Long a playground of the rich and famous, the Caribbean tourist industry is rooted in high-end hotels catering to that discerning and demanding market. These days the hospitality and visitors are far more egalitarian, and luxury is more within reach. Yet the old-school properties have thrived on judicious updating and renovation while their newer counterparts have ever more flamboyant locations and service.
A little north of Punta Cana, the limpid turquoise seas and seemingly endless golden-yellow sands host a string of all-inclusive resorts. Along with the nearby sister property Barceló Palace, Bávaro Beach occupies a particularly fetching swathe of coastline and the adults-only clientele – mainly loved-up honeymooners and couples – makes for a chilled-out party-ish atmosphere. Much of that action centers on the amoeba-shaped pool and a clutch of bars and restaurants, though guests can also access Palace facilities, behind which has an 18-hole golf course.
Surveying the idyllic sands of Alleynes Bay on the west coast, the Fairmont had an extensive renovation in 2017 which upped its already accomplished game. You can almost leap onto its slender strip of golden beach from every room and suite’s balcony and terrace – they’re all sea-facing – while neat lawns and gardens front the immaculate shared villa. Accommodation is elegant and modern, with a muted palette offset by carefully calibrated pops of color in furnishings. The villa has a notably old-school, almost Colonial, feel.
Framed by a lush bowl of tropical forest and loomed over by the famous Pitons – striking hill-sized spires of rock – the ravishing setting of Sugar Beach is nothing if not theatrical. Once the site of an 18th-century sugarcane plantation, it has accommodation – from luxury Sugar Mill rooms to four-bed villas by way of homely cottages – featuring plunge pools and butlers, Egyptian cotton and Nespresso machines. White Neocolonial decor with four-poster beds, clapboard facades and latticed eaves lend a classy upmarket vibe.
Don’t be fooled by the low-key name: Inn almost mischievously understates the high-society pedigree and quietly masks a venerable celebrity guest list from Noel Coward to Ian Fleming, Marilyn Monroe to Katherine Hepburn. An effortlessly elegant and sophisticated Colonial style veins the suites and cottages which face a private beach; the best occupy two pretty promontories framing a small bay. A cocktail terrace, croquet lawn and afternoon tea help anchor the genteel atmosphere. You’re expected to look dapper – collared shirts and closed-foot shoes – for six-course dinners and channel your inner celebrity.
This low-rise whitewashed retreat lies beside Grand Anse, among the loveliest beaches on the island, and the relatively modest-looking bungalows belie smart Colonial-tinged interiors with four-posters. If the amoeba-shaped pool, tennis court, spa and yoga pavilion distract from the limpid turquoise sea, the watersports center counterbalances with kayaks, paddleboards and snorkels. Live calypso and steel bands help season the rather formal five-course fine dining at Oliver’s Restaurant while the more casual terrace bar does barbecue lunch buffets every Sunday.
On the coveted southeast coast, the luxury suites and villas at Eden Roc are divided between one enclave draped around a pair of lagoon-like artificial lakes and another a short walk away beside a pint-sized bay. In between reaches one arm of a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. While the lake-side villas are sleekly modern with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, the beach-facing bungalows have thatched roofs, wraparound verandas and a more distinctive Caribbean ethno-chic decor.
Sandy Lane oozes elegance, glamour and, it must be said, money from every lavender-pink parasol, lounger and armchair gracing its sublime beach and huge stately rooms. This famed hotel celebrates, if not worships, conspicuous luxury so accommodation melds hi-tech and relaxation The terraced pool resembles a grand Italianate garden. The spa recalls a Greco-Roman temple. You’ll dine like a French monarch at L’Acajou and eat like a lord on the sun-dappled terrace of Bajan Blue. The only three courses here are golf, one undulating spectacularly below the cliffs of an old quarry.
Bold modern architecture and astonishing views make Jade Mountain a uniquely exciting property. Clawing a lush lofty hillside near sleepy Soufriere, the coastal views towards the iconic Pitons are so good here that the suites are without a fourth wall. Like glorious fantasy caves, the so-called sanctuaries are open plan, bathroom and all, and most have infinity pools with envy-inducing panoramas. Privacy, exclusivity and 24/7 butlers are resort hallmarks so although you can dine on the Celestial Terrace, in-room dining includes six-course menus with wine pairing.
On a thumb-like promontory along the southwestern coast, Curtain Bluff has modern-tropical rooms overlooking either the beach-crashing surf of Grace Bay or the tranquillity of Morris Bay. The original dream of a private bluff-top retreat in the late 1950s evolved into a resort opened in 1962. Many guests are loyal repeaters drawn to the classy charm, idyllic location and gourmet cuisine while the weekly cocktail parties held by the founder-in-residence lend a distinctive familial atmosphere.
Want to make a stop in Anguilla a part of your Caribbean vacation? See the best hotels in Anguilla and book your stay with Culture Trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
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Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
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