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Open For Business: New Resorts In The Caribbean

2017-11-10T09:36:28-05:00 en-US Nov 10, 2017

By: Melanie Reffes

Source: USA Today

Following the unwelcome arrival of two of the most destructive storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, the northeastern Caribbean islands that bore the brunt of Hurricanes Irma and Maria — including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica — are in the midst of rebuilding, while the islands that sustained just minimal damage are already open.

Fortunately, most of the 32 countries that span 1 million square miles were unscathed by the September storms and, with economies that are reliant on tourism, much of the Caribbean is rolling out the welcome mat. “More than 75% of hotels are operational and 70% of the Caribbean is open for business,” says Frank Comito, CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA). Check caribbeantravelupdate.com for regional travel updates.

From Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas and Barbados to Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Kitts, check out and check into elegant brand-new hotels, revamped iconic resorts and rebranded popular bargains on the beach. “Travel to the Caribbean isn’t a dream that needs to be put on hold,” said Scott Wiseman, president of leisure tour operator Travel Impressions. “As extensive and heartbreaking as the damage may have been to some areas, the Caribbean is very much open.”

Anguilla  

Photo: New website to keep track of Anguilla updates

A new hotel is big news on any island but in post-hurricane Anguilla, a brand-new hotel is very big news. The little isle across the sea from St. Maarten weathered Irma’s fury and is getting back on track. Flights are arriving to the Clayton J. Lloyd airport; many restaurants and bars are open; the beaches are back and a new website keeps track of the progress.  “Although Anguilla's tourism product was damaged, it was not destroyed,” said Cardigan Connor, parliamentary secretary for tourism. "Some of our smaller properties and villas are open now or will be open by Christmas.” 

Photo: Quintessence Boutique Resort re-opens Jan 1, 2018, Credit: Quintessence Boutique Resort

The first new build since The Reef came on the scene in 2016 (it reopens next year after hurricane damage is repaired), Quintessence Boutique Resort opens on January 1st, 2018. The hotel on the west side of the island looks more like a grand tropical mansion. Owned by Michigan lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, who lives nearby, the hotel is lavishly furnished with a striking collection of Haitian art, life-size chess board, wine cellar, high-speed Wi-Fi on the beach and luxe Swedish Hastens mattresses that come with price tags higher than what some people spend on a vacation. Adding to a hotel landscape that includes some of most fabulous digs in the Caribbean, the new nine-suite and villa hotel is designed with vaulted cedar ceilings, infinity pool and a yoga pavilion that may be popular for weddings. There will be butlers day and night including one live-in, two bars, tennis courts, fitness center, massages, Jacuzzi, billiard room and fine dining in the Q Restaurant presided over by French chef Dominique Thevenet. If you must mix business and pleasure, the meeting room is wired with video conferencing. For opening rates, visit qhotelanguilla.com

St. Kitts

Photo: Park Hyatt St. Kitts has 78 rooms and 48 suites, Credit: Park Hyatt St. Kitts

Marking the Park Hyatt brand’s first venture in the Caribbean, Park Hyatt St. Kitts made its debut on Nov. 1. On Banana Bay in Christophe Harbour, the chic resort overlooks the strait that separates St. Kitts and its sister isle Nevis. 

Doing the island proud, Kittitian art is in the 48 suites and 78 rooms. Premium suites have rooftop pools, while the Presidential Villa comes with a butler and chef. Other amenities include water sports, Camp Hyatt for Kids, fitness club, Sugar Mill Spa, two outdoor pools (one is adults-only) and Fleming’s, with the island's most extensive rum collection. Dining is varied at three restaurants including Fisherman’s Village with an ocean-to-table menu. Chef Pankaj Bisht, whose kitchen credentials include stints at Park Hyatts in Melbourne and Maldives, says he’s developed “relationships with local fishermen and farmers” in crafting his menus.

Opening rates for a King or Queen Room is $450, per night, double occupancy. Or splurge on the three-bedroom Presidential Villa, which goes for $14,000 per night, and comes with an infinity pool, games room and more than 5,000 square feet of palatial living for up to eight people.

St. Lucia

Photo: Night Magic, Credit: Serenity at Coconut Bay

It’s location, location, location at the brand-new adults-only Serenity at Coconut Bay on the south coast.  Appealing to those who prefer a baggage claim-to-beach holiday, the all-inclusive is literally five minutes from the Hewanorra International Airport. This makes it a game-changer for travelers, because most of the island’s resorts are in the north which means a long, hilly two-hour drive from the airport.

Adjacent to the family-friendly Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, Serenity officially opened in October with 36 suites, each with a butler, saltwater plunge pool, hammocks strung between two coconut palms, four-poster bed, artsy river rock décor and all the privacy you can soak up on the patio walled off with a white picket fence. Add private airport transfers, two bars, 24-hour room service and dinner at The Greathouse for executive chef Dennis Boitnott’s Chef’s Table spread of downhome Creole favorites.

The pool is a watery showpiece with plenty of sunny perches and servers who deliver refreshments, hors d'oeuvres, chilled towels and cooling herbal mists. Try a butler-packed beach picnic with vistas of the Maria Islands Nature Reserve and siesta time in a cabana. When the sun sets, dinner under the stars and horseback riding on the beach ramps up the romance. Opening nightly rates for a Plunge Pool Suite start at $349 per person, for stays through Dec. 20. 

Jamaica

Photo: Addition to prime real estate on the Caribbean Sea, Credit: Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort

Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa on the northwest coast is open with 217 suites and 11 villas. Locally owned, the all-inclusive is a welcome addition to the prime real estate that fronts the Caribbean Sea. Incentives to check in, unpack and stay put include butler service, 30,000-square foot Grande Spa, Jamaica’s only Himalayan Salt Halotherapy Lounge (which simply put is a room where salt vapor is used to treat all kinds of modern-day ailments), and options from fine dining at Waves and buffets at Orchids to beef patties and jerk chicken at the Crickets Grill and sweet treats at The Sugar Cane Coffee & Ice Cream parlor. Restaurants soon to open are the French-inspired Le Bouchon and Pierside with an Asian menu.  

Fifteen minutes from the Sangster International Airport (airport transfers are included) and a striking poser on a cove between the hills and the sea, the resort keeps families busy with a Kids Club, Teen Lounge, pizzeria with a stone oven, water sports, fitness center and two oceanfront pools.  Grand opening nightly rates, double occupancy, through Dec. 23 start at $309 for a Junior Suite and for big families or gaggles of pals, Three Bedroom Penthouse Suite goes for $1,246 per night, also through Dec. 23. 

Barbados

Photo: Sandals Royal Barbados opens on Dec. 20 with 222 posh suites, Credit: Sandals Royal Barbados

Adjacent to Sandals Barbados in the spirited St. Lawrence Gap on the south coast, Sandals Royal Barbados opens on Dec. 20 with 222 posh suites (502 rooms total at both resorts) in a whopping 17 multi-word categories.  On Maxwell Beach, tony suites at the adults-only all-inclusive come with soaking tubs built for two and Rolls Royce airport transfers, butlers and swim-up pools in the top-shelf suites. Sandals signatures include Red Lane Spa, four bars, six restaurants and the “Stay at One, Play at Two” where guests can enjoy the amenities at both resorts. Setting the new resort apart are the brand’s first bowling alley, gentlemen’s-only barbershop and a rooftop infinity pool.  Opening rates per person, per night, start at $251 for the South Seas Club Level Junior Palm Suite and $841 for the Beachfront One Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite.

Getting ready to open in early December, Treasure Beach Hotel has been refurbished, rebranded and repriced as Treasure Beach by Elegant Hotels. Closed since July, the 35-suite adults-only in Paynes Bay on the west coast is the adjoining hotel to Elegant Hotels’ Tamarind and next to The House and Daphne’s Restaurant, popular for people-watching and linguine crowned with local lobster. Grand opening nightly rates start at $333 for a Garden View One Bedroom Suite including breakfast, taxes and resort fees. Book by Dec. 1 for stays until Dec. 18.

The Bahamas

Photo: Riu Palace Paradise Island re-opened as an adults-only resort, Credit: Riu Palace Paradise Island

Family-friendly since 2005, Riu Palace Paradise Island closed in July for a major facelift and reopened in October as an adults-only with 379 rooms, four bars, 24-hour room service, volleyball on the beach, golf, spa, two pools, hammocks on Cabbage Beach and the brand’s popular big buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Revamped rooms were designed with walk-in showers and comfy extras like bathrobes. Adjacent to the Beach Tower at the pricier Atlantis Resort means you can take a stroll to the Caribbean’s largest casino or check out the aquarium without paying to stay there. One mile from the ferry to downtown Nassau, the resort is perfect for wallet-watchers. Opening rates are as low as $142 per night, per person in a Junior Ocean View Suite.

Antigua  

Photo: Curtain Bluff underwent a $13 million do-over, Credit: Curtain Bluff

Making a grand entrance at the end of October after a six-month closure and completion of a $13 million do-over, Curtain Bluff is as good as new with an overhaul of the resort entrance, restaurants, bar, lounge and reception area. First opened in 1962, the 72-room and suite hotel on the south coast has a guestbook that includes British rock royalty like Peter Gabriel and Eric Clapton. “The resort may have a new updated, elegant look but its charm will always remain the same,” said Rob Sherman, managing director.  All-inclusive opening rates start at $800 per night for two people in a deluxe room through the middle of December and $1,600 from Dec. 18 to Jan. 2.  

Elegant Hotels Group is coming to the north coast with a $100 million investment in a resort slated to open early next year. Owned by the largest resort owners in Barbados (seven in total), Hodges Bay Resort & Spa will offer 79 rooms, villas and penthouses, three restaurants, six bars and two pools. Sweetening the pot are a fitness center, personal trainers, Kids Club, Teen Lounge, tennis courts, putting green and bocce ball. “Hodges Bay is in its final stages of construction, “said Niels Stuedemann, general manager. "We were fortunate to have stayed out of harm’s way during the recent hurricanes.” Opening rates start at $961 per night, double occupancy, for a Pool or Garden View Junior Suite.    

About the Author

Melanie Reffes, Travel Journalist
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