If you need a break from gift shopping and holiday parties, this is a perfect time to start planning a beach getaway. While we all have our favorite tropical destinations, it could be time to consider going somewhere new. The 2014–2015 beach season is offering a wide variety of new beach hotels which span the globe. Whether you’re looking to take a dip in the Caribbean, Pacific, or Indian Ocean, you can find thoughtful design, luxurious amenities and access to a great beach at all of these resorts. Here’s a look at the best new beach hotels opening around the world.
Christina Valhouli writes about travel, beauty and lifestyle trends. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Post and Departures.com. Follow her on Twitter: @cvalhouli.
Belle Mont Farm
Where: St. Kitts
Under-the-radar St. Kitts never gets as much attention as its glitzier neighbor, Nevis, but that could change with the opening of the new Belle Mont Farm. Slated to open December 12, the Belle Mont is the first full-blown luxury resort to open on the island (up until now, the island’s best accommodation was in plantation homes). It features stand-alone cottages dotted around a 400-acre organic farm, with private infinity pools and outdoor claw foot tubs.
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Insider Tip: The Belle Mont farm grows the unusual and hard to find Miracle Fruit, which scrambles taste buds and makes sour food taste sweet for a few hours after consumption.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s St. Kitts and Nevis Travel Guide
Where: Puerto Rico
Just off the coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques is famous for its bioluminescent bay, which glows in the dark. The newest place to stay there is the El Blok hotel. Open since October 1, the hotel has an ultra modern style, featuring curved concrete and an exterior filigree design. El Blok features 22 rooms and a rooftop infinity pool. The in-house restaurant is helmed by James Beard-nominee Jose Enrique, and the menu will feature small plates and light fare such as wood-grilled meats.
Insider Tip: Vieques is full of wild horses, which are descended from stock originally brought over by European colonizers.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Puerto Rico Travel Guide
If you’re debating between a safari or a beach vacation, one way to incorporate both is to book a stay at the new Saruni Ocean, located on Kenya’s south coast. Opening on December 15, the resort will features 7 villas, each with views of the Indian Ocean. The décor is sleek but uses traditional materials such as wood and thatch. The hotel’s Sarunity spa will offer water-based therapies that incorporate natural ingredients like seaweed. Snorkeling and diving are offered through the resort, but there are also land-based activities, such as safaris and game drives.
Insider Tip: Guests looking for an adrenaline rush can sky dive – barefoot- over the Indian Ocean if interested.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Kenya Travel Guide
Thompson Miami Beach
Miami is in the midst of a hotel explosion, and one of the most stylish is the new Thompson Miami Beach. Located just north of South Beach’s epicenter, the hotel, which opened November 21, features mid-century modern design with streamlined furniture, plenty of patterns, and bright pops of color. There are also two large pools and a restaurant run by James Beard winner Michelle Bernstein. Head to the 1930s House for innovative cocktails and nibbles.
Insider Tip: Thompson Miami Beach uses turtle-sensitive lights in the hotel, as its beach is a breeding ground for the endangered sea turtle.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Miami Travel Guide
This legendary resort re-opened on November 1 following a three-year closure for renovations. Now a member of Auberge Resorts, Malliouhana offers 44 ocean view rooms and 360-degree views of the Caribbean. Guestrooms feature a mix of pastel hues and white to blend in with the ocean views. For indulging, there’s a two-tiered infinity pool and an Auberge Spa. Guests looking to burn calories can sign up for paddleboard yoga, beach boot camp, or sunrise yoga.
Insider Tip: Anguilla’s beaches are considered some of the best in the Caribbean, with some people claiming that the water’s color includes hundreds of shades of blue and green.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Anguilla Travel Guide
Gates Hotel Key West
Where: Key West
The newest place to stay in the Keys will be the Gates Hotel Key West when it opens in February 2015. The 100-room hotel will have a contemporary design, and there will be a focus on fitness (as well as fun). Sign up for a guided sunrise/sunset bike tour, or try out water aerobics or stand-up paddle boarding. Don’t miss the hotel’s Rum Row bar to try out chef-distilled rum blends from local partner Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.
Insider Tip: Any visit to Key West must include cigars, so head to the Rodriguez Cigar Factory in Old Town, is oldest cigar maker on the island, and learn how to roll a cigar.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Key West Travel Guide
This boutique property on Maui wrapped up a $15 million dollar renovation in early December. The Hotel Wailea will feature 72 one-bedroom suites, with kitchenettes and private lanais, spread over 15 acres. The brand new pool will offer luxury cabanas as well as a new apothecary-style pool bar, where the in-house mixologist whips up cocktails as well as freshly pressed juices. Those who want to do more than wallow on the beach can take advantage of daily yoga classes (the hotel has a partnership with Lululemon), canoeing, or kite-surfing lessons.
Insider Tip: Kerry Mekeel, the poolside mixologist and raw food chef, treks through the jungle to hunt down fresh ingredients for her cocktails.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Maui Travel Guide
Opened in June, the new Matlali Hotel is located in the hills of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and overlooks Mexico’s Banderas Bay, just north of Puerto Vallarta. The resort has 40 private villas with ocean and mountain views, and the décor is contemporary with pops of color. At the resort, guests can get pampered at the Makawé Spa, or tuck into tuna sashimi or grilled octopus at the open-air Raixes restaurant. Matlali offers access to the Eva Mandarina Beach Club, where guests can sail, dive, surf, and snorkel.
Insider Tip: Hop onboard the resort’s private yacht and sail to Islas Marietas, which offers crystal clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling. The interior of the island is accessible only through an underwater sea cave.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide
The new Hotel Cacao, which opened in September, offers travelers a beach getaway combined with urban amenities. Located on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue, the hotel is surrounded by restaurants, shops, and clubs, but it’s just a five-minute walk to the beach and the hotel’s beach club. The 60 rooms have bold colors and a streamlined design, and natural materials such as Mexican travertine and tropical wood are used throughout the resort.
Insider Tip: The rooftop bar offers tequila and mescal cocktails along with views of Cozumel island.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Riviera Maya Travel Guide
Where: Puerto Rico
Originally built in 1919 by Frederick William Vanderbilt and known as the Grande Dame of San Juan, the Condado Vanderbilt re-opened December 1 following a $200 million renovation. The hotel was designed by Warren & Whitmore, the architecture firm that also designed Grand Central Station, and the look is appropriately regal. The Condado has 319 guest rooms and a spa with Puerto Rico’s first hammam. Guests can spend their day deciding which of the two infinity pools to swim in—both have butler service. Make time to sample the food at the 1919 Restaurant, helmed by Juan Jose Cuevas, whose menu features locally sourced, organic food such as duck served with caramelized eggplant and coconut.
Insider Tip: On the first Sunday of each month, don’t miss the outdoor farmer’s market at Ventana al Mar in Condado. Over 40 vendors and artisans offer fruits, vegetables, cheeses, honey, coffee, fresh juices, and natural ice cream, all with ocean views.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Puerto Rico Travel Guide