The Reef is a Worthy Companion to Anguilla's CuisinArt Resort

Room and resort view at The Reef, Anguilla
CuisinArt Resort
  • 01 of 06

    The Reef is a Worthy Companion to Anguilla's Stylish CuisinArt Resort

    The Reef lobby
    CuisinArt Resort

    The Reef by CuisinArt, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, is an 80-suite resort on Merrywing Bay along Anguilla’s Caribbean coast. Opened in November 2016, it is the kid-sister property to the much larger and older CuisinArt resort, with guests at one hotel able to enjoy the amenities of the other.

    The Reef is a beautiful property, with mid-sized white stucco, Mediterranean-style buildings around a towering six-story main hotel. A gleaming lobby opens front to back and is bathed in warm ocean breezes, and a spiral staircase has a center column festooned with shimmery fish sculptures, all set on a lovely stretch of sand with beautiful views of St. Martin across the water.

    Check The Reef Rates and Reviews at TripAdvisor

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  • 02 of 06

    Every Room is a Suite at The Reef

    Suite outdoor spa, The Reef by CuisinArt
    CuisinArt Resort

    There are 50 junior suites in the main building, 25 with views of the ocean and 25 facing the Greg Norman championship 18-hole golf course (Anguilla’s only golf course), all with a seating area in the bedrooms, giant TVs, Cuisinart Espresso machines, California-style closets, bath with twin sinks and a massive Alissa free-standing bath tub. Also in the main building is a boutique and a cozy “media room,” with computers, a huge TV for communal viewing, and rows of books you can borrow to read on the beach or by the immense infinity pool stretching between the rooms and the shore.

    There are four beachfront buildings with junior suites of various sizes, up to the most expensive and biggest that can house families. I had a corner junior suite overlooking the sprawling grounds, the beachfront restaurant Breezes, and the glistening ocean beyond. The room was more than ample, with a huge entryway, massive bathroom that had a powerful rain-shower head and hand-held sprayer, the giant Alissa tub, and a truly whopping walk-in closet with room that could hold more clothes than I actually own.

    The king bed had a giant bamboo headboard, and the suite boasts super-fast and free Wi-Fi connection (which is easy to access at any part of the resort), and L’Occitane and Rusk toiletries. A nice touch is a rather large balcony with table and chairs and two comfy loungers. A lovely local flair throughout the resort is the wall art, comprised of stunning photographs of Anguilla.

    All rooms are a very short walk from the beach, a long stretch of sand populated with cushioned rattan loungers and solidly anchored beach umbrellas that stay put despite the occasional very brisk winds. Staff is always on hand to take your drink or food orders as you lounge, read and gaze upon the rocky hump of St. Martin 10 miles across the water.

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  • 03 of 06

    Local Food Fresh From the Reef

    The Reef's hydroponic farm
    Paul Kandarian

    Food can’t possibly get any more local than here, from the fresh fish brought in daily from local waters to the produce grown at CuisinArt’s massive, 18,000-square-foot hydroponic farm in a gigantic greenhouse built to withstand 150-mph hurricane winds.

    Executive Chef Jasper Schneider gives regular tours of the farm, well worth taking to see how they grow literal tons of produce, from 16 lettuce varieties to cucumbers, tomatoes, Tokyo scallions, jalapeno and Scotch bonnet peppers and more. Schneider is proud of the farm, where power solar panels run its desalinization plant, saying “Every morning I come in here and find inspiration.”

    There are two places to eat at The Reef, and several more over at CuisinArt. The Reef’s Yacht Club restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, an open-air and breezy place with crisp white nautical design. The breakfast buffet is included with a range of fresh baked goods, fruits, cheeses and meats, or you can also order off the menu. One tasty early morning treat is the oxtail hash with fried eggs, the oxtail fork tender and tasty, served with fried onions and roasted potatoes. Dinner fare includes Florida stone-crab jumbo, fresh oysters, charred octopus, grilled local lobster and Anguilla crayfish.

    Breezes is for lunch and a spectacular place to nosh, hard by the beach and open to the elements, with covered and patio dining, serving exquisite midday fare such as blister shishito peppers, smoked paprika, Cyprus salt and burnt lime and tuna poke Hawaiian style for appetizers. Heartier lunches include wood-oven roasted pizza that can be topped with things like maitake mushrooms, or entrees like Argentina wood-grill short rib burger or organic slow-roasted chicken. After a lunch like that, and desserts like the delicious open-faced apple tart with brown butter ice cream they serve, a long walk on the beach is surely in order.

    Over at CuisinArt, we dined one night at Tokyo Bay, with its wide array of sushi and sashimi, playfully named items like “Duck duck goose gyoza,” and the entertaining teppanyaki area, where the chefs cook as theater, juggling utensils, flipping eggs into the air with a spatula and setting fire to a cone of onions. The show aside, what they make is delicious, if not expensive, including the lobster teppanyaki ($110 per person), a truly abundant portion of grilled lobster served in the shell from whence it came.

    The most interesting option at CuisinArt is the “Chef’s Table” offering each Wednesday at Le Bistro at Santorini, a Greek-themed eatery where guests ($195 each) gather for a sumptuous eight-course offering, with wine pairings, that our night included caviar, hydroponic-farm salad, tuna, snapper, foie gras, Wagyu beef and poached caramel pears, Schneider lovingly describing the creation of each dish.

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  • 04 of 06

    Reef Activities Start with the Spa

    The Venus Spa, Reef by CuisinArt
    CuisinArt Resort

    Staying active isn’t a problem at The Reef, with things like sunrise yoga/meditation, snorkeling, glass-bottom kayaks, paddleboarding, tennis, bocce, fitness classes (including aqua cycling in the pool), some free, some extra. You can also get your bounce on at the nearby Anguilla Aqua Park, the largest inflatable water park in the Caribbean, with interconnected trampolines, slides and climbing structures.

    The concierge can also set up day trips, like the one we took on a Funtime charter around the island, stopping to snorkel at Little Bay, famous for its cliff formations and a small rock you can scramble up via rope and dive into the water. Colorful fish abound, including massive darting schools of tiny minnow-like fish so thick they darken the ocean floor. You can also just hang on the boat, sip rum punches and watch pelicans dive for food and long-tailed tropicbirds burrow into their cliff perches.

    But to totally unwind, check out the Venus Spa at CuisinArt, with its 16 treatment rooms offering a variety of massages, facials, pedicures, manicures, a men’s club room, couples suites and its “Healing Waters Pool.” I opted for a “Fresh Scrub Bar” treatment ($110 for 50 minutes), where you are literally scrubbed neck to toes with a sea salt or sugar scrub combined with your herb of choice (lavender, lemongrass, rosemary or mint), followed up by a shower and the application of moisturizer. It was at times painful and ticklish, but wonderfully refreshing.

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  • 05 of 06

    Soft Opening, But Still a Smash

    Beach at The Reef by CusinArt resort
    CuisinArt Resort

    On a visit one month after the opening, one couldn’t help but notice a few kinks left to work out, no surprise when a resort hits the ground running. One was wonky air-conditioning, either meat-locker cold or toasty warm. Another was unfinished private villas on either side of The Reef, leftover from a former owner’s foreclosure, which the current owner bought and is finishing up. They will sell for $1.5 million to $20 million, we were told.

    But the resort itself? Smashing, impeccably appointed with an ever-attentive, first-rate staff, top-notch food and a gorgeous location on a tiny Eastern Caribbean island a scant 16 miles long and three miles wide.

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  • 06 of 06

    Anguilla's Newest Star Awaits Your Arrival

    The Reef by night
    CuisinArt Resort

    There are two ways to get to Anguilla: air or boat. Most opt for a short ferry jaunt from St. Martin, but flying is an option. Anguilla’s airport is tiny and supports private aviation only, but one great choice is Tradewind Aviation, which runs morning and afternoon flights out of San Juan ($325-$350) and is easily the quickest way to get to Anguilla, in one of the fleet’s new Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 jet-prop planes. Onboard you can help yourself to free snacks, wine, and beer on the one-hour flight over.

    The Reef by CuisinArt

    Merrywing Bay, Anguilla

    264-498-2300

    www.thereefbycuisinart.com

    Rates, $500-$4,200