Golf With the Glitterati in Anguilla

A tropical paradise made popular by Brad Pitt, Celine Dion, Robert De Niro and other A-list celebrities, Anguilla is home to one of the Caribbean’s most graceful and challenging golf courses.


CuisinArt Golf Club, Anguilla (Image: CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa)

Greg Norman designed the CuisinArt Golf Club, Anguilla’s only course. (Image: CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa)

Even by the posh standards of a Caribbean paradise favoured by movie stars and billionaires, the whopping $26-million price tag of CuisinArt Golf Club (formerly Temenos Golf Club) in Anguilla grabbed worldwide attention when it opened in 2006.

Among the region’s golf courses, only the famous Green Monkey at ultra-exclusive Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados had cost as much. Anguilla’s Greg Norman-designed oceanfront beauty was the first of several high-profile courses planned for an island that had swiftly transformed itself from a dry and scrubby backwater with scant electricity and few paved roads to one of the Caribbean’s most chic destinations.

Among the first to discover this tiny British protectorate on the eastern fringes of the Caribbean Sea were Hollywood movie stars and other celebrities who made a second home of a still unassuming island where crime is rare and the 33 powdery white-sand beaches are among the finest in the world.

An armada of yachts dropped anchor for Denzel Washington’s 50th birthday bash. Robert De Niro was seen dining extravagantly at Blanchards, a popular restaurant. A bikini-clad Celine Dion enjoyed horseback riding on the beach. And the marriage of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston famously suffered its last gasp in Anguilla after, so it was whispered, Aniston overheard an intimate phone conversation between her husband and Angelina Jolie.

Helping ensure the uninterrupted tranquility of both celebrities and the anonymously wealthy are bylaws banning casinos, large cruise ships, tacky souvenir shops and noisy Jet Skis. The arrival of most visitors by ferry from St. Martin further heightens the feeling of isolation. Anguilla’s small airport can only handle prop planes and small jets.

Viceroy Anguilla (Image: Viceroy)

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla reinvigorated local tourism when it opened late in 2009. (Image: Viceroy Anguilla)

Then, in 2008, the international banking crisis rocked this and every other tourist destination around the world like a vengeful hurricane. Visitor arrivals on the island plunged dramatically. Plans for new golf courses were put on hold or cancelled outright.

But most of Anguilla’s top resorts managed to struggle through, and late 2009 saw the launch of Viceroy Anguilla, a 166-room bluff-top architectural stunner that captured international attention and reinvigorated the local tourism industry. In October 2016, the resort became the Four Seasons Resort and Residences.

In 2011, Norman’s golf course was acquired and renamed by CuisinArt Resort and Spa, which in turn rebranded itself as the CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa. Owned by the culinary appliance manufacturer of the same name, the Mediterranean-style beachfront property includes an innovative hydroponic farm that provides fresh produce for the resort’s four restaurants.

CuisinArt has already made extensive improvements to a graceful and challenging golf course that offers breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and the mountains of neighbouring St. Martin beyond.

The fun starts at the par-four first hole, where the fairway descends over 40 feet to the green. Featured prominently on this hole and throughout the course is Merrywing Salt Pond, a once stagnant local landmark that was reborn during construction. Flushing channels allow seawater to flow out of the pond, now re-stocked with bonefish, during high tide.

Norman’s fairways are generous, but golfers who spray the ball will pay the penalty in roughs of packed sand and prickly underbrush.

Tougher still is playing through the gale-force trade winds almost constantly blowing from the east. On a really blustery day, holding a green on even a short par three demands the surgically precise shot-making ability of the Great White Shark himself.