What Do You Get For 50,000 Aveda Points
My partner, Catherine Popp, saved up and was able to convert her 50,000 Aveda points for the Pure Privilege, 7 Tier, Sugar Ridge Resorts, 3 night stay, for two, in Antigua.
Getting the points converted was easy enough but in the back of your mind you always wonder what you are actually going to get with such a deal. The flight was a bit pricey and trying to book the flights in March and April were more costly if not impossible. Transportation was not included but I did tried to use our regional upgrades for Business class but the demand for those seats outweighed our current Double Diamond Status. But the black out dates were reasonable and a standard room with breakfast included sounded like a great deal. Throw in a 60 minute massage for each of us and full use of the facilities there and seemed like the potentially perfect Valentine’s Day gift, so we took the chance. As it just so happens, Delta, our carrier of choice, was advertising the gift of travel for this occasion as opposed to the typical flowers and/or candy.
View from our Terrace
When arriving in a foreign land for the first time, there can be a lot of guesswork and apprehension, but in Antingua, the entire experience from getting off the airplane to getting to the resort was flawless, though it does help to be near the front of the plane. Antigua has a very upscale airport for a Caribbean destination. Our bags were waiting for us instead of the other way around and the airport had plenty of customs and immigration agents to keep everyone moving along. A dispatcher working for the government-run taxi gave us a fare quote, and even though we shared a van, the ride to the hotel was quick and efficient.
The resort claimed to cater to the world’s most discerning travelers in a secluded hillside setting overlooking the lush natural beauty of the west coast of Antigua and the Caribbean Sea. Check in was first class: everyone asked our names and shook our hands, and the rum punch offered while we waited was a very nice touch. Transportation to our room was required since the 60 guest rooms are built on the hill for the great views of the surrounding area and harbour.
The resort had four types of rooms and I was not expecting the deluxe suite, but to our surprise, the standard room included an outdoor, private, plunge pool which was especially nice after our 5-mile run the next day.
Beautiful view of the pool area and The Captain Club
Dinner at Sugar Club that night was well prepared and reasonably priced, and once again all the staff members were delightful and attentive. Local entertainment could be heard from our terrace so after dinner we made the short walk to Jolly Harbor to listen to the live band. We had to buy tickets for drinks and the somewhat arbitrary exchange rate was a bit confusing since the entire island seems to enjoy going back and forth between US and the East Caribbean dollar on a whim, but turns out the Valentine’s Regatta was taking place that weekend, so it did not take long for the outdoor dance floor to fill up.
The next morning, the buffet-style breakfast at the hotel, complete with a cook to take your egg order made, made breakfast a worthwhile trip after our slow 5-mile run.
The pool and exercise room were both very inviting, but since I had already run that morning, the pool won. It was long enough to do some laps, so I didn’t feel so bad about enjoying a frozen drink afterward while taking in some Vitamin D from the sun.
Long enough to do some laps
By this time, I was starting to learn why so many people love Antigua.
We were really looking forward to our Valentine’s Dinner at their formal dining room, Carmichael’s, located on the top of the hill behind our room.The hotel seemed to provide transportation to just about anywhere nearby, including three beaches, and so a van to and from the restaurant was provided. The walk up the stairs to the restaurant was not required but we could not resist getting in a bit more exercise prior to dinner. We are always looking for any and all types of exercise, so after dinner, so the 1-mile walk to the nearest beach was right down our alley.
Nice Views from Carmichael’s
The Valentine’s meal did not disappoint, and with the sunset in the distance I can easily say I hit this one right out of the park. Our waitress was exceptional, quickly alleviating our fears about Catherine’s meal choice since she is Gluten sensitive. Her smile was captivating and she really seemed to enjoy her job. She greeted us again at the Captain’s Club for breakfast the next morning and she even still had a big smile on her face.
Pool right outside Carmichael’s and sunset right before dinner
A word of caution about making appointments for your 60 minute massage treatments, however. We failed to do so upon check in and the parlor closes at 5 pm and are not open on Sunday. Not to fear, though– we were there when they opened on Monday at 8 am and were able to get the last two appointments later that day. In the worst case scenario, they would have tried to fit us in on Tuesday, the day of our departure, but everything worked out okay.
The Jolly Harbour area had plenty of restaurants, bars and shop, but it was admittedly sad to see the once majestic Grand Princess Casino abandoned and for sale. I hope, one day, that someone will buy give this huge building a true facelift, but the Jolly Harbour resort and Tranquillity Bay were also nearby so there seemed to be plenty of alternative options.
We looked at extending our stay, which can be easily done through the Sugar Ridge Website, but $595 per night was out of our price range, and so our last night started out with the manager’s reception. The newly appointed manager made his way around to most of us which was a nice personal touch. A hard downpour of rain tried to dampen our spirits but the rum punch, too, flowed like water. During the raffle, we met our new best friends for this trip, Christie and Jim. They were a unique pair, with Christie being a Air Traffic Controller in Philadelphia and Jim a Captain at Johnson and Johnson. Hearing Christie’s stories of controlling several of Jim’s flights was very entertaining.
Our new best friends
Once again the small world theory came into play when we learned that we all had a mutual friend. We sent pictures and text messages back and forth to our mutual friend as she is also a UPSer that retired several years before me. We all had a relaxing dinner at Miracle’s, right across the street from the hotel. There the Grilled Whole Lobster dish was to die for. Time flew by and it started to sink in that we will be back because it was now clear that Antigua is a true Gem in the Caribbean.
The presentation was outstanding
Check out and taxi back to the airport were simple enough. We returned the survey they slipped under our door along with the preliminary bill the night before. The airport bar had a drink called, Negroni, so I could not resist. I had to go to the trusty web to assist the bartender on the actual ingredients. Campari is an acquired taste and he had to improvise, and instead of the orange slice, which he did not have, he tossed in a lime slice and a cherry, too, for good measure.
Try one for yourself:
1 1/2 ounces, Sweet Vermouth
1 1/2 ounces, Campari
1 1/2 ounces, Gin
Orange slice or twist for garnish
It was sad to hear the announcement at the gate for other individuals who would take the last business class seats for the flight home. (Not really, I will just use regional upgrade requests for our trip to Cancun in April, and Delta does an excellent job no matter where you sit in the airplane.)
Looking back, it was a fantastic weekend and the entire experience. What we got for 50,000 Aveda points was well worth it. Next time, we will have save up 100K points, as Christie did, so we can stay even longer.
Antigua, we will be back.