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Following the A-list to Anguilla

Going around Anguilla feels a bit like stalking. It seems as though every spot on the island has a celebrity rumour attached to it.

Going around Anguilla feels a bit like stalking. It seems as though every spot on the island has a celebrity rumour attached to it — the restaurant that P. Diddy likes to visit, the bar where Robert De Niro made cocktails for a joke, the villa where Denzel Washington threw his 50th birthday party. And that’s just skimming the surface.

In recent years Anguilla has become the upmarket celebrity hang-out of choice. It’s seriously A-list, with a guest roster that includes the Clintons, Al Gore, Brad Pitt and repeat visitor Beyoncé.

It wasn’t always like this. Historically, the tiny British Caribbean territory was rather poor. It has next to nothing in the way of natural resources and is barely big enough to fit a small airport, let alone one that can accept jet planes.

But what it does have is beaches. Anguilla regularly crops up on lists of the world’s best beaches, and it’s usually Shoal Bay East they have in mind. This is the one that the day trippers from other islands come to, and it has dazzlingly white sands. Those celebs are well within their rights to keep shades on all the time here.

In truth, though, Anguilla has half-a-dozen such world-class beaches. Rendezvous Bay on the island’s west end is among those; and one of the swankiest joints on the island, the CuisinArt Resort and Spa, looks out over the beach.

It’s visually stunning, with water from the pool funnelling off over the horizon and gleaming Greek-style white buildings facing the Caribbean Sea. The suites are enormous, the balconies have views to kill for and there’s a lobster banquet twice a week.

It doesn’t take long to realize why the hotshot CEOs and Hollywood stars come here. Michael J Fox, Celine Dion and Jay-Z are among the big names that have stayed at CuisinArt.

One of the other reasons that the rich and famous choose Anguilla is the locals. They’re possibly the least star-struck people on earth.

There’s no harassment for autographs or squawking mobs following every footstep — the Anguillans are quite happy to leave their visitors alone, and it’s that peace and privacy that appeals.

The VIPs pay for it too. One step beyond the costly resorts are the ultra-expensive private villas that come with their own chefs and butler service.

The Altamer, for example, costs a minimum of $30,000 US per week — and that excludes food. But the celebs don’t care — it’s pocket change, and they’ll often have the bill signed off without checking the amount.

The ordinary pleb isn’t priced out, however. There are still a few outposts that remain true to the original Anguilla.

One is Tasty’s in South Hill, which is unquestionably the best value restaurant on the island. It’s bright, it’s colourful and the food has a proper Caribbean flavour, thanks to Chef Dale Carty, who is a local. The fresh fish is always good, but the goat curry is the true stand-out.

Tasty’s is also the place that the Anguillans rave about, so your fellow diners will include islanders — you’ll not just be eating with other tourists, unlike in some of the more prestigious joints where the prices are three or four times more expensive.

The other defiantly unglammed-up option is Lloyds. It’s the oldest hotel on the island, dating back to 1959 when there was no electricity, let alone paved roads. It’s now a little yellow guest house of the best kind. The staff are friendly, guests chat over breakfast together and a couple of long-term residents offer to give newcomers the inside track on the island.

It attracts an extraordinarily diverse bunch, which is in contrast to the American-heavy clientele the rest of the island gets. Kiwi wedding parties, Swedish backpacker and Trinidadian health workers all sit around and swap stories.

Anguilla may have a heavy sprinkling of stardust, but it’s still possible for the average Joe to enjoy Caribbean cocktails and glistening beaches in the ultimate Hollywood hang-out.

Anguilla

Getting there: There are no direct flights to Anguilla from outside the Caribbean. Most visitors will either get the ferry over from St. Martin or fly with LIAT from Antigua, www.liatairline.com.

Staying there: Suites at the CuisinArt Resort and Spa, cuisinartresort.com, start at $475 US a night; rooms at Lloyds, lloyds.ai, start at $75 a night.

Info: www.anguilla-vacation.com

 
 
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