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A LITTLE SLICE OF PARADISE

Just off the coast of Antigua, but far enough away to be a tranquil, exclusive haven, is the private Island of Jumby Bay. Adorning this beautiful sanctuary is the Jumby Bay Resort. Steeped in planet friendly credentials, awash with luxury therapeutic pampering and designed and furnished with exquisite but simple taste, it is the ultimate dream destination.
Jumby’s custodian is renowned international hotelier Will Oakley. What a tough job he has, he gets to experience all this every day!
Wanting to know more, our Guest Editor Denise Barrett put a call into Will so he could share with our Journal readers a snapshot of his enviable lifestyle and the glorious hotel that is under his watch.

Jumby Bay Resort may be small and perfectly formed, but it’s actually part of an international portfolio, Oetker Collection. We’re also known as the ‘Masterpiece’ collection, and it’s easy to see why.

We have such an amazing heritage. Oetker Collection was established in 2008 but its roots date back to 1872 when Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa first opened. The Baden-Baden property was a destination beloved by our founder, Rudolf August Oetker, who purchased it in 1941. This was the beginning of a life devoted to acquiring and managing Europe’s most iconic hotels. Today, Oetker Collection comprises 12 Masterpiece Hotels and more than 150 private villas and estates around the globe.

A private villa suite at Jumby Bay
A private villa suite at Jumby Bay

Collector extraordinaire

In the summer of 1964, whilst sailing the Mediterranean, Rudolf August and Maja Oetker spotted Hotel du Cap atop the cliffs of Cap d’Antibes. Five years later, in 1969, they purchased it and renamed it the now legendary Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Then, Rudolf Oetker set his sights on Le Bristol Paris, which he acquired in 1978. making it the third property in the Collection. All three were purchased directly from the original owners. I must stress, though, for the Oetker family, discovering and acquiring has always been motivated by a passion for properties with inimitable charm and unmatched locations.

Set in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, Jumby Bay Island is just two miles off mainland Antigua. Ringed with coral reefs and reachable only by boat, there’s not a car in sight! It’s a pristine island that offers a place to unwind and reconnect with nature in the most luxurious of surroundings.

A 'busy day' on the island
A 'busy day' on the island

Touch down in Antigua, jump on board our private boat and breeze across turquoise seas. In two miles and less than ten minutes you’ll be on your 300-acre island new home.

It's small wonder I love working in the Caribbean, but Jumby Bay Resort is something else. It’s out there on its own in the stratosphere and it’s the pinnacle of my career. I look forward to continuing Jumby Bay’s “Life Unscripted” mantra delivering the ongoing innovation and seamless service the hotel is renowned for. Reassuringly exclusive though we are, we are first and foremost a family. This is a culture that runs through the DNA of Oetker Collection and is deeply appreciated and valued by our guests.

Yennecot, the hotel's private boat
Yennecot, the hotel's private boat

I first became interested in the hospitality industry after reading about Sir Hugh Wontner, Managing Director of The Savoy Hotel from 1941 to 1979 and this led to me researching a career in hospitality. In 1992 my journey began with a quintessential and much-admired organisation.

I signed up for the Savoy Group Hotels & Restaurants' five-year management training programme, where I gained valuable experience working in various departments at prestigious hotels, including The Savoy, Claridges, The Connaught, The Berkeley and The Lygon Arms. During my time with The Savoy, I studied at Oxford Brookes, one of the UK's leading modern universities, who enjoy a global reputation for teaching excellence and innovation in hospitality and has strong links to business and industry. Fast forwarding, I am proud to say, I have amassed a top-drawer collection of hotels in my management portfolio.

I began my association with Oetker Collection, taking on the role of night manager at The Lanesborough, London, which joined the Oetker portfolio of Masterpiece Hotels in 2015. From here I worked with the wonderfully named Bespoke Hotel Management Company, where I looked after the Bermondsey Square Hotel, Manchester Street Hotel, and The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate.

Between 2011 and 2014, I was General Manager of the Cadogan Hotel in Sloane Street in Knightsbridge, London. My ‘love affair’ with the Caribbean, though, really began back in 2014, when I was appointed General Manager of the famed Cobblers Cove in Barbados. I was there for over six years and oversaw the hotel’s multi-million-dollar refurbishment.

Cobblers Cove in Barbados
Cobblers Cove in Barbados

When my tenure in Barbados ended, I returned to the UK, to a (somewhat chillier!) scenario to become General Manager of the privately owned Glenapp Castle on the West Coast of Scotland. Glenapp Castle is a surreal, tucked-away, magical hotel in beautiful Ayrshire. Our UK readers may have marvelled at it recently on Series 5 of BBC’s Life Beyond the Lobby.

Glenapp Castle in Scotland
Glenapp Castle in Scotland

Jumby Bay and its many USPs. For a pocket-size private island resort, Jumby has a myriad of unique selling points. In a nutshell, think uniqueness, innovation, creativity, a planet-friendly manifesto (vital!), luxury and serenity. We think out-of-the-box and have an on-trend boutique so our guests can take home stylish mementoes of their Jumby stay.

The Jumby Bay Boutique. International interior design and architect Patricia Anastassiadis has curated for us a chic island-themed shopping experience. One of my favourite collections is from Gladstn London, the British based company who make beautiful handmade leather luggage and handbags. In fact, the values and philosophy of both our brands are totally intertwined: the rich parallels of wanderlust, and a fascinating, colourful heritage are partnered with innovative styling and immaculately crafted quality.

The boutique at Jumby Bay allows guests to take home reminders of their stay
The boutique at Jumby Bay allows guests to take home reminders of their stay

Both our brands are intrinsically fashioned to create treasured experiences and evoke joyful memories, contributing factors to the very ‘fabric of life’. Gladstn London tempts our guests to take a memorable piece of Jumby home! The range is all encompassing, but we have a ‘capsule collection’ at Jumby Bay that our guests love and that is perfectly representative, including variants of the Hampton tote, Hands Free and Freedom of the City.

I do have a favourite piece, though which is Hands Free. https://www.gladstnlondon.com/editorial/hands-free This luxury leather backpack is a quintessential piece of travel luggage with enough space for all essentials, including my laptop. My favourite colour is Shark, a streamlined graphite grey.

The Hands Free luxury leather backpack, a classic choice for travellers
The Hands Free luxury leather backpack, a classic choice for travellers

Jumby Bay Island is a sight to behold, with sparkling Bounty bar beaches. Jumby has two stunning white-powdered beaches and there are four and a half miles of pristine shoreline, with the main resort presiding over some of the most spectacular and fiercely protected beaches in the Caribbean. Exotic tropical foliage and lush gardens are the icing on the cake.

There’s no need to crash poolside 24/7. If our guests are feeling active, there are countless winding bicycle paths, water sports, land sports. And we’re a family island remember – so special activities for teenagers and tots.

Our fabulous Spa won the World Spa Awards in 2022 and 2023. Our unspoilt natural environment is uber complemented by our renowned Spa. It’s the utmost corner of heaven to chill out and be pampered. We’ve a specially prepared menu of treatments that combines international modern therapies with ancient healing remedies of the West Indies and African cultures. Our therapeutic serums are derived from local natural ingredients including coconut, aloe, neem, lemongrass, and other essential oils and spices to organically encourage the regenerative nature of the body, mind and spirit.

The award-winning spa at Jumby Bay is a favourite spot with guests
The award-winning spa at Jumby Bay is a favourite spot with guests

We live in a pristine, unspoilt environment, so our eco credentials are central to our manifesto. We treat our island and hotel with absolute respect, reflecting the ethical mission statement that runs throughout Oetker Collection portfolio. Crucially, we do not plant non-native invasive species. This ensures the wellbeing of the entire native ecosystem surrounding our hotels.

Power wise, we strive to source our energy from renewable sources. We provide a fleet of sustainable vehicles for guest use, and we use LED lighting in all our hotels.

We uphold the fine details too. We only serve sustainably sourced fish for all staff canteens and guest restaurants, and we source sustainable coffee and tea to ensure farmers’ rights to fair payment, decent working conditions and equitable trade agreements. We use only free range and organic eggs and avoid purchasing meat from intensive animal farms. Crucially, we avoid plastic products in-room as well as back of house.

No suit required! Working in a Caribbean climate, my dress code at the hotel is smart casual. For my time off, it’s off to the mountains. This year I was fortunate to ski in Courchevel in the French Alps and spend a summer holiday in Whistler in Canada.

In the afternoons, I watch our youngest daughter perfect her water-skiing and wake surfing. For me, though, it’s all about tennis, with lessons three times a week from Jerry Williams, captain of the Antigua and Barbuda Davis Cup team and Jumby Coach. Only the best will do!

My wife, youngest daughter and I live in the centre of Jumby Bay Island in a sweet cottage. To complete the picture is Soca, our black Labrador who was born in Barbados and gets to travel with us all over the world.

Soca, post-dip
Soca, post-dip

Our most treasured possessions are photographs and pictures. With family and friends being thousands of miles away, these are wonderful reminders of loved ones.

Jumby has a vibrant community spirit. White Night on Sunday nights is not to be missed. This is a coming together of the entire island community for a beach BBQ and dancing in the sand to a live band. You can walk the island in around 45 minutes. Of course, we love the exercise, but Soca the dog is the one who get most excited about this daily!

My favourite hotel in the world is Le Sirenuse in Positano, where I worked for six months whilst training with the Savoy Group. What’s not to love about the stunning Amalfi coastline and wonderful Italian cuisine!

I’m signing off now with my ultimate culture fix. Living on a small island means that visiting New York or London are essential for a change of scenery and culture while experiencing the buzz of a metropolitan city.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to come back to our little corner of paradise!

To find out more about Jumby Bay visit the website here
Will Oakley shared his story with Denise Barrett, Guest Editor and
author of Handbag Homage

Missed any of the Gladstonian Journals? Click here to catch up
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