Frommer's Names the Perfect Caribbean Resorts
Few places can do luxury resorts as well as the Caribbean—and Frommer's researchers have been to them all. We asked our experts to name the most idyllic resorts in the islands, and they came up with their dream list. We think these are some of the most gorgeous, most romantic, and most memorable hotels in the world—perfect for honeymoons, romance, or indulgent getaways.
Pictured: Jade Mountain resort in St. Lucia
You might think the name is a reference to the musical legends—including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and reggae god Bob Marley—who first put this West End hotel on the map back in the 1970s. However, "Rockhouse" is the perfect description of the boutique resort itself: a collection of rounded stone, timber, and thatch cottages with outdoor showers strewn along the low sea cliffs on the westernmost point of Jamaica.
The best villas—gorgeously simple cottages, really, with spare wood furnishings and canopy beds that don't distract from the beauty of the surroundings—are built right out of the rocks rising from the water’s edge, often with stone stairs down to a ladder where you can slip into the sea for a swim. The onsite Rockhouse Restaurant (pictured) is considered one of the finest in Negril.
Jade Mountain is more or less a resort within a resort—that larger resort would be Anse Chastanet—and as such enjoys the same amenities and activities as the mother ship. But those who choose the "sanctuaries" of Jade (what they call the rooms here) enjoy art-filled suites of Barbados coral and rainforest hardwoods, with one wall nothing but air framing mossy Pitons poised against blue skies like a Corot landscape. Children under 15 are not admitted.
Here's a guest room—whoops!—"sanctuary" at Jade Mountain. For further drama, each sanctuary is built along a forested hillside with a small but sinuous infinity pool positioned between the living space and the sea.
Opening onto 160 hectares (395 acres) that take in a 0.8km (0.5-mile) stretch of white-sand beach, the Half Moon is one of the Caribbean’s grand hotels, without the snobbery of its neighbors, Round Hill or Tryall. Half Moon also has far more activities, excitement, amenities, and restaurants—and a better beach. The resort, going strong since 1954, sprawls over hundreds of acres, with about a dozen tennis courts and several squash/racquetball courts. Jamaica has a strong, British-based affinity for tennis, and Half Moon keeps the tradition alive.
Accommodations include conventional hotel rooms and suites as well as a collection of superbly accessorized private villas. (Most villas have private pools and a full-time staff.) Each unit is comfortably furnished with an English colonial/Caribbean motif and a private balcony or patio, plus a state-of-the-art bathroom. Queen Anne–inspired furniture is set off by vibrant Jamaican paintings, and many units contain mahogany four-poster beds. Half Moon is a grand and appealing place—a true luxury hideaway with taste and style. It's also highly acclaimed as an eco-sensitive resort. And the restaurant, Sugar Mill, is one of the best in the Caribbean.
The rooms have all the comfort, style, and amenities you would expect from a hotel in the Ritz-Carlton family—with awesome ocean views to boot. If you really want to feel like you're at one with the natural splendor of the islands, consider a room with a private plunge pool and outdoor shower. At the center of the complex is Su Casa, a restored plantation house dating to the 1920s that's available for rent as a five-bedroom villa. The 5-acre Spa Botánico is a lush enclave within the resort.
The serene oasis of Curtain Bluff is one of Antigua's premier resorts, with a price tag to match and enough ambience and class to make other resorts look like glorified Holiday Inns. Found 24km (15 miles) from the airport, the hotel occupies the most lushly tropical section of the island (the southwest shore) in the village of Old Road, a mango-rich hamlet where locals like to spend vacations. The property sits astride two beautiful beaches—one turbulent, the other calm. This place is for a mature, old-money crowd fond of the clubby atmosphere. It's also for tennis nuts: A well-known tournament takes place each spring on courts set in a low-lying valley.
The resort's four one-bedroom beach suites are breathtakingly massive, each with its own infinity plunge pool, fully equipped kitchen, and big stone bathtub. A pair of three-bedroom Flamands villas (4,300 sq. ft. apiece) have been decorated by a world-renowned English designer in crisp eggshell pastels and are kitted out with a screening room, gorgeous artwork, and a private pool overlooking the beach. And we know it's heresy to say at a resort known for its beachside beauty, but we are smitten with the fairy-tale charm of the garden bungalows, nestled in tropical gardens of banana trees, palms, and bougainvillea.
A respect for fine living prevails at this gracious estate house, set on a coconut plantation. It's the only plantation hotel on the island that opens directly onto a beach—a kilometer or so (1/2 mile) of pulverized coral sand backed by palm trees (the plantation's famous corridor of palms, pictured, leads to the strand). The grounds once belonged to the family of Frances Nisbet, who, at the age of 22, married British naval hero Horatio Nelson.
The great house was rebuilt on the foundations of the original 18th-century manor house. The ruins of a circular sugar mill stand at the entrance, covered with hibiscus, bougainvillea, and poinciana. Gingerbread and fretwork-trimmed guest cottages (pictured), each with between two and four units, are set in a palm grove.
Though not actually in the Caribbean, Fowl Cay makes our dream list because it has the hallmarks of the great resorts already listed in this slideshow. The waters off its docks are a crystalline blue, and, as pictured, guests may feed the nonthreatening sharks that come to the pier. There's a wonderful array of activities onsite, from bone fishing to tennis to lounging on one of three white-sand beaches. And the staff is tremendously attentive and friendly. What's unusual here are the inclusions in the initial price: Not only are all food and drink covered, but so is use of a golf cart to get around the island and a power boat to tootle to nearby beaches and islands. Gear for fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and a number of land-based games are also included.
This lush retreat near Ocho Rios once belonged to James Bond creater Ian Fleming. Private villas (including Fleming's former residence), cottages, beach huts, and a spa dot 30 acres (12 hectares) of tropical gardens next to the ocean. Onsite restaurant I-tal serves up freshly caught seafood, but you can also catch your own on deep sea fishing excursions available through the resort.