A revitalized hotel scene in the Caribbean is making waves. T+L picks 8 new island retreats.
Caribbean hotels have always been a reliable standby for tranquility, crystal-clear ocean views, and amazing beaches. But now, many of the tropical islands are seeing fresher, chicer hotels sprouting up, bringing a new level of luxury to the entire region.
Take the Seven Stars Resort in Turks and Caicos, where even the smallest room—a one-bedroom studio—is a spacious 620 square feet. It’s plenty of room to fit a kitchen, which each room has—from a galley in the studios to a gourmet kitchen in the Presidential Suite. But if en-suite cooking isn’t what you had in mind, the resort’s restaurant, La Pergola, offers an array of international cuisines as well as Caribbean-inspired dishes. And to rub away the last vestiges of home, the on-property spa offers a wide range of treatments, including the option for in-room treatments and poolside massages.
If the Grenadines are your destination of choice, head to tiny Bequia and the even-smaller Firefly Hotel, which has just eight rooms. The resort overlooks 30 acres of vegetation—including the only banana plantation on the island—and a short trek through the on-property coconut grove will lead you to a secluded white sand beach (hint: the snorkeling gets rave reviews). For an off-property excursion, check out the old-school Caribbean look and feel of the island’s many shops and restaurants, where you can order anything from burgers and pizza to Caribbean classics like roti and callaloo.
Then there’s the classic Puerto Rican escape, La Concha. Built in 1958, the hotel just reopened after a $220 million renovation, bringing a modern, soothing look and feel to its public areas and 248 guest rooms, most of which offer an ocean view. For dinner, stop by the hotel’s signature clam-shaped, poolside restaurant, Perla, where you can indulge on contemporary American seafood dishes. Take advantage of the restaurant’s 4,000-bottle wine cellar, but don’t feel overwhelmed—the service staff attends weekly wine lessons taught by the restaurant’s chef, Dayn Smith, and can assist with your selection.
These are just three of the hotels making noise in the Caribbean this winter. Click through to our slideshow for even more information on these properties and five others that are redefining Caribbean chic.
The Midcentury Modern La Concha was a favorite among architecture buffs when it debuted on San Juan’s Condado Beach in 1958. Now the 248-room property is once again ready for its close-up, after a $220 million injection from Renaissance Hotels. Rooms have been streamlined and have a muted palette of seafoam green, tan, and beige, while the bright and airy lobby has one wall made entirely of glass. Still, many original details remain intact, including the fanciful poolside restaurant set in a giant shell-shaped building.
Hodges Bay Club
The 114-room Hodges Bay Club will open along a white-sand beach on Antigua’s northern shore. With its spare, angular design—courtesy of the architects behind Thailand’s Chiva-Som—Mediterranean-style buildings, and infinity-edge pool, the retreat follows in the footsteps of other über-modern Caribbean hotels, like Carlisle Bay and Parrot Cay.
Seven Stars Resort & Spa
Nikki Beach, Providenciales
The 51-room Nikki Beach Resort, in a gated enclave on Providenciales’s northern coast. This is the first hotel from the brand known around the world for its clubs (from Miami to Marrakesh); that South Beach flavor is on display here, thanks to an elaborate infinity pool surrounded by daybeds (cheekily called opium beds).
The DR continues to move beyond the all-inclusive market with the help of the Peninsula House, which debuted early 2008 in a restored Victorian plantation house on the Samaná peninsula. The six tasteful suites showcase designer Serge Robin’s take on global style and are filled with Louis XV chairs, handwoven rugs from Turkey, and a cosmopolitan collection of objets d’art (African masks; Indonesian marionettes). All have terraces overlooking a remote jungle setting.
Geejam, A Private Hotel
Until recently, former music execs Jon Baker and Steve Beaver rented out Geejam, their lush 46-acre estate in the hills off Jamaica’s northeastern coast, to musicians like Gwen Stefani and India.Arie to use as a recording studio. Since the two teamed up with Island Outpost, the seven-room retreat is now open to anyone looking to channel their inner Lenny Kravitz—which is easy enough to do thanks to the hotel’s rock-star–cool design (think Juergen Teller prints and Philippe Starck chairs). Guests can even lay down a few tracks of their own at the on-site studio.
The two-month-old Kanopi House, a six-acre private villa compound, is a sibling of the tony Kamalame Cay in the Bahamas. A maximum of 10 visitors stay in the five rustic-chic cottages, which have wooden platform beds, high, beamed ceilings, and French doors that open out onto the surrounding tropical forest.