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.