Best Resorts in the Caribbean 2011
Unwind at these inviting beachfront hideaways, hilltop resorts, and seaside hotels.
Toes in the sand, a frosty tropical cocktail in hand, and a bit of soulful reggae playing as the sun slowly sets—that’s the very essence of a Caribbean resort, right? Indeed, but just like the two dozen unique islands they call home, Caribbean resorts defy easy generalization. A few are luxurious enclaves, some are lively all-inclusives, and others are one-of-a-kind properties with a look and vibe all their own. Which are considered the best?
Based on the results of our ninth annual T+L 500, where we ask readers to choose their favorite hotels and resorts around the world, 29 Caribbean properties on 12 islands made the cut. Read on for a few tantalizing highlights, followed by a slideshow of the top 20 vote-getters.
Jamaica, one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations, claims six of the top 20 resorts, including the genteel and romantic Jamaica Inn (No. 3). This 60-year-old Ocho Rios property features 47 suites awash in whimsical periwinkle blue, plus an alfresco dining terrace where guests are invited to slow dance to live music.
Chic St. Bart’s and lush St. Lucia are each home to three top 20 properties, including Le Toiny (No. 13), an intimate hilltop resort of 15 villas with private plunge pools and panoramic views of the island’s picturesque bays, and St. Lucia neighbors Anse Chastanet Resort and Ladera (tied at No. 20), both of which feature rustic-chic architecture with open walls offering clear vistas of the Piton peaks.
Turks and Caicos’ 72-suite Regent Palms (No. 12) makes the list for the first time. Set on scenic Grace Bay, the resort is known for its airy, kitchen-equipped suites and award-winning spa.
The youngest property on the list is Bermuda’s Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa (No. 7), which opened in April 2009 as the island’s first new resort in 37 years. And one all-inclusive group managed to snag a total of four top 20 honors (three of them in the Top 10). So read on to learn which brand won high marks with T+L readers—and, of course, to find out which low-key Caribbean resort catapulted out of nowhere into the coveted No. 1 spot. —Donna Heiderstadt
No. 1 NisbetPlantation Beach ClubNevis/St. Kitts
These wicker-furnished cottages sit on a palm-fringed 18th-century former sugar plantation. For the best views book one of the six Lower Deluxe Junior suites, with attached patios facing the ocean.
No. 2 Jade MountainSt. Lucia
Located at the highest point of the resort, near the west coast town of Soufrière, the hotel wraps around the hillside, its exterior all curves and rough stone. Inside, each of the 28 suites is unique, but they all share impressive features: infinity pools or jacuzzis, 15-foot ceilings, and loftlike architecture—even the raised bathroom is essentially part of one huge space. Walk into the living room and it seems as if you’ve walked into the Pitons: since there is no fourth wall obscuring the view, it’s completely exposed to the elements.
No. 3 JamaicaInnJamaica
Gracing its own sandy cove on the east side of Ocho Rios, this classic Caribbean resort has been around since the colonial days of the 1950’s. The 47 suites are a blend of Indonesian, colonial, and retro Jamaican décor, but remain refreshingly unplugged, with no TV’s to shatter the peace. Every suite has its own outdoor space, with a private infinity pool and sea entrance just steps from the bedrooms.
No. 4 Couples Tower IsleJamaica
The first Couples resort, recently renovated with 20 new rooms, a dive pool, and ten spa treatment rooms. Book one of the top floor Ocean Junior Suites and take advantage of the breathtaking sea views on your private balcony.
No. 5 Couples Swept AwayJamaica
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.
No. 6 Couples Sans SouciJamaica
The one-bedroom beachfront suites at this cliffside adults-only resort have sitting areas and views of the ocean from balconies or patios. And don’t miss the award-winning spa, with its mineral pool and spring-fed grotto.
No. 7 Tucker’s PointHotel & SpaBermuda
Tucker’s Point is palatial, opulent, and lavishly appointed; the sprawling 88-unit resort oozes British colonial charm, including a stately whitewashed manor house with contemporary art and period antiques plus spacious guest rooms, each with a private balcony, plantation-style hardwood furniture, Egyptian linens, and island-inspired Lili Bermuda bath products. Add to that a Roger Rulewich–designed 18-hole golf course, a private beach club, and one of Bermuda’s finest restaurants—The Point, led by Michelin-acclaimed chef Serge Bottelli—and you may never leave this pink-sand paradise.
No. 8 Sandy LaneBarbados
Long the chosen Caribbean retreat of the silk-cravat and shih tzu-in-a-satchel set, this hotel uses its house Bentley to transfer guests to and from the airport. With its three golf courses, extensive children's program, beach assistants ready to clean your sunglasses, a five-bedroom villa, and 112 marble-floored rooms—with plasma-screen televisions, no less—what more could you want?
No. 9 Peter IslandResortBritish Virgin Islands
This private-island retreat is all about serenity and catering to classic desert-isle fantasies. The resort is committed to delivering in quantity everything the genre is known for, especially peace and privacy. Add to that a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, atypical service for the region (it's friendly and professional), and five untrafficked beaches for the thirteen sunny two-story bungalows that make up the property's 52 rooms on 1,800 acres.
No. 10 Ritz-Carlton, GrandCaymanCayman Islands
The 365-room beachfront hotel, situated on 144-acres, is a high-end playground that introduces a who’s who of branded amenities: Jean-Michel Cousteau nature tours, a Greg Norman–designed golf course, Nick Bollettieri tennis pros, a La Prairie spa, and five restaurants, including two run by acclaimed chef Eric Ripert.
No. 11 CurtainBluffSt. John's, Antigua
A dream location straddling two beaches—a protected swimming lagoon on the Caribbean side and a wilder, white-sand stretch along the Atlantic—has made Curtain Bluff a favored getaway since 1962. A clubby, old-world atmosphere pervades; many guests have been coming here for years and are on a first-name basis with staffers. The classic, colonial-era aesthetic also suffuses the resort’s 72 rooms and suites, outfitted with rattan and sea-grass furniture, tiled floors, and wide, white-louvered windows that look over the ocean.
No. 12 The RegentPalms, Turks and Caicos
These 72 suites are each equipped with in-room washer/dryers and full kitchens, helping each guest feel less like temporary visitors at a hotel, and more like residents in their own island homes.
No. 13 Le ToinySt. Barts
Built into a gently sloping hillside, the resort has just 14 one-bedroom and one three-bedroom independent villas, all with water views, kitchens, and 10-by-20-foot private pools. The 15 villas almost have it all—luxuriously bare oak floors, limed tray ceilings, Chippendale-style mirrors, sofas that invite flopping down with a good book, walk-in closets, fax machines, plus—in many rooms—giant wall-mounted plasma television screens.
No. 14 One&OnlyOcean ClubParadise Island, Bahamas
The 105 guest rooms and suites here epitomize understated opulence, with gleaming hardwood floors, king-size carved beds made up with Frette linens, traditional wood shutters shading enormous windows, and spacious marble baths (most with chin-deep, circular soaking tubs). All have private balconies or decks that overlook the resort’s even more compelling assets: an immaculate, pristine sweep of beach; the 18-hole, Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course; or the sumptuous, manicured gardens.
No. 15 The ReefsBermuda
This resort offers a variety of room options, including cottages nestled among pristine limestone cliffs with dramatic views of Bermuda's south shore. La Serena, the full-service spa, specializes in traditional Thai massage. For the best views on the island, book room 316 (Vertigo), located on the hotel's highest point.
No. 16 HotelGuanahani & SpaSt. Barts
The Creole-style cottages reopened in December of 2010 after a $6 million renovation that added two family suites. The hotel’s 5,000-square-foot open-air space blends in with the pastel cottages-and caters to couples in search of corporeal indulgence.
No. 17 Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de FranceSt. Barts
The 39-room Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France can’t be topped for location—right on Baie des Flamands, the island’s longest, widest beach. The 19 oceanfront rooms and suites are the most romantic, with whitewashed interiors, private terraces, and views of the surf. Alternately, 20 cottages hidden among banana and palm trees are perfect for privacy seekers. This hotel is all about the beach; even the restaurant makes the most of its location, serving lunches of lobster spring rolls or iced pea soup at tables set in the sand.
No. 18 Sandals Whitehouse European Village & SpaJamaica
There are three Euro-style villages (Italian-, French-, and Dutch-style) situated on a 2-mile beach in southwestern Jamaica.
No. 19 Couples NegrilJamaica
This 234-room resort features 5 restaurants on 18 acres fronting Bloody Bay Beach. To make the most of your beach experience, book one of the Beach Front Suites. They’re closest to the ocean and have hammocks on their terraces or patios.
No. 20 Anse Chastanet ResortSt. Lucia
This hotel offers comfortable hillside rooms—book a Hillside Deluxe room for Old Caribbean décor and sensational views—above a secluded volcanic-sand beach with lots of activities.
No. 21 LaderaSt. Lucia
The 26 open-air suites and 6 villas sit on a forested ridge 1,100 feet above the Piton mountains. For extra privacy and views of both the sea and Piton, book one of the spacious open-air Hilltop Dream Suites.