What Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch remember most from their first trip to Antigua are the fruit trees – mangoes, bananas and coconuts – in their grandparents’ backyards. “I remember seeing my grandfather cut a coconut with a machete and drink it straight away,” Tanya recalls. “It’s a different way of living,” Temidra adds. “There is an ease there. Everyone is so relaxed.”
The sisters infused this island sensibility into Hidden Gem, the boutique they opened in 2019 in Southampton, near their hometown of East Hampton. Tanya, who studied fine art and photography, and Temidra, who went to fashion school and started her own textile business in 2014, agreed the store should reflect both their Long Island roots. and their Antiguan heritage. “We want this space to be authentically us,” says Temidra. “We love the color, we love to mix and match the prints, we love the textures.” Tanya envisioned it as a place where, if she didn’t own it, she would want to do her shopping on her own.
The sisters say their business acumen comes from their Antiguan maternal grandmother. “She was selling her knitting and crochet in the front yard,” Temidra says. “Our grandmother really taught us entrepreneurship.”
At Hidden Gem, the duo work directly with artisans around the world to source textiles, clothing, housewares and art objects. They also make some items themselves: decorative surfboards, bohemian bracelets, hand-dyed bathrobes. “People walk into the store and say, ‘I feel like I’m in the Caribbean. I feel like I’m on vacation,” says Temidra. “That’s exactly how we want them to feel.”
Read on to find the Sisters’ favorite places on the island that inspire them.
Right after getting off the plane, we go to Brownies, in the village of Piggotts, for a bun and cheese, a typical snack. There is no address – but if you ask the locals they will direct you! In St. John’s, we love roti with chicken or conch at Roti King (entrees $ 2– $ 10), which is actually run by our cousin Hilroy.
Harry’s thirst-quenching smile (entrees $ 7- $ 45) is right on the water in Half Moon Bay, the town our parents grew up in. You can have a full meal – they have authentic Caribbean dishes like curried goat cheese and plantains or coconut shrimp and rice. Jacqui O Beach House appetizers $ 17 – $ 56), in Crab Hill, has a great vibe and fun decor, with lots of pink and floral prints. We opt for whole grilled fish.
Visit our cousin Damian, who is a bartender at Catherine’s Café, Pigeon Beach, and try Slow and Steady – his take on a martini with a secret and special twist. The old fashioned rum punch is also excellent. For live reggae, head to The Road House in Newfield.
Visit Cedar Pottery for Antiguan ceramics. We love to go get inspiration from local artists – and they have interactive sessions where you can paint your own pots. St. John’s Public Market (Valley Rd. And All Saints Rd.) is the perfect place to get fresh fruits and vegetables.
At the Cocobay Resort for adults only (double from $ 800), on Coco Beach, some cottages have mini pools. We also like Nonsuch Bay Resort (double from $ 430), in Freetown, because it’s close to the family – plus there’s a private beach. Antigua village (rentals starting at $ 210), in Dickinson Bay, offers condo rentals with a warm atmosphere.
A version of this story first appeared in the December 2021 / January 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the title Antigua, by design.