A Review of Carlisle Bay in Antigua- a top resort for toddlers
Our journey to find Carlisle Bay began over a year ago, when our family was on a mission to find a true luxury resort that had a kids club for children ages two and older. I knew this was not going to be easy to find. A select few resorts have kids clubs for toddlers starting at age 3 while the majority start at age 4 and 5 years old. Now, add the word “luxury” into the mix and you can essentially wipe out everyone of these resorts! Well my friends, there is at least one luxury resort that caters to familes with toddlers age 2 and younger and that is Carlisle Bay in Antigua! The kids club is free of charge for children ages 2 and older. More on the Carlisle Bay kids club later in our Carlisle Bay reviews.
Carlisle Bay is a boutique size resort (only 82 suites) located on the beach in Antigua. Now when Carlisle Bay says its located on the beach, they mean it. I have literally never stayed this close to the beach and ocean. If you don’t believe us then check out this picture that we took from our Beach Suite Patio. I think we counted five steps from the balcony to the sand and 25 steps to the ocean.
This made for some really relaxing early mornings when the toddler wakes up before everyone else. I could enjoy my morning diet coke while the little one happily played in the sand, and the best part is that no one else in the family was disturbed.
The truth be told, everything at this resort was easy. There was excellent beach service so you never had to get up from your lounger that was 5 steps from your patio. Sorry for repeating myself, but I still can’t get over that part! Now, this is when the “luxury” part of Carlisle Bay’s experience begins. Every morning your chairs and umbrella are set up along with a cooler full of water bottles free of charge.
The food and beach service at Carlisle Bay was also top notch and again shined in this area. I ordered one of their delicious and healthy Bento Box lunches and was not disappointed. Carlisle Bay’s food is all fresh and healthy which we appreciated. Even though we are “Americans,” ChicFamilyTravels prefers healthy and fresh meals over heavy, unhealthy processed foods! Check out the freshly squeezed Watermelon juice in this photo below.
In addition to freshly squeezed Watermelon juice, Carlisle Bay also had a fresh “smoothie of the day” every morning at breakfast. Breakfast was served at Indigo, which is their open-air beachfront restaurant. The views at breakfast were stunning and the food was fabulous.
Again, I would like to comment on the quality of the food at Carlisle Bay in my review. The breakfast was amazingly delicious and there were multiple healthy options. I enjoyed my veggie egg white omelet each and every morning! Oh yeah, I must mention the home-made jams. I have never even liked toast and jam until Carlisle Bay. Also, the local pineapple is delicious. It was so sweet and tender. We just don’t have pineapple like that at home! Indigo is the main restaurant at Carlisle Bay, and words do not do it justice so I will post a few pictures of the open-air restaurant on the beach.
Another of the little extras that make this vacation stress-free for parents, is the afternoon kids buffet served at the Carlisle Bay pool. The food was quite delicious and more than enough to fill up our 3 children ages 2, 8 and 11. This is really a brilliant concept. First of all, it was free of charge. Second of all, it allowed parents to feed their children in a relaxed pool-side environment with other parents who understand the occasional melt-down will happen! Carlisle Bay did not forget the details at the kids buffet as they even have the cutest girl and boy plates that we have ever seen!
The last and possibly the best reason the Carlisle Bay kids buffet is brilliant is that after feeding the kids, the parents can hire one of the Carlise Bay nannies to watch the children while they dine later in the evening at Indigo or East. The nannies are fabulous by the way and always available, even on a last minute’s notice. My kids particularly loved Debbie. She is a Carlisle Bay gem! She played in the sand with the kids, took them swimming, and even took them to Crush where there is a room full of games like ping pong and air hockey.
Also, don’t miss the Carlisle Bay movie theatre that is located next to the pool. Our girls asked the Carlisle Bay staff if they could watch a movie in the theatre during an unscheduled time, and they not only allowed them to do so but also made it special by bringing them popcorn to enjoy while watching the movie! This is a great example of how we were treated by most of the staff at Carlisle Bay. We missed weekly snorkeling trip, because it was already full. Thus, we asked the Carlisle Bay watersports staff if we could charter a boat to snorkel another day. The price was sky high, and that is not an exaggeration. The cost was hard to swallow since the snorkeling trip is normally free of charge. I later asked the General Manager if there was anyway we could charter a boat for a more reasonable price since we would not have another opportunity to snorkel. Once again, customer service shined at Carlisle Bay. The general manager “made it happen” and we had a delightful afternoon on the boat.
Again, we felt completely comfortable leaving our toddler in the care of the kids club staff and our nanny. The Kids club is a really neat place for smaller children. There is even a playground and wading pool just for them.
I cannot say enough good things in my review about Carlisle Bay’s staff at the kids club. One of the sweet ladies paid so much attention to my little man and said everyday, ” Don’t worry mom. He loves it here. I am his kids club wifey.” It is this type of attention that I appreciated. You definitely did not feel like you were leaving your little one at a place where he was just a name on that day’s sign in list if you know what I mean. I wish that I had as many good things to say about the kids club for the older children called Crew Blue. There were not that many children at the resort their age, so many of the activities were cancelled. I am sure that if you visit during a European holiday or summer break, there would be more going on in this department. The activity list at Crew Blue looked really fun and interesting, so it was disappointing that the older girls did not get to participate in any of these activities. To be completely honest, the young gentlemen who was in charge of the Crew Blue was not all that enthusiastic and my girls chose to not go on the days there were enough kids to have the Crew Blue activities. This is our only real negative experience at Carlisle Bay and it is ashame that I have to include this in our review of Carlisle Bay because a single employee should not spoil an entire kids club review but he did. Hopefully, they will find someone else to run Crew Blue at Carlisle Bay.
No worries on missing out on Crew Blue, because the girls are tennis players and this is another area that Carlisle Bay shines. This is a first-rate tennis resort, and we loved Ken the tennis pro. He is an excellent asset to Carlisle Bay, and he is one of the top reasons that we would consider returning to Carlisle Bay. We don’t normally return to the same place twice because there are so many places to see! However, we would go back just to enjoy his tennis instruction in an amazing backdrop of the Antiguan hills. We purchased the Carlisle Bay “tennis week package,” which is an amazing deal. My husband and I did the math, and realized that the tennis week package was less expensive than what we pay at our local country club. Not to mention, it includes a massage for mom
I also took the girls to the Carlisle Bay Spa for a girls spa day. The spa is lovely and the fitness center is well-equipped. The girls were trying to figure out what you do in the relaxation room. I told them its easy, “relax!”
I thought they would enjoy it as much as I do until I caught them playing rock, paper scissors. Oh well, I tried
Overall, ChicFamily Travels would highly recommend Carlisle Bay. We would especially recommend Carlisle Bay to families with toddlers and young children who do not want to sacrifice a luxury vacation, just because they are traveling with children! Carlisle Bay has without a doubt met a market niche by successfully providing luxury vacations to families with young children by providing a top-notch kids club for babies and toddlers. Not to mention, there is no potty training required! YES!!! We love you Carlisle Bay !! Even, Disney could learn a thing or two from you
We would love to hear your Carlisle Bay reviews so please post a comment if you have been to Carlisle Bay and have something to add. Also, we recommend that you check with Jetsetter because they often have lower rates at Carlisle Bay and other Caribbean hotels.