Antigua's five-acre Club Colonna is owned by Sunsail, which also operates seven sailing clubs in Greece and Turkey, as well as yacht chartering in both the Caribbean and Mediterranean. While lots of Caribbean resorts offer the occasional boat or windsurf board for guests' use, and Caribbean charter companies abound, Sunsail's land-based operation is unique in offering a wide variety of watercraft (available all day and for no additional charge), instructional opportunities, plus the comforts of an inclusive resort. The clubs boast an 80-percent guest-return rate, and in my informal survey, I found mainly British travelers, some returning for the fifth or sixth time, many with kids - from babies to teenagers - in tow. In fact, Sunsail caters to kids of all ages (see "Learn To Sail" on page 42) with free programs that don't just occupy their time so Mom and Dad can go to the spa or play golf, but instead give children the opportunity to become familiar with the ocean and ways to play and learn on and in it.
Off And On Island
After lunch (two meals a day are included, with lunch and dinner alternating; afternoon tea was a delightful daily occurrence), a few of us headed just offshore to Prickly Pear Island aboard one of the club's eight motorboats. We drew straws to choose the designated captain, whose duty it was to sip fruit juice while the rest of us tested the rum punch's punch.
Sure, there were plenty of things - scuba, tennis, golf, a helicopter ride over the active volcano on Montserrat - to lure me from my mission of learning to sail small craft, but I was hooked. I did take a day to tour the island in a rented jeep, and the deserted white-sand crescent beach (one of the island's 365) at Valley Church Bay was among the most exquisite I've ever seen. An unhurried lunch at OJ's (see "Touring Antigua" online at www.americanwaymag.com), just feet from the crystal-blue water, fueled the leisurely sightseeing trip around the remainder of the small island.