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April 23, 2010updated 28 Jan 2016 7:22pm

Jumby Bay Dispatches IV

By William Cash

The trouble with too many hotels today is that when it comes to ‘relaxing’, the spa has replaced the library.

When I last came to Jumby Bay about six years ago (in a previous life), I remember the hotel’s Estate House having an entire library room full of hundreds of bestsellers left behind by guests over the years. Today, the library has been closed (other than a few unappealing books that people have left behind by the pool grill – including several crime thrillers in Dutch and German) and a new reading list system is in place which I have never experienced before at any hotel.

It’s called ‘Hot Type’, and a menu of supposedly ‘hot’ new books that are about to be published and are not yet available to the masses are handed to each guest on arrival. So whilst at Jumby I can call room-service and order up a copy of The Third Rail by Michael Harvey (buy it here), ‘a superb murder mystery about a sniper on the loose in Chicago.’

But the only problem is that the people who write up the teaser copy for these room-service book menus appear to be of the same literary cop-editing school as those who write up the restaurant menus around Antigua where everything is ‘perfectly cooked’, ‘surprisingly refreshing’, ‘tantilisingly delicious’. It’s impossible to take any book seriously after it has been described to appeal to today’s room-service ‘hot type’ – or should it be ‘hype? – mentality.

Whilst talking to Jumby’s excellent new hotel manager Andrew Hedley, an English ex-pat (brought up in Kenya) who was hired after he had made such a success of Antigua’s Carlisle Bay, which boasted perhaps the most glamorous and sexy designer library of any hotel I have ever been to (a room which was designed like a glass shoe-box, with walls and shelves made from perspex and thousands of eclectic books), I was delighted to hear that Hedley has plans to install a new library at Jumby Bay.

The trouble with too many hotels today is that when it comes to ‘relaxing’, the semi-philistine concept of a ‘spa’ has replaced that of the library. So I was delighted to hear from Hedley that so successful was the old glass and perspex library at Carlisle Bay that he has already put a call into the talented architect who designed it in the hope that he can do a version for Jumby. I am sure I am not alone in wishing that all hotels would spend as much creating and designing their libraries as they do their ‘Wellness and Relaxation’ centres.

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