Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort
An intimate, family-run hotel with a genuinely friendly staff and authentic Dutch-Caribbean atmosphere. The gabled mustard-yellow hotel is built around a central courtyard with a waterfall pool and wading pool. Eagle Beach is right across the road. The pool bar is buzzing late into the night, and the bartender keeps everyone fully entertained.
Anse Chastenet Beach Hotel
Magical. Spectacular rooms and suites, some with entire walls open to stunning vistas, peek through the thick rain forest that cascades down to the sea. Deluxe hillside rooms have a balcony, tile floors, madras fabrics, handmade wooden furniture, and impressive artwork.
This is a good choice for vacationers who don’t require a beachfront location. All but six rooms have a water view, and Room 307 has an amazing view from its balcony: what look like huge snow-white flowers are really cattle egrets nesting in the almond tree right outside the window; beautiful flowers bloom twice monthly in the lily pond down below. A broad, tiled sundeck, the center of activity, surrounds a small pool.
Blue Haven Hotel
This 1940s-era hotel overlooks a spectacular secluded beach on Bacolet Bay just outside Scarborough. Though long neglected, it has been brought back to life by Austrian Karl Pilstl and his wife. Rooms have teak floors and glass-partitioned bathrooms (with curtains for private moments); four-poster beds and lavish beddings are standard. Rooms in a new wing have sunken sitting areas. Most activity takes place at the No Problem beach bar, where a barbecue always seems to be in progress.
Bravo Beach Hotel
If this boutique hotel were plopped down into the middle of South Beach, no one would raise an eyebrow. What was once a private residence has been expanded to include four different buildings, all with views of nearby Culebra from their balconies. The guest rooms have a minimalist flair, brightened by splashes of red and yellow. Hi-tech offerings include a Sony Playstation in every room. There’s a chic lounge called Palms, and the hotel sits on a pretty stretch of beach, several blocks north of the ferry dock in Isabel Segunda. www.bravobeachhotel.com. $$
Bucuti Beach Resort
An extraordinary beach setting, impeccably understated service, and attention to detail help this elegant resort easily outclass anything else on the island. Rooms are done in cool creams and feature cherrywood furnishings; there’s a distinctly modern and European feel to the entire place. For a splurge, the new Tara Wing offers chic, upscale one-bedroom suites.
Coral Reef Club
Spend your days relaxing on the white-sand beach or around a pool, taking time out for afternoon tea. Individually designed and beautifully decorated suites rest in pristine coral-stone manses and cottages scattered over 12.5acres of flower-filled gardens. Garden rooms suit one or two guests and have a small patio or balcony, while junior suites with sitting areas and larger patios or balconies are perfect for families.
Couples Swept Away Negril
Sports-minded adults (including same-sex couples and singles, unlike at other Couples locations) are welcomed to this all-suites resort known for its expansive menu of sports offerings, top-notch facilities, and emphasis on healthy cuisine. If you’re looking for an active vacation sprinkled with romance, it’s your best option in Negril. The suites are in 26 two-story tropical villas — each with a private garden atrium — spread out along a lengthy stretch of gorgeous beach.
Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino
The cream of the crop of the island’s resorts beckons you to live it up from the moment you arrive. The grand open-air lobby ushers you into a wonderland enlivened by a crescent beach that hugs the resort’s edge. guest rooms, which are attractively outfitted, all have balconies or patios. Indulge in holistic treatments at the spa, frolic at the swim-up bar, or try your luck at the alluring — albeit small — casino. www.marriott.com
Top drawer all the way. Each of the hotel’s 29 unique rooms, suites, and villas is tastefully decorated and luxuriously appointed with plasma satellite TV and high-speed Internet. New, large bathrooms have either deep soaking tubs or walk-in showers. The six beachfront villas built on the former Filao Beach property are magnificent and sleep up to four, with full kitchens and beautifully appointed modern living areas.
All the fancy and slightly stuffy touches here are balanced by an expansive nude beach (including its own hot tub, bar, and grill). The non-nude beach is one of the best strips of sand in Negril. Appealing to an upscale crowd of all stripes, the mood here is quiet and relaxing — much different than at Hedonism II, which is just next door. Low-rise rooms, both oceanfront and garden suites, are stylish; many offer French doors just steps from the sand.
Horned Dorset Primavera
This hidden luxury hotel is designed for honeymooners of any age, and is the most romantic retreat in Puerto Rico. Each of the secluded rooms opens directly onto the oceanfront and is elegantly furnished with antiques and four-poster beds. You may never want to leave. To disconnect you from the outside world, the hotel has no radios, TVs, or phones in the rooms; nor are there any facilities for children. The atmosphere is decidedly serene.
Hôtel St-Barth Isle de France
It’s not hard to understand why the property boasts a 72% high-season return rate, because it gets better each season. A general technology upgrade includes a reception-area computer for guests and a broadband connection for your laptop in all rooms. Huge rooms furnished with modern four-posters, French fabrics, and fine art have superb marble baths (all with a tub or Jacuzzi tub, both rare on the island).
The elegantly rustic Ladera is perched 1,000 feet above the sea, high in the rain forest between the Pitons. Each unique suite or villa is furnished with colonial antiques and local crafts and has an open wall with a dazzling view overlooking the private plunge pool — some with a waterfall. Cooling breezes really do preclude the need for air-conditioning. The Ti Kai Posè Spa (Creole for “Little House of Rest”) offers relaxing and therapeutic treatments and beauty services.
Pine Cay, Turks & Caicos
The charm of this resort, built in the 1970s, is that it never changes. The simple beachfront cottages, most of the staff, and what is perhaps the world’s smallest airport, have all stayed pretty much the same for years. The 2.5-mile stretch of beach is deserted, and instead of roads you can find nature trails and sun-dappled paths that crisscross the island, which can be explored by bike or on foot.
One of the Caribbean’s finest examples of art deco architecture, this hotel — shaped like a ship — has been host to high-society types since it opened in the 1930s. After a stem-to-stern renovation, it’s ready to sail again. Guest rooms, many of them as big as suites, are decorated in sensuous shades of cream and oatmeal. Business travelers will appreciate the huge desks outfitted with broadband access. Those in search of relaxation need look no farther than the sparkling pool or compact spa. www.normandiepr.com.
Peach & Quiet
This small seaside inn on the southeast coast is the sweetest deal we’ve found on the island. With no in-room noisemakers and no children around, the only sounds you will hear are the gentle surf and your own conversations. Decor in the spacious suites, arranged in whitewashed Mykonos-inspired buildings, is elegantly spare. Each has a large terrace or balcony and a stocked bookshelf; bathrooms have showers only.
PuntaCana Resort & Club
The food has never tasted so good and the service never so slick. (If you saw service weaknesses on a previous visit, you can come back safely now.) Specialty restaurants have been redecorated and are looking chic. La Choza, the beach restaurant, has been upgraded and can now host weddings: the new lookout tower is where you might spot winter whales. A Six Senses Spa housed in the gorgeous beach-golf club is open.
Rockhouse delivers both resort comforts and funky style. Rooms and suites are built from rough-hewn timber, thatch, and stone and filled with furniture that echoes the nature theme. Although double the price of a regular room, villas, which have outdoor showers and private sundecks above the cliffs, are worth the splurge.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Resort
Couples love this place. Perched on the narrow Pigeon Island Causeway at St. Lucia’s northern tip, Sandals Grande offers panoramic views of Rodney Bay on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Luxurious rooms, decorated with colorful fabrics and mahogany furniture, all have king-size beds; 24 lagoon-side rooms have swim-up verandas. With a plethora of land and water sports, a European-style full-service spa, five excellent restaurants, nightly entertainment, and romance in the air, there’s never a dull moment.
Turtle Nest Inn
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
This affordable, intimate seaside inn has roomy one-bedroom apartments and a pool overlooking a narrow beach with good snorkeling. Views that once included lush foliage now oversee (temporarily) a broken village. The closest grocery store is about 25 minutes away, so rent a car.
Check-in is at a white-pillared cottage. There, multilingual concierges pamper independent travelers; at 5 each afternoon you get luscious hors d’oeuvres and fresh mimosas. Beds have dreamy new mattresses, European duvets, and six down pillows. Terraces have teak chaises and ever-changing knockout views. You really can’t beat the place for service and accommodations.
Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos
Arched balconies frame the perfect north-shore beach views in this outstanding small luxury hotel. Wooden decking winds through an eclectic plantation-inspired arrangement of colorful buildings that hide a delightful mix of atmospheric, romantic hideaways complete with dark wooden beams, four-poster beds, and original art.