Petite Retreats - Caribbean Resorts
White sand beaches and clear blue seas may be the hallmarks of a Caribbean vacation, but should you wish to delve deeper into the region’s history, nature and culture, these intimate one-of-a-kind resorts, offer a different take on island getaways.
Words by Natasha Were
Occupying a private 8-acre hilltop estate with sweeping views down to the north coast, The Island House oozes cool, contemporary elegance. Asian inspired architecture is complemented by warm, modern interiors, beautiful gardens and a vast pool flanked by crisp white loungers. Wellness is part of the fabric of this hip hideaway: there are two squash courts, a gym, padel court, anti-gravity studio and the only Bamford spa in the Bahamas. After a day out exploring Nassau, the 48-seat cinema is the perfect spot to relax and watch the latest blockbuster or art house film, with a glass of vintage wine in hand.
A fresh alternative to the typical Caribbean beach break, Belle Mont Farm, a working organic farm, seeks to immerse guests in its vision of sustainability and community. Food is fished, foraged or farmed as close to home as possible, the golf course is planted with edible trees and shrubs, and hiking around the resort’s 400 acres is encouraged. Accommodation is in dreamy Bill Bensley-designed Caribbean cottages, farmhouses or villas with rainforest and ocean views, and the ultimate foodie experience is the communal farm-to-table dining, held among verdant vegetable gardens.
A unique form of lodging in the historic heart of Santo Domingo, Casas del XVI is composed of several beautifully restored 16th century houses, each served by a personal butler. Large, lavish rooms feature a tasteful mix of original architecture, antique furnishings, local art and modern comforts. Some houses have private courtyards and outdoor lounging spaces. For groups of up to six, the Royal Suite offers two bedrooms, a courtyard with plunge pool and a dining room.
Discover a wilder side of St. Barth at the bright and breezy Hotel Manapany. Situated on the surf-swept Anse de Cayes beach and recently reimagined by celebrated interior designer François Champsaur, the resort now offers 43 rooms, suites and villas that blend French country chic with contemporary Caribbean style. Facilities include two pools at the water’s edge, a spa where holistic treatments unfold to the sound of crashing waves, and an elegant restaurant where fresh, zesty dishes are inspired by local flavours and fruits from the resort’s organic orchard.
Dive into Cuban art and culture at Paseo 206, a luxury boutique hotel in the El Vedado district of Havana. Run by an Italian-Cuban family, this colonial mansion has been lovingly restored, transforming the eight guest rooms into cool, fresh retreats complete with uber-comfy beds, Frette linens and Hermes bathroom amenities. Guests are invited to explore local culture with market visits and rum and cigar tastings, and to savour the flavours of Italy at the in-house restaurant, where homemade pasta and gelato are the stars of the show.
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