Curtain Bluff in Antigua is a low-key retreat that feels more like a private club than an all-inclusive resort — thanks, in part, to its family ownership. This boutique luxury property was originally opened by Howard Hulford in 1962, and his wife Chelle still lives in her home on the bluff, hosting weekly cocktail parties for resort guests.
After only a short while, it’s easy to see why so many families come back year after year. Many of these “repeaters” affectionately refer to Curtain Bluff as their island home, smitten with the friendly staff, laid-back vibe and everything-included affordability.
Curtain Bluff is housed in a former colonial hotel, and the rooms are the only nod to the modern era. There are 72 comfortable rooms and suites, with a variety of options for families. All room types can accommodate a family of four except for the Deluxe Rooms, which sleep a maximum of three. Natural wood lines the ceilings, and the decor is cool and calming, done in neutrals and Caribbean blues. A lack of in-room TVs encourages guests to really unplug and enjoy quality family time.
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We stayed in a lower-level Junior Suite with a sliding door opening to a private terrace on the beach. The sofa can be made into a single bed; with a rollaway, this category is perfect — and budget-friendly — for a family of four. Spacious bathrooms include Jacuzzi tubs and rain showers. Relaxing in the hammock outside our door, listening to the waves crash, was blissful.
The resort is perfectly perched on a peninsula with stunning views and two beautiful but very different beaches. The leeward side faces the Atlantic Ocean and has very strong waves — great for bodysurfing teens but not suited for young children. This beach was always quiet during our stay, ideal for relaxing with a good book. The second beach is on the Caribbean in a protected bay, perfect for younger kids. All the water sports are located here as well.
There are two restaurants on the property that alternate meal service (when the resort is busy, both serve at the same time). The beachfront Sea Grape offers lunch and dinner; reservations for the latter are required when both restaurants are open. Tamarind has covered outdoor seating facing a lovely courtyard and serves breakfast and dinner. There is live music every night; little ones can dance in the courtyard while Mom and Dad enjoy their meals. Older kids can go to the TV room just off the courtyard to play Xbox between courses or after they eat.
Afternoon tea is served on the porch just off reception every day at 4p.
Families love that Curtain Bluff is fully inclusive, even down to motorized watersports. From kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to pedal boats, there’s a wide range of choices; we had a great sailing lesson with Neville on the Hobie Cat. Curtain Bluff also offers two complimentary snorkeling excursions per day to Cade’s Reef nearby, and for scuba divers, a daily dive is included.
We enjoyed taking a break from swimming every afternoon for a family competition on the basketball or bocce courts. Shuffleboard is available as well.
The fitness center has gorgeous views, and the friendly attendant is happy to help guests with their workouts. Beautiful tennis courts next to the fitness center offer private instruction for all ages and abilities.
Kids’ camp is included for ages 3 to 10, open five days a week in the mornings and afternoons. It’s quite flexible — kids can drop in whenever and stay as long as they like. The activities are outdoorsy, from collecting starfish shells on the beach to fishing off the dock and painting T-shirts. Smooth, also known as as the “Coconut Man,” is a big hit with the kids. He visits the camp and shows them how he can scale a palm tree to pick coconuts, then serves fresh coconut water to guests.
The oceanfront spa sits a little removed from the resort for peace and privacy. I highly recommend dropping the little ones at kids’ camp, getting a couples’ massage in the lovely couples’ suite and enjoying the view from the lounge area and hot tub.
Curtain Bluff is located on the southern side of Antigua, about 40 minutes from the airport. I would advise taking a taxi rather than renting a car, since driving here is on the left side of the road and a car isn’t necessary on-property. If you like, the resort can arrange for a transfer and bill it to your room.
There are direct flights from New York to Antigua, which, for East Coasters, make for an easy long-weekend escape. Very limited direct flights also are available from farther afield, such as London.
Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received a media package to review Curtain Bluff. As always, all opinions are our own. Photos by Sandy Pappas.
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