Keep up with the world with a hotel stocked with every 21st century toy you could want at your fingertips. Or ignore it all, at least for a little while.
Sleepy St. Vincent hasn’t seen a new hotel in the last five years, but in September 2011, Buccament Bay made a big splash as the island’s first luxury all-inclusive resort. It opened to a select group willing to fly to Barbados (San Juan or St. Lucia) and then puddle jump to St. Vincent.
Not a typical resort, the 95-villa property appeals to sports fanatics with its professionally-run Pat Cash Tennis Academy and Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, as well as budding artists who can take theater, singing and dance classes at the Harlequin Performing Arts Academy. Then it’s on to Trader Vic’s bar to fuel up on top-notch eats and drinks.
Rates begin at $1,424 per couple, per night.
The island of Antigua attracts a jaunty crowd who either sail in to English Harbour on multi-million dollar yachts, take part in flashy regattas, or for those who have neither ship nor swagger, the chance to take fun boating trips and play captain for a few days. The two-year old Nonsuch Bay Resort is colonial-style waterfront hotel that offers a sailing package complete with tuition and technique clinics for those who wear Nautica with purpose, dang it all. Room options vary, from apartments and cottages decked out with contemporary furniture and full Viking-appliance stocked kitchens to plush villas with private plunge pools. You go, mate.
Rates begin at $250 per night for a one-bedroom apartment.
A trip embracing the fruits of Mother Nature is what you seek. Whether you tune in or zone out, going with the flow is your only M.O. The only blackberries you’re interested in are of the edible variety.
The wonderfully under-the-radar island of Dominica houses just a few hotels, all small and unassuming. The eco-friendly Rosalie Bay Resort opened in fall 2010 and is considered to be the most modern of them all with 28 deluxe hillside cottages. Naturally, the property uses sustainable methods with solar panels, a wind turbine, organic gardens, and a spring-fed swimming pool. Even meals are made to order (vegan or vegetarian? No problem!) and are as natural as the surroundings—a forest of almond, seagrape and coconut trees on one side, and a black sand beach on the other.
Rates begin at $139, including breakfast.
Laluna is a hidden, Med-Asian style haven on the tiny island of Grenada. Even though owned by an Italian who worked in the glam fashion industry, and previous guests have included high wattage Kate Moss and Anna Wintour, the vibe is thankfully low-key and attitude free. Relax and rejuvenate the spirit in the sparsely-decorated16 thatched-roof cottages with their Balinese four-poster beds, private plunge pools and outdoor bamboo showers or the open-air yoga pavilion, the site of daily Vinyasa, Kundalini and Pilates classes. Frankly, the best place to get right is the spa where seductive Balinese treatments turns guests to mush.
Rates from $365 per night.
OK! is on your iPad and Andy Cohen on your Twitter feed, don't get it twisted, nothing in Hollyweird gets past you. Vacationing with the Kardashians? You’d be all over that…show.
Music minded celebs tend to flock to the uber cool Geejam in Jamaica’s Port Antonio region. Once a mere recording studio for the likes of Gwen Stefani and India.Arie, it’s now a tiny, seven-room retreat that embraces the Alicia Keys of the world as well as non-entertainers who dig the freestyle, no pressure ambiance. It’s a place to soak up the sun, chill at the beach at the foot of the hotel, or finally decide if you want to be the next American Idol.
Rates from $525, including breakfast.
You can smell the wealth wafting from the One & Only Ocean Club’s guests who call this Paradise Island resort home when they come to the Bahamas. There are only 105 guestrooms, suites and villas, which seem to appeal to privacy-seeking bold names like Bill Clinton, Derek Jeter, Cindy Crawford, who married Rande Gerber on the resort’s private beach. Though taking it easy in the hushed quiet atmosphere seems to be a major goal, there’s golf, tennis, yoga, if you can’t sit still. Those looking for more excitement after dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Dune restaurant, head next door to the Atlantis resort for casino time.
Rates from $625 per night.
A room with a gorgeous view, meals to die for and a staff at your beck and call? That’s what you call heaven. You’ll shell out for a five-star experience, even if it’s just a once-a-year blowout.
The new Turtle Beach Bungalows are part of an ongoing development of St. Kitts’ Christophe Harbour, a 2,500 acre area on the island’s southeastern peninsula that will include an 18-hole Tom Fazio golf course, marina village and mega-yacht dock. Currently, this first resort, which opened in October 2011, is in mere infancy with just four beachfront cottages, each with its own plunge pool. Go now while the scene remains blissfully serene.
Rates begin at $450 per night, including breakfast.
Though the Jalousie Plantation, on St. Lucia’s southern coast will become a slick Tides property by year’s end, it’s already a top class resort. The villas are tucked between thickets of rainforest, and are hard to leave. They are a honeymooners dream with four-poster beds draped with mosquito netting, outdoor showers, and the newer rooms even have their very own pools and butler service. It’s a tiny trek to the beach and restaurant as most rooms are scattered on a hill, but there’s shuttle service available if you’re feeling weary or lazy.
Rates begin at $300 per night.
Objective: Kids have a blast with fun and educational activities. No one has a meltdown (parents included). Food isn’t scary to toddler. Teens eyeballs don’t roll out their head.
Mexico’s beachy Playa del Carmen added the family-friendly, 512-room Paradisus La Esmeralda to its roster of all-inclusive resorts in November 2011. The toys, trampoline, and gaming systems in the free kids clubs are brand-spanking new and there’s more than enough to share when the rugrats aren’t being entertained with a roster full of activities. Meals are even served inside, a bonus for parents looking for alone time or a martini-fueled dinner at the adults-only Paradisus La Perla sister resort, next door.
Family Concierge is La Esmeralda’s “Club Level” category, with its own private restaurant and building. Children staying here get pint-sized bathrobes, slippers, bath products and even milk and cookies during turndown service. There’s even a personal concierge to make spa reservations and draw bubble baths in the soaking tub. But we think the outdoor Jacuzzi is best used after lights out.
Rates from $490 per night.
Rebranded to a Waldorf Astoria, the El Conquistador Resort is now one of Puerto Rico’s high end, but still fun resorts. The younger set will flock to the hotel’s huge Coqui Water Park with its lazy river, rope bridge,and slides. If beach time is on the request line, take a quick motor shuttle to Palomino Island, a 100-acre fun spot where horseback riding, snorkeling and other watersports keep the day moving. If your ever peckish, there’s over a dozen restaurants to tame the pickiest of palates from simple burgers to conch fritters.
Rates begin at $126 per night.
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[Photos courtesy of the hotels mentioned in this guide; Video: HotelChatter]