by: José Berrocoso //
The Caribbean is incredibly diverse. Beyond the beautiful beaches and resorts, you will find historic towns and harbours, rainforests and waterfalls and lively scenes of celebration with dancing and music. In fact, it is music that is at the heart of what keeps the Caribbean moving. The many genres, instruments and sounds represent the divertisy of holiday opportunities waiting for you there.
Diving and snorkelling, sailing and kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Many of the region´s biggest thrills can be found under and on the water. But an active Caribbean holiday could also involve hiking up a dormant volcano, cycling around Cuba or embarking on an adventuruous tour of Martinique which is re-emerging as a destination for intrepid travellers.
A SANCTUARY OF MAGNIFICENCE AND TRANQUILITY
Where: Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, has officially reopened following an extensive restoration. The resort feels singularly exclusive as you first approach its open-air arrival pavilion, which frames the Atlantic Ocean and rises out of a modern-day moat teeming with water lilies.
Situated on 1,400 acres of the former Laurance Rockefeller estate, the must-stay hotel is an intimate refuge offering a true sense of barefoot elegance. Created as an open-air enclave infused with references to the surrounding natural landscape and diverse culture, Dorado Beach is a true luxury sanctuary designed to allure the world’s most discerning travellers through a bevy of one-of-a-kind lifestyle activities.
Each room has direct access to the hotel’s private white sand beach and every ground-floor unit has its own plunge pool, which complements the geometric lines and soft palette of the buildings themselves. The focus is on service and the resort’s tropical surroundings. Attention is paid to detail throughout, from the framing of the impressive opening view of the ocean at reception to the retro large-faced bedside alarm clock, the ripe tamarind on a fruit plate, and the prompt arrival of the room’s embajador (butler) to help with a stiff socket.
Guests can also unwind at the award-winning Spa Botánico, a five-acre spa sanctuary built on a pineapple field that blends Puerto Rican ingredients and soothing indigenous traditions to impart a holistic sense of well-being.
OVERLOOKING THE MALECÓN PROMENADE
Where: Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel, Havana, Cuba
Leave behind the modern bustle of Havana’s new city at Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel. It is the first Small Luxury Hotel in Havana, a 1930s mansion in the storied Vedado neighbourhood. Sensitively restored to its former glory, this eight-room boutique retreat feels like you’ve stepped back in time to your very own mid-century residence.
Dusky blues and lemon yellows. Wide arched windows and majolica tiles. Hallmarks of retro Havana style flow throughout Paseo 206. Elsewhere, you’ll find reflections of the owners’ Cuban and Italian homelands. Custom Italian furniture in fabrics such as velvet evoke Vedado’s decadent, high-rolling past while remaining effortlessly contemporary. Fusion thinking has played its part in the restaurant too. Eclectico is fast making a name for itself in the city restaurant scene with an Italian menu infused with Caribbean flair.
Once you’ve got your bearings, it’s time to explore. Wander along the Malecón sea wall, or explore the ramshackle colonial streets of old Havana, just minutes away. However, if it’s contemporary Cuba you’re after, you needn’t go far. Vedado happens to be home to Cuba’s hippest galleries and hottest clubs.
THE TROPICAL UTOPIA
Where: Bahama House, The Bahamas
Built around 1800 in the island’s picturesque capital, Dunmore Town, Bahama House has been characterfully restored and decorated in keeping both with its colonial heritage and the astonishing palette of pink sands that define the beaches that run along the island’s east coast. Within, interiors hark back to Fifties Palm Beach, with retro cane furnishings, walls in the light pink of the island’s beaches or blue of the surf, and parrot and pineapple motifs.
Located a block from the waterfront on the west coast (there are views across Eleutheran Bay from its upper floor) and with just 11 rooms and a maximum occupancy of 22 guests, the Bahama House feels more akin to a stylish friend´s beach house than a proper hotel. Service is sincere and intuitive and every staff member knows your name. There’s no concierge desk, but a smiling ‘experience manager’ wearing board shorts and flip-flops.
Marine life can be found in the crystalline waters around Man Island, not far from the property, an undeveloped 35-acre speck, with extraordinary caves and rock formations to explore, and yet more roseate. It stands along the Devil’s Backbone, the treacherous 13-mile barrier reef that protects the island and renders it off-limits to all but the most experienced sailors.
SUNBATHING IN PARADISE
Where: Paradise Beach Nevis, St Kitts & Nevis
Aquamarine sea and white-sand beaches is the Caribbean’s calling card. But at Paradise Beach Nevis, member of Small Luxury Hotels, you share these idyllic surroundings with just six other villas. This is luxury on a highly personal, wonderfully intimate scale. In fact, it feels like seventh heaven.
Hammocks, plush loungers and palm parasols will be waiting for you each day on the beach. That’s if you can leave your private residence with its own plunge pool and shady cabana, plus an outdoor shower for a tropical wake-up call. You could dine in and savour every moment, with drinks brought to you by the on-call villa staff followed by a delicious in-villa dinner prepared by a chef on request. Or you can ask your concierge for an expert restaurant recommendation and explore this exotic island. Then, as the sky turns from blue to gold to pink, wander to the low-lit exclusive residents’ bar for a shore-side sun downer.
Venture beyond your pool deck and ‘Land of the Beautiful Waters’ is at your feet. Nevis is sensational for snorkelling and you could find yourself in the company of Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles. Trace the coast from Gallows Bay to the romance of Lovers Beach or move inland to the Botanical Gardens. Then there’s golf, hiking, tennis, kayaking, horse riding, yachting and deep-sea fishing to try.
A JUNGLE WITH FRENCH FLAVOUR
Where: French Coco Tartane, Martinique
Just 300 metres from the most glorious sandy beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, French Coco Hotel is an all-suite hotel in Tartane, surrounded by the nature reserve on the Caravelle Peninsula. Barefoot luxury at its best, this intimate property has a restaurant serving delicious French- style, Creole-inspired cuisine, a deck by the pool and a lounge.
French Coco Hotel is a place to kick back and totally unwind. Calm and peace pervades throughout the hotel and each of the elegant suites is decorated in soothing shades with Caribbean-inspired wooden furniture. The suites range in size from 40 to 60 square metres and benefit from a covered terrace, a pool or a garden.
Experience the authentic Caribbean and head into Tartane, a charming fishing village where you can watch the fishermen bring in their catch of the day. Visit the Castle DuBuc ruins and enjoy the dramatic sea views. Then back at French Coco Hotel, stroll down the wooded path, past coconut trees to the sea. Return to the hotel for a local drink before dinner.