There’s a time and a place for an intensive adventurer-worthy escape with a jam-packed itinerary, early wake-up times and carefully laid out plans. There’s also nothing wrong with treating yourself to a vacation that’s all about rest and relaxation, where the most pressing items on the agenda are selecting the day’s beach chairs and picking the perfect tropical beverage. When you’re in the mood for a sunny beach jaunt that’ll leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Caribbean. More specifically to Anguilla, because while there are plenty of lovely Caribbean locales, when you want luxurious, serene and unpretentious relaxation, there’s something special about this isle.
The relatively tiny island (it’s just 16 miles long) is home to a few luxe hotels, but the freshly renovated Aurora Anguilla Resort & Spa is a serious standout. The property originally opened in the late 1990s as CuisinArt Resort & Spa, but in late 2020, was purchased by billionaire Best Buy founder Richard M. Schulze. Shortly thereafter, the property received a multimillion-dollar renovation and was relaunched as Aurora, with Salamander Hotels & Resorts brought on to manage the hotel.
The renovation gave the hotel a well-appointed yet low-key elegance, with a revamped neutral color scheme primarily made up of polished shades of white, beige and grey, as well as wood and stone accents, with refreshed rooms and brand-new builds. The aesthetic is clean and crisp, and fits right in with the pristine sandy beach you’ll spot upon entering the open-air lobby. Even so, that’s just the initial reno; there’s still much in the works for the property—but we’ll get to that.
Aurora feels like the ultimate getaway, with luxury, convenience and ease at the forefront of the stay—including the actual journey. Here’s what to know about Aurora Anguilla Resort & Spa.
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First, let’s talk transportation.
Before getting into the zen vibes you’ll feel immediately upon arriving at the resort, let’s discuss logistics. The actual journey to and from the Caribbean is probably one of the most irksome parts of traveling there; for many of the islands, including Anguilla, there are very few—if any—direct flights from the U.S., so most travelers end up connecting through one of the larger airports (often in St. Martin, which I can say from experience is usually rather stressful and hectic). Aurora recognized the issue and came up with a luxurious solution: a private jet charter helmed by the resort itself. The property acquired four planes, and refurbished the jets with Aurora branding on the outside and freshly customized interiors, with a two-by-two configuration that allows for tons of individual space but still accommodates up to 64 passengers. Full disclosure so you’re aware before boarding: the seating and interiors are that of a customized commercial plane, not a Succession-esque personal private jet.
Aurora offers roundtrip flights on these planes from New York’s White Plains airport in Westchester, as well as from Florida’s Fort Lauderdale airport. It’s not cheap (the flights start at over $2,000 per person, depending on the time of year), but the convenience is unparalleled; you only need to arrive to the airport about 30 minutes prior to departure, before seamlessly boarding and departing on your Caribbean getaway. It’s worth noting, however, that while Aurora is open year-round, the charter flights are only available during the more popular months (typically November through April).
Onto the resort! Here’s what to know about the rooms.
Aurora has 178 suites and villas spread out between Rendezvous Beach and Merrywing Bay, the two distinct sides of the 380-acre property. I found the Rendezvous side, which is part of the original CuisinArt resort, to have a more luxurious, elevated ambiance and picturesque aesthetic. Also, the beachfront suites right on the ocean offer more privacy. But it’s all about your personal preferences when traveling; Merrywing is just a short golf cart ride away and features rooms in a more modern tower.
The accommodations throughout the resort are fresh and light, with a color palette of soft whites and a few touches of grey and yellow, as well as wood accent furniture. The suites on the Rendezvous side with oceanfront terraces are an absolute dream; the large, private outdoor spaces are set up with chairs and a table, for the ultimate lounging experience.
How’s the spa?
From the moment you arrive at the resort, it’s evident that Aurora is all about relaxation, but why not up the ante with even more pampering in the hotel’s ultra-luxe, 27,000-square-foot Sorana Spa? The soothing space includes the requisite steam room and sauna, as well as hydrotherapy experiences and indulgent treatments, with specific offerings that feature Biologique Recherche and Osea products. There’s a lavish 24k gold facial, but you can’t beat a classic massage or one of the signature spa rituals.
What about dining?
Anguilla is home to quite a few delightful restaurants (Blanchards and Straw Hat are always great), including no less than six dining options on the Aurora property. It’s a treat for those who know the pitfalls of arriving at a resort, only to find that there is precisely one restaurant that serves essentially the exact same menu every day, for every meal. That’s not an issue at Aurora, where guests can choose from an array of casual and elevated eateries offering a variety of cuisines.
Chef’s Table, on the Rendezvous side, ended up being the spot I ate at most frequently; it’s where breakfast is served daily, as well as lunch and dinner. If you want to dine with a dreamy view of the
What’s there to do?
Both Rendezvous and Merrywing are outfitted with pools and dreamy beachfronts, depending on your preference for the day. While there’s nothing wrong with sitting under an umbrella and immersing yourself in a good book for hours on end, travelers who want to get a little more action in on their vacation will find there is plenty to do. You can go snorkeling, try kite surfing or sign up for a cave tour if you want to spend time in the sea, or for more athletic pursuits, head over to the tennis courts. You can reserve space or sign up for a lesson with an instructor (I hadn’t picked up a racket in over a decade, and the tennis coach was so good that after finishing up my first lesson, I promptly signed up for another session the following day). And of course, there’s the 18-hole Aurora International Golf Course, which debuted in 2022, as well as the nine-hole Avalon Links; these are the only two golf courses on the entire island, which further adds to Aurora’s appeal, especially for the golf enthusiast set.
At the start of 2023, Aurora debuted a 500-person amphitheater, which is used for live music and entertainment as well as outdoor film screenings. It’s just the start, though, as later this year, Aurora is set to finish work on its brand-new entertainment center, complete with a tennis center, pickleball courts, a climbing wall, clay bocce and basketball courts, beach volleyball, a mini golf course and more. There’s truly something here for everyone.