From baby photos to (boastful) bookshelves, we’ve spent a year spying on our colleagues’ Zoom backgrounds, having smugly angled our camera to hide the loungewear bottoms and remembering to mute ourselves. And while some have fondly remembered going to the office as a ‘change of scenery’, others have truly swapped their scenery by remotely working abroad - such as by using the Nomad Digital Residence Visa. I was fortunate enough to try some ‘Business on the Beach’ in Antigua, and now that it's on the UK's travel 'Green List', here’s why I would recommend it...
Can you work from home abroad?
During my stay, we swapped sun loungers for laptops and did some ‘business on the beach’. With 93% of Brits agreeing that businesses are now more likely than ever before to allow employees to work from home, the Caribbean island aims to make it easy and appealing. Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority said: “Antigua offers sun, sea, sand and space, and an ideal backdrop for the ultimate remote working experience. A swim between meetings, a spectacular Zoom backdrop, and finishing each working day with freshly caught fish and local produce– working remotely in Antigua might just be the perfect remedy following a tumultuous year.”
Desk chair causing back pain? Swap it for a hammock!
Most working-from-home roles are full-time desk jobs, which zap creativity when you’re away from your team and can even cause joint aches and pains. Working outdoors is tricky even in the English summer; grey skies, London pollution, and city white noise can dull even your most colourful ideas, and regular walks around your block may give you some stretching and exercise, but still only add monotony to your routine.
One beach stroll fixes all: walking on sand is better for your muscles, a quick, cool, dip is meant to wake you up and increase circulation… and I’m sure I don’t need to convince you that bright horizons and palm trees lifted my mood.
Plus, as much as I love Pret, freshly caught fish, jerk-spiced chicken, and tropical fruit smoothies will actually make you take your full lunch hour that HR has been drilling into you since March 2020.
Where I set up 'office' in Antigua
During my short visit, I stayed in two gorgeous hotels: Curtain Bluff and The Inn at English Harbour.
The Inn at English Harbour
Luxury hotels that rely on charm just as much as opulence make you feel ‘home’ from the moment you unpack your sandals and sun cream. The Inn at English Harbour hosts exceptionally large bedrooms in traditional colonial decor, but pieces from China, Bali, the Middle East, and Africa is what sets it apart. The high-ceilinged suites with mahogany floors and unique objets d’arts felt exceptionally grand - and that’s before I stepped foot in the spacious bathroom with twin sinks and a huge shower.
The rooms are traditional and luxurious
After tucking into seared tuna and scallops at the Terrace restaurant overlooking the bay and indulging in a little too much rum punch, fresh fruit and coffee in the morning at The Reef restaurant cured sore heads and set us up for a day of sightseeing around Nelson’s Dockyard, which is a great spot to visit close by. Otherwise, the hotel is surrounded by creamy sandy beaches and turquoise waters, which felt private and incredibly quiet - making them perfect to check up on some emails.
Breakfast with a view!
If you’re looking for something with a truly ‘wow’ factor, I truly gasped as I entered my room at Curtain Bluff. The suites face the sea and weave around a small hill, which I suspect means that even if the hotel was full, the only sound you would hear would be the crashing waves on your balcony. Although I could never ascribe the title ‘morning person’, to my holiday self (who am I kidding? Permanent self), I woke up at sunrise every day to fling open my curtains to the view.
My morning view certainly beat South London!
The resort is fully all-inclusive, but you don’t need to fear a lack of variety; the Tamarind Restaurant rotated dishes of everything from sushi to salads (with a superb pastry selection and daily smoothie for breakfast!), or you can order a light lunch of club sandwiches or fish tacos straight to your sun-lounger. And, for those who choose Malbec over Mai Tais or Margaritas, their cellar housing over sommelier-chosen 4000 wines has to be seen to be believed - you can request a tour via the concierge.
Make sure you book yourself a massage - the spa will eliminate any work stress...
What to do when you've finished working
If you’re really one to get bored of sunbathing, there are plenty of spots on the island that I tried, and here are some top picks:
Unless you sort your working-from-home visa, it may be impossible to grab a sundowner on every corner of the island if you’re only staying a week, but if there is one spot you must try, it’s Sheer Rocks. The restaurant is perfectly situated in the centre of Antigua’s west coast, and a round of cocktails during golden hour has to go on your to-do list (their Instagram feed speaks for itself!).
A spicy margarita sundowner
Follow in the footsteps of royalty! Princess Margaret visited Nelson’s Dockyard in 1955, her sister Queen Elizabeth took a trip in 1966, and Prince Charles opened it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. The museum is small but packed with information for an afternoon visit, so if there is (unlikely!) rain on the forecast for any day of your trip, this is what to book.
We spied Prince Charles in Nelson's Dockyard!
Seeing the ocean via boat is very different to a paddle by the sand, so we hopped on a trip organised by Adventure Antigua to take us around the spots you miss by foot. We enjoyed snorkelling in the natural jacuzzis of Hell's Gate, sailed past Prickly Pear Island, sunbathed in new beaches, and were kept hydrated with fruit juice (ok, mixed with rum...). The staff on the boat were experts in the ecology and history of the area (honestly, just ask them!), making it a must if it's your first trip to the island.
Boat trip blues - make sure you check out the view under-water too!
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