When the Caribbean comes up in conversations, phrases like “white sands,” “azure waters” and “warm smiles” are often used as descriptors. But after witnessing the collective strength the region has demonstrated following a string of natural disasters over the past few years, “resilient souls” should probably be added to the narrative.
While Forbes Travel Guide has nearly 40 rated hotels in the region, some of its editors’ favorite spots, like Le Guanahani in St. Barts and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, are closed and undergoing extensive post-hurricane renovations. But many destinations have rebounded, and travelers are wisely reacquainting themselves with the cultures, colors and cuisine that make these island nations beloved.
Forbes Travel Guide’s editors curated a list of properties that capture the spirit of the Caribbean with a strong sense of place, sterling facilities and warm, anticipatory service—from a romantic getaway in Bermuda to a minimalist gem in St. Bart’s.
Color is king at this Four-Star Dominican Republic retreat, where verdant gardens and jewel-toned villas mingle with turquoise waters and white sands. But it isn’t all about looks—extras like a private beach club, revamped spa and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course add an air of extravagance to the colorful surroundings.
This 7,000-acre La Romana playground may be best known for its world-class golf—during a recent visit, we bumped into Spanish golf legend Miguel Ángel Jiménez between rounds—but Minitas Beach Club & Restaurant’s elevated dining, an updated sporting clay shooting range and an impressive entertainment calendar aren’t bad perks, either.
No matter what the calendar says, romance is always in the forecast at this 98-room Bermudian treat. The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended resort’s rooms have a clean, beach-chic vibe your sweetheart will love. The Couple’s Retreat Massage is a tantalizing distraction, especially when paired with a private beach dinner.
This beauty delights with daytime fun (a host of beach activities at your disposal, two enticing pools), evening delights (popular BLT Steak and homestyle Italian at Casa Nonna) and around-the-clock pleasures (an onsite casino).
Renovated in 2017, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended resort turns heads with its stylish open lobby, a revamped pool area and 300-plus rooms that channel the water just outside. But whatever you do, don’t gawk for too long—the boat taking you out to beloved Stingray City leaves shortly.
While September’s Hurricane Dorian spared much of Nassau in the Bahamas, the area is working to return to where it was, tourism-wise, before the storm. Do your part with a visit to this sophisticated address, which has a sizzling adults-only pool, refined rooms and a slew of restaurants from top-notch chefs such as José Andrés, Nobu Matsuhisa and Todd English.
This high-end hideaway feels blissfully removed from crowds of tourists usually found elsewhere on Paradise Island. Add in a gorgeous golf course, world-class spa, peaceful beach and Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, and you’ll see why the hotel—which was prominently featured in 2006’s Casino Royale— is a James Bond favorite.
One of the most revered resorts in the region since the 1960s, this Five-Star Barbados gem still wins over travelers with a 47,000-square-foot spa, activities ranging from tennis to swimming with turtles, attentive beachside service where attendants will clean sunglasses and mist you with Evian, and opulent touches, like a Rolls-Royce house car.
This Four-Star escape’s event calendar (November’s Cayman Rejuvenate wellness event, January’s Cayman Cookout food fest) is something else. But passing on that excitement in exchange for a few days of toe twiddling in the sand along picturesque Seven Mile Beach would be perfectly understandable. The hotel sits along 144 beachfront acres.
While San Juan, Puerto Rico’s grande dame hotel turned 100 this year, she’s as beautiful as ever with a heated infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic (complete with submerged loungers), rooms that give off a glamorous vibe and a striking white and gray marble hammam in the Four-Star spa.
Perched along Baie Longue’s idyllic white sands, the St. Martin hotel makes the most of the captivating ocean vistas, showcasing them at every turn. Belmond took the turquoise and white palette to infuse its rooms with a fresh, beachy look that will be unveiled when the Mediterranean-inspired hotel reopens later this month.
Reserve one of the plunge-pool-equipped accommodations at the Five-Star Puerto Rico hotel, and you might never leave—especially when you can have a floating breakfast delivered while you take a dip. But then you’d miss out on the Five-Star spa that’s like a heavenly garden oasis.
Sprawled along Grace Bay Beach, this is a quintessential Turks and Caicos getaway. When you need a break from the bay’s toasty, crystal-clear waters or the all-suite resort’s three pools, sit at the 90-foot-long alfresco Infiniti Bar—the Caribbean’s longest bar—with an Infiniti Martini (a potent mix of Hpnotiq, Malibu Rum and pineapple juice).
The luxurious resort removes the fourth wall in its suites to put you even closer to the Caribbean Sea and St. Lucia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site-designated Pitons. When you aren’t gazing at the scene from your personal pool, visit Jade Mountain’s Chocolate Laboratory to taste estate-grown bars, try scuba diving or go jungle biking.
At this boutique hotel, every open-walled suite showcases tropical wood, exquisite furniture from St. Lucian artisans and a private plunge pool. Ask for a suite with a swing hanging over the pool. While swaying in it, you’ll almost feel like you could touch the towering Pitons and the sparkling sea.
Heed the call of Turks and Caicos’ irresistible Grace Bay and hop on a Hobie Cat, kayak or paddle board, all of which come complimentary with a stay at the beachfront hotel. For something more low-key, try the island’s only heated saltwater pool followed by a surf-and-turf dinner at Seven.
Unwind at this lush Puerto Rico hotel in the foothills of El Yunque National Forest, whether it’s on the golf course (the Caribbean’s first certified Gold Audubon Signature Sanctuary), in the indulgent spa (nestled in a tropical garden), on a naturalist-led bird-watching tour or in a hammock on the sand.
Just two miles off the coast of Antigua, you can find a private island paradise. The 300-acre grounds hold lavish villas, loads of biking trails, three pools, three tennis courts, an organic farm (which hosts farm-to-table dinners under the night sky), a serene spa, stunning beaches and a lot more.
The blue-green waters of Anguilla’s Maundays Bay pop against the stark-white Moorish-Greco hotel. The iconic property overflows with beautiful design, from a green-tiled Moroccan pool to chic rooms bathed in white, gray and blue. Starring eye-catching ceramic ceiling and floor tiles, the emerald-hued bar mixes refreshing libations.
St. Barts’ first hotel—and the island’s see-and-be-seen celebrity favorite—will make its triumphant return on November 20, after a two-year renovation from Hurricane Irma damage. When the doors open, expect to be awed by 37 totally remodeled rooms and villas, the new Rémy Bar, an Eden Spa debut and more.
Be swept away by Jamaican hospitality at this Montego Bay getaway, celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. Whether imbibing at the weekly manager’s cocktail party, listening to live reggae at Cedar Bar or going for a ride at the property’s popular equestrian center, you’ll be surrounded by smiles.
This 88-room boutique beauty underwent a head-to-toe refresh in 2018, debuting a more modern feel with an infusion of local art and colonial-inspired furnishings. The 12,000-square-foot spa also received some sumptuous upgrades, but the Four-Star resort’s expansive stretch of pink sand—the longest private beach in Bermuda—remains as alluring as ever.
With its open-air suites, authentic vibe (the spa sits inside an 18th-century plantation house) and picture-perfect Montego Bay views, it’s no wonder that this charming Jamaican property has been a celebrity favorite for nearly 70 years. Check into Villa 10 to stay where the Kennedys honeymooned.
This Four-Star Turks & Caicos stunner doesn’t have a bad angle, from Grace Bay Beach’s white sands and the sparkling infinity pool to the bougainvillea-accented, white-washed walls. Soak up the delightful surroundings with an alfresco boot camp class or a post-massage rinse in one of the spa’s outdoor showers.
Sleek style meets eco-chic design at this tranquil hideaway tucked into Grenada’s fragrant jungles. (It’s called “the spice island,” after all.) An array of watersports and a soothing spa make for idyllic pursuits, but we prefer to soak up the sun from the resort’s 330-foot infinity pool, the longest in the Caribbean.
This 126-room St. Kitts resort makes the most of its serene Banana Bay location with gratis watersports rentals, two ocean-facing pools and The Great House’s open-air dining room (don’t miss the rum bar). When you need a break from the island sun, head for Miraval Life in Balance Spa, the wellness brand’s only Caribbean facility.
Steps from the soft white sands of Barbados’ Platinum Coast, this 75-room St. James Parish hotel enchants with its lush tropical surroundings (more than 100 native plant species adorn the grounds), open-air dining rooms (sunset reservations are a must) and local flavor (rooms feature artwork from Barbadian artists).
Tropical vibes emanate from this Dominican Republic skyscraper. Get your shopping fix at the neighboring Blue Mall before relaxing at the sparkling infinity pool. End the evening with sundowners at Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar, where you can look down through the glass deck to view the street from 101 feet above.
This Grand Cayman retreat is all about laid-back luxury. Here, you can enjoy a margarita and fresh ceviche with your toes in the sand as easily as you can indulge in a curated chef’s table dining experience at elegant Avecita. Either way, don’t miss out on island-style pampering at the resort’s stellar spa.
This recently refreshed St. Barts staple is a stunner with minimalist, white-washed rooms; an open-air Mediterranean restaurant; and an intimate spa with the island’s only beachfront treatment room. But the highlight is the natural beauty of Grand Cul de Sac, a protected stretch of sand that a colony of sea turtles calls home.