As many cities in the United States brace for snow, white stuff is in the forecast for the Caribbean this winter as well. Only in this region, it’s the blindingly bright sand along the beach. It’s time to fly south for the season to warmer climes.
From Anguilla to Aruba, our unofficial 90-day outlook is looking splendid — sunny with a slight chance of envy from your friends stuck back home. However, if that wasn’t reason enough to pack your bags, Forbes Travel Guide editors insist that conditions for hotels, restaurants and outdoor fun are just as pleasant.
With its blend of European and West Indian flavors, St. Martin is one of the Caribbean’s most diverse destinations. And while you can find examples of this scattered about the split-nation island, few places embrace both quite as wonderfully as Belmond La Samanna.
A magnet for the mega famous, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended escape wows with cliff-side rooms and bamboo cabanas while, at the same time, serving fine French fare at the elegant Trellis Restaurant. With the L’Escapade package, you’ll taste some of the excitement with daily breakfast and feel even more, thanks to a $200 spa credit.
A small country (69 square miles) with a huge heart, Aruba is universally perceived as one of the region’s most passionate stops — and that’s before places like The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba are even added into the equation. Once you start talking about the waterfront paradise’s cuddle-worthy suites, Pinterest-perfect beaches and cranberry-pomegranate seasonal spa treatments, the island nation gives Paris a run in the romance department.
Through March 2017, the Stay Longer With Us promotion spreads even more love (and savings) with a deal that discounts stays up to 30 percent.
As any chef worth his weight in nutmeg already knows, the Cayman Cookout takes place at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman every January. What you may not be aware of, though, is that the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel won’t be the only one in town celebrating early next year. The Ritz-Carlton’s neighbor in paradise, The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa, will still be in a festive mood after its five-month enhancement project.
The property is making improvements to its lobby, retail spaces, pool area and even its restaurants. So, after the chefs complete their Cayman Cookout demonstrations, join us at the re-envisioned Westin, where cooks will just be getting started on their new stoves.
We just returned from the Dominican Republic but we’re already thinking about going back. It’s easy to see why Punta Cana keeps tugging at our heart, though. The resort town is tranquil, accommodating and just far enough from Santo Domingo’s bustle.
Another plus is that one of its finest resorts, Sanctuary Cap Cana, recently underwent a round of minor renovations (fresh paint, new furniture) that elevated the already-impressive property even more. Not to be outdone, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Tortuga Bay Puntacana Resort & Club is turning heads these days with tempting overnight promotions aimed at golfers, tennis players, people who practice yoga and anyone else looking for an excuse to return to the DR.
Foodies will want to reserve a room at Eden Roc at Cap Cana. As part of an ongoing culinary series, the property welcomes Five-Star chef Justin Cogley of Aubergine, the Restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel in California on January 14, 2017. Alongside Eden Roc’s own executive chef Gianluca Re Fraschini, he will craft a five-course menu (with cocktails and wine pairings) inspired by the flavors of their respective hotels.
Golfers should tee up at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas. The Four-Star hotel packs a full calendar of golf events: the Twosome Championship (Dec. 11-16), 33rd annual Caribbean International Pro Am I (Jan. 10-15, 2017) and 43rd annual International Pro Am (Jan. 17-22, 2017). Even if you aren’t tournament-ready, you won’t be able to resist joining the weekly Friday-night golf party, where you can putt colorful LED balls at lit-up targets on the new driving range. Music, drinks and barbecue keep it festive.
Antigua and Barbuda is one of the hottest Caribbean destinations for Americans. The islands saw an 18.71 percent year-to-date jump in U.S. tourists in September, according to the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. This past summer, the low season, there was a 16 percent increase from the same period last year.
The winter looks just as promising. For the ultimate getaway, head to Five-Star Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort. The private island is reachable only via a two-mile boat ride off of the coast of Antigua. In November, Jumby Bay debuted The Estate House, a 1830s plantation house that serves cuisine with modern island flavors. Another new addition is 1830, a bar that specializes in cocktails influenced by Antigua’s history and a hefty rum collection.
Back on the mainland, keep an eye on the all-inclusive Hermitage Bay boutique eco-resort, which will unveil three new suites in 2017.
If you want to witness some of Antigua’s famed sailing events, like the Classic Yacht Regatta or the 50th annual Antigua Sailing Week, you have to wait until April. But The Inn at English Harbour gives guests access to its own Xenya & Faye yacht to do some exploring. Carlisle Bay just debuted its new Fjord 36 yacht. Parents can cruise while letting little ones frolic in the hotel’s Cool Kids Club.
On St. Kitts’ lesser-known sister island, Four Seasons Resort Nevis marks its 25th anniversary this year. In honor of it, the brand’s first Caribbean hotel published a commemorative cookbook of favorite recipes from the culinary team (after a mouthwatering meal at the onsite Mango, you’ll want to pick one up) and released a special Four Seasons Resort Nevis Cigar. Though you can simply celebrate on a chaise lounge at the sparkling oceanfront pool.
The tucked-away Nevis also is home to a number of boutique hotels, including Montpelier Plantation and Beach (don’t miss dining in Mill Privée, an atmospheric old sugar mill), Golden Rock Inn (linger in the tropical gardens) and Nisbet Plantation (relax on the private beach).
This U.K. territory may be half the size of Washington, D.C., but big things are happening on the pristine tiny island. Boutique property Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa kicked off a spate of openings in February. In October, the Viceroy transformed into the glamorous Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla, marking the brand’s second Caribbean hotel. New touches include seafood restaurant Cobà, an expanded Sunset Lounge and a larger gym with a rock-climbing wall and the island’s sole regulation-sized basketball court.
A month later, The Reef by CuisinArt opened its doors. The 80-suite hotel is a sister property to neighboring CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa and grants guests access to its older sibling’s preferred rates and tee times at the 18-hole Greg Norman golf course and the Venus Spa.
The veteran Four-Star Cap Juluca keeps things fresh this winter with new Anguillan- and world-inspired menus at its eateries and its beach barbecues with live entertainment on Wednesdays in December.
Turks and Caicos
The Ritz-Carlton has set its sights on opening a controversial 12-story hotel in Grace Bay, which would deem it the tallest building on the islands. It will undoubtedly bring in more crowds, so before that happens, make a beeline to the unspoiled land.
Boutique hotels dominate in this water wonderland: Grace Bay Club attracts all types of visitors with its sprawling family-friendly Estate suites, adults-only hotel and indulgent villas. Gansevoort Turks & Caicos draws young, hip travelers; Seven Stars Resort tempts foodies and couples looking for romance; and Parrot Cay by Como delivers secluded Zen for spa goers. Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Somerset on Grace Bay just hit its 10th anniversary. One of the smallest boutique hotels in Turks and Caicos, The Somerset also provides some of the largest suites, since it was originally built as a gated community.
The most adventurous travelers should head to this Caribbean country. The accommodations at some of our favorite hotels — Four-Star Ladera Resort Saint Lucia, Jade Mountain Resort and Anse Chastanet Resort — all have a missing fourth wall, immersing you in nature.
But this winter there’s more incentive to trek here. Ladera lures in couples with its Winter Escape promotion, where you and your loved one get an all-inclusive three-night stay plus a chance to try the island’s famed sulphur mud in a treatment. Jade Mountain’s Take Five deal gives you a free fifth night when you stay in the Sky Jacuzzi suite or one of the Star or Moon suites, which come with dazzling private infinity pools.
Anse celebrates the island’s sweet heritage with the Discover Chocolate Festival (Dec. 9 to 13). Partake in a chocolate-themed cocktail party, tour the hotel’s own farm and cacao plantation, witness how the treat is made in the chocolate lab and more.
This French island oozes style, and you can see it in its hotels. One of St. Barts’ original properties, Le Guanahani turned 30 this year, and the Four-Star hotel gave itself a facelift, with new room interiors, a custom furniture collection and revamped public spaces. Five-Star Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France honors the brand’s 10-year milestone with guest surprises this season, plus it also renovated its La Cabane de l’Isle restaurant and crafted new personalized shopping trips with mini moke transportation and customized maps.
Another island long-timer, Eden Rock kicked off the season with two new offerings: Rock Bar, a place to unwind with a cocktail and tapas from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten while a DJ pumps beats in the background, and a fresh juice bar.
Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa is the latest to join the chic, plush resort lineup. The new hotel debuted in October with noted chef Guy Martin (of Paris’ Le Grand Véfour) behind the cuisine and a spa in partnership with skin-care favorite La Mer.