December 3rd – a cold and miserable day. The whole country was struggling with floods, ice and gales. However, for the two of us, things were about to change drastically. At 9.30 that Sunday morning we boarded a flight to the sun-kissed Caribbean island of Antigua.

It was all thanks to Hallmark Travel, JMC Airlines and Rex Resorts. Why? It goes back to last July, when Hallmark Travel celebrated their tenth birthday by holding a travel show in East Grinstead. And what a fascinating show it was! I spent hours visiting all the stands, asking questions as I planned our holidays for the next two or three years. At the same time I was completing Hallmark Travel’s travel quiz. I was thrilled when Charmaine Hallmark rang later that week congratulating me on winning an all expenses paid holiday to the Rex Halcyon Cove Hotel in Antigua. I rushed for my atlas and found that Anitgua is situated in the Leeward Islands right in the heart of the Caribbean. Lilian and I didn’t sleep for days, we were so excited!

On our arrival in Antigua several things instantly struck me: the lovely warm climate, a balmy 30 degrees; the lovely fresh, clean air with a multitude of beautiful smells from the abundance of exotic plants and flowers; and the amiability of the people. Everyone was happy and relaxed, which was very apparent having just left England a few days before Christmas!

The Rex Halcyon Cove is located on the northwest tip of the island, in beautiful Dickenson Bay. Antiuga has 365 beautiful sandy beaches, and I think Rex Halcyon Cove is on the best one. The welcome at the hotel was overwhelming, and everything from then on was perfect.

We spent two glorious weeks lazing on the well kept white sandy beaches, lying on very comfortable sun beds, occasionally swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea, refreshing ourselves at the well stocked bar and barbecue right on the beach. Paradise! The hotel’s food and service was out of this world, and every evening had a themed menu followed by some excellent entertainment ranging from fire-eaters and limbo dancers to a wonderful steel orchestra.

We spent a couple of days touring the island by road and sea. I was pleased to see that it is still very British and proud to be so. They are anxious to maintain their history and some parts have remained unchanged since Nelson saw them in the eighteenth century.

A last memory I must mention is being in a tropical location just before Christmas. Seeing decorated Christmas trees and hearing Christmas carols in a warm climate is a very strange feeling indeed!

Thank you Hallmark, Rex Resorts and JMC for the Caribbean icing on our Christmas cake!

If you’d like to know more email me: charmaine@hallmarktravel.com