Meads Bay Beach Villas - Anguilla

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Friday
It's not often we're able to find a secret hideaway along one of the most popular beaches in the Caribbean, but that's exactly what we've discovered in Meads Bay Villa Resort, a narrow wedge of palm-greened paradise fronting the spectacular namesake bay on the western end of Anguilla.

Tucked between two modest hotels, the resort has four 2-bedroom deluxe villas. While only one sits directly on the beach, each have just enough space (1,700-square feet) and are luxuriously detailed with travertine floors (stone tile in the bathrooms), and granite countertops in the fully stocked kitchen. Ours, like the others, has a king bed in the master bedroom and two twins in the second bedroom, perfect if you were bringing along the kids. The twins can be quickly converted into another king if two couples are sharing the unit. And best of all, both bedrooms open up directly to the pool deck.

"The pool is a lot bigger than it looks on the web," Thom immediately commented when we stood out on the deck, admiring the 24/7 view of the turquoise sea. In fact, everything looked better than on the web. The sand was whiter, the sea bluer, and the villa more spacious.

We were lucky enough to reserve the single beachfront villa, though the others are a mere minute walk through the landscaped grounds to the beach. Best of all, there are no elevators, stairs or big lobbies to maneuver around to get to the beach. Just step off your pool deck and head toward the sound of the lapping waves. Or in our case, just step off the deck and viola, there you are.

Saturday

Delta, the resort manager, is a gem. When we checked in yesterday, it didn't even feel like a check-in. There was no line, she simply whisked us over to our villa, showed us how everything worked from the air conditioning to the free long-distance phone connection (free to the U.S. and Canada) and we were done. All in the amount of time it would have taken to park a car and ask the concierge which of the long lines at a large hotel we needed to stand in to get our room.

We made a quick trip to Foods 95, the local grocery store a mere two minutes away, and stocked up on our favorite foods before heading back to the villa and slipping into our swimsuits.

Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory, is a dry, rocky island barely 15 miles long and home to around 12,000 very lucky inhabitants. Tourists, however, don't come here for the landscape or local culture (though both have much to offer), they come because Anguilla has managed to control development to keep the island a low-key, but luxurious escape, a place where the beaches aren't crowded and overshadowed by high-rises, and you can see the stars at night.

We've come to savor Anguilla's charms, especially her crystal blue seas and the 33 white sand beaches. And that's exactly what we've found along Meads Bay, one of the longest beaches -- and least busy-- beaches on the island. The sand is so fine it feels like you are walking on feathers, and the water so warm and gentle you'll never want to get out. In fact, we lost the better part of the afternoon today down on the beach.

Instead of cooking tonight, Thom and I opted to try out the menu at Blanchards, a boutique restaurant run by Bob Blanchard (who is also the wine steward) and his wife Melinda (who doubles as the executive chef). The intimate, candlelit dining room was a perfect place to wind down for the day. I enjoyed the mini lobster roll appetizers and Jamaican jerk shrimp for an entree, while Thom paired up a healthy pistachio-crusted goat cheese salad with a grilled ribeye done to perfection.

Back at our villa tonight we enjoyed a dip in our private pool, a relaxing finish to a relaxing day. Far above us, a dome of sparkling stars glittered and the Milky Way dusted the heavens and I knew we'd found another secret hideaway where the waters were clear, the beaches white as snow, and at night, you can still see the stars.

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