Enchanted in Anguilla: the Ani Villas Way-1
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Enchanted in Anguilla: the Ani Villas Way-3

Enchanted in Anguilla: the Ani Villas Way

From mountain biking to art class, Ani goes above and beyond to ensure visitors have the trip of a lifetime

Along Anguilla’s beach-lined coast lies a commanding enclave where two private villas stand above Little Bay, one of the island’s most treasured natural wonders. Tall and imposing, Ani Villas are a feast for the eyes, although there is much more behind the arrow of this luxurious villa collection, and it all began here in Anguilla.

ani-villas-viewDiscovering a unique sense of place in the Caribbean can be challenging, between the usual diversions of beach combing and rum punch, but here they have succeeded. The Managing Director of Ani, Ira Bloom, and his wife Bonnie, are key to the magic, ensuring guests experience the true Anguilla and leave feeling like a part of the island culture. In fact the name Ani is derived from the Swahili word ‘Andjani’, meaning the “road” or the “path ahead, which reflects founder Tim Reynolds’ vision for the property.

Ani Anguilla consists of two fully-outfitted, full-service villas, with staff who know what you need for every step of your vacation before you even do. On our first day at Ani, we were driven to the eastern tip of the island where we found Hasani Derrick, ready to take us on a real island adventure. He had lined up mountain bikes, helmets and cold water, and we all took off ready to experience something extraordinary. Anguilla is a fairly flat island so you would never guess there are mountain bike trails. Hasani led us down a path towards Captain’s Bay, quite possibly the most hidden yet majestic spot on the island. The landscape is an otherworldly paradise; a peninsula of sharp, pointy black rocks lined by bold waters and platinum-blonde sand. Awestruck, we walked around bright-eyed and relished in our discovery of a place so bare and beautiful.

ani-bikeJust when we thought our trip could not possibly get any better, Ani’s Property Manager Felix Piña assembled an incredible, privately-tented barbecue on the infamous Shoal Bay Beach. The sun blazed the perfect brightness to display the ombre turquoise waters, the reason people come from all corners of the world to visit Anguilla. On top of this, thanks to Felix, we could try paddleboarding, lounge on towel-lined beach chaises, sip whatever we craved and enjoy a catered, oceanfront lunch by private chef, “Sweets.” As one of my fellow travelers excitedly remarked, “We’ve won the life lottery!”

That night, we savored an intimate dinner under the stars. There is a secluded back patio over Little Bay where we dined, lingered, told stories and danced the night away with famous local artist Omalie Durand.

ani-artroom-The last day may have been the best surprise yet, as we were welcomed on a personal tour by instructor Tim Jahn of the Ani Art Academies, a non-profit organization that supports local apprentices to learn art techniques from highly accredited instructors. Ani’s founder, Tim Reynolds connected with the New Jersey artist, Tim Jahn in his own search to improve his artistic skills.

Reynolds’ personal journey led to his idea of giving back through education, and now Jahn leads the apprentices down their artistic paths in Anguilla. When one thinks of an art school on a small island, watercolors and amateur beach scenes may come to mind, although the black and white drawings adorning the walls would be just at home in a renowned New York gallery. Easels lined the room with industrial lamps that lighted the silhouettes of the apprentices, hard at work. Tim says, “The apprentices here in Anguilla have a more developed hand than anyone I’ve taught in the states, and what that means for the country only time will tell.”

Amid all this activity, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the pleasures of home. But I can’t fail to mention the aesthetic wonders of Ani; it exudes luxury from the moment you step through the gates, with 10 minimalistic rooms, infinity pools, panoramic windows, and incredible sunset vantage points including a breathtaking glass overhang with a likely scene of floating sea turtles below. Frankly, if you get whisked down the path ahead by the team at Ani, you’ll never know what you might experience, learn and discover.

Find out more about Ani Estate

Photographs: Jessica van Dop deJesus/The Dining Traveler; Kristen Kellogg/Border Free Travels; Mu-Hsien Lee/Live Like You’re Traveling; Lacy Colley/the expate
Lacy Colley Yamaoka