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Wednesday, 02 July 2014 13:41

loving luxury in Caribbean

Written by  Melanie Reffes

All about upscale indulgences, hyper-attentive service and pampering over price points, vacationing like a VIP is a grand guilty pleasure. Delivering above expectations, luxury in the Caribbean runs the gamut from personal chefs on private islands and butlers who pour afternoon tea to seaside suites that leave no stone unturned. “Our region continues to deliver by embellishing our natural paradise with offerings that easily exceed the standards of elegance,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). “The Caribbean has much to offer in terms of luxury, even in an economy that is making a slow return to a steady state.“

View with a Room
For Instagram junkies who also happen to be fans of seaside luxury, Room 535 at the Hilton Curacao fits the bill nicely. The 196-room “brand on the beach” has been refreshed with upgraded rooms, reliable Wi-Fi property-wide, fridges to keep a bottle of bubbly cold, Cornershop for artisan coffee and dive center. The resort invites with gratis shuttles to downtown Willemstad, three pools, two restaurants and two bars like Bligh’s for island bites prepared by Chef Vanesse Tweeboom. “Our expertly trained staff delights in offering stellar service to all our guests,“ said Cedric Nubal, general manager, enjoying the chef’s savory chicken stuffed with spinach and feta. For those who like the water, “Dare you to Dive,” valid through December 24, includes one dive per person, snacks on the boat and rates that won’t break the bank. “We encourage travel agents to experience the resort with low nightly rates of $99 available year round,” said Yvette Shotting, director of sales and marketing. For music fans, North Sea Jazz Festival from August 29 to 30 boasts a roster of superstars like Bruno Mars and Chaka Khan. Close to the stage at the World Trade Center, the resort is the ideal perch for festival goers who book early.
High above the Caribbean Sea with the majestic Piton Mountains as natural bookends, every suite at St. Lucia’s Ladera is a view with a room rather than a room with a view. The only resort built on the Unesco World Heritage site that are the twin peaks, the suites are open-walled, with the west side exposed for front row center seats to the sky-on-fire sunsets.
Sandals Resorts does luxury proud with fourteen new swim-up river suites at Sandals Royal Bahamian. A river pool and zen garden round out the USD $17 million renovations completed at the 174-room all-inclusive resort. “We have received very positive feedback from the first guests experiencing these enhanced rooms,” said Patrick Drake, general manager. “Swim-up suites are a favorite accommodation option at a few Sandals Resorts around the Caribbean, and we are now thrilled to introduce them here in the Bahamas.”
In Montego Bay, the guestbook at Half Moon, A RockResort is as A-list as it gets with names like Clark Gable, Queen Elizabeth II and the Kennedys. Aptly called the “Royal Villas”, each one excels with a swimming pool, butler, cook and housekeeper. For the ultimate indulgence, a massage at the Fern Tree Spa and dinner at the Sugar Mill with its own sommelier nicely fits the bill.
For music fans, Reggae Sumfest from July 13 - 19 will rock the island with a lineup that includes homegrown favorites Tessanne Chin and Sean Paul.
In Punta Cana, an upgrade to Club Premium at the Barceló Resort on Bavaro Beach means a host of high-end extras from concierge service and premium drinks to priority dinner reservations and speedy check-in and check-out. With 1,991 rooms in two adjacent resorts, the palace on the beach comes with sixteen bars, fourteen eateries including a sushi bar and steak house, 18-hole golf course, spa and casino.

Pricey Pads
Five minutes south of Grenada, Calivigny Island is the priciest private isle in the Caribbean with nightly rates (yes, per night) starting at USD $30,000 (that’s four zeroes). Surrounded by six beaches, the island is available for just one group at a time with options that include the ten-suite Beach House that goes for US $52,000, per night for twenty people, nine-suite Overhang Residence at US $42,000, per night for up to eighteen people and the three sumptuous Beach Bungalows that can be yours for US $30,000 per night for up to a dozen lucky luxury-lovers.
Not for the faint of appetite or those on a budget, Sunday Champagne Brunch at The Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman is a treasured tradition for anyone who can get a reservation. From noon to 3 pm, Chef Jordan Barnett welcomes hungry brunch-philes to ‘Seven’, the ritzy restaurant named for Seven Mile Beach right outside the door.

High Rollers
Open till 4 am, the casino at the Hyatt Regency Aruba is a clanging whirlwind of slot machines, big-wager Baccarat games, spinning roulette wheels and video poker machines. Fronting Palm Beach, the chic resort is uber-luxe with a brand new ZoiA Spa, fabulous restaurants, hand-rolled Picolinos Aruban cigars and cocktails at the Alfresco Bar.
The largest casino in the Caribbean is a favorite of those who like to pull the wheel, shuffle a deck and roll the dice. The Atlantis Casino at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in The Bahamas plays by Las Vegas rules at the eighty-six table games, roulette wheels, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em and Caribbean Stud Poker. For those feeling especially lucky, the Baccarat Lounge with the spectacular Chihuly glass chandelier is where the largest wagers are played.

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