Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Juan Ruiz
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Planning an annual Caribbean vacation is always a welcome respite from the bitter cold in the Northeast. I’ve island-hopped from Aruba to Jamaica (cue “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys), but this past winter, I wanted to visit someplace off the beaten path.
A few expiring Hilton free night certificates and a desire to escape the city life led me to book an ultra-last-minute weekend getaway at Zemi Beach House, LXR Hotels & Resorts, nestled on the small, idyllic island of Anguilla.
If you have any prized Hilton free night certificates in hand, you can use them to book flashy properties that can cost hundreds (or thousands) of dollars per night, like the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi and the Conrad Bora Bora Nui in French Polynesia. Sadly, these far-flung destinations aren’t in the cards for me anytime soon, so a 4-hour flight (and some change) seemed much more achievable.
Read on to learn all about how to get to Anguilla and what it’s like to stay at the Zemi Beach House, a boutique, oceanfront resort with just 76 rooms and suites.
Zemi Beach House is just 1 of 9 properties in Hilton’s LXR Hotels & Resorts collection. I had an impressive experience at The Biltmore Mayfair in London (another LXR property), so I couldn’t wait for my second stay — this time, at the Zemi Beach House in the East Indies.
As an ultra-luxurious resort, you can expect to pay top dollar for a stay at Zemi Beach House, with paid rates well over $1,000 per night. And if you’d rather use Hilton Honors points, be prepared to wipe your balance clean: standard room rewards start at 110,000 points per night.
Despite requiring a 6-figure points balance, this is still an excellent use of your Hilton Honors points or any Hilton free night certificates you may have — I used a combination of both to book my 3-night getaway in February 2023:
I ultimately couldn’t have been happier to save thousands of dollars, stay at one of the nicest resorts in the Caribbean, and escape New York City for a weekend — wins all around.
Hot Tip: You can earn a Hilton free night certificate from select Hilton Honors American Express cards and read about the best hotels where you can redeem a free night certificate. Spoiler alert: Zemi Beach House made the cut!
We normally value Hilton Honors points at just 0.5 cents apiece, so getting nearly 1.2 cents per point in value was a great redemption in my eyes.
Getting to Anguilla — and more specifically, the Zemi Beach House — requires some planning, but it’s worth it once you arrive in the British Overseas Territory.
The Zemi Beach House is located on the northeastern tip of Anguilla, just a 10-minute drive from Anguilla-Clayton J. Lloyd Airport (AXA). However, it’s unlikely you’ll fly directly into the island. American is the only commercial carrier to operate a nonstop route from the U.S. — a once-daily flight from its Miami hub.
In fact, the most popular way to visit the island is to fly into neighboring St. Maarten, which is served by American, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit, United, and more. Once you land at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), you can then hop on a regional carrier, such as Anguilla Air Services, to get to Anguilla in just 10 minutes of flying time. This is the most pricey option at $160 one-way, but you may find that it can save quite a bit of travel time.
Instead, I opted to take a public charter ferry to Anguilla. This is the most cost-efficient method but also takes more time:
To break up my trip, I spent my first night in St. Maarten, which also gave me the chance to watch the planes take off and land at the world-famous Maho Beach. I highly recommend that you do the same if you’re an AvGeek like me!
I wasn’t in a rush to get to island time, so ultimately, the charter to Anguilla worked well for me. However, you may want to price out and compare different transportation options.
To ease the burden of planning, I tapped the Zemi Beach House’s concierge service before my stay. Zemi Beach House partners with FunTime Charters, and the hotel was able to prebook my round-trip ferry service and charged the $166 round-trip fare (and additional tip) to my hotel bill.
Hot Tip: By charging the ferry to my hotel bill, I earned an outstanding 34x Hilton Honors points thanks to my Hilton Aspire card. That’s a whopping 17.6% return in Hilton Honors points according to our valuations!
Since my friend and I spent the first full day of our trip in St. Maarten, we wanted to take an early departure ferry to Anguilla the following morning. Accordingly, the hotel booked us on the 11:30 a.m. charter, and we arrived at Zemi Beach House just an hour later.
Although the official check-in time was at 3 p.m., I was able to check in early and enjoy the resort amenities until our room was ready — which ended up being around 1 p.m.
We pulled into the gated entrance of the resort to the lobby where a bellhop swiftly took our bags while our check-in agent provided us with cool towels and a signature rum punch welcome drink. She thanked me for my loyalty to Hilton Honors as a top-tier Diamond member, which is just one of the many perks afforded to me thanks to my Hilton Aspire card.
The reception desk is separate from the rest of the resort, so once we were checked in, an agent gave us a tour of the resort on a golf cart. The Zemi Beach House, while a small property, is quite hilly.
As you can expect, the ocean is at the bottom of the hill, so expect a steep incline anytime you walk back up to your room, spa, or other facilities. However, you can request free golf cart service at any time if you prefer.
Although I have top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status, a breakfast buffet from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. is complimentary for all guests.
Where my Diamond status did help was getting us a better room. While we didn’t get upgraded to a suite, our room type changed from the “1 King Garden View” to the “1 King Ocean View.” We happily took this upgrade, as paid rates for this room type were nearly $300 more expensive per night than the former. While I discuss this later in the review, the rooms were impressively large and felt just as spacious as a suite would be.
We were also given a welcome amenity upon arrival: a letter from the hotel manager; a sampling of truffles, chocolates, and strawberry marshmallows; a bottle of Prosecco; and still and sparkling Voss waters.
Most of the amenities were focused around the main resort pool, where you’ll find the Bahio Bar, 20 Knots restaurant, and more.
The oceanfront pool was a popular place to hang out where it was less windy, particularly for families with young kids.
Finding somewhere to sit was never an issue, even at the busiest hours, thanks to ample chairs, cabanas, and beach beds — all of which were free for guests.
Usually, you’d have to pay a premium at other resorts to reserve one of these coveted seating areas. There were a handful of poolside attendants ready to take your orders or bring you fresh towels.
The thoughtful amenities continued throughout the resort, and I was surprised to see a communal version of my favorite sunscreen: Brazilian Sun Bum SPF 30. This was especially great to see since I only fly with carry-on bags and never bring enough sunscreen with me.
When we weren’t lounging by the beach, we spent some time at the adults-only pool located next to the fitness center. While there weren’t any ocean views, this was easily the most deserted area of the resort, and I took a nap on one of those king-sized pool beds.
Whether you want a break from the sun or want to swim laps, this pool provides significantly more shade than down at the main resort area.
The beach at Zemi Beach House was picture-perfect with white sands, few rocks, minimal seaweed, and turquoise waters. However, the waters were quite choppy and winds were consistently blowing at 20 mph during our February getaway, so most guests preferred to relax by the pools instead. Almost all of the beach chairs were unoccupied, even during peak afternoon hours.
I’m always the type of person to pick the beach over the pool, and the wind actually felt nice while it was almost 80 degrees and sunny out. The beach attendant was always on the lookout for our needs, immediately bringing over towels, setting up our umbrella, and checking in on us throughout the afternoon for food and drink orders.
At the lifeguard stand, you could find snorkeling gear and various non-motorized water sports equipment (like kayaks and stand-up paddle boards), but the water was too rough for anyone to enjoy these free amenities. You’d also find more fruit-infused water and sunscreen, just as there was at the pool stand.
If you decide to rent a car in Anguilla, the Zemi Beach House offers free parking for all guests, located to the right of the check-in area past the gated entrance.
The resort provided free Wi-Fi throughout the property, and the speeds were consistent whether you were relaxing on the beach or catching up on emails in your room.
While walking up and down the hills of the Zemi Beach House will likely be a workout of its own, there’s a 24-hour fitness center on the ground floor of Building 2.
The gym offered the necessary equipment from treadmills to free weights — although there were no squat racks or Smith machines to be found. Overall, the gym was nice but felt like it could use a refresh.
There are Peloton bikes in all U.S-branded Hilton hotels, and I’d expect a luxurious resort like the Zemi Beach House to offer the same — or perhaps more modern TechnoGym cardio machines. However, the equipment would suffice for those who want to get a quick sweat in.
A visit to the Zemi Beach House isn’t complete without a trip to the Thai House Spa, which feels like you’ve simultaneously teleported to Southeast Asia and taken a step back in time. In fact, the building itself is more than 300 years old and was carefully deconstructed, transported to Anguilla, and then reconstructed.
As you can expect, the wellness treatments are expensive but are in line with the caliber of a luxury resort like the Zemi Beach House. A 50-minute massage starts at $170, with an additional 15% service fee.
You can access the spa’s Moroccan hammam, or a steam bath house, by booking one of the hammam treatments. I opted for the 30-minute hammam ritual ($90), which consisted of 15 minutes in the steam room and a full-body exfoliation with black olive soap and body oil.
Hot Tip: The Hilton Aspire card comes with an annual $250 resort credit, so I maximized that by paying for my spa experience and other ancillary room charges!
When booking my treatment, the front desk let me know that I could come to my appointment 30 minutes early to use the Thai House Spa facilities — which includes access to the Vitality pool, heated perfectly to body temperature.
Upon arrival, I was given a cold hibiscus tea and a cool towel. Then, I put my belongings in the locker room and enjoyed the rock-wall waterfall at the Vitality Pool. Once my appointment time was near, I headed over to the hammam where the masseuse allowed me to relax before the amazing full-body treatment.
Afterward, I was permitted to use the Thai House Spa’s outdoor facilities, such as the yoga patio. I ordered a green juice ($10) from the juice bar and relaxed in a chair for a couple of hours.
Fancy a game of tennis? You can request equipment and tennis balls at the spa next door and make use of this epic grass court.
There’s a complimentary kids’ club open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for children ages 4 to 12 that’s located next to the gift shop. This is a great place to drop off your little ones, and be sure to check the schedule for hourly events from sand castle sculptures to scavenger hunts.
The gift shop had lots of locally-designed resort wear (read: not tacky) as well as typical souvenirs you could bring back for your friends and family.
There’s plenty to explore on the island of Anguilla. Whether you’re interested in booking a catamaran tour or a fishing excursion, the Guest Services desk is located next to the main pool area, and staff members there can help you plan the perfect trip on the island.
There are 3 main buildings that house Zemi’s 76 rooms and suites, and the residences are located in a separate area oceanfront. We were upgraded to an Oceanview room, on the third floor of Building 3.
You’ll first walk through a narrow hallway that houses a minibar stocked with drinks and snacks for purchase, a Nespresso with Illy coffee capsules, a kettle, and a freshly-stocked ice bucket.
Simply put, the room was enormous. At 700 square feet, the room was (sadly) larger than my New York City apartment. The king bed deserves its own kudos for its cloud-like memory foam mattress, crisp, white linens, and fluffy pillows.
It also faced the large private balcony, which was my favorite spot to hang out and watch the sunset.
As the hotel’s name suggests, the rooms at Zemi Beach House gave off a rustic, beach bungalow vibe. I loved the natural yet varied wood textures used throughout the room, as well as the splashes of color used to liven up the space.
The TV, while small for American standards, was built into the bed. I thought it was a brilliant use of the space, as you can tuck the TV away when you’re not watching anything.
There was another skinny desk along the back of the bed frame and 2 giant closets with plenty of hangers and drawers for easy storage. I forgot to bring sandals, but thankfully there were complimentary flip-flops in the closet, as well as a Zemi-branded beach tote bag, robe, and laundry bag.
Just when I thought the room couldn’t get any more perfect, I saw the bathroom, which was abundantly spacious and featured a gorgeous soaking tub as the centerpiece.
The bathroom was divided into 4 sections: a toilet, a makeup vanity, a double-vanity sink, and a stand-up shower. There were oversized individual toiletries from MALIN+GOETZ, one of my favorite brands from New York City known for its high-quality products with minimal ingredients that are suitable for sensitive skin.
I also appreciated that there was a hamper in the bathroom where you could place your used towels and robes instead of leaving them on the floor. That way, housekeeping knows which linens to replace.
One of the most important elements of a hotel bathroom is the water pressure, and the Zemi Beach House passed this test with flying colors. The water immediately got hot and the pressure was excellent, and you could even use the 2 shower heads at the same time. My only gripe with the bathroom was that there was no shower door, so water got everywhere around the base of the tub.
There was another robe hanging in the bathroom, and if you’re curious to know what that sign says, it basically asks guests kindly to not take the robes home with them. It’s certainly tempting, as the robes were made from a cozy, knitted material, but you can purchase one of your own at the front desk instead.
Every room at Zemi Beach House comes with a private balcony, whether you have a garden or ocean view. Hopefully, you can book (or get upgraded to) a room with unforgettable views of turquoise waters.
Every balcony is fully furnished with a dining set, which we found to be a great setup for eating a room service meal, along with 2 comfortable lounger chairs with an ottoman, and a drying rack for all of your beach towels and bathing suites. The balcony had enough room for me to stretch and do some yoga after my run.
The Zemi Beach House has 2 main restaurants: 20 Knots and Stone, as well as the Bohio Bar and Rhum Room for hand-crafted libations.
Located next to the main pool area, 20 Knots is the main restaurant that’s intended for casual dining, with seating that stretches out onto the beach. 20 Knots is where you’ll also find the complimentary breakfast buffet from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily.
Free breakfast is becoming a rarity at hotels nowadays, so I was glad to see the Zemi Beach House offer an expansive buffet for all of its guests. The selection will cater to virtually everyone, whether you’re looking for American classics like waffles, pancakes, bacon, breakfast sausage, and scrambled eggs, or more “local” flavors including roasted plantains and other vegetables.
There was also a decent selection of fresh fruit and a made-to-order station where you could get customized omelets or other styles of eggs. You could also order fresh juices or espresso drinks from the server.
In the middle of the restaurant, you’ll find a long, buffet-style table of breakfast pastries, balanced by fresh ginger-and-pineapple shots.
My friend sticks to a strict gluten-free diet, and the chef went above and beyond to whip up a special breakfast that looked even better than my “normal” meal. Without even asking, the chef made her a delicious French toast and even a chocolate lava cake — I couldn’t tell that either item was gluten-free!
We also had dinner at 20 Knots. The menu featured salads, brick-oven pizzas, homemade pastas, and various seafood dishes. There was a small selection of Caribbean curries, but 20 Knots felt mostly like a typical American restaurant I could find anywhere back home.
For dinner, I ordered the local catch of red snapper and clams ($31) which came on a bed of mixed vegetables, while my friend ordered the beef short ribs ($49). The meal came with complimentary focaccia bread and johnnycakes, which is a traditional cornmeal flatbread.
The meal was tasty enough, but if I had stayed longer at the Zemi Beach House, I likely would have been bored by the options at 20 Knots.
On certain nights, 20 Knots will host various dining events, such as beach barbecues.
I decided to skip out on dinners at Stone, but the restaurant “boasts an Oriental and Caribbean fine-dining inspired fusion inspired by seasonal ingredients.” In other words, expect dishes like wasabi lobster ($55), miso black cod ($56), and surf and turf ($65).
Stone was only open from Thursdays to Sundays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The indoor-outdoor concept bar was stunning and offered a variety of sushi rolls and cocktails on the menu. The Bohio Bar was open daily from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and would often have live music such as jazz performances in the evenings.
Next door to the Bohio Bar is the enclosed Rhum Room, which offers a wide variety of world-renowned rums and cigars for an intimate tasting experience. The Rhum Room was open daily from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
From the moment my ferry docked at Blowing Rock Terminal, there was a Zemi Beach House staff member who greeted us by name and followed the taxi to the resort, making sure we felt safe and welcomed. The Zemi Beach House does a wonderful job of recognizing its most loyal guests and making sure their vacation to Anguilla is seamless.
I also wanted to give a special shoutout dedicated to housekeeping, which was really the star of the whole Zemi experience. Unless you put a do-not-disturb sign on your door, housekeeping will come by twice per day — once in the late morning and once in the evening.
While you may think that twice-daily housekeeping is excessive, the Zemi Beach House does an amazing job of paying attention to the little things and making your stay feel extra special, whether that was replenishing the ice bucket, leaving extra water bottles on the bedside table, closing the blackout curtains, or providing nightly turndown service when it’s time to sleep.
My favorite detail? The freshly baked chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies placed nightly on the bedside table, which was the perfect sweet treat to end a day in paradise.
The Zemi Beach House is a remote getaway for those looking to unplug and enjoy some well-deserved R&R. Just be prepared to pay a pretty penny for nightly room rates or to splurge on any of the activities and restaurants at the resort.
It’s clear that this oceanfront resort is focused on wellness, as its most memorable features were the Thai spa, adults-only pool, and top-notch housekeeping. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back to this slice of paradise in the Caribbean!
The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
There are just 76 rooms and suites in total at the Zemi Beach House. However, there are also beachfront residences available for purchase.
The Zemi Beach House was built in 2016. The property later joined the Hilton LXR Hotels & Resorts collection in 2019.
You can expect to pay around $1,000 per night at the Zemi Beach House for a double occupancy room, although this will depend on the season. If you’d like to use Hilton Honors points instead, standard room rewards start at 110,000 points per night. You can also redeem your Hilton free night certificates at the Zemi Beach House for excellent value.
The Zemi Beach House offers family-friendly and adult-only pools, free water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding, a tennis court, a Thai-inspired spa, and more. Free breakfast is included for all guests.
Zemi Beach House is located on the northeastern tip of Anguilla facing the Atlantic Ocean. It’s about a 10-minute drive from Anguilla’s airport and a 30-minute drive from the Blowing Rock Ferry Terminal.
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