SO2 - 50 Best Holidays in the Caribbean

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SO2 - 50 Best Holidays in the Caribbean

Reason enough, we reckon, to stay warm this new year... Part 1

Sunday, January 05, 2020

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Thetimes.co.uk recently shared its 50 best holidays in the Caribbean in seven parts: romantic retreats, new hotels, foodie spots, budget stays, family escapes, active and twin-centre trips.

 

Part One: Romantic Retreats

 

1. Ladera, St Lucia

First opened in 1982, Ladera's swimming pool pre-dates Instagram by several decades, but this free-form pool still bosses it today. High in the hills, between the twin Pitons, the hotel has the most spectacular setting in St Lucia. All rooms are open on one side to the elements (don't worry — the four-poster beds have mosquito nets). A shuttle will take you to Sugar Beach; Ladera's bar, restaurant and unique atmosphere will bring you back.

Details: A week's B&B from £2,719pp, including flights and transfers ( tropicalsky.co.uk)

 

2. Anegada Beach Club, British Virgin Islands

Perched on an atoll on one of the world's largest coral reefs, the Anegada is a gorgeous blend of hotel and glamping experience, with enough nature to satisfy even jaded travel palates. As well as a handful of hotel rooms, there are beachfront thatched palapas for a more Robinson Crusoe-style escape, with a beach bar for romantic sundowners.

Details: A week's room only from £1,220 ( anegadabeachclub.com). Fly to the British Virgin Islands via Antigua with Virgin Atlantic and Liat, then take a ferry.

 

3. Barbuda Belle, Barbuda

Barbuda, a 90-minute hop from Antigua, was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma, but it's well on the way to recovery; Robert de Niro, who has a thriving secondary career as a hotelier, is turning part of the island into a resort. In the meantime, Barbuda Belle has reopened, with eight bungalows on a 17-mile beach. It's all about serenity, both for guests and the birdlife. Hang out in the Jelly Tree Bar and Grill, on the beach.

Details: A week's B&B from £4,828 ( barbudabelle.com). Fly to Antigua with British Airways, then take the ferry across.

 

4. Golden Rock Inn, Nevis

This property is artist-owned, and it shows; there are some lovely touches amid the vistas and bold colours. Tiny Nevis, a ferry ride from St Kitts, is a Caribbean island for connoisseurs, and this 11-room hotel is one of the reasons why. Ed Tuttle, who is responsible for some of the best Aman hotels, converted this former plantation, while the acclaimed — and brilliantly named — Raymond Jungles oversaw the gardens, which are great for a loved-up stroll. An altitude of 1,000ft means that air conditioning isn't needed, and all laundry is included in the room rate.

Details: A week's B&B from £2,150pp, including flights and transfers ( www.juststkittsnevis.co.uk)

 

5. Petit St Vincent, The Grenadines

There are plenty of flashier private islands in the Caribbean, but few with more charm or a better wine cellar. Opened in the 1960s, and with only minimal changes since then, the resort's 22 cottages have a system of flags to summon room service. There is no swimming pool (the beaches are so sublime you won't miss one) and the island has its own water-bottling plant. The Mini Mokes that bring your orders to your villa are the original 40-year-old ones.

Details: A week's full board from £4,115pp, including flights and transfers ( inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk)

 

6. The House, Barbados

Guests love this boutique-size hotel, with its restrained, wafty décor on the best bit of the Platinum Coast. Adults-only, with 34 suites, it slathers on the perks for guests, including Champagne breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapés. From The House you are well placed for excursions to Sandy Lane and the Royal Westmoreland golf club. It's attached to Daphne's, one of Barbados's most celebrated restaurants, should you feel a proposal coming on.

Details: A week's B&B from £2,788pp, including flights ( ba.com/barbados)

 

7. French Coco, Martinique

This 17-room hotel is in the middle of La Caravelle nature reserve, with plenty of understated luxury. Aimed firmly at couples, most suites have their own pools and gardens. Balancing the sense of privacy, a Creole fishing village on its doorstep adds a genuine sense of place on this French Caribbean island, which is more affordable than St Barts — and also more interesting.

Details: A week's B&B from £3,038 ( slh.com). Fly to Martinique via Antigua with Virgin Atlantic and Air Antilles.

 

8. Sandals Ochi Beach, Jamaica

If you're a bride or groom who wants to walk on water, the glass aisle of the new wedding chapel at this, the largest Sandals, will make it happen. It's adults-only, with 516 rooms and suites, along with plenty of luxurious all-inclusive options, from butlers to sunset cruises. The resort has 16 restaurants and 11 bars, including swim-up ones and a speakeasy. Honeymooners may want to opt for the quieter Butler Village and Great House areas.

Details: A week's all-inclusive from £1,499pp, including flights and transfers ( sandals.co.uk)

 

Part 2: New Hotels

9. Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, Dominican Republic

Club Med opened this resort last month on the Dominican Republic's largely undeveloped northeast coast. It's the first big hotel to pitch in here, and it's posh-eco in style, with no single-use plastic. Attractions include a treetop yoga school, trapeze classes and paddleboarding, and champagne flows after 6pm. There's a freshened-up 1950s feel in the rooms — a homage to Club Med's roots.

Details: A week's all-inclusive from £1,496pp, including flights and transfers ( clubmed.co.uk)

 

10. Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, Dominican Republic

It's couples to the left, families to the right (more or less) at Hyatt's twin resorts, which opened last month. Between them there are 750 rooms and suites. They look on to the white-sand Juanillo Beach and have beach butlers and 24-hour room service. But the family-oriented Ziva opts for free-form pools, while the adults-only Zilara goes for more angular ones; adults and children can enjoy the water park. An artfully industrial-looking fitness centre will have a boxing ring, and there are 12 restaurants and a two-storey spa.

Details: A week's room only from £1,506 ( hyatt.com). Fly to Dominican Republic with British Airways

 

11. Hammock Cove, Antigua

Small all-inclusives are a growing trend in the Caribbean, which means that the adults-only Hammock Cove should fit right in when it opens this month. Tucked next to Devil's Bridge National Park, it will have 42 waterfront villas. Each comes with an infinity plunge pool, double showers and a fully stocked cocktail cabinet, while the main areas have two restaurants, multiple bars and a series of pools that lead to the beach.

Details: A week's all-inclusive from £2,728pp, including flights ( eliteislandholidays.com)

 

12. S Hotel, Jamaica

The S, which opened in January, brings a bit of Miami flair — and pool-party action — to Montego Bay, with striking crimson parasols round its statement swimming pool. Playing to the Instagram crowd, there's another pool on the roof deck, plus a cocktail bar from which to admire Doctor's Cave Beach. The interiors are a bit more localised; all 120 rooms have a record player and a supply of Bob Marley vinyl. A bold attempt to take on Montego Bay's all-inclusives with something more distinctive.

Details: A week's B&B from £1,200 ( shoteljamaica.com). Fly to Montego Bay with Virgin Atlantic.

 

13. Royalton, Antigua

Overwater villas reached Antigua when this all-inclusive hotel opened in May. Most of the hotel is in more standard accommodation (there are 294 rooms in total), but guests can also splash out on “Director's Bungalows” for added privacy, and there's the option of having a butler and a mixologist for sunset cocktails on your deck. It's a family-friendly resort and overlooks Fort Barrington.

Details: A week's all-inclusive from £1,779pp, including flights and transfers ( tui.co.uk)

 

14. Cabrits Resort & Spa, Dominica

Cradled between the francophone islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, rugged Dominica has long billed itself as the “nature island”, even if nature hasn't been particularly kind in return (Hurricane Maria wreaked serious damage in 2017). Kempinski opened the country's first big resort here in October. The good news is that it doesn't seek to dominate the landscape — how could it compete with the rainforests, volcanoes and hot springs of Boiling Lake, anyway? Overlooking Douglas Bay in the north, the hotel has 151 rooms, neutrally decorated in creams, plus restaurants devoted to Creole cooking, and a spa.

Details: A week's room only from £1,390 ( kempinski.com). Fly to Dominica via Barbados with Virgin Atlantic and Liat.

 

15. Aqua Lodge, Guadeloupe

How about a floating lodge in the Caribbean? There are now four of them in Saint François harbour. All sleep four, with a deck, and a glass floor in the kitchen for watching potential dinner ingredients swim by. Guests are provided with a dinghy to get from shiplike accommodation to shore, a kayak and a paddleboard, while eco-touches include solar panels. Not for everyone, perhaps, but experimental and experiential.

Details: A week's self-catering from £1,879 ( aqualodge.fr). Fly to Guadeloupe with Air France via Paris.

 

16. Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf, St Barts

All the big players have reopened in St Barts — including Eden Roc and Le Sereno — after Hurricane Irma tore through, and this boutique luxury hotel should be fully open early next year. Overlooking Gustavia, the hotel's 24 rooms and suites give off a St Tropez feel. Some have private pools, others expansive balconies. The main restaurant, a branch of the Paris stalwart Fouquet's, is overseen by the celebrated chef Pierre Gagnaire, and there's a spa.

Details: A week's room only from £4,470 ( hotelsbarriere.com). Fly to St Barts via Antigua with BA and Tradewind.

 

17. Skylark, Jamaica

Designed for maximum millennial appeal, this budget sibling to the well-established Rockhouse Hotel has plenty of style. Big on bluetooth speakers, low on fuss, it's painted white with splashes of colour and vintage posters. The 28 guest rooms have a Jamaican 1960s vibe; bigger rooms have patios or balconies. The restaurant is run by Miss Lily's, New York's jerk-meat centre of excellence, spiced with attitude and humour. Set on Seven Mile Beach, it has views that the original can never match.

Details: A week's room only from £950 ( skylarknegril.com). Fly to Montego Bay with Virgin Atlantic.

 

18. El Candil Boutique Hotel, Cuba

Opened late last year in a 19th-century mansion, El Candil has five suites with a palpable sense of luxury at play. It's in the less frenetic El Vedado area of Havana, with museums, John Lennon Park and bars and restaurants within easy reach. Staff speak excellent English and there's a restaurant and a rooftop bar with a plunge pool.

Details: A week's B&B from £1,050 ( hotelcandil.com). Fly to Havana with Virgin Atlantic.

 

19. The Morgan Resort & Spa, St Maarten

St Maarten is part of a Caribbean island with a split personality — half-French and half-Dutch — and is one of the significant hubs in the Leeward Islands. Staying here means you can take ferries to Anguilla (15 minutes) and St Barts (an hour) without having to shell out for pricey accommodation. Opened last month, the hotel is a good-value base, with extra appeal for aviation geeks; it's next to Sunset Beach, where crowds gather to watch planes flying low as they come in to land.

Details: A week's B&B from £1,048 ( themorganresort.com). Fly to St Maarten via Paris with Air France.

 

Part three: Foodie Spots

20. CuisinArt, Anguilla

The luxury chains are embedded in Anguilla, with Four Seasons on Meads Bay and Belmond taking over Cap Juluca. But CuisinArt — a passion project of the late owner of the kitchen-equipment company — still holds its own, especially when it comes to food. The resort, also incorporating sister hotel Reef, has a hydroponic farm to supply ingredients to its restaurants — the seafood-oriented Yacht Club, informal Breezes and Tokyo Bay, which fuses Japanese and West Indian dishes.

Details: A week's B&B from £3,525 ( cuisinartresort.com). Fly to St Maarten via Paris with Air France, followed by a 15-minute ferry.

 

21. Castara Retreats, Tobago

All 16 rooms here have a treehouse feel. They're a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, each with its own kitchen, meaning guests can buy fish from a boat in the village of Castara, where there is also a fruit and vegetable stall, to cook themselves. But Castara Retreats is also home to Caribbean Kitchen, one of Tobago's best restaurants. It's a relaxed, honesty bar sort of place, where the gap between tourist and local seems to narrow the longer you stay.

Details: A week's room only from £665 ( castararetreats.com). Fly BA to Tobago.

 

22. East Winds, St Lucia

Tucked into its own little crescent of sand by Rodney Bay, East Winds doesn't like to think of itself as an all-inclusive, but it is. The food defies expectation thanks to relationships forged over the decades with local fishermen and farmers. It also has an organic garden.

As well as a spa, there are now 30 simple rooms and suites.

Details: A week's all-inclusive from £2,199pp with flights and transfers ( tropicbreeze.co.uk)

 

23. Turks Head Inne, Turks and Caicos

There are 40 islands in the Turks and Caicos and, despite the name, Grand Turk is one of the sleepiest and sweetest. The Turks Head Inne has been given a thorough refresh by new owners and has a new restaurant; expect snapper, lobster and curried conch on the menu. Built in 1830, this weatherboard house was once the British governor's guesthouse and still has a colonial feel, with verandas and a plant-filled courtyard.

Details: A week's room only from £759 ( turksheadinne.com). Fly to Grand Turk via Providenciales with BA and InterCaribbean.

 

24. Jake's, Jamaica

The no-fuss boutique hotel in Jamaica is, these days, serious about food, working with local Treasure Beach suppliers. Guests can meet them at the monthly Farm & Fisherfolk feast — coinciding with the full moon — at long tables in the new sand-floored seaside venue. Cooking lessons are also available at the original Jake's restaurant, while on the beach Jack Sprat has freshly grilled seafood, pizza and a constant supply of Red Stripe beer.

Details: A week's room only from £812 ( i-escape.com). Fly to Montego Bay with Virgin Atlantic.

 

25. Four Seasons Ocean Club, Bahamas

Nassau escaped lightly from Hurricane Dorian, but with the rest of the Bahamian archipelago righting itself again, Jean-Georges Vongerichten — he heads Ocean Club's statement restaurant Dune — has been holding fundraisers. It's the most well-regarded restaurant in the Bahamas, giving an Asian twist to local seafood, such as ceviche and tuna tartare. Its terraced gardens are modelled on Versailles and rooms and suites are urbane. There's, also, that famously good Cabbage beach.

Details: A week's B&B from £8,759pp, including flights and transfers ( abercrombiekent.co.uk)

 


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