Wellness is a sunset slipping into the sea, said Wendy Eardley on a bright afternoon overlooking the turquoise bay surrounding Curtain Bluff in Antigua. As the resident manager at the iconic property, Wendy is a curator of experiences that cultivate wellbeing and new perspectives. Perched on a rocky bluff, as its name would suggest, the resort is surrounded by the sea and bookended by two pristine beaches — it’s the place that you dream of.
But it’s not just the Curtain Bluff’s picturesque panoramas (or its renowned wine cellar) that has made it a destination. It’s the invitation to step away from the worries and bustle and engage in what brings you the most relaxation and pleasure, a lesson that resonates every day, resort-bound or not.
Wendy shared what she has learned about wellness throughout her more than 30 years at Curtain Bluff, and why you should always eat a piece (or several) of chocolate.
What brought you to Antigua and Curtain Bluff?
My father was from England and my mother from Dominica before they met in Antigua in the early 1960’s. My brother and I were born in Antigua, though our family immigrated to Montreal, Canada in 1975, where I attended school and graduated from McGill University. We used to always visit our family in Antigua on family vacations, so coming back to the island to work was an easy decision. I had decided that a beach job would be a wonderful option, as well as a break from the cold, intense Canadian winters. I started working at Curtain Bluff in July 1987 and what was to be a short one year break turned into a career that has spanned 34 years.
At Curtain Bluff, I get to work at a place that is unique and special, and each day is different. Curtain Bluff was started by Howard Hulford in 1962 as a 21-room resort, and has been owner operated for 60 years. Howard was a visionary that could see the possibility in a barren stretch of land between two pristine beaches. He also employed many people from the village of Old Road, where the hotel is situated. Howard and Chelle started the Old Road Fund charity 40 years ago, which has since sent over 250 young adults away to colleges in the U.S. and hundreds of children away to summer camps to hone in on their tennis skills, as well as assisted with medical needs of countless people. Curtain Bluff is sprinkled with a bit of fairy dust, that makes this resort so special, but really it is the personalities of the employees and the incredible guests that stay with us that keep us all coming back to work year after year.
What makes the property a unique haven for wellness seekers and luxury travelers?
Curtain Bluff is unique due to its serene location between two beautiful, natural beaches. One is our surf beach, where all of our 72 rooms and suites are located. There are even times you could be the only person sitting on this wonderful stretch of sand. Our second, calm beach is where all of our activities are situated, from water sports like diving, snorkeling trips out to Cades Reef, water skiing, Hobi cats, kayaking and a host of other water toys, to other activities like basketball, Pickleball, shuffleboard and Bocce. It is also the ideal spot to watch the setting sun and enjoy a tranquil end to another perfect day at the resort.
Additionally, our chefs can prepare meals for any dietary requirements. The fish is brought fresh to the hotel daily by local fisherman, and island-grown vegetables and fruits are readily available. Our team also uses the best imported meats.
Curtain Bluff’s spa is available for a host of body indulging and therapeutic treatments, while our gym boasts a beautiful yoga deck with daily yoga and pilates classes available for guests to take. More active guests can utilize the tennis and squash courts, all to assist you with your personal wellness journey.
How has practicing wellness helped you in your personal life?
I have been an avid lover of exercise since I was in my early twenties. From step classes and Soca aerobics, to running on the treadmill and lifting weights, to yoga classes, it has helped to relieve tension and keep my body trim and in shape. I watch what I eat, but do have a tendency to cheat on anything dark chocolate.
When did you first know you wanted to work in hospitality, and what was your career trajectory like?
I attended McGill University in Montreal, and at the age of 19, I told my father that I had a desire to attend hotel school. He told me to stay the course of university, complete my degree and once I had graduated at 21, I could still attend hotel school if I so desired. I listened to my father and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. I then decided to move back to Antigua for a two-year period and get a hospitality job, to see if I really liked the business.
I started off as the first concierge at Curtain Bluff and worked my way up to Resident Manager. I learned the hotel business from Howard and Chelle Hulford, Rob Sherman and all the staff who I met at Curtain Bluff in 1987 and beyond. My summer short term job turned into a lifelong commitment to the most wonderful, interesting and exciting career. It was one I could have only dreamt about.
What is the greatest challenge you see guests face with their wellness, especially today?
I believe COVID-19 has made people crave the Caribbean sea, fresh breeze and the open expanses of an uncrowded, picture perfect beach more than ever. Curtain Bluff has not one, but two of the most unbelievable beaches, and after being locked away for months in your home over winter, this is what many people dream of.
What are your top tips for wellness?
First, sit on a dreamy beach with your loved one(s) and enjoy a perfect sunset, one with a green flash as the sun dips into the sea. This is the ultimate relaxer.
Keep to a healthy diet, with fresh foods and lots of water. It’s okay to cheat when needed, especially with dark chocolate.
Finally, exercise. Any exercise is better than none. It keeps your body and mind fit.
What is your favorite quote?
“Live your life to be a good example of what you believe.”