Jamaica, St. Bart’s, Aruba—choosing a favorite Caribbean island is tough. But T+L readers have no problem choosing the best Caribbean resorts.
The sun hangs lazy on the horizon. Your bartender Teddy just shook up another round of Planter’s Punch with the same recipe he’s been using for the past half century. The walls here at the Jamaica Inn have seen everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Katharine Hepburn—probably because they also share that intangible “it” factor.
It’s that undeniable energy, that nexus of setting and service, design and story, that scored Jamaica Inn the No. 7 spot on Travel + Leisure’s 18th-annual World’s Best Awards. Lots of hotels have great rooms and restaurants, but only a few—like this beachfront hotel—truly capture our imaginations.
That’s why we tapped our globe-trotting readers to weigh in on which hotels and destinations have it—and which don’t. The result: a definitive list of top Caribbean hotels, from glam St. Bart’s starlets to old-world Bahamas charmers.
One secret to ranking high: nothing beats a winning location. This year’s No. 1 hotel, Jade Plantation, has walls open to the emerald-hued crags of St. Lucia’s Pitons. Other top Caribbean hotels ramble over former sugar plantations, are tucked away on private islands, and cling to cliffs above pink-sand beaches.
Winning resorts also know how to serve up serious cuisine, be it locally foraged ingredients or star chef–certified kitchens, like Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s buzzy offerings at St. Bart’s Eden Rock (No. 11). The World’s Best winners redefine all-inclusive food offerings, know how to make local street food accessible, and even have their own organic farms.
The top 20 best Caribbean hotels and resorts have a stretch of sand for everyone. After this winter, isn’t it time for a vacation?
2 of 21Courtesy of Jade Mountain
No. 1 Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
Views don’t get much more dramatic (especially from the bathroom) than the panoramic ones at this legendary resort near the west coast town of Soufrière: one wall is open to the elements, the emerald peaks of the Pitons, and 600 acres of beach below (a reason it jumped from No. 4 in 2012 to the top spot this year). James Beard Award–winner Allen Susser helms the restaurant, which uses produce and fruits from the hotel’s on-site organic farm. When not lounging in their private hot tub or infinity pool, guests have access to all of the resort facilities of sister hotel Anse Chastanet (No. 2 on our list) just down the hill, including two beaches, coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, spa services, tennis, and boating.
3 of 21Courtesy of Anse Chastanet Resort
No. 2 Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia
Set on a pristine UNESCO World Heritage site fronting a marine reserve with miles of coral reefs, Anse Chastanet is a Robinson Crusoe dream of whitewashed cottages and treehouse-like villas with flower-draped balconies and louvered windows opening onto views of the Pitons—and guests have taken notice, shooting its rank from No. 19 last year to World’s Best runner-up. Nature here takes center stage: one room has a tree growing through it, and others have one or two walls open to the elements; none have TVs, phones, or the need for air-conditioning. Delightfully simple décor means locally made wood furniture, woven pendant lamps, and cheery plaid throws. On site you’ll find a spa, yoga hut, dive shop, watersports, two restaurants, an art gallery, and 12 miles of mountain biking trails.
4 of 21Courtesy of Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
No. 3 Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Nevis
Long topping the World’s Best list, this 18th-century sugar plantation’s 36 lemon-hued cottages dot 30 acres along the palm-shaded beach with whirring fans in the vaulted white ceilings, gracious wicker furniture, and louvered windows ushering in sea breezes. Each cottage has its own private porch and thoughtful touches like custom-stocked mini-bars and free Wi-Fi. Bliss out at the spa with treatments that incorporate local honey and sea salt, or let the excellent staff plan rainforest hikes, deep-sea fishing, or scuba diving adventures at a shipwreck.
5 of 21Courtesy of Curtain Bluff Resort
No. 4 Curtain Bluff Resort, Antigua
There’s a clubby charm to Curtain Bluff, from the colonial-tinged décor of the 72 suites, all rattan and sea grass, to the convivial bar with its well-stocked wine cellar. Aside from its well-aged vintages, Cuban cigars, and treatments at the 5,000-square-foot spa, the rest is all-inclusive: breakfasts at the open-air Tamarind Tree restaurant, candlelit dinners at the Sea Grape, championship tennis and squash, sailing and windsurfing. Relax in a hammock at one of the resort’s two beaches—one a protected swimming lagoon, the other fringed by crashing waves.
6 of 21Courtesy of Galley Bay
No. 5 (tie) Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua
Making its debut on the World’s Best List, Galley Bay Resort & Spa sits on 40 tropical acres fronted by a three-mile-long stretch of sugary sand. Stately acacia-wood furniture adorns the 98 rooms, which have vaulted ceilings and offer perks like outdoor showers or private plunge pools. The all-inclusive rate includes drinks at three romantic bars and meals at three restaurants, including modern West Indian fare at elegant Gauguin. Indulge in a treatment in the treehouse-like spa, which sits next to the resort’s lagoon and bird sanctuary. The friendly staff at this popular spot for honeymooners and couples goes above and beyond to plan romantic surprises such as private beach dinners.
7 of 21Courtesy of Rockhouse Hotel
No. 5 (tie) Rockhouse Hotel, Negril, Jamaica
You’d be hard pressed to find a better value (or a more fun stay) in the Caribbean than Rockhouse Hotel. Clinging to the cliffside, the thatched-roof bungalows of this barefoot-cool resort meander amid hidden coves and jungle-fringed pathways; some of the 34 rooms have their own ladders right down to the crystal-clear sea. Daily yoga classes complement treatments at the spa, which uses products made from natural ingredients indigenous to the Caribbean. The hotel is also home to the award-winning Rockhouse Restaurant and Pushcart Restaurant & Rumbar, a funky seaside hangout that serves up modern Jamaican street food accompanied by live reggae.
8 of 21Courtesy of the Jamaica Inn
No. 7 Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Jamaica Inn’s easy charm has been attracting bold-faced names since Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller honeymooned here in the 1950s. The lack of TVs, radios, and clocks maintain that timelessness, as does the effortless elegance of the furnishings, all gracious hardwoods and crisp, white textiles. Embrace the property’s old-school vibe with croquet or polo lessons, or book a treatment at the spa, which incorporates plants harvested by local organic farmers or foraged from the surrounding land. Toast to the richly hued sunsets over tales from the resort’s famous bartender, Teddy, who has been serving up Red Stripes for more than 50 years.
9 of 21Courtesy of Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France
No. 8 Hotel Saint-Barth, St. Bart’s
This St. Bart’s stunner (which jumped two places up the list this year) certainly knows how to make an entrance: a runway-like marble lobby frames a postcard-worthy view of Baie des Flamands, the island’s longest stretch of sand. It’s a fitting introduction considering its boutique mounts weekly poolside fashion shows. There’s a modern French elegance to the 39 rooms and suites with muted toile fabrics, wrought-iron sconces, and whitewashed woods. The restaurant serves classic French dishes such as sole meunière alongside a Caribbean-inflected mahimahi in hibiscus rum broth.
10 of 21Seven Stars Resort
No. 9 Seven Stars Resort, Turks and Caicos
It doesn’t get more pristine than Seven Stars Resort—new to the World’s Best Awards this year—with Grace Bay Beach out front and the Princess Alexandra National Park as its neighbor. The 107 plantation-style suites all have private terraces, marble bathrooms with deep-soak tubs and L’Occitane products, and granite-countered kitchenettes with Nespresso machines. Friendly attendants spoil guests around the mosaic-tiled pool and in the beach cabanas with cold towels, smoothie shots, and chilled sorbets after a hard afternoon spent stand-up paddleboarding and surfing. Little ones can hang at the kids’ club, where instructors will teach them to snorkel and sail or become sandcastle architects.
11 of 21Peter Pierce
No. 10 Four Seasons Resort, Nevis
Gingerbread-style trim, pastel hues, and rich teak furniture lend a colonial elegance to this tony resort on the sleepy island of Nevis—perhaps one reason it jumped five spots from last year. Even standard rooms are sprawling (starting at nearly 500 square feet), with marble bathrooms, plush sitting areas, and balconies or patios. Waterfront eatery Mango serves farm-to-fork, island-accented fare and fresh fish caught at nearby Pinney’s Beach. A Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, 10 tennis courts, sailing school, fitness center, spa, and well-equipped kids’ center keep guests as busy (or not) as they like.
12 of 21Courtesy of Eden Rock – St Barths
No. 11 Eden Rock, St. Bart’s
What started as a seaside bar blossomed into the star of the celeb-studded St. Bart’s hotel scene. The rooms—each with its own look—mix whitewashed walls with antiques and rich hardwood furniture. A-listers book the two ultra-luxe villas, including the 16,000-square-foot Rockstar with its recording studio, two pools, fully equipped gym, pool table, and whiskey bar. Jean-Georges Vongerichten designed the menu for both the chilled-out Sand Bar and On the Rocks, the tony open-air restaurant perched above the bay.
13 of 21Courtesy of Ladera, St. Lucia
No. 12 Ladera Resort, St. Lucia
The 32 tropical hardwood villas feel like luxe treehouses, with walls open to dramatic vistas of the aquamarine Caribbean crashing onto the vivid green of the Piton Mountains. Gaze on them from your four-poster bed or private plunge pool (some with cascading waterfalls), and it’s easy to see why this resort jumped seven places from No. 19 in last year’s awards. Although there is no beach, the hotel offers free shuttles to Anse Chastanet beach and Soufrière town, and there’s a large communal infinity pool. The star of the show at Ladera, though, is Dasheene, St. Lucia’s top table, where Nigel Mitchel serves up elegant Caribbean fare with fresh produce from neighboring farms.
14 of 21Courtesy of Couples Resorts
No. 13 Couples Negril, Jamaica
This adults-only resort upgrades the all-inclusive experience with 234 rooms fanning out from a cluster of lively restaurants and bars. Funky rooms have Technicolor wall hangings, nautically striped chairs, and, in suites, hammocks for two. A romance concierge hooks up honeymooners with private beach bonfires or dinners under the stars (bold couples can even sunbathe au naturel on one section of beach). The full menu of activities includes snorkeling, sailing, tennis, kayaking, yoga, and, of course, sublime days spent relaxing by one of two pools or in four Jacuzzis.
15 of 21Courtesy of Couples Resorts
No. 14 Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica
The concept of the all-inclusive started in 1978 at this legendary Ocho Rios resort, which dates back to 1949. The tropical modern rooms mix retro botanical prints with pastel-hued walls and vintage-style rattan furniture. The six restaurants run the gamut from the smoothie-and-salad Veggie Bar to the Pan-Asian Bayside. The all-inclusive rate includes excursions to nearby sites, scuba diving, and access to the white-sand beach and the hotel’s own private (clothing-optional) island. Be sure to book a treatment at the award-winning, Zen-inspired spa.
16 of 21Little Dix Bay, A Rosewood Resort
No. 15 Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Once the tropical playground for Laurance Rockefeller in the 1960s, Rosewood refurbished and added a modern Asian vibe to its 100 rooms (think muted palettes, custom, clean-lined furniture, and rich textures), all with sea views, private outdoor spaces, and massive bathrooms with soaking tubs. The clifftop spa uses local botanicals and salts for its treatments and has its own serene two-tiered infinity pool. The other seaside pool feels like a mini version of Virgin Gorda’s famous Baths. Set in an open-air stone mill, the famous Sugar Mill restaurant mixes Asian and Caribbean flavors with fresh, local seafood and seasonal produce.
17 of 21Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
No. 16 Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Antigua
You arrive by boat at this 300-acre private island resort off the coast of Antigua. If it feels like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, you’re right (Robin Leach once owned a villa here). Rooms are split between rondavel (round hut) cottages with four-poster beds and private courtyards, plus sprawling suites with vaulted ceilings, outdoor soaking tubs, and private, full-size swimming pools if you’re really looking to splash out. Beach cruiser bikes take you between your room and the main pool area, palapa-dotted beaches, and three restaurants, including the Estate House, which sits in a former plantation mansion.
18 of 21Courtesy of Grace Bay Club
No. 17 Grace Bay Club, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay Club is as rarefied as it gets—think butlers, 1,100 feet of prime-time beach real estate, three pools, a 5,000-square-foot spa, and the longest bar in the Caribbean. But it manages to be utterly pretension free. A 12-and-older policy in the main hotel and an adults-only pool ensure serenity for honeymooners while an eco-friendly kids’ club and family-oriented villas please those with little ones in tow. Although it’s not an all-inclusive, the resort generously includes extras such as Wi-Fi, bike rentals, afternoon tea, and nonmotorized watersports.
19 of 21Courtesy of Couples Resorts
No. 18 Couples Swept Away, Westmoreland, Jamaica
There’s a retro Caribbean elegance to the all-inclusive Couples Swept Away—think rattan chairs, plantation shutters, and terra-cotta floors. Even the most active traveler could very easily pass a week on the property without ever getting bored thanks to the 10-acre sports complex with 10 tennis courts, squash, racquetball, a basketball court, three pools, five Jacuzzis, and a full range of kayaks, dive equipment, sailboats, and windsurfers. Those after more sedentary pursuits have seven miles of Negril sand and a spa with plunge pool and eucalyptus steam room.
20 of 21Courtesy of The Somerset on Grace Bay
No. 19 Somerset on Grace Bay, Providenciales
New to the World’s Best list this year, the Somerset feels more like a home-away-from-home thanks to rooms that sprawl from 1,400 square feet and have full Viking kitchens (which can be stocked prior to arrival). The powdery sands of Grace Bay sit out front as does a 70-foot infinity pool, a bocce court, and croquet lawn. Little ones can frolic at the kids’ club while Mom and Dad sup on elegant continental fare at O’Soleil restaurant.
21 of 21Courtesy of The Reefs
No. 20 Reefs Resort & Club, Bermuda
In Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Hall of Fame, the family-run Reefs Resort & Club is a Caribbean classic, from its rosy-hued walls to its legendary Dark ’n’ Stormys. Perched among the limestone cliffs of Bermuda’s south shore, Reefs lays the island’s pink sands at your feet with snorkeling just offshore and ocean views from every window. The award-winning La Serena spa specializes in Thai massage. And there are three on-site restaurants, including the old-school Royston’s supper club.
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