The Best Luxury Hotels in the Caribbean

Sugar Beach is framed by a lush bowl of tropical forest and loomed over by the famous Pitons
Sugar Beach is framed by a lush bowl of tropical forest and loomed over by the famous Pitons | Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia / Expedia
Amar Grover

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.

1. Barceló Bávaro Beach, Dominican Republic

Luxury, Resort

Barcelo Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic
Courtesy of Barcelo Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic / Expedia

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.

2. Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados

Luxury, Resort

Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados
Courtesy of Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados / Expedia

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.

3. Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia

Resort, Luxury

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia
Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia / Expedia

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.

4. Jamaica Inn, Jamaica

Luxury, Resort

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia
Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St Lucia / Expedia

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.

5. Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada

Luxury, Resort

Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada
Courtesy of Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada / Expedia

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.

6. Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic

Resort, Luxury

Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
Courtesy of Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic / Expedia

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.

7. Sandy Lane, Barbados

Luxury, Resort

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.

8. Jade Mountain Resort, St Lucia

Spa Hotel, Hotel

Jade Mountain Resort, St Lucia
Courtesy of Jade Mountain Resort, St Lucia / Expedia

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.

9. Curtain Bluff, Antigua


Curtain Bluff, Antigua
Courtesy of Curtain Bluff, Antigua / Expedia

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.

10. Cobblers Cove, Barbados


Cobblers Cove, Barbados
Courtesy of Cobblers Cove, Barbados / Expedia
Built in the 1940s as a private seaside retreat, Cobblers has long been among the most feted hotels in the Caribbean. Augmented today with V-shaped wings, the Colonial English-country-house-in-the-tropics atmosphere engages a particularly well-heeled high-tea clientele. The wicker furniture, pastels and vintage florals might not be to everyone’s taste but few will be disappointed by the immaculate palm-dotted gardens and a highly regarded restaurant that even has its own dedicated fisherman.

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