I don’t think I need to explain how hard it was to tear myself away from Palm Island (you’ve seen the post, you get it right?) It came as no surprise to learn that guests have wept on the Palm Island pier as the boat arrives to take them home. I didn’t go that far but I probably would have if I wasn’t on my way to another Elite Island Resort.
Arriving back in Antigua, there were aspects of Galley Bay that evoked fond memories of my time on Palm Island. As they are sister resorts I arrived at Galley Bay with high expectations; it did not disappoint. Those little touches I had enjoyed about Palm; the all-inclusive a la carte menu, smiley and efficient service, impressive management, homegrown fruit and vegetables – were exactly the same at Galley, in fact, there was even more of it.
Just like my arrival on Palm Island the entrance way to Galley Bay makes a fabulous first impression. The land was once a sugar plantation so standing tall near the main entrance is the old mill, a reminder of the island’s past. At reception I was escorted to a buggy and driven into its present, via a straight path through a tree-surrounded lagoon.
Galley Bay is a very clever resort; cunningly hiding a wealth of facilities yet maintaining the feel of a boutique hotel. This may have something to do with the way the rooms hug the coast – an elegant, long stretch of golden coast (which Georgio Armani has chosen to own a home on one end of.) The beachfront rooms are arranged in villas, 4 to a block and each no more than 1 storey high. I got to test out one of the chicly refurbished Premium Beachfront Suites. The entrance is on the same side as the lagoon whilst the ocean feels within arm’s reach of the bed. It’s a big bed too. A giant, spongy one like you get in the US; I have to run and jump to get in it every evening. I also have 2 showers in my bathroom (one is perfect for short people like me on the days you don’t want to wash your hair) and a rather large tub. The lounge area has a complimentary minibar and there are two sunbeds on the balcony, as well as on the sand on the beach just below.
In the heart of the resort is the main TeePee Bar (told you it was smart) where guests gather for a daily frozen blend of their favourite fruit. Nearby is the spa with outdoor cabanas, Sea Grape Restaurant, the library, gym and bike rental – it’s all there if you need it, but discreetly tucked away if you don’t. The beach is bookended by a further two restaurants; Gauguin, where I gorged on the daily changing burger special (including bbq infused onions and a coleslaw with chunks of pineapple) and Ismay’s, the resort’s fine dining restaurant where I tucked into a chef’s special appetizer of prawn and passion fruit and an extra special surf and turf. (Thanks to Chef Stan and his team for these culinary creations.)
In the mornings Ismay’s plays a different role as the sea-facing venue for the daily yoga class. Ivana takes the class through a challenging but not punishing morning routine of yoga, adding meditative thoughts along the way.
‘Be thankful for this moment,’ she tells us, “and everything that bought you to it’. It was a very poignant moment for me, not least because when we opened our eyes a light rain shower had left a rainbow reaching through the palm trees and resting on the beach.
Ivana finishes the class by placing her aromatherapy-oiled hands on my shoulders, easing the tension from my body and sending it deep into the ground. The spa had worked wonders on my head and neck, the ocean had left me feeling light, the sun had warmed my bones. The #EliteHop had cured my winter woes, just as I had hoped.
Please don’t ask me to choose which was my favourite stop in the #EliteHop because I simply couldn’t. Each resort had something about it that made you feel special – whether it be the sea-facing spa at St James Club, the breathtaking beauty of Palm Island or the food at Galley Bay. I feel very privileged to have experienced them all and can’t thank Elite Island Resorts and British Airways enough for the opportunity.