment at the hotel’s oceanfront spa, which reputedly has a secret side door for celebrities. You can choose from a wide variety of treatments, from a relaxing one-hour massage to a vigorous five-day structured programme featuring a whopping 17 hours of treatments. After that, surely you’ll be as polished and pristine as any of their celebrity guests.

Relaxation is the name of the game in Anguilla but if you really must get out and about, you could visit the northern Island Harbour, a fishing village and the centre of local lobster catching, play a round on the island’s newly opened golf course at the St Regis, or hop on a little boat to picture-perfect Scilly Cay (book ahead on 264 497 5123), where the characteristically laidback staff will mix you up a rum punch, present you with huge barbecued lobsters, and play a few of their favourite tunes to kick back to.

The only criticism that could possibly be levelled at the destination is that it’ll put a massive hole in your bank balance. Catering for an A-list crowd means A-list prices. Or at least it has until recently. Recognising a gap in the market for more affordable tourism on the island, Cap Juluca has recently opened a budget little sister, boutique hotel Ku, situated on Shoal Bay East and offering the same attentive service as you can expect everywhere on the island, at much more recession-friendly rates.

It’s also possible to eat out on a budget. Search out a local food shack such as B and D’s on Long Bay or for a laidback feast of chicken and ribs, visit Gwen's Reggae Grill (264 497 2120) on Shoal Bay East, a favourite of Rod Stewart’s where you can get a full lobster for 15 measly bucks.

Who'd have thought it: an A-list destination on a C-list budget?

Getting there

Journey time from the UK is approximately 8-10 hours. Fly from London Gatwick to Antigua with Virgin Atlantic then take a domestic flight to Anguilla.