Article repost from Conde Nast Traveler
By CNT Editors
Following a punishing series of hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean in 2017, the region is almost entirely back, and in spades at that. Take tiny St. Barts: Hit by Irma, it sustained significant damage, and yet your top two hotels on this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards list are both there, as well as three others. The island is looking gorgeous and green again, and roads, shops, and restaurants are busy. Anguilla, a pancake-flat island north of St. Maarten/St. Martin, could have met the same fate as nearby Barbuda, but dodged the bullet. Five resorts made the list—including the recently re-branded and fully renovated Belmond Cap Juluca. As for once-beleaguered Puerto Rico, the island’s top two resorts, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve and The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, both have just reopened and are looking better than ever. Other pleasant surprises include Secret Bay on the deeply lush, outdoor-adventure-centric island of Dominica; The Cotton House on ultra-exclusive Mustique, also featured in our latest Gold List of all-time editor favorites; and the newly reinvented and expanded Half Moon on Jamaica. All in all, you’ve shown that your affection for the islands has weathered any and all upset. Counting down from 50…
Robert Rausch/Courtesy Half Moon
50. Half Moon, Jamaica
Fresh off a $75-million renovation, Jamaica’s storied, 400-acre Half Moon is back on the scene. The reopening coincides with the resort’s 65th anniversary—with a guest list that has included Queen Elizabeth II and J.F.K. Newly constructed rooms are low-rise, set back from two miles of Montego Bay beachfront. With the Great House as its centerpiece, the Fern Tree Spa is one of the largest in the Caribbean and sporty folk can engage with a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed 18-hole golf course, 11 tennis courts, and equestrian center. Visiting families will appreciate a new a Marketplace and Café for takeaway snacks and an all-day, casual dining room. 57 new guest rooms contain an impressive number of cheerful local art pieces by local Jamaican artists and lots of use of wood and natural fibers.
Courtesy Hyatt Hotels
49. Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Jamaica
Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall is the sister property to the Hyatt Zilara, but don’t get them twisted. While the neighboring Zilara is adults only (18+), the Hyatt Ziva is as family-friendly as they come. It helps that the beachfront resort is all-inclusive, so those midday snacks, poolside cocktails for the parents, and visits to the KidZ Club, with its game room and educational activities, are already included in your stay. Plus, you can take advantage of the resort’s compact catamarans, stand-up paddleboards, and sea kayaks during your stay. The room to book? One of the resort’s swim-up suites that offer direct access to one of the resort’s two pools and come with two in-pool loungers.
Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
48. The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
The 320-room Ritz-Carlton is easily the best resort in the country now. Much of that has to do with the location—on a pristine stretch of white sand called Palm Beach, where you’ll find the Caribbean’s most exceptional windsurfing. It’s also a perfect place to bring the kids: The sea remains calm and shallow for about a half mile out, so conditions are always right for kayaking and paddle boarding. There’s a huge children’s pool (couples and singles can head to the adults-only one) and a slew of activities at the kids’ club, from arts and crafts to movie nights. But even though the property is family-friendly in almost every way, it’s not like the adults can’t have fun on their own: Grown-ups can head to the spa or partake in a yoga session at the fitness center, all while knowing that their children are safe with the on-site staff of babysitters.
47. Four Seasons Resort Nevis
This serene hideaway on a lush slice of paradise was built along Pinney’s Beach on the site of a former sugar and coconut plantation (some golf course tees sit atop an old sugar factory). Seaside-inspired guest rooms have a pastel palette—canary yellow and periwinkle blue—and are outfitted in mahogany furniture, pineapple carvings, and botanical prints by a local artist. The open-air Mango is a few feet above the waves and offers contemporary Caribbean cuisine with views of neighboring St. Kitts and a lively reggae brunch. The place isn’t tin—there are 196 rooms and more than 50 spacious villas—but it never feels crowded. Staff is known for its Nevisian friendliness.
Courtesy The St. Regis
46. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
On a former coconut plantation between the Espíritu Santo River and El Yunque rain forest, a 30-minute drive from Old San Juan, the 139-room resort has just emerged from a $60 million renovation. Every guest room and suite has been refreshed; Casa Grande, the heart of the resort, includes The St. Regis Bar and the property’s signature restaurant; a seaside pool and esplanade; and an Iridium spa—all with new touches from Puerto Rican designer Nono Maldonado together with Hirsch Bedner Associates of San Francisco. Low-rise plantation-style buildings on 483 acres have guest rooms with custom-designed cherry furnishings, beamed ceilings, rattan fans, Pratesi linens, and enormous showers. Dining options are varied but superb: For traditional Puerto Rican food, head to the beachfront Fern, where remarkable service and a stunning jungle setting combine for an unforgettable experience. The 18-hole Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf course is beautiful. The property also has a private bird sanctuary an on-site “green team” led by a marine biologist.
Tina Thuell/Courtesy Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
45. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Nevis
Staff become like family at this resort whose centerpiece is a restored 1778 plantation house on 30 acres of expansive lawns, coconut palms, and gardens. Lemon-hued stucco cottages with white pyramid roofs pop up amid the foliage; balconies or patios face the windy Atlantic beach on the northern tip of this tiny island. The gourmet Caribbean cuisine at the Great House—one of just three air-conditioned restaurants on Nevis—includes dishes like grilled mahi-mahi with peas and rice. Thursday night’s poolside barbecue comes with live music and attracts folk from all over. Fun fact: This is where English naval hero Horatio Nelson met his wife, Fanny Nisbet, in the 1780s.
Courtesy Couples Resorts
44. Couples Swept Away, Jamaica
Spread across 19 acres on Seven Mile Beach at the top end of Negril, this adults-only, all-inclusive is as low key as it is low rise (all that nice stucco). With cedar furnishings and white linens, the 300+ rooms remain polished and fresh—it also helps that each one has a private balcony. With three pools and a ten-acre sports complex that includes squash, basketball, and ten tennis courts, the resort has something for everyone. Expect outstanding service and food at the restaurants, from formal dining at Feathers to juices and salads at Sea Grapes. Unwind in the spa’s eucalyptus steam room.
Jose Ruiz/Courtesy La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort
43. La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort, Puerto Rico
La Concha originally debuted in the late 1950s as Condado’s premier hotel. Now, after many thoughtful renovations that retained much of its midcentury details, the resort is a welcome presence in busy San Juan. It has a bustling open-air lobby (often morphing into a lively nightclub), multiple dining options, direct beach access, a handful of spacious and quiet pools, and generously sized guest rooms. Don’t miss an elegant, seafood-centric dinner in the upturned shell that is La Perla, hovering over an enormous infinity pool with views to the sea.
Courtesy Oetker Collection
42. Jumby Bay Island, Antigua
Reopened in October 2017 as an Oetker Collection member (formally a Rosewood resort), Jumby Bay Island is accessible only by boat, with not a car in sight—but plenty of bikes to navigate this 300-acre island off the northern coast of Antigua. With only 40 accommodations in total—rooms and villas— there’s no need to worry about feeling the need to ever get off the all-inclusive island (although if curious, there’s a complimentary ferry service that runs between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.). You’ll be plenty busy on one of the resort’s three tennis courts, in three pools—the Veranda is family-friendly, and on more than four miles of beach, plus kids’ club, for when you want to be anything but busy. The cheerful decor throughout is the work of Brazilian interior designer, Patricia Anastassiadis of Anastassiadis Arquitetos.
Courtesy Park Hyatt St. Kitts
41. Park Hyatt St. Kitts
Attractive to a variety of vacationing travelers, set on quiet Banana Bay overlooking the twin sister island of Nevis, this Park Hyatt feels like every detail is very thoughtfully considered. When you pull up to the hotel, you’ll stop right in front of a long, open-air entry way that leads right to the beach. It’s a straight shot of electric blue sea and sky. As far as first impressions go, it’s pretty spectacular. Rooms are luxe and lovely, and don’t scream “You’re in the Caribbean!” The spa comes courtesy of Miraval; the yoga and meditation room are in a former sugar mill; and the kids’ club comes with a rock-climbing wall.
Courtesy Playa Hotels & Resorts
40. Sanctuary Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
In the private beachfront reserve of Cap Cana, just 15 minutes from Punta Cana’s airport, this sprawling, all-inclusive resort is a world of its own. Sanctuary Cap Cana looks like a seaside Spanish colonial town—and not just because it’s been built into a castle. Its staggering 323 suites—a mix of waterfront bungalows and castle rooms—are tasteful, with modern lines, natural wood, stone, and a smattering of rattan. It also boasts five restaurants (one of which is built on stilts over the water), six bars, five pools, and a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course. In the all-inclusive spirit, you can jam-pack your days with activities, or just take advantage of the five-star amenities. For travelers who don’t want to sit still, you can keep busy with ocean kayaking and cooking classes, but a seemingly infinite array of poolside cabanas and daybeds make the case for long-term lounging. The best part? It recently underwent a $35 million renovation, so everything is sparkling new. Just leave the kids at home—Sanctuary Cap Cana is adults-only.
Courtesy Bucuti & Tara Beach
39. Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Aruba
This adults-only boutique resort in Aruba’s quieter low-rise Eagle Beach district offers sun seekers the island’s best, least-crowded beach. Signal for a piña colada by putting a red flag in the sand and let the very accommodating staff take care of you. The Spanish colonial exterior is offset by more contemporary interiors. Suites in the Tara Wing, added in 2004 and renovated during summer 2017, have oceanfront views, king-size beds, and separate living areas. Elements Restaurant, which opened in 2013, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though don’t shy away from exploring the island for a more memorable dining experience. Try the coffee body scrub at the Purun Spa.
Courtesy Villa Marie Saint-Barth/Photo by L. Benoit
38. Villa Marie Saint-Barth, St. Barts
Villa Marie occupies a sweet spot at the small and intimate end of St. Barts’ hospitality spectrum: pretty and cosseting, not flashy or forbidding. Although the serried sun loungers of the Isle de France on Flamands beach are clearly visible from the hilltop around which Villa Marie curls near the northwestern tip of the island, all that seems light years away in terms of style and scale. Here the 21 suites and villas are woody, whitewashed, and shuttered, with an abundance of ceiling fans, seashells, and Emmanuelle–style rattan armchairs. Beds are vast and canopied, with elaborate headboards. Soft furnishings are printed with pineapples (unfailingly happy-making), parrots (likewise) and palm trees (dark, moody, and weirdly haunting). Other features suggest influences from more distant shores: sideboards inlaid with mother-of-pearl; dreamcatcher-y wall hangings; Slim Aarons prints. A new suite, Villa Saline, debuted in 2018.
37. Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica
Modern decor and brightly colored murals are the aesthetic at this 226-room, adults-only, all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios. And when we say all-inclusive, we mean everything—spa treatments, a catamaran cruise, short off-site excursions to Dunn’s River Falls, and golf greens fees, and transfers. Rooms, with ocean or garden views, have furnished balconies and yellow and green accents. Couples also offers access to a small private island where guests can sunbathe in the buff. At the end of the night, go for cocktails at the ’50s-style piano bar—themed music parties are a big deal here. A packed daily schedule of activities could keep you busy all day, but take time out to languish in your private plunge pool if staying in one of the Spa Villas.
36. Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia
The ravishing renovation and renaming of The Jalousie Plantation is further proof that the Viceroy group has the Midas touch. What a spot. It’s flanked by the famous twin peaks of the Pitons in 100 acres of lush rainforest, alive with butterflies and hummingbirds, which drops down to a perfect cushion of talcum-white sand (shipped in from Trinidad, but who cares?). Admittedly, the transfer isn’t the easiest, on a steep and twisty mountain road (pack the anti-sickness pills), but once you make it here it’s terrifically pretty: all white on white, from the clapboard cottages dotting the hillside to the beach bungalows with their four-poster beds, claw-footed baths, dark hardwood floors and plunge pools. Go for the latter, as some are barely 50ft from the beach, which means parents can loll on their terrace hammock while keeping an eye on little ones as they paddle.
Aidan Bradley/Courtesy Sandy Lane
35. Sandy Lane, Barbados
This landmark resort is something of a Bajan institution, with elegant interiors and an awesomely beautiful setting that ensures it is consistently ranked as one of the best hotels in the Caribbean. This splendor runs through everything, including the hotel’s Treehouse Club for little ones.The resort, on the site of a onetime sugar plantation, offers old-school Caribbean luxury. Neo-Palladian accommodations are appointed with rich furniture, and offer views of the beachfront or Sandy Lane’s tropical gardens. Three golf courses are set along a former stone quarry, and open only to guests. Dine on French and Mediterranean specialties at the open-air L’Acajou.
34. Zemi Beach House Hotel & Spa, Anguilla
Zemi Beach House sits on a sprawling six acres by the ocean, with a luxe spa that includes Anguilla’s only hammam—if you’re craving a tropical escape, this is the place. Unwind on the yoga deck and enjoy holistic treatments at the 300-year-old imported and converted Thai Rice Barn turned spa; or camp out on Shoal Bay Beach, watching the waves roll in. There are 65 rooms total, outfitted with perks like 24-hour room service, “personalized Caribbean mini bars,” and Malin + Goetz bath products. You’ll be hard-pressed to leave. The resort reopened remarkably quickly in February 2018, following 2017’s rash of hurricanes, restaurants Stone and 20 Knots included.
Courtesy Montpelier Plantation & Beach
33. Montpelier Plantation & Beach, Nevis
Oh, for a whole summer in the pool at Montpelier Plantation! It’s the perfect holiday served up on a plate, with Creole sauce on the side on 60 acres of an 18th-century plantation, set at 750-feet above sea level. Music plays gently. Birds flit around the breakfast terrace. Bougainvillaea hides the tennis court. The open-plan buildings flow in and out of each other, with verandahs overlooking the sea. Despite the palm trees, there is something rather English about the gardens, echoes of the original owners. In recent years an American family, the Hoffmans, bought the hotel, ditched the chintz, kept the afternoon tea, and built a breezy poolside bar. They smartened up the 17 cottage rooms—high-ceilinged, wooden-beamed—and refurbished on the restaurant, now probably the best on Nevis.
Courtesy The Cotton House
32. The Cotton House, Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
“Nothing worked, but we didn’t care,” Princess Margaret recalled of her holidays here in the late 1960s. Back then this former sugar mill and cotton warehouse was a little hotel where guests dined on canned spaghetti. Now it’s a romantic 17-room bolthole beloved by young couples, families with small children, and anyone in dire need of some hardcore downtime. Set beside Endeavour Bay, it has a style that is colonial-meets-contemporary, the centerpiece of which is an airy Great Room, created by Parisian designer Tristan Auer, and which every Tuesday hosts a boisterous, not-to-be-missed cocktail party that almost the whole island attends. Breakfast of jerked eggs and smoked lionfish is served on the veranda, with a view across parrot-green lawns to the small and lovely beach. Water guns are provided to keep sneaky birdlife at bay while you tuck in. Couples can hole up in one of the three colorful cottages, or in a room within earshot of the crashing waves; families can spread out in the huge suites set in the tropical gardens. The island stretches over three miles, and many guests rely on golf carts to see its crowd-free beaches and exhilarating coastal trails, and for a run to Basil’s Bar, newly revamped by Philippe Starck, where a dance under the stars is almost obligatory. Like the rest of Mustique, the hum of glamour at The Cotton House is soft and low rather than high-pitched, making it one of the most charming island hangouts around.
31. Young Island Resort, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Cast barely 600 feet from the island of St. Vincent, 13-acre Young Island couldn’t feel farther from civilization. Twenty-nine cottages, all furnished with retro-Bohemian flair—lots of bamboo, wicker, and rattan, plus outdoor garden shower—have water views through deep tropical foliage. A swim-up Coconut Bar, just offshore is a fun excuse for midday tipples (try the Coconut Delight with local red rum). Saturdays are BBQ nights with a live steel band. Know that not all rooms have A/C, relying instead on large walls of louvered blinds, and none have televisions or telephones. Budget to add on lunch and dinner for an additional $150 per night above your room rate. Our top tips? A two-night tour of the Grenadines on a fully crewed yacht and a round of tennis atop the island with 360-degree views.
Courtesy Casa de Campo Resort & Villas
30. Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, Dominican Republic
Home to one of the Caribbean’s top-rated golf courses, Teeth of the Dog, Casa de Campo lives up to its reputation as a millionaire’s paradise. Just ten minutes from La Romana airport on the southeast shore of the Dominican Republic, this 7,000-acre resort includes picture-postcard perfect Minitas Beach and its own private island, Catalina. Food options can sometimes veer towards appearing like a gargantuan cruise ship buffet, so head to the replica 16th-century Italian village of Altos de Chavan designed by Dominican architect Jose Antonio Caro, and Italian master designer and cinematographer, Roberto Coppa for La Piazetta—the resort’s first restaurant, designed by Oscar de la Renta or the new Epicure Food Truck on Minitas (open for lunch only). Rooms run the gamut from classic hotel accommodations to multi-bed villas. Casa de Campo even has its own movie theater at the marina with three screens, and the Genesis Nightclub.
Courtesy Viceroy Anguilla
29. Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla
Set atop a lick of land between the beaches of Barnes and Meads bays, the rebranded, 181-room resort (formerly the Viceroy) plays perfectly with its surroundings on 35 spacious acres. A modern, clean-lined exterior with large glass windows offers effortless views of both bay and beach, while the Kelly Wearstler–designed suites bring it back down to earth with organic elements like bleached blonde wood floors and tables carved from knotty, gnarled pieces of petrified wood. This is an extremely family-friendly place (especially when renting a five-bedroom villa). There are three pools here—including one for kids, and an infinity hideaway for adults only at sunset.
Courtesy BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia
28. BodyHoliday, St. Lucia
This beachfront all-inclusive is on a private cove on the northwest of St. Lucia, near Pigeon Island National Landmark. It’s a good value with very good food, premium drinks, and excellent service in the restaurants and spa. The lobby has a deep-blue palette enhanced by driftwood and mahogany. The wellness center, decorated in Jerusalem stone and mosaics, offers Pilates and Reiki and has a heated marble massage bed. All five restaurants use local produce, often from the hotel’s garden. A $20 million renovation, in time for the resort’s 30th anniversary this year, added an infinity pool and a boardwalk and expanded the water sports center. TAO serves Asian-fusion cuisine, The Deli offers up light snacks and sushi. Two new luxury villas, Villa Lara and Villa Calypso, have joined the pre-existing Villa Firefly—and we really do like the fact that BodyHoliday has dedicated solo traveler rooms.
Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
27. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
The super-sized resort commandeers the island’s narrowest east-west point, blanketing 114 acres. The residential towers, holding 69 apartments, front Seven Mile Beach; the hotel towers are on North Sound. Beige-to-cream facades duplicate the multi-hued Caymanian sands. The reception area with chandeliers and masses of flowers opens into the Silver Palm Lounge, where delicious munchies accompany evening drinks—with the promise of a glass Martini “luge.” The 365 classic rooms and eleven suites favor soft yellow walls, botanical prints, chaise longues, and humongous beds in maize, periwinkle or coral. By spring, the Greg Norman nine-hole golf course should be in full swing.
26. Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
It’s unlike any place in the world—you have to stay here to appreciate the brilliant design. You will come home changed from this hillside resort, named for the owners’ extensive collection of antique carved jade mountains, and placed high above its beachfront sister property Anse Chastanet. Jaw-droppingly beautiful rooms all have 15-foot ceilings, unforgettable Piton Mountain views, and private infinity pools in different colored tiles (ruby, amber, plum). James Beard-winning chef Allen Susser mixes sweet and spicy—with seafood dishes the stars—at Jade Mountain Club, and above, the Celestial Terrace allows for some late-night star-gazing.
Mike Toy/Courtesy Cap Maison
25. Cap Maison, St. Lucia
At the northern tip of St. Lucia, on what used to be the sugar plantation, Cap Maison sits clifftop like a small orderly village. This cluster of three-story white buildings has a Spanish (via Caribbean) colonial architectural motif with its characteristic Moorish inflections, painted tiles, and dark wood. The 49 rooms are kitted out with local paintings and richly upholstered furniture (including an oversized chaise longue at the foot of the bed), balconies, louvered shutters, ceiling fans, A/C, iPod docks, and Bose speakers, as well as lovely bathrooms with painted ceramic sinks. Some suites come with a private plunge pool but, should you prefer company, there is a small cliff-edge cascading pool as well as a larger one surrounded by chaises. At the bottom of a long staircase down to the sea is a small protected beach for swimming and snorkeling.
24. Rockhouse, Jamaica
This high-end boutique hotel on the West Cliffs, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is the cliffside getaway of your dreams. With three restaurants that are some of Jamaica’s most buzzing just outside your thatched-roof, hut-style guest room, you have everything from a fresh juice bar to fine dining at hand. Ready to relax? Those huts overlook the bright water, with open-air windows and doorways giving you expansive views. Don’t miss the spa, which specializes in holistic treatments that take place in yet more cliff-edge cabanas. Swimming and snorkeling in Pristine Cove are the main activities on order (equipment is on hand), as well as classes for painting and yoga, music and dancing, and cooking. Rockhouse opened in 1972 and early guests included Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. It may be going on 50, but the good vibes are still as strong.
Issia Thelwell/Courtesy Round Hill Hotel and Villas
23. Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Jamaica
This Montego Bay resort is set on 110 acres right by the sea. With 36 oceanfront rooms designed by Ralph Lauren and 27 private villas, discretion is the name of the game here. The guest rooms—all in the Pineapple House—are steps from the infinity pool and a snorkeling reef. The independently owned villas, meanwhile, range in size from two to six bedrooms and can sport amenities from private pools to their own guest houses. The resort is extensive but manageable, abundant with paths and a central area where dining and activities are focused. From tennis and a spa and fitness center to golf and on-site shopping, there’s plenty to entertain all ages. Dining, too, is a point of interest: With a James Beard Award-winning chef leading the resort’s restaurants, eating at Round Hill can feel like stepping out—without leaving the premises. In all, it’s a tasteful, self-contained getaway as appealing to couples looking for a romantic trip as for families looking for something for all ages.
Courtesy Anse Chastanet Resort
22. Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia
The sister property to Jade Mountain up in the hills, this 600-acre beachfront resort has octagonal hillside cottages and waterfront rooms, each individually designed. There’s special attention paid to keeping things local: The wood used in the rooms is of St. Lucia, and cushions and bedspreads are a bright madras plaid, the island’s cloth. Since rooms have no phones or TVs, this is the most romantic and wonderful place on the island, truly an experience to replenish the soul. After scuba diving, dine at the Treehouse Restaurant for Caribbean by candlelight or at Emerald’s, which uses organic produce from the resort’s farm in its all-vegetarian menu.
Courtesy Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
21/. Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico
In the ’60s, the Dorado Beach Hotel—a 1,400-acre resort on a former citrus and coconut plantation on Puerto Rico’s north coast, 30 miles west of San Juan—was a tropical playground for Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford (not to mention an occasional getaway for John F. Kennedy). With 114 rooms and suites, the latter housed in sleek two-story villas built of coral stone, the newly redesigned Dorado Beach, reopened in late 2018, takes its mid-century design cues from the original resort. The focus is on service and the resort’s tropical surroundings.
Courtesy Le Sereno
20. Le Sereno, St. Barts
At the quiet end of an idyllic cove in Grand Cul-de-Sac, this cottage colony was utterly remade by master minimalist Christian Liaigre. The decor is elaborately spare—bare white walls, dark wood floors, and nary a rounded edge or flourish in sight—but with no sacrifice to comfort. The 39 rooms have buttery linens and walled gardens with giant daybeds (Grand Suites add settees and bathtubs), and cushioned banquettes make up most of the restaurant’s seating. The resort sustained some damage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017, but is on track to be fully functional for this coming winter season.
19. Manapany, St. Barts
Hidden beyond a warren of slightly ramshackle homes in the unpretentious village of Anse de Cayes on St. Barts, you’re in for a more-than-pleasant surprise turning into Manapany. One of the island’s oldest hotels, it was bought by B Signature Hotels in 2016, stripped to the studs by interior designer François Champsaur, miraculously survived Hurricane Irma in 2017, and has recently been reborn as the island’s first, luxury eco-resort. Only electric cars are allowed beyond the parking lot; the resort produces its own water; towels are made from bamboo and linens are washed without chemicals; and spa treatments are accompanied by organic Dr. Hauschka products. Rooms, some directly on the beach, others with fabulous ocean views after a considerable climb, are bursting with wall color (peppery red, turmeric yellow, mint green, or ultramarine blue), handmade furniture, soft cotton rugs, and whimsical drawings by the appropriately named French artist Mayon Crayon. Meals, supplied by the hotel’s own vegetable garden and orchard, can be taken with toes in the sand and the young and attractive staff are on point.
David Massey/Courtesy Jamaica Inn
18. Jamaica Inn, Jamaica
After opening in 1950, the Jamaica Inn quickly earned notoriety for its discrete service and understated elegance, both of which made it a haven for mid-century movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Katharine Hepburn. Today, with an easy island glamour done in white columns and blue arches, the hotel itself retains its air of romance, and its location on a private beach keeps celebrities cycling through. The British colonial-style inn has no TVs or radios but does promise sea views. Divine suites have private balconies overlooking the Caribbean, local antique furniture, and full-size dining tables. Cottages add Indonesian-style interiors, private plunge pools, and secluded outdoor showers to the mix. Staff make you feel at home and go out of their way to make sure you have the most enjoyable experience possible. At the open-air dining room set under a canopy of palms, the menu focuses on Caribbean cuisine.
Steve Simonsen/Courtesy The Buccaneer
17. The Buccaneer, St. Croix, USVI
Though the Buccaneer, on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix, has been proudly run by the Armstrong family for over 70 years—it’s the longest-running resort in the Caribbean—its history dates even further back to the property’s earliest construction by a Knight of Malta in 1653. Since then, it’s been a private home; a sugar mill; a cotton estate, then a cattle estate; and now, an incredibly warm, family-friendly resort that’s more like a country club. You have access to an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, three beaches (whether you prefer kayaking and snorkeling or lounging in peace and quiet), a full water sports center, and none of the pretense. Arrive for lunch at the Grotto in your bathing suit, and please don’t sleep through the terrific breakfast buffet. The Buccanneer knows how to put out a spread. Once you’re done moving about for the day, settle into the deluxe oceanfront room—the resort’s most popular—and lie on your bed beneath the 16-foot-high wood ceilings, watching the waves lap the beach out your picture window.
Photo by Alice Gao
16. Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort, Anguilla
Anguilla is a very Anglo island; and Malliouhana was, for decades, one of its most staunchly traditional hotels. So it was a surprise when quintessentially Californian Auberge Resorts took over the 30-year-old resort in 2014; but what a difference a fresh perspective makes, with lemon yellow and ice-blue walls, vibrant striped cotton dhurries on the floors, and ornate glass sconces that have breathed new life into this Caribbean classic. Set along Turtle Cove, there are ample activities on offer—from kayaking to stand-up paddle boarding, kite-surfing, horse-riding, and outdoor yoga classes. One of our favorite diversions is a rum tasting with an in-house “rummelier.”
15. Couples Negril, Jamaica
Smaller than other Couples resorts, this 234-room outpost at Negril’s midpoint sits on 18 very quiet acres. Two pools and an au naturel stretch of beach complement this adults-only all-inclusive. Stay in rooms and suites done up in vivid tropical hues, whether you’re along the beach or among verdant gardens, some with their own Jacuzzis. Dine at one of five restaurants, or at a private table on the sand. Starlit beach parties are held every Thursday night—and absolutely everything really is included here… from glass-bottomed boat excursions to unlimited top-shelf spirits and unlimited PADI Certified Scuba diving classes.
Courtesy Guana Island
14. Guana Island, BVI
Guana Island doesn’t have beach attendants. Cocktails are DIY, and you fetch your own beach towels. Yes, 90 percent of Guana Island remains wild but the resort, which holds just 35 guests in 18 rooms, finds its decadence in privacy and natural beauty. Plus, in the resort’s kitchen, you’ll find chef Xavi Arnau who trained at Nobu in London and El Bulli in Spain, and Matthew Lightner, alum of multiple two-Michelin-starred restaurants like Noma in Denmark, Mugaritz in Spain, and Atera in New York. Sand, seclusion, and some serious farm-to-table Caribbean-inspired cuisine—what more could you want? Following a tip-to-toe refurbishment after the hurricanes of 2017, Guana Island was up and running this summer after burying all of its vital infrastructure underground, installing a new water filtration system, adding three new greenhouses, and introducing a lively flock of 100 chickens (for eggs).
13. Ladera Resort, St. Lucia
Anticipate the experience of a lifetime at this eco-lodge built with Caribbean timber, local stone, and terra-cotta tiles on the site of a former cocoa plantation. It’s in a calm, beautiful garden setting on a forested ridge overlooking the Pitons and the sea far below. Rustic suites—very Swiss Family Robinson in look and feel—have private plunge pools and no fourth wall, allowing unobstructed views. At Ti Kai Posé Spa, indulge in a hot volcanic stone massage or take a dip in the mineral pools. A free shuttle can take you to Sugar Beach, just five minutes away. Note that there are no televisions or phones in guest rooms, but there’s free Wi-Fi for the needy (plus, only 17+ here—befitting one of the world’s most romantic resorts).
Courtesy Belmond/Photo by Maurice Naragon
12. Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla
The Morocco-meets-Mykonos Belmond Cap Juluca resort sits on a white-sand beach on a Caribbean island known as much for its welcoming people as its haute resorts. Large enough to keep a couple—or a couple of kids—busy for days, but small enough to feel like home, the whitewashed island enclave has just reopened after a $121 million renovation by new owner Belmond, emphasizing chic, natural materials and local Anguillan heritage. The hotel remains unrivaled in the looks department—white domes and archways frame views of vanilla sands and blue waters, backdropped by glossy gardens of palms and bougainvillea—and boasts some of the friendliest customer service on the island.
Courtesy Sandals Resorts
11. Sandals Grenada
This spot on Pink Gin Beach, formerly LaSource, was taken over by Sandals, and reopened the adults-only, all-inclusive in 2013 with 150 rooms and 75 suites. Only five minutes from the island’s main airport, some oceanfront accommodations come complete with butler service and private pools—in fact, the resort seems to be happily obsessed with pools: “pools in the sky, and living rooms in swimming pools. Private plunge pools, cascading waterfalls, and meandering river pools” they declare. Take your pick of nine restaurants serving everything from Japanese to French to local Caribbean fare. There’s nightly entertainment, including live bands, fashion and talent shows, and beach parties—and a Red Lane Spa to recover from it all.
Courtesy Spice Island Beach Resort
10. Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada
This Grand Anse Beach all-inclusive, all-suite resort (family friendly), with a quiet atmosphere and great privacy, belongs near the top of tropical resorts. Spice-themed interior colors are inspired by nutmeg, saffron, cinnamon, coriander, and paprika. Staff are well trained by the hands-on management. Rooms have Frette linens and Molton Brown bath products; Royal Collection Suites come with a cedar sauna. Bikes are complimentary. Dinners in Oliver’s Restaurant can be a tad formal, but order a simple salt-fish crêpe at breakfast. If you get the chance, introduce yourself to the long-time owner, Sir Royston Hopkin, an islander by birth, who has filled the property with some of the friendliest staff in all of the Caribbean.
Courtesy Petit St. Vincent Resort/Photo by Mike Toy
9. Petit St. Vincent Resort, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Petit St. Vincent is a private islet of just 135 acres in the Grenadines, the southernmost of the Lesser Antilles, an idyllic place of densely forested hills and coral-sand beaches, where the emptiness makes it feel like unclaimed wilderness. Within is the revamped late-1960s resort, with 22 one- and two-bedroom cottages and villas, so you can be virtually assured of a stretch of beach to yourself. It’s Robinson Crusoe with deep pockets—local stone and wood, an open-air beach bar with a thatched roof, and a view over the reef that’s so breathtaking it could be a screen saver. Petit St. Vincent in its newest incarnation was unveiled in 2012. The sense of the privacy is PSV’s compelling selling point. Go from Easter to June, when the foliage is in bloom (and hotel rates tend to be less expensive than the popular winter season). The island exudes a powerful allure, a place where time really does seems to slow, you live by the sun and your cares melt away.
Courtesy GoldenEye/©Christaian Horan Photography
8. GoldenEye, Jamaica
Music producer Chris Blackwell, who introduced the world to Bob Marley back in 1973, also founded this oceanfront island hideaway a few years later, based around the clifftop villa where Ian Fleming wrote all his Bond novels. In the decades since its reach has grown and grown. There’s no sign at the entrance, which is part of the low-key charm. It’s easy to see why many music and film stars make their way here: This is a sweet spot with a very independent flavor, a world away from the oversized all-inclusives, and more honed than Blackwell’s companion hotel, Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains. Couples tend to hole up in the wooden beach huts; families and friends take over the massive villas; industry bigwigs feel right at home in Fleming’s former house, which has three bedrooms and a personable, clued-in staff.
Courtesy The Reef by CuisinArt
7. The Reef by Cuisinart, Anguilla
The Anguillan all-suite resort on the western end of the island is back following full-on renovations of its amenities and buildings post-2017 hurricanes. What should you expect from this 80-room, 2016 newcomer on Merrywing Bay now? An 18-hole golf course, six restaurants that source ingredients from the resort’s own hydroponic farm, poolside spa treatments, glass-bottomed kayaking in the clear Caribbean waters, and two tennis courts. Plus, each suite comes with panoramic views—some all the way over to St. Martin—along with walk-in closets, free-standing tubs, and private outdoor terraces. The look is slick and modern, but without losing an ounce of island charm.
Courtesy Kimpton Hotels
6. Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman may be famous for its scuba diving and offshore banking, but with several daily non-stops from New York and Boston, it’s increasingly drawing families to its powdery, placid western Caribbean beaches. The newest opening on the island’s Seven Mile Beach—one of the loveliest stretches of sand in the world—is the 266-room Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, whose colorful, boutique atmosphere manages to be both child-friendly (two pools, a kids’ club) and hip (colorful, contemporary design and a lobby scene replete with pool table, library, and daily happy hour). The food is also strong: Hit beachside Coccoloba for fish tacos and ceviches; Ave, the resort’s primary restaurant, for epic breakfast buffets (including house-made cronuts); and the sceney Avecita for small-plate progressive Spanish fare like white anchovy toast and prawn tartare, served up alongside craft cocktails at the chef’s counter. You can always snorkel and parasail right off the hotel’s beach, but you’re also a short ride from Stingray City (where you can stand on a sandbar and touch giant rays as they swim by), world-class gardens (look for the endangered blue iguana), golf, and roadside jerk chicken. Hit Rum Point to toast the sunset—or maybe you’ll prefer doing that from your own private balcony.
Courtesy Curtain Bluff
5. Curtain Bluff, Antigua
This classic Caribbean legend is an all-inclusive on 20 acres of gardens, where beautiful birds flit in and out of the trees. Stuccoed accommodations are filled with wicker furniture and overlook the beach. Dinner is served alfresco four nights a week at the Sea Grape restaurant. A different band plays nightly at the Tamarind Tree, where French and Caribbean flavors intensify the fresh-caught grouper and wahoo. Kids can brush up on their drop volleys, top-spin lobs, and cross-court backhand winners at the complimentary kids’ tennis clinic. With two private beaches—one for swimming, the other for water sports—there’s ample space for all.
Courtesy Secret Bay
4. Secret Bay, Dominica
The “secret” part of Secret Bay’s name is no accident—the resort’s six gorgeous villas give new meaning to the word hideaway. Touches vary from villa to villa, but all have interiors and floors made of Guyanese Greenheart, bedroom furniture made of Dominican red cedar, open decks, private pools, and 180-degree views over the mountain peaks of Dominica and the Caribbean Sea. Though we doubt you’ll get tired of living your own castaway fantasies (albeit with much nicer accommodations), Secret Bay’s concierge is available to help craft personalized itineraries: think rainforest hikes with a famed naturalist, or a sunset sail along the island’s western coast.
Alexis Andrews/Courtesy Hermitage Bay
3. Hermitage Bay, Antigua
Down a long dirt road, this secluded resort stands between a steep slope and a small bay. Its 30 individual suites—each a spacious contemporary cottage of dark wood and white linens—stand in lush foliage rich with birdlife and come with an outdoor shower and day bed; ceiling fans twirl above mosquito-netted beds. All this is the ideal setting in which to decompress fully while lounging by your plunge pool with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s well-chosen cellar. A few antique Chinese tea chests, an exhibit of original black-and-white photographs of Bob Marley, and low-slung furnishings combine to give the reception area a laid-back chic. With its commitment to sophistication and natural beauty, Hermitage Bay aims to join the properties at the top of the market in Antigua—and is priced accordingly. What you’re paying for here is peacefulness, supremely relaxing accommodations, better than decent food, a wonderful swimming beach, and an understated yet pampering spa.
Courtesy Eden Rock – St Barths
2. Eden Rock-St Barths, St. Barts
This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of place. The guests range in nationality—lots of elegant French couples and families, as well as well-heeled American newlyweds and older travelers who have been coming to Eden Rock for decades. It should be noted that Eden Rock-St Barths was significantly damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017. The resort has been closed since, but will reopen in late 2019, having undergone extensive renovation. Eden Rock has turned the disaster into an opportunity to refresh and expand—including adding a new bar, Rémy Room and Bar, and several new suites.
Courtesy Le Barthélemy/Photo by Pierre Carreau
1. Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, St. Barts
The latest addition to St. Barts’ luxury hotel scene, and in keeping with the island’s low-rise sensibility, Le Barthélemy is a sophisticated winner. Set between a lagoon and Grand Cul-de-Sac beach along the island’s northeastern shore (with jaw-dropping views of offshore islets and distant St. Maarten/St. Martin), the hotel is an education in understated elegance. Rooms are spare, and enormous, with lots of wood and one or two pops of bright color—some even have small, rectangular plunge pools for mini-laps. The food at Aux Amis is unabashedly modern French, with attention paid to proper portions in the tropics: in other words, not too much. Water sports enthusiasts have an expanse of calm shallow waters for kayaking, kite-surfing, and snorkeling—a flotilla of a dozen sea turtles that survived the storms of 2017 remain in residence and are easily visible. The staff here could not be more accommodating or attractive.