More Island News
BY DON NICHOLS — Winter 2018
At a cost of $13 million, this fully inclusive resort with access to two beaches has redesigned its entrance, dining venues, bar, lounge, and reception area — as well as refreshed its 72 rooms, all with ocean views. It has also upgraded the beach experience, with sleeker chaise longues and sand chairs and the addition of a beach concierge on hand to get guests settled into their beachfront digs, arrange activities and watersports, and take drink orders.
Something special: The four Hulford Collection suites, which are named after the resort’s owners, now have private infinity-edge plunge pools on their terraces overlooking the Caribbean.
Details: From $800. 888-289-9898; curtainbluff.com
Royal Private Island
Cuvee, which owns and operates high-end luxury homes and villas both domestically and internationally, has added the 430-acre Royal Private Island to its portfolio. This exclusive getaway can accommodate up to 14 guests in five beachfront villas. Your stay includes a private chef, beach club, a fleet of water vessels (including a catamaran), and a host of water activities, from jet skiing to mangrove tours.
Something special: Your kids can hang out in a dedicated Kids Suite, and nannies can escape to a Nanny Suite for some privacy.
Details: From $14,375. 720-833-4533; cuvee.com
Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club
The latest Curio — a Collection by Hilton property sports 205 rooms in cottage- and villa-style accommodations on 60 lush tropical acres on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island. Colonial-style detailing, heirloom-quality furnishings, and sustainably harvested Belizean hardwoods create an authentic island aesthetic. Relax around the 15,000-square-foot pool at the on-site Bay Club or take a shuttle to the nearby Beach Club to cool off in the clear blue water.
Something special: In Mahogany Bay Townlet, take your pick from 49 weekly classes at the Science and Soul Wellness health and yoga center. Not a yoga devotee? Restaurants, bars, and shops make the townlet inviting, as well.
Details: From $369. 800-416-7339; mahoganybayvillage.com/resort
The Westin Grand Cayman
This popular, 343-room resort located directly on Seven Mile Beach just completed its two-phase $50 million renovation. Besides all the public areas, designers transformed all the rooms, giving them a complete new look that brings the outdoors in with colors, textures, and materials that evoke the island environment.
Something special: Sip on refreshing cocktails at the new swim-up bar in the redesigned pool, Grand Cayman’s largest freshwater pool.
Details: From $299. 800-937-8461; westingrandcayman.com
Eden Roc at Cap Cana
For more than a decade, discerning golfers in the know have traveled to Cap Cana, a 30,000-acre gated community on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, to play at Punta Espada Golf Club. The Caribbean Sea defines its Jack Nicklaus Signature course, with eight holes playing up to, alongside, and — on a few occasions — over surging turquoise waves. This past summer, the nearby Eden Roc at Cap Cana leveraged its own proximity to the sea by completing the addition of 26 one- and two-bedroom beachfront suites, nearly doubling the resort’s size from 34 rooms to 60.
Unlike Eden Roc’s existing garden- or lagoon-view cottages — which feature lofted ceilings and exemplify classic Caribbean architecture — the new oceanfront suites are sleek and modern with a mix of contemporary and casual furnishings. Ranging in size from 1,194 to 1,786 square feet, they feature gray and sand-colored paint schemes accented by pops of color (mainly various shades of blue) delivered via their décor and handcrafted Dominican artwork. From the suite’s terraces and balconies, guests take in views of the resort’s infinity pool, its crescent-shaped beach, and the Caribbean’s shifting mix of aqua and azure waters.
Also new: Eden Roc has expanded its culinary offerings with the Blue Grill + Bar restaurant at its beach club; the restaurant fuses Japanese and Peruvian cuisine and serves dishes inspired by robatayaki and Nikkei cooking techniques. The resort plans a spa upgrade this year.
Details: Beachfront suites from $1,100. 809-469-7469; edenroccapcana.com — SHAUN TOLSON
Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa
A 30,000-square-foot spa and 12 restaurants and lounges give this all-inclusive, all-suite beachfront resort, which opened in September, plenty of appeal. Three beachfront towers house its 217 suites — a mix of one-to-three-bedroom units and three-bedroom villas — that come with butler service. It’s located in Rose Hall, four miles northeast of Montego Bay, with three golf courses just minutes away by car.
Something special: Book a massage on the Gharieni Quartz therapy massage table, which reportedly promotes mental harmony, detoxifies, and boosts the immune system.
Details: From $518. 888-797-2735; jewelgrande.com
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Pink Sands Club, Canouan
In October, Mandarin Oriental made its Caribbean debut by assuming management of this posh hotel, which opened in fall 2016 with 26 suites and six villas. The company says it will change the name to Mandarin Oriental, Canouan during the first quarter of 2018, after implementing its service standards and introducing new design elements, but it offers no specifics.
Something special: Expect additional three- and four-bedroom villas by March.
Details: From $1,400. 800-526-6566; mandarinoriental.com
Buzz is already building for this property, slated to open in spring on Grand Anse Beach on the island’s southwestern tip. Expect sophisticated, modern décor that’s chicly minimalist and spiced with curated rotating art exhibits. You’ll have plenty of room to relax, with its 43 suites ranging in size from 721 to 1,647 square feet. Amenities will include a 100-meter pool, spa, gym, beach club with resident DJ, and two restaurants (one featuring a Thai menu, befitting for a destination nicknamed Spice Island).
Details: From $800. 473-533-8888; silversandsgrenada.com
Serafina Beach Hotel
The New York-based Serafina Restaurant Group, with popular dining outlets across the globe, ventures into the lodging arena with this hotel, its first. Despite the mass destruction the island suffered from Hurricane Maria’s fury, the company still plans a spring opening for this 96-room oceanfront property in San Juan’s fashionable Condado district. Expect a contemporary vibe, with a design that mixes minimalism with a tropical aesthetic.
Details: From $225. serafinabeachhotel.com
Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf
The Carl Gustaf, one of the island’s stalwart hotels, closed in 2013 and the French luxury brand Barrière is now breathing new life into it via an extensive renovation. The company had planned a late 2017 opening before Hurricane Irma struck the island hard. For now, for 2018, the official word is “coming soon,” nothing more specific. The property, which overlooks Gustavia’s port and charming Shell Beach, has 13 cottages and two junior suites, all with their own private pools. Plans call for well-known French chef Pierre Gagnaire to oversee its French restaurant, Le Fouquet’s.
Blissful Sailing in Panama
For a total departure from the typical Caribbean resort experience, consider one of the newest trips now available from Blue Parallel, a boutique tour operator specializing in bespoke itineraries to Latin America and the Mediterranean. You can now book six- to eight-day excursions that focus mostly on sailing through Panama’s unspoiled San Blas Islands, a Caribbean archipelago with more than 350 small isles, only a few inhabited by the indigenous Kuna Indians.
“These islands are stunning with their coconut trees, palm trees, sand, and turquoise water. But visiting them is like being on a different planet — there are no supermarkets, no restaurants, no internet, so you feel you can completely disconnect and reconnect with Mother Nature,” says Emmanuel Burgio, Blue Parallel’s president.
Just how disconnected? For meals, you eat what you or your captain catches while fishing or what you buy from the Kunas, all prepared by your onboard chef.
The company suggests you first spend two days exploring Panama City, where you get special VIP access to the Panama Canal, before boarding a private plane for a half-hour flight to a remote landing strip in the islands to begin your at-sea journey. Your floating home away from home: a 40- to 60-foot luxury catamaran that holds up to eight guests, though Burgio recommends no more than six, so you have more room on the boat. Spend your days learning about Kuna culture, just chilling, or being as active as you like in the calm Caribbean water — swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, you name it. Come evening, after cocktails and dinner, look up to the heavens. “There’s no light pollution, so the stargazing is phenomenal,” says Burgio.
Details: From $19,000 for two (from $33,000 for six) for six-day itineraries. 301-263-6670; blueparallel.com
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