The Caribbean islands are back, and welcoming travelers to their sun-drenched destinations, with a slew of new, highly anticipated hotel and resort openings. From the Bahamas to the US Virgin Islands, and from family-friendly resorts to luxe private-island retreats, here’s a roundup of new Caribbean properties to put on your radar, and perhaps check out (check into!) when Old Man Winter lingers in New England. Note: Health and entry requirements differ from island to island.
Margaritaville Beach Resort
It’s time to start wasting away again says this new, massive resort set at the eastern end of famous Junkanoo Beach in Nassau. The 300-room, in-town property anchors The Pointe entertainment complex at the entrance to bustling downtown. This is a happening place, with a lively, casual vibe and entertainment galore. Get in an island fun-loving mode at the rollicking Fins Up Water Park, complete with waterslides, lazy river, surfing simulator, and cliff diving platforms. There’s also an entertainment center with billiards, bowling, and movie theater, and nearby boat marina. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, check out the smaller infinity pool near the beach, or spend time at the St. Somewhere Spa (currently offering massage services). When all is up and running, there will be 12 dining options, including the upscale, contemporary JWB Prime Steak and Seafood restaurant.
Spacious, light-filled rooms have white and blue beach-y hues and crisp, modern baths; suites have water views and full kitchens or kitchenettes. www.margaritavillebeachresortnassau.com
Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club
Formerly the Resorts & Residences by CuisinArt, this re-invented and transformed property is a stunner: a village of pure white buildings set against the robin egg blue waters of Rendezvous Bay. The ultra-luxe resort stretches over 300 acres and includes nine- and 18-hole Greg Norman Signature golf courses, the new Sorana Spa, and a variety of curated activities, including snorkeling, guided hikes, boat tours, island cave tours, and culinary and wine classes.
Bright, airy rooms and public spaces feature natural materials and neutral colors, punctuated with splashes of deep blue harkening to the sea, and orange as a nod to the Anguillan sunrise.
The culinary program, under the guidance of well-known chef Abram Bissell, is a highlight of the property transformation. Bissell, who now lives on the island, helmed the kitchens of both The Modern and Eleven Madison Park in New York City, where he earned two- and three-Michelin stars, respectively. At Aurora’s varied dining options, Bissell will focus on local ingredients, showcasing the heritage of Anguilla.
Another luxury perk includes private charter jet service to the resort. www.auroraanguilla.com
Lovango Resort and Beach Club
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
This gorgeous private island resort, which began a phased opening in early 2021, is the first newly built resort in the USVI in more than 30 years. It’s not surprising that it’s been creating quite a stir. The property, which is open to overnight and day guests, is a 10-minute boat ride from St. John or St. Thomas. Step off the boat and you’re in a private, seaside oasis, with a small village of shops, a beach club, infinity pool and waterfront restaurant. There are two beaches open to guests, including South Beach, which is the resort’s hub, with food and entertainment, and the quieter North Beach. Overnight guests can also hop on the resort’s boat launch to the Virgin Islands National Park beaches on St. John.
Accommodations include a three-bedroom home with its own private deck and pool, sleeping up to eight people, luxury treehouses that sleep two adults and two children, with modern baths and outdoor showers, and glamping tents that sleep two adults, also with modern baths and outdoor showers. Expect sweeping water views no matter where you sleep.
The resort, the third property in the Little Gem Resorts collection of boutique island hotels that include The Nantucket Hotel + Resort and the Winnetu Oceanside Resort on Martha’s Vineyard, is off the grid, using solar, in addition to a desalination system for converting seawater to potable water. www.lovangovi.com
British Virgin Islands
Ever dream of staying on your own private island? This nine-room boutique resort, located smack dab in the middle of North Sound in the British Virgin Islands, fits that fantasy. Perhaps, you recognize the name. The tiny isle of Saba Rock has long been a magnet for mariners, pirates, and partyers (It was home to the infamous Pirates’ Pub, considered one of the best bars in the Caribbean). In 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed the buildings; in October a totally rebuilt Saba Rock resort opened.
The seven rooms and two suites are contemporary, barefoot chic, with lots of wood and nautical décor, playing up the island’s reputation as a kiteboarding and sailing destination. The spacious suites have separate living areas. There’s also a casual restaurant, lounge, sunset bar, spa room, and an on-site dive and water sports shop. The retail space also serves as a museum with artifacts from nearby shipwrecks. A stay here is laid-back and simple, with the sea at your feet no matter which way you turn. www.sabarock.com
O2 Beach Club & Spa
It’s hard to imagine a more sybaritic vacation than a stay at this new boutique all-inclusive resort along the white sands of Dover Beach. Imagine enjoying a cocktail at the adults-only swim-up bar, then floating down a river pool to your luxe swim-up room! And there’s plenty more to indulge you, like three pools (including one of the Caribbean’s only rooftop pools), seven bars and six dining experiences. There are sunset champagne celebrations on the roof terrace above Oro restaurant with 260-degree views, stargazing and tapas at the rooftop Brisa outdoor lounge, plus a full activities program including daily how-to classes (learn to play the steel pan drum).
The centerpiece of the resort is the lush 5,600-square-foot Acqua Spa, with sweeping ocean views, and a menu of state-of-the-art treatments based on the healing powers of water. It also has the island’s only hammam treatment room.
The South Coast resort, with 130 rooms and suites, opened in November. www.o2beachclubbarbados.com
Turtle Island Beach Resort
Tough to beat this primo location: a private island off the western coast of Ambergris Caye. Protected Ambergris Caye is bordered by the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The recently opened resort, a Trademark Collection by Wyndham property, is a five-minute boat ride from San Pedro Town, and in its own little lovely, watery world.
There are five villas with two bedrooms, full kitchens, separate living areas, and private pools. An additional eight beach houses have one bedroom, full kitchens and thatched roof terraces. There’s also a restaurant, spa and fitness room.
Spend your days lounging by the infinity pool or on the beach or join a snorkeling or diving excursion to the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Mexico Rocks. www.wyndhamhotels.com/trademark/san-pedro-belize/turtle-island-beach-resort-trademark-collection/overview
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com