Island Update

Check out everything that’s new in the Caribbean, from resort openings and renovations, to the latest and greatest package deals.
By: 
Sandra Ramani

As honeymoon destinations go, the Caribbean is a perennial favorite. After all, the region—which stretches from southeast of the Gulf of Mexico to the top of South America—is home to blue-green waters, some of the world’s top beaches and over 7,000 diverse islands. There’s something here for every type of traveler, whether you’re looking for a gourmet getaway, adventure activities, a spa break or just some quality alone time. Here, a list of the latest and greatest hotel happenings.

Anguilla

Viceroy Anguilla

Set on 35 beachfront acres along sparkling Barnes and Meads Bays, this is the first luxury resort to debut on the island of Anguilla in nearly a decade. The modern accommodations range from freestanding villas and townhouses to penthouses and singlestory residences, all with interiors by celebrity designer Kelly Wearstler. There’s also an adults-only infinity pool, the sultry Sunset Lounge, gourmet dining, an oceanfront spa and— for villa and townhouse guests—access to your own butler (viceroyanguilla.com).

Antigua

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort

Jumby Bay
Cycling around the grounds of Jumby Bay,
A Rosewood Resort on Antigua.

What do you do after you’ve been repeatedly cited for being one of the top Caribbean hotels? You shut down for a renovation, of course. A little over a year—and $28 million—after embarking on an overhaul, this intimate private island resort reopened in November 2009 with redesigned guest rooms, 28 new suites,and a new spa and dining options. Suites boast sweeping views of the Caribbean and classic colonial decor; the spa (the hotel’s first) uses indigenous natural ingredients in the treatments. And the open-air restaurant now offers cooking classes under the direction of the executive chef (jumbybayresort.com).

St. James Club

Launched in late-summer 2009, this casual resort’s new exclusive section features 50 bay-front Royal Suites, each with sunken living rooms, wet bars, floor-to-ceiling windows, furnished balconies, king-size beds, his-and-hers showers and deep-soaking tubs. Suite guests also enjoy a private check-in area and specialized concierge service, plus the exclusive use of two intimate pools, making this a perfect choice for those seeking complete privacy (stjamesclubantigua.com).

Aruba

Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino

As the final stage in a lavish $20 million makeover, the Hyatt has unveiled four new special suites, which are honeymoonperfect. Ranging from 1,150 to 2,500 square feet, the stylish rooms feature Italian furnishings, balconies with sea views and luxe soaking tubs (aruba.hyatt.com).

Bahamas

British Colonial Hilton

Located near the historic Old Fort Nassau, on downtown’s only private beach, this mainstay recently finished a $17 million renovation. Included in the new digs are 288 revamped rooms with stylish furnishings, flatscreen TVs, blackout curtains, ergonomic chairs and signature Hilton bedding. There’s also a new lobby, restaurant and gym and a freshwater pool (hiltoncaribbean.com).

Barbados

The Crane

Originally built in the late 1700s, this historic property has been attracting generations of vacationers with its old-world charm and its fantastic beach since it became a hotel in 1887. In fall 2009, guests were introduced to the all-new, 55,000-square-foot Crane Village, an enormous dining and entertainment complex overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The cobblestoned Village offers live jazz, happy hours and Barbadian tapas at Bar 1887, a fitness center and spa and several restaurants (thecrane.com).

 

Cayman Islands

Cotton Tree

Escape from it all—including other guests—at this new collection of modern, colonialstyle villas on the northernmost point of West Bay on Grand Cayman, which was inaugurated in summer 2009. The property’s four cottages are set around a freshwater pool and are outfitted with chef’s kitchens, daily maid service and media libraries. There’s also an open-air spa pavilion nearby for massages—which is about as far as most guests get, when it comes to leaving their personal paradises (caymancottontree.com).

Curaçao

Hyatt Regency Curaçao Resort, Spa and Marina

Opened in January 2010, this enormous hotel—the only one on beautiful Barbara Beach—features multiple pools and restaurants, plus a spa, golf course and full-service marina. The deluxe accommodations include 20 beach bungalows, perfect for privacy-seekers (curacao.hyatt.com).

Jamaica

Royal Plantation Ocho Rios

With three on-site restaurants, a caviar bar, daily complimentary afternoon tea service and a 24-hour in-room menu, this charming, British Colonial-style boutique beachfront resort, brought to you by the folks at the popular Sandals resorts, makes it clear that cuisine is a priority. Now guests can get in on the kitchen action with the new Royal Retreat package, which celebrates Jamaica’s culinary heritage (think fresh fish, just-picked produce and tangy jerk spices) with a private couple’s cooking class, a breakfast on the beach and a night out on the town. Participants will also receive two complimentary yoga sessions, spa credit and a beach bag (royalplantation.com).

Spanish Court Hotel

Past a Spanish-influenced exterior and lush bank of poui and palm trees, this 108-room hotel (opened in summer 2010) is all relaxed urban chic, with a streamlined design and funky furnishings. Along with a private Mountain Deck and a Sky Terrace with a 50-foot mosaic infinity pool, one of the hotel’s most notable features is its location right in New Kingston, an up-and- coming neighborhood in Jamaica’s capital. From here it’s just ten minutes to the city’s top restaurants, clubs and cultural sites (spanishcourthotel.com).

Secrets Resorts & Spas

In March 2010, the Secrets brand touched down in Montego Bay with two separate all-inclusive, all-suite and—most importantly—adults-only resorts. The Secrets St. James Montego Bay embodies Jamaica’s British Colonial past with elegant, traditional decor, while the Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay is a bit more contemporary, with tropical touches and indigenous artwork. The hotels are conveniently located side by side, and guests at either have access to the facilities of both. As with all Secrets resorts, meals, premium drinks, WiFi, golf, select water sports, nightlife activities and more are included (secretsresorts.com).

Puerto Rico

W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island

Opened in late November 2009, this retreat is set on lush, undeveloped Vieques island, which sits eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. Modern and colorful, the hip hotel’s 157 rooms and suites feature balconies with beach or ocean views, oversize lounge chairs and all signature W amenities, like pillow menus and Bliss bath products. Check out the beach, the cabana-ringed outdoor pool and the Asian-inspired spa, indulge at the Mix beach restaurant, with menus developed by celebrated chef Alain Ducasse, and revel in the blissful seclusion afforded by the unique location (wvieques.com).

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Pond Bay Resort

Set on more than 15 beachfront acres overlooking Chocolate Bay on pristine St. John’s southwest coast, this highend, modern resort opened its doors in December 2009. The 50 beautifully furnished cottages and villas range in location from seaside to garden front and pond view, but all include three bedrooms and bathrooms, full kitchens and the promise of “six star” service. The Spa Villas also have private saunas, en-suite treatment rooms and Kinesis workout equipment. The resort’s massive Auberge Spa offers ocean-water steam rooms, vitality pools and rock saunas, along with treatments performed in spacious rooms with private patios. Hotel guests can also enjoy an infinity pool (foliocollection.com).

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Bequia Beach Hotel

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a string of 32 beautiful islands in the southern Caribbean, boasting intense blue waters and a secret-hideaway feel. Though this intimate property on Bequia (pronounced beck-way) island initially opened its doors a couple of years ago, it wasn’t completed—and all the rooms weren’t unveiled—until December 2009. Located on one of the best beaches in Friendship Bay, the 29 rooms all have private, covered terraces overlooking lush tropical gardens. And three of the six villas also have their own plunge pools. Local fish and lobster are served up in the relaxed Mediterranean-inspired restaurant (bequiabeach.com).

Turks & Caicos

Gansevoort Turks & Caicos

The people behind the hot New York and Miami Gansevoort hotels bring their hip-boutique sensibility to the islands with this sleek property, which opened in early summer 2009. The all-white structure is centered around a sparkling blue pool, featuring in-water loungers and daybed-topped “floating islands.” The hotel boasts an outpost of the tony NYC-based Exhale Spa and Gym, free WiFi and a great location right on Grace Bay beach. But the main attraction here is the vibe; this spot has become the place to see and be seen on the picturesque island (gansevoortturksandcaicos.com).

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort

Designed to resemble a colorful Caribbean village, this 10-acre resort is managed by the super service-oriented team behind the ultra luxe, five-star Grace Bay Club, located just a few minutes away on the same white sand beach. The Beaches’ 168 rooms range from studios to three-bedroom options, all decorated in a classic British Colonial style; the eight beachfront cottages feature their own plunge pools, while others are set around the 75-foot infinity pool. There’s also an Asian-themed spa, oceanfront dining, fitness center and tennis courts. The resort’s concierge can arrange off-site excursions such as whale-watching, bone fishing and horseback riding on the beach (beaches.com).