Anguilla. Say what? An-gwela. Rhymes with vanilla. See, that wasn't so bad. The word means "eel" in Italian and the island gained its name from early European sailors who thought its shape resembled a snake. The 25km-long British territory lies 10km north of St Maarten, in the Lower Antilles, at the northernmost point of the Caribbean. A once sleepy hideaway that lacked electricity until the 1960s, the still unspoiled coral-island destination is famous for its 33 perfect beaches, slivers of white sand set against sapphire-blue, gin-clear waters. With a celebrated music scene and a thriving culinary culture, Anguilla keeps things down to earth and exclusive by banning large cruise ships, casinos and duty-free malls.
Malliouhana? That's another hard word. What does it mean? Anguilla's native people, the Arawaks, named the island Malliouhana, which translates to "arrowhead", perhaps also inspired by the shape of the island. Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort, lies at the west end of Malliouhana island atop a cliff. Classically Caribbean in design and recently refurbished, the 44-room hotel gives the sense that you are visiting a wealthy relative. With long-serving staff who make guests feel like part of the family, spacious sea view rooms, two swimming pools and direct access to three of Anguilla's best beaches, the resort has legions of return guests.
Sounds like I may not want to leave the property … And why should you? From its new Auberge Spa (try the house-made sweet sugar-cane body scrub) to extensive water-sports programmes, boot-camp fitness courses and complimentary bicycles, there is no shortage of things to do. After a hard-to-beat rum punch at the Sunset Bar (they're strong enough to make you think you've glimpsed the elusive "green flash") you can partake of innovative, American-meets-Caribbean cuisine at alfresco The Restaurant at Malliouhana, an island favourite.
Sounds like a great place to hold my dream wedding. You've got that right. The resort has lots of romantic nooks and crannies. Couples have myriad settings in which to tie the knot, from a sandy cove to an ocean-facing poolside, or the deck of the Sunset Bar at dusk. Accommodating up to 90 guests, the resort can be hired out in its entirety, making the property the purview of only you and your lucky party.
What are the best beaches? That's like choosing between children. Some not to miss include buzzy Mead's Bay; Maunday's Bay, for horse riding; Sandy Island, which is reachable only by boat; and Little Bay, renowned for limpid waters and cliff jumping.
How do I get there and what will it cost me? Most travellers fly into St Maarten and take a ferry to the island. Starting rates for Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort, are HK$3,200 a night. For more information, go to malliouhana.aubergeresorts.com.