The Ultimate Caribbean Hotel Guide*
Published: May 2009
By Shane Mitchell, Christopher Petkanas, Andrea Bennett, Richard Alleman, Alexandra Marshall, David Kaufman, Gayle Forman, James Patrick Herman, John Newton, Laura Weiss, Brooke Morton
Affordable finds romantic getaways classic resorts undiscovered retreats private islands villas & more...
A room with a view?A state-of-the-art golf course?A family-friendly hotel that the kids (and you) will love?A resort that has it all?Whatever you’re looking for in the Caribbean, there’s a place that’s right for you. T+L’s team of reporters explored every corner of the region—from Bermuda to the Bahamas and beyond. Here, the best in the islands.
Kamalame Cay The short ferry ride from Andros reveals nothing of this 96-acre barrier island but thick stands of mangrove trees. Secluded Kamalame is the perfect stage for a Robinson Crusoe fantasy, but with plushier accommodations: 19 villas, each with muslin-draped French doors that open onto three miles of beach. The star of the show is the resort’s year-old spa, hovering on stilts above the sea.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Peter Island The promise of isolation brings special expectations—all of which are met on this 1,800-acre getaway shared by no more than 104 guests. The staff greets visitors at the airport and escorts them aboard a yacht that takes them to the island; upon arriving, they are allowed to skip check-in and head straight for any of the five gleaming white beaches.
Petit St. Vincent Resort If absolute privacy is your wish, this 113-acre scoop of sand provides it, with 22 wood-and-stone cottages—some perched spectacularly on a bluff, others strung along the waterfront. Telephones?You must be thinking of someplace else. Guests communicate their wants and needs by hoisting a flag outside their digs.
Beach House The resort’s unofficial motto is Do not disturb. It’s easy to play castaway here, on this low-lying coral island near Antigua where your only company is the seabirds that inhabit the pink-sand dunes along the empty shoreline. The 21 white-on-white guest rooms, all with private teak decks, face a saltwater pool and the surf beyond.
Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa At this 50-suite escape on Martinique’s verdant eastern coast, a Guerlain spa and Creole fusion cuisine add Gallic spice to a modern plantation-style hotel decorated with vibrant madras fabrics. Take your cue from the French clientele and touch up your tan Euro-style (read: topless). After sunset, dance to steel drums in the lounge.
Tiamo Resort Even people who pride themselves on knowing the Caribbean have never heard of, let alone been to, Tiamo, on South Andros Island, accessible only by boat. The eco-resort has just 11 waterfront bungalows and relies happily and efficiently on the sun for all of its power—and on green-minded guests to dispose of some of the recyclables they generate. The birding and bonefishing are first-rate.
Petit Bacaye Far removed from the tourist crush of Grand Anse is Petit Bacaye, a beachfront country-cottage hotel in Grenada’s rural St. David’s parish. The six thatched-roof cabanas, hidden amid banana trees and giant flowering ginger, have bamboo-and-mahogany beds, tropical-hardwood floors, and private verandas perfect for sipping homemade lemongrass lemonade as you watch the sun set.
Hôtel Auberge Les Petits Saints Terre-de-Haute, the largest of the French-speaking islands of Les Saintes, off the coast of Guadeloupe, is an often overlooked, barefoot version of St. Bart’s, dotted with small hotels where the doors are still left unlocked. The top choice is the intimate Auberge Les Petits Saints, with guest rooms filled with antiques (they’re for sale) and one of the isle’s best restaurants (the grilled fish with vanilla sauce is a standout).
The Cove New owners, a gut renovation, bright modern furnishings, and a top-notch chef (lured from Paris) have transformed the Cove, on Eleuthera, from a forlorn resort into a cheap-yet-chic gem. The staff can arrange any activity on the island, from spearfishing to private-yacht charters, but not to be missed is a longboard lesson on the best surfing beach in the Bahamas. A tip: for a villa-like experience, book one of the two massive cliff-top suites at the far end of the resort’s peninsula. The ocean views are endless.
Jake’s Located on the island’s undeveloped south coast, Jake’s is intimate (only 29 rooms), dramatic (set designer Sally Henzell created it)—and cheap. Casual Caribbean décor is complemented by Indian and Moroccan details, and the Little Ochie restaurant offers fresh seafood in a beachfront setting. At the livelier Jack Sprat bar and grill, the original rum creations are a specialty.
Numero Uno Guest House It’s all about the beach in San Juan’s sleepy Ocean Park neighborhood. The hotel, which occupies a coveted stretch of Atlantic frontage, has 14 rooms, small but recently renovated; many are steps away from the sea. Guests get their own lounge chairs on the beach and from there can stroll over to Pamela’s, Numero Uno’s excellent Caribbean restaurant, with tables right on the sand.
Bravo Beach Hotel The 10-room Bravo is a sexy ode to the boutique hotel: all of the no-brainer perks (Frette sheets, Aveda products, iPod docking stations), plus hip dining and nightlife options that are as close as the beach. The Palms Bar, a poolside lounge, often hosts DJ’s from Manhattan’s Buddha Bar.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Little Dix Bay, A Rosewood Resort With water sports, tennis, and golf, not to mention three restaurants and a hilltop yoga platform at the cliffside spa (ideal for perfecting your mountain pose), Virgin Gorda’s Little Dix Bay has something for everyone. The 102 revamped rooms feature stonework details and neutral color schemes; junior suites and villas come with outdoor showers. Complimentary child care makes the resort a popular family escape.
Puntacana Resort & Club Built in 1971, Puntacana has grown from a tiny 10-villa hotel to a sprawling resort that caters to every taste. There’s a newly opened Six Senses Spa, a 70-slip marina, a pair of Tom Fazio and P. B. Dye-designed courses for golfers, a biodiversity center, and a 1,500-acre nature preserve. The latest addition is a 50-suite resort-within-a-resort by Oscar de la Renta, called Tortuga Bay. There, you’ll find a handful of restaurants, most notably Bamboo, where young Uruguayan chef Henry Horne serves Latin-Asian dishes, such as king crab-and-sweet plantain fritters and banana leaf-wrapped ropa vieja.
Four Seasons Resort This stylish yet laid-back luxury resort, set between Pinney’s Beach and an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course, was an instant classic when it opened in 1991. With the addition of an indoor-outdoor spa and a children’s camp (included: a sea-turtle conservation program), it has evolved into the ultimate island vacation.
St. Regis Temenos Villas This four-year-old trio of stark white four- and five-bedroom compounds—Sun, Sky, and Sea—with sleek infinity pools is fast becoming the hottest hideaway in Anguilla. The resort has also become a golfers’ favorite, thanks to its new, 18-hole seafront course—one of the best in the Leeward Islands.
Sandy Lane Everyone expects to see Someone at this pink-and-cream Palladian confection, which has been a major celebrity draw since its $350 million overhaul five years ago. The embarrassment of riches includes airport transfers in a Bentley, a lavish spa with private gardens in the treatment rooms, and a gaggle of nannies to mind the children. Book a ground-floor room that opens into an outdoor living area and onto the pristine beach.
TURKS AND CAICOS
Amanyara The latest Aman resort transplants its signature Asian aesthetic to the British West Indies; more exactly, to a 5,000-acre nature reserve. The 660-square-foot guest pavilions, which have sliding-glass walls and multiple daybeds, make a breezy—and decadent—case for indoor-outdoor living.
Rock House The swooning setup at Harbour Island’s 10-room Rock House was created by grafting a B&B from the 1940’s onto an adjacent Catholic schoolhouse from the 1840’s. One thing we know: if you can’t fall in love in a poolside bamboo cabana by the flickering light of a tiki torch, you can’t fall in love anywhere.
Laluna Anyone would appreciate Laluna’s 16 cottages, carved into the hills overlooking the sea, but there’s something even more special about this Asian-meets-Mediterranean hotel. Imagine dipping into your private plunge pool, rinsing off in your indoor-outdoor shower, and watching the day go by from your Balinese daybed—it’s the stuff of dreams.
Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France The 33-room Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France can’t be topped for location—on Baie des Flamands, the island’s longest, widest beach. Check into one of the 12 oceanfront rooms, for its whitewashed interior, private terrace, and views of the surf. Lest you be tempted to spend all your time enjoying the scenery, the couples massage at the Molton Brown spa provides reason enough to venture out.
Malliouhana Hotel & Spa When it opened in 1984, this visionary 55-room resort with its 15,000-square-foot spa helped put the beach-blessed island of Anguilla on stylish travelers’ maps. Today, it continues to delight with such offerings as a spa staff of 20; indoor and outdoor treatment rooms; and spectacular suites where couples can spend hours getting scrubbed, wrapped, and soaked in blissful peace.
Hôtel Guanahani & Spa In a tropical garden above Grand Cul de Sac Bay, the Clarins Spa at the 75-room Hôtel Guanahani focuses on Parisian-style pampering: French manicures, hydrating facials, and Leonor Greyl hair treatments. The resort’s new Wellness Suite comes with an ocean-view terrace and after-hours access to the adjacent pool.
TURKS AND CAICOS
Parrot Cay Owner Christina Ong personally vets each therapist at this private-island resort’s Shambhala spa, which recently doubled in size. East-meets-West treatments and weeklong yoga retreats led by such notables as Rodney Yee are big draws. Those looking to keep the Zen going can grab a seat at Shambhala’s restaurant, which serves healthy dishes like steamed fish with shiitake mushrooms and ginger broth.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
Caneel Bay, A Rose-wood Resort Director Jan Kinder and her limber staff at the Self Centre at Caneel Bay, on St. John, playfully guide frazzled guests through yoga and stress-management techniques in an eco-friendly aerie. This lean-and-green bower has blissful views of Honeymoon Bay, one of seven white-sand beaches at the low-impact, 166-room retreat within the national park.
Rockhouse Hotel If nearby Negril is Jamaica’s party capital, the Rockhouse is its more grown-up social sibling. A 60-foot seafront pool, a restaurant serving updated Jamaican fare, and an outdoor yoga pavilion set the chill vibe at the 34-room boho favorite. Or, book one of the 19 cliff-top villas, which have private terraces, and invite new friends for sunset cocktails.
Cotton House Resort On Mustique, anyone without a private villa checks in to the Cotton House. Recently refreshed by acclaimed hotelier Grace Leo-Andrieu, this 19-room, 300-year-old onetime cotton warehouse sits on 13 lush acres wedged between the isle’s Caribbean and Atlantic coasts. At the weekly Manager’s Cocktail Party, guests mingle with Mustique’s other visitors—and residents.
Eden Rock Hotel Maybe it’s the perch on a rocky promontory above the bronzed sunbathers on St. Jean beach, or the celebrity elbows rubbed at cocktail hour in the Sand Bar: the colorful, eccentric Eden Rock Hotel remains the elite epicenter of status-conscious St. Bart’s. And the three beachfront villas are big enough for jet-loads of Vuitton luggage.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Bitter End Yacht Club Set along the shores of Virgin Gorda’s protected North Sound, the Bitter End Yacht Club takes full advantage of the calm waters, offering sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, diving, and kite boarding. Try the yachtsman’s lifestyle by chartering a Freedom 30 and exploring the surrounding cays and inlets, some of which are only accessible by boat. At day’s end, fall asleep to the sound of waves gently lapping against the hull.
Casa de Campo For the perfect adult summer camp, look no further than this 7,000-acre playground on the DR’s southern coast. You’ll stay busy with three Pete Dye-designed golf courses, four polo fields, 13 tennis courts, a 3.1-mile jogging trail, mountain biking, skeet shooting, and an extensive roster of water sports. The 150 private villas—many with plunge pools—complete the picture.
Raffles Resort Canouan Island For many greens junkies, the golf experience reaches its zenith on the par-72, Jim Fazio-designed, Trump-owned course at Raffles’s first Caribbean resort. Wraparound sea views are the backdrop for 18 devilishly challenging holes sprinkled over beachside plains and hills that rise like a spectacular amphitheater above the bay. Even nonplayers will find plenty to love in the 156 airy guest rooms and Raffles’s famously gracious Asian-style service.
Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall Named after a spirit who is said to have haunted the region in the early 19th century, the White Witch Golf Course at the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall rambles over 600 acres of a former sugarcane plantation. Sixteen holes face the sea, and a pair of complimentary golf concierges lug clubs, track scores, and offer tips to improve your swing. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Jasmine—the formal dining room—for Jamaican-Asian dishes in small-plate portions.
Waterloo House Sophistication and refinement never go out of style at Waterloo—which, unlike most of its competitors, sits on a harbor rather than a beach. Polished mahogany antiques and chintz-covered upholstery in the 30 guest rooms contribute to the British tea-party atmosphere. Bermuda may have lost its edge in the fashion race in recent years, but it is poised for a roaring comeback.
Half Moon There’s timeless, and then there’s Half Moon, where Colonial Revival architecture and elegant Queen Anne-style furniture share rooms with brilliantly colored, patterned bedspreads. Think of the place not as a resort but as a small city: the 398 rooms are spread over 400 acres. Time hasn’t stopped completely at this 1954 resort—but almost.
The Abaco Club Owned by Peter de Savary (of Skibo Castle fame) and managed by Ritz-Carlton, this golf and bonefishing resort presides quite grandly over Abaco’s Winding Bay. Just yards from the tropical links are 20 octagon-shaped, 650-square-foot cabanas with Italian bedding, marble-topped wet bars, bamboo floors, and plasma TV’s.
Spice Island Though Hurricane Ivan leveled Spice Island in 2004, the hotel reopened the following year with 64 rebuilt suites, some as large as 1,500 square feet, done in warm spice hues. The hotel’s rooms are only steps from Grand Anse beach; guests can also relax on their private tiled decks, some of which have plunge pools.
Goldeneye Hidden on a hillside 30 minutes from Ocho Rios, Goldeneye is a low-key, high-luxe getaway that began life as the retreat of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Goldeneye’s private beaches and nearby coves and cays can be reached via glass-bottomed boat or Jet Ski. Indulge in spicy Jamaican meals, such as classic jerk chicken; a match of midnight tennis on the floodlit courts; or, if you feel adventurous, windsurfing lessons from local boarders.
Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort This resort may not have invented the all-inclusive, but it has certainly put its own luxurious spin on the concept. Jumby Bay, set on its own 300-acre island two miles off Antigua, was recently renovated to the tune of $6 million. The 40 suites and 11 villas are done in a retro-colonial style. Guests can choose between a beachfront barbecue and a formal dinner in the 230-year-old Estate House, after lazing by the 80-foot swimming pool.
Couples Swept Away The all-inclusive vacation is a grown-up affair at this refined adults-only resort. The 312 airy wood-and-tile rooms and suites are spread out over 17 acres of gardens along Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. A recent $7 million expansion added nice touches, such as an infinity pool.
Club Med Buccaneer’s Creek Club Med recaptures its stylish joie de vivre at Buccaneer’s Creek. Located on one of Martinique’s finest beaches, this 293-room resort plays up a Creole theme with piquant seafood at the Pays Melés restaurant. Water sports on the Baie du Marin and tennis in an old coconut grove dominate daylight hours; when the sun goes down, the staff entertains guests with acrobatic acts and show tunes.
Atlantis, Paradise Island An elaborate Mayan Temple with five waterslides—including a clear tube surrounded by sharks—and the Ruins Lagoon, a mammoth open-air aquarium containing the fabricated remains of the famous lost city, will keep kids entertained for days. By the beginning of 2007, a 30,000-square-foot Mandara Spa will have opened, as well as a lagoon for dolphins rescued from Hurricane Katrina.
Cambridge Beaches Guests of all ages at this 94-room bastion of preppydom are crazy about the dazzling new $2.5 million swimming pool, which features multiple levels, waterfalls—the works. While the kids head to the beach and Mom hits the spa, Dad can take to the links (the resort has privileges on all the island’s courses). Also new: the only rooms on Bermuda with private pools.
TURKS AND CAICOS
Grace Bay Club To defend its place as one of the top choices against all the newcomers to the islands, the Grace Bay Club is investing millions. The new two- and three-bedroom suites will be open to kids of all ages, unlike the resort’s existing 21 suites. The just-launched Kids Town program takes tykes on eco-conscious, educational excursions—all with cookies and milk upon return.
Strawberry Hill Shrouded by the mists of the rugged Blue Mountains, Strawberry Hill is a different way to experience the Caribbean: 3,100 feet above the sea. Its 12 shingled cottages, which evoke the Georgian architecture of 19th-century colonial Jamaica, are accented by French windows and terra-cotta tiles and have spacious verandas and balconies. The sleek 60-foot infinity pool looks out on the rain forest canopy.
Jade Mountain at Anse Chastanet Spread over 600 mountainous, thickly jungled acres, Anse Chastanet salutes the island’s iconic peaks at every opportunity. Its latest addition, Jade Mountain—a resort-within-a-resort high up on Morne Chastanet—has 25 ultra-luxurious open-air suites, each with its own design. Hugging the mountainside, they’re anchored around oversize glass-tiled pools with unrivaled views of the Pitons.
Malliouhana Hotel & Spa
Meads Bay; 800/835-0796; www.malliouhana.com; doubles from $720.
St. Regis Temenos Villas
Long Bay; 888/625-5144; www.stregis.com; 4-bedroom villas from $50,000 per week.
Antigua and Barbuda
Palmetto Point, Barbuda; 888/776-0333; www.caribbeanclubs.net; doubles from $795.
Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort
Antigua; 888/767-3966; www.jumbybayresort.com; doubles from $1,200.
Abaco; 888/303-2765; www.theabacoclub.com; cabanas from $750.
Paradise Island; 800/285-2684; www.atlantis.com; doubles from $390.
Eleuthera; 800/552-5960; www.thecoveeleuthera.com; doubles from $225.
Staniard Creek, Andros; 800/790-7971; www.kamalame.com; doubles from $840, all-inclusive.
Harbour Island; 242/333-2053; www.rockhousebahamas.com; doubles from $300.
South Andros; 800/504-1794; www.tiamoresorts.com; doubles from $690.
St. James Parish; 866/444-4080; www.sandylane.com; doubles from $1,200.
30 Kings Point, Sandys; 800/468-7300; www.cambridgebeaches.com; doubles from $270.
Hamilton; 800/468-4100; www.waterloohouse.com; doubles from $400.
British Virgin Islands
Bitter End Yacht Club
Virgin Gorda; 800/872-2392; www.beyc.com; villas from $830.
Little Dix Bay, A Rosewood Resort
Virgin Gorda; 888/767-3966; www.littledixbay.com; doubles from $675.
800/346-4451; www.peterisland.com; doubles from $900.
Casa de Campo
La Romana; 800/877-3643; www.casadecampo.com.do; doubles from $353.
Punta Cana; 888/442-2262; www.puntacana.com; doubles from $290.
Morne Rouge; 866/452-5862; www.laluna.com; doubles from $710.
GREAT VALUE Westerhall; 44-1794/323-227; www.petitbacaye.com; doubles from $170.
St. George’s Parish; 473/444-4258; www.spicebeachresort.com; doubles from $765.
Petit St. Vincent Resort
800/654-9326; www.psvresort.com; doubles from $940, meals included.
Raffles Resort Canouan Island
784/458-8000; www.canouan.raffles.com; doubles from $750.
Hôtel Auberge Les Petits Saints
GREAT VALUE Les Saintes; 590-590/995-099; www.petitssaints.com; doubles from $176.
Couples Swept Away
Negril; 800/268-7537; www.couples.com; doubles from $620, all-inclusive.
Irish Town; 800/688-7678; www.islandoutpost.com; doubles from $750.
Rose Hall, Montego Bay; 800/626-0592; www.halfmoon.com; doubles from $400.
GREAT VALUE Calabash Bay, Treasure Beach; 800/688-7678; www.islandoutpost.com; doubles from $115.
Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall
800/241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $459.
GREAT VALUE Negril; 876/957-4373; www.rockhousehotel.com; doubles from $125.
Oracabessa; 800/688-7678; www.islandoutpost.com; doubles from $590.
Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa
Le François; 800/735-2478 or 596-596/548-080; www.capest.com; doubles from $640.
Club Med Buccaneer’s Creek
GREAT VALUE Baie du Marin; 800/258-2633; www.clubmed.com; doubles from $1,120 per week.
Cotton House Resort
784/456-4777; www.cottonhouse.net; doubles from $850.
Four Seasons Resort Nevis
Charlestown; 800/332-3442 or 869/469-1111; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $655.
Numero Uno Guest House
GREAT VALUE San Juan; 866/726-5010; www.numero1guesthouse.com; doubles from $135, including breakfast.
Eden Rock Hotel
Baie de St.-Jean; 877/563-7105; www.edenrockhotel.com; doubles from $825.
Hôtel Guanahani & Spa
Grand Cul de Sac; 800/216-3774 or 590-590/276-660; www.leguanahani.com; doubles from $700.
Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France
800/810-4691; www.isle-de-france.com; doubles from $849.
Jade Mountain at Anse Chastanet
Soufrière; 800/223-1108; www.jademountainstlucia.com; doubles from $1,150.
Turks and Caicos
Providenciales; 800/477-9180; www.amanresorts.com; pavilions from $1,620.
Grace Bay Club
Providenciales; 800/946-5757; www.gracebayclub.com; doubles from $785.
649/946-7788; www.parrotcay.como.bz; doubles from $680.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort
St. John; 888/767-3966; www.caneelbay.com; doubles from $450.
Bravo Beach Hotel
GREAT VALUE 1 North Shore Rd.; 787/741-1128; www.bravobeachhotel.com; doubles from $175.
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