If you’ve been following along on The Hollyday for a good while now, then you may know about my affinity for the magical Caribbean oasis that is Malliouhana. If you don’t know, consider yourself about to be enlightened.
First, you should know that back in the day (a.k.a. the 80s), Malliouhana put Anguilla on the map. (Not the actual map, but the map of the rich and famous, if you will.) Originally owned and developed by a British couple, it was the island’s first luxury hotel property and jetsetters flocked to it like white on rice. Sadly, the resort closed in 2011 and remained vacant, eerily sitting empty on top of the bluff as a reminder of the recession, until it was repurchased in 2013 and luxury hotel brand Auberge Resorts was enlisted to redesign and operate the iconic hotel.
What resulted from Auberge’s takeover is a hotel reimagined in all the best ways while still preserving many aspects of the original property. It got a facelift, and a good one at that. It’s now a perfect mix between European-chic and the Caribbean’s laid back vibes. It’s cute and charming, not fancy or stuffy, but there is no sacrifice of luxury. The hotel has been visited by the who’s who and has earned the praises of the top travel magazines, critics, and repeat guests.
What is it that so many people love about Malliouhana? Let us count the ways.
First – location, location, location. The hotel is located on one of the best pieces of real estate in Anguilla, on top of a bluff in the middle of two stretches of sand, the famous Meads Bay and Turtle Cove. Its location automatically gives its guests access to not one, but two beaches, plus magnificent, 180 degree views of the ocean. You can walk down the beach and be at some of the island’s best restaurants like Blanchards, Jacala (Martha Stewart’s “favorite Caribbean restaurant”), and Ocean Echo, to name a few. Nothing beats getting to dinner via a walk on the beach.
Second – bigger is not always better in terms of hotels and resorts. Malliouhana’s size, with just 55 rooms, makes it a boutique property in all senses of the word. It feels intimate and private, even during high season. There will never be hundreds of people surrounding you at the pool or crowding up the beach… nothing to get in your way of achieving maximum relaxation.
Third – you’ve got access to one of the best beaches and the best pool on the island. Not only do you have Meads Bay beach just footsteps away, but you have a double infinity pool overlooking the ocean that will blow your mind. So whether you’re a beach person, a pool person (or both), you’ll be just fine here.
And finally – maybe saving the best for last, the decor. Whimsical, magical, chic, charming, playful – whatever you want to call it – it’s freaking on point. Auberge brought in designer Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studio to re-envision the property, and as you can see from the photos (which hardly do it justice), it’s a Caribbean wonderland. No detail is left undone; thought was put into every corner.
When you first arrive at Malliouhana and pull up to the charming façade, you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff with a warm welcome. And this isn’t just an act to impress guests upon arrival. I’ve yet to visit a destination with nicer people than you’ll find on the island of Anguilla, the staff at Malliouhana included. And one of the beauties of a boutique property is that you get to know the people who work at the hotel over the course of your stay. By the end of the week, they very well might feel like your family away from home. You’ll probably also meet John, the manager, who can be found most days walking around the property or greeting guests at breakfast, checking in on the quality of their stay.
You’ll be escorted to your room, all of which are cheery and colorful with a classic Caribbean feel. Go for a room with an ocean view and relax in the orange hammocks on your terrace while listening to sounds of the waves.
So what might a typical day at Malliouhana look like? Wake up at your preferred hour… whether that’s 6am or 11 (you’re on island time, remember?), and take a walk down the beach or go for a complimentary poolside yoga session. When you’re ready for your morning brew and a bite to eat, head up to the Restaurant for breakfast, which can either be as healthy or as indulgent as you like… there’s something for everyone on the menu. (It’s open for dinner too, which is highly convenient for nights you want to enjoy a delicious meal but don’t feel like going off the property.)
After breakfast, I suggest walking up to the two-tiered infinity pool. The pool attendant, who by the second day will probably greet you by name, will get you all set up in the chair of your choice. Get a spot up top under one of the black-and-white striped cabanas, or on the lower level underneath a ruffly, yellow umbrella. I really can’t explain the euphoric relaxation that will ensue when you lay down in your chair at that pool. It’s like you’ll look around and your entire body will let out a sigh of relief, because you couldn’t possibly think of a better place to be in that moment. Savor it.
Once lunchtime rolls around, walk down the beach a little ways to Blanchards Beach Shack. I’ve written about Blanchards here, but to recap, the Beach Shack is the perfect place to refuel with a quick, fresh bite and a cold drink (there’s tons to choose from – seafood, tacos, burgers, you name it). It’s located right on Mead’s Bay, meaning you can get there by beach from Malliouhana.
After lunch, your options are endless! Head back towards the hotel and lounge in one of Malliouhana’s beach chairs, where an attendant will make sure you have everything you need. If you’re feeling active, partake in some of the complimentary water sports available via the hotel, like paddle boarding, snorkeling or kayaking. There’s also a fitness center, a spa (where I’ve had the best facial of my life, FYI), and tennis courts for your use. If an afternoon nap sounds more your speed, head down the stairs below the pool and post up in the hammock overlooking the ocean and fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
In the late afternoon, tea time takes place in the lobby, with a selection of teas and hors d’oeuvres. I suggest heading back to your room to freshen up for the evening, and heading back to the Sunset Bar for cocktails while you watch the best show on the island… the sunset.
The Restaurant at Malliouhana is a great option for dinner, or you can head off the hotel property to one of the island’s many incredible dining destinations. You can read about all the best restaurants here, including Malliouhana’s own. After dinner, post back up at the Sunset Bar for a nightcap, or roast s’mores over the fire-pit before heading back to your room and crashing. And the beautiful thing about the end of a day at Malliouhana is knowing that you’ll get to do it all over again tomorrow. Unless of course it’s your last night… but we won’t talk about that.