Upscale Caribbean getaways with a novel twist
Words by Maria Carter.
The West Indies' variety of resorts is as vast as the Atlantic Ocean is deep - offering everything from cottages fronting crystal-clear rivers to upscale treehouses nestled in the rainforest. The Tropics boast some of the world’s most relaxing retreats, all luxurious in their own right, but each bringing something distinctly unique to their clients’ holiday experience. Here, three stunning resorts shower guests with palate-tempting menus, adventurous excursions and eco-friendly accommodations that vibe perfectly with unspoiled indigenous flora and fauna.
Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
Embark on epicurean indulgence
The brainchild of architect-owner Nick Troubetzkoy, Jade Mountain employs ingenious techniques like the lack of a westerly fourth wall in accommodations, and infinity edged en-suite elevated pools, providing 270-degree panoramic vistas of the surrounding ocean and Piton mountains to visually blend the resort’s interiors with its stupendous surroundings. Deliberately void of addictive technology like phones, radio, television and Internet, the 600-acre resort offers a muchwelcome solace for those seeking reprieve from a hectically paced life.
The architecturally stunning getaway is also a gourmand heaven with near limitless foodie possibilities: guests can learn about exotic ingredients and spices, prepare delicacies and dine on the most delicious food, all while basking in the glow of perks one expects of a über-luxury resort. With top-notch service, majestic views, a worldclass spa and a restaurant featuring the culinary masterpieces of a James Beard Award-winning chef there is a bounty of options in which to indulge. Go for one of Chef Allen Susser’s themed culinary events, centred on motifs like indigenous spices, creative uses of mango and “Cooking in Paradise”, and return home armed with new epicurean delights.
There is even an organic farm and historic plantation on the hotel’s property. Anse Mamin, a 1900s sugarcane-plantation-turned-cocoabean- farm, still bears cocoa trees and produces the resort’s chocolates, in addition to crops of avocado, oranges, tangerines, guavas, papaya, coconut and more. For those simply looking to enjoy first-class cuisine, meals at Jade Mountain are fully customisable – special menus and private dining experiences, from intimate beach picnics to white tablecloth affairs on starlight terraces, are always possible. The resort’s bevy of dining options include amongst others the exotic Apsara menu – the cuisine of St. Lucia with an East Indian influence, Emerald’s – a solely vegetarian establishment and the informal Jungle Grill. You may come for the food, but you will stay for the view: evenings at Jade Mountain are best spent with on the enchanting Celestial Terrace, an elevated space ideal for spirits, sunsets and, of course, stargazing.
Get back to nature at this lush refuge in Dominica
Nestled on the Atlantic side of Dominica, Rosalie Bay is an eco-friendly haven where green technology like solar-power panels and wind turbines meshes seamlessly with all of the amenities to be expected of a luxury hotel. The verdant resort’s 22 acres – situated in a valley at the base of Morne Trois Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – are home to an organic garden, a labyrinth made of river stones, a Koi pond for meditation, a full-service restaurant and an ocean-front spa, all flanked by an inviting black-sand beach and the crystal-clear Rosalie River.
Nine pastel-coloured cottages, painstakingly crafted by local builders over nearly nine years, house twenty-eight guestrooms filled with furniture and artwork created by Dominican artisans and artists. The recently completed hotel’s modern amenities purposely harmonise with the island’s idyllic surroundings. Take the natural saltwater pool, for instance: its onyx finish imitates the beach’s dark volcanic sand, while a deck made of river stones puts commonplace poolside concrete to shame. The tranquil Kalinago Spa boasts treatments that incorporate volcanic mud and hand-pressed oils from Dominica, while the upscale Zamaan Restaurant features a menu of fresh exotic and indigenous foods, which can be tailored to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.
The retreat is a dream for those in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, offering free Yoga classes, kayak rentals and guided tours through the garden. Guests can also consult with a wellness coordinator who takes a holistic approach in recommending services and classes to improve guests’ individual wellbeing during their stay, as well as taking part in cooking classes taught by the restaurant’s chef centre on nutritional cuisine, with an emphasis on recipes that guests can recreate once they have returned home. From March until September, guests can watch Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green turtles nest on Rosalie Bay’s beach. And, the concierge will gladly coordinate excursions of scuba diving, whale watching, hiking to nearby waterfalls or, for thrill seekers, the seven-hour trek to Boiling Lake – the volcanic body of water in the centre of the island.
Committed to protecting the local environment, the resort’s goal is evident in its recycled-wood Adirondack chairs; turtleprotection initiative complete with hired staff to monitor eggs during hatching season; locally sourced and UV-filtration treated water; and one-and-a-half acre garden supplying the restaurant with organic cinnamon, guavas, papayas, noni juice and more. Nearly seventy percent of Rosalie Bay’s power is generated by on-property solar panels and wind turbines. This conservational effort, combined with the resort’s serene atmosphere, dispels the unkempt-tree-hugger stereotype of bygone years, proving that diminishing one’s carbon footprint does not require the sacrifice of luxury or style.
Rooms with a birds-eye view of Jamaica’s famed Blue Lagoon
If the Swiss Family Robinson had had generous economic means with which to build island abodes, their digs would have played out like this: elegant colonial-meets-West-Indian bungalows cradled in the treetops, intimately shaded by 100- foot banyans, anchored by floors of renewable Spanish elm and sweetwood and filled with handcrafted Jamaican art and furniture. Kanopi House, in Jamaica’s Portland parish, makes this whimsical daydream a reality with its tree-houses overlooking a tranquil lagoon. The fun yet fancy accommodations feature windows encased by cedar shutters, locally-quarried stone tiles, indoor and outdoor showers, upscale earthfriendly bath products, plush cotton robes and kitchenettes stocked with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, light provisions and, of course, fine wine. There are no televisions (Kanopi House prefers to keep the focus on Mother Nature) but rooms are equipped with Bose stereos and iPods pre-loaded with classical selections like Mozart. Watch a beautiful glowing daybreak, or settle in with a glass of wine for a warm sunset from the privacy of your own sheltered veranda, a lounge space flanked by ‘walls’ of French doors, allowing complete immersion in the rainforest’s green splendor from the comfort of your home away from home.
While there is certainly plenty to experience on the lush sixacre property – dine on authentic Jamaican dishes and freshly caught yellowtail snapper at the Great House’s pink limestone terrace, snorkel the surrounding reef, or kayak across the lagoon to deserted Monkey Island for a romantic picnic prepared by the hotel’s chefs – further exploits can be found nearby. Expect adventure but leave the planning to Kanopi’s hosts, who regularly arrange excursions on request, including privately-guided treks to a local waterfall, leisurely rafting trips down the Rio Grande complete with one’s own guide, and their signature Rum Shop Tour – an afternoon barhopping trip through the town of Portland. There is also the possibility of nearly anything else the daring heart may desire: mountain biking, bathing in hot springs, diving, surfing at Boston Beach, spelunking at Nonsuch Caves and more.
After a day of exploration, book an inroom massage to soothe muscles and mind. Order dinner in, open the French doors and a bottle of wine and settle in for a glorious evening under the leafy canopy as the sounds of the rainforest lull you into a peaceful rest. We think the Robinsons would approve.
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