Antigua is a destination that hardly gets the attention that it deserves. Dr. Collin Williams, Jr. is seeking to change that.
Williams, a first-generation American, was born to Antiguan parents. In 1987, they relocated from the country to the U.S. in hopes of giving their son better educational opportunities.
He in fact took advantage of the education in America and went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad and then received his Ph.D. in 2015.
His parents made the decision to go back to Antigua in 2010. Sadly, Collin’s mother became sick, so he flew to Antigua to do a mock graduation for her. After her passing, he made the decision to visit home as often as he could. He began inviting friends to come along here and there, always providing them with a place to stay.
His friends always enjoyed their time in Antigua and suggested that Collin start planning out actual itineraries for them when they came. Collin decided to take things a step further.
Not only did he plan the ultimate itinerary, but he managed to gather up 27 of his friends for what would soon become CDE Antigua. That was in 2015.
The trip was a hit and caught the attention of a reporter at TIME who did a story on it.
Going off of the momentum from the growing popularity from the TIME coverage, Collin made it an annual trip.
Now in its 5th year, CDE Antigua will welcome over 500 travelers from all over the country, to the island.
“I approached this idea with Antiguan pride,” Collin told Travel Noire. “The main driver of the economy there is tourism. So being a first generation American, I wanted to create opportunities for the people of Antigua. I utilize Black-Owned hotels, local cooking companies for our meals, Black drivers, etc to ensure that we are truly giving back to the island. It’s not just about having a great time, it’s about making something meaningful.”
Since the start of this annual event, Collin has been named an Ambassador to Antigua. Therefore, guests who attend can guarantee that the red carpet will be laid out for them.
The experience starts before travelers even arrive. There are meet-ups and other communication tools set up prior to the trip so that people can get to know one another.
Once you arrive, you are given special treatment from the moment you step off the plane.
“We’ve got you from the beginning throughout the week. I remove all of the thinking from vacation planning, including arranging flights.”
The week is filled with anything boat and water-related that you can think of. Everything from themed parties, party cruises, and pool parties. Depending on the year and when the event is happening, there may be events planned around Carnival too.
In addition to this, you’ll also have the chance to learn more about the island’s history through specially curated tours.
Collin recently added a community service aspect to the event. Attendees are able to participate in a service project during the week to help give back. In year’s past, it was stuffing backpacks and going around to hand them out in local schools.
“Antigua is like nothing you will ever see, and to do so with an actual ambassador of the island is an unmatched experience,” Collin said.