The Best Hotels
Throughout the pandemic, several islands in the Caribbean positioned themselves as long-term travel destinations, fit for remote workers looking for some fun and sun in between Zooms. With COVID precautions and protocols firmly in place, this region’s most glorious hotels also offer the very thing so many of us found ourselves craving this past year and a half: a blessed break from the monotony.
Caerula Mar Club
South Andros, Bahamas
You can’t go wrong with 10 acres of turquoise beach, the backdrop of Caerula Mar Club, an exclusive property with just six private villas and 18 suites. The uncrowded nature of the place never translates to boredom—not with options that include snorkeling and diving tours of blue hole ocean caves and a barrier reef, the world’s third-largest. Take a kayak on the water or a bike out on land, or simply revel in the beauty of it all as you alternate between reading and dozing on the pristine beach or poolside. With or without a cocktail is the only question you’ll have.
If you can tear yourself away from the resort, do it in the name of bonefishing, famous in these parts. After a scenic fish, soak up more Bahamian culture at any of the town’s mom-and-pop joints, where fried cracked conch and Kalik beer go down easy. Or try the stunning menu at Caerula’s fine-dining restaurant, Lusca. Up the romance factor and request a dinner (order the sesame-crusted Ahi tuna) on your private porch or patio or arrange for a beachside meal where the main attraction—aside from the food—is the infinite sky that shows off countless twinkling stars.
Maundays Bay, Anguilla
Are you in North Africa or the Caribbean? Blame the blissful confusion on the Moroccan-style domed white villas that dot the landscape at Cap Juluca. Either way, you’ve arrived in paradise. Choose a room or a suite with a covered terrace or one with a solarium or second rooftop terrace, or spring for a private pool villa. Find your center with early morning bird nature walks around Cove Pond. Led by a knowledgeable conservationist, this favorite pastime may just turn you into a bird watcher after all–especially if you glimpse an Antillean Bullfinch. Also on offer is a sail to Prickly Pear Cays, uninhabited islands with coral reefs awash in vegetation, where you can snorkel, swim with turtles, and satisfy your newfound interest in bird watching.
Windsurf or water ski for additional water fun, and play a round of golf or practice your tennis serve with the help of a tennis pro back on dry land. After working up an appetite, head to Pimms. One of the most romantic restaurants on the island, it also delivers on the food front with dishes like Anguillan crayfish and a delightful passion fruit and avocado carpaccio.
Casas del XVI
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Casas del XVI is straight out of central casting. You must be in a wildly romantic movie. The setting is the historic district of Santo Domingo’s Colonial City. Casas del XVI, full of old-world charm and modern luxury as evidenced by an amiable private butler and talented chef for starters, is a collection of seven houses that date back to the 16th century.
A luxury guest room (king- or queen-sized bed plus a deep soaking tub), with decor reflecting Dominican culture and the Spanish colonial era, is ideal for solo travelers or couples, while the sprawling private casas, complete with private swimming pools, are perfect for families or a group getaway. Regardless of accommodation choice, a stay gets you into the cigar bar, where you might opt to learn how to roll the Cuban way. All guests can take advantage of the Connoisseurs Program, which offers an array of options to suit all interests—top picks include curator-run Colonial City museum tours, dinners with experts in classical music, and a private polo match.
The power of pink is the name of the game at this stunning 1940s mansion where pops of pink exude a certain cool factor while also encouraging total relaxation. All of the charmingly decorated suites at Cobblers Cove have outdoor verandas, and while ocean view rooms tend to be popular among travelers to the Caribbean, the garden view rooms at Cobblers have their own appeal.
Cobblers prides itself on both its commitment to the environment—rainwater collection and solar panels have been in place for years—and to working with local craftsmen who are responsible for all of the property’s furnishings and furniture. More recently, the food program was overhauled so that now almost 100% of menu offerings are items grown or produced in Barbados. This translates to home-smoked flying fish for breakfast and charred cherry tomatoes and lobster for dinner. Sundays’ seafront barbecue is a chance to indulge the senses and mingle with other guests. A slate of activities to keep you busy during the day includes paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and a boat ride leading to a swim with Hawksbill turtles.
Port Antonio, Jamaica
The setting at Geejam is serene and secluded–it’s where the rainforest meets the sea, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. It’s positively luxurious. A bonus is the on-site music studio, which may help explain why the boutique hotel is a getaway for celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna. Stay in a private villa, deluxe jungle cabin, or one of the 12 newly launched, art-filled Rumba Rooms.
The Geejam vibe is sophisticated and hip, yet still comfortably chill. The staff, friendly and attentive, makes a point to get to know each guest, and you might even find yourself in easy conversation with one of the hotel’s owners, Jon Baker and Steve Beaver, as you prepare to show off your pool skills at the outdoor game table. Follow your achievements with dinner at the dimly lit Bushbar. The restaurant’s elevated Jamaican—jerk marinated lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and garden veggies—is as sublime as the signature rum punch. The flavorful and potent concoction also happens to be the perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon by the infinity pool. But should you tire of this manner of indolent vacationing, know that kayaking and snorkeling can be accessed from the hotel’s private beach.
Experience a six-star, all-villa resort tucked in the rainforest on a secluded clifftop, private plunge pools, your own villa host, on-call concierge, chef, and guides. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about this Caribbean resort. The Ti-Féy Villa I, a two-story treehouse sustainably built with Guyanese Greenheart wood, sits on a hillside with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, a design element only outdone by the outdoor rain shower.
Pampering—a must at Secret Bay—starts with a facial or massage at the treetop Gommier Spa overlooking Tibay Beach and continues with a rum punch (or two!) at the nearby secluded Batibou Beach. Return to the warm embrace of the resort for a meal at the open-air Zing Zang, a restaurant serving local octopus and lobster, amid to-die-for views. A nightcap at the Vetiver Sunset Deck overlooking Secret Beach is an excellent idea; then again, so is night snorkeling if you’re looking to add a notch to your adventure belt.