You don’t have to go far to reach the beach—yet. But in just a few short months, travelers will be looking to swap cold and grey winters for the delights of white sand beaches. It’s never too early to start thinking about heading to the Caribbean, and here are your reasons why:
Two Nations One Destination
Why visit: Not sure which island is best for you? Take advantage of Belmond’s “Island to Island” package, which offers accommodations in both Anguilla and St. Martin – and a seamless connection via a 25-minute Caribbean boat ride.
With over 200 new restaurants already operational and almost 40 more on the way, St. Martin is coming back as an even more effervescent culinary destination. Belmond La Samanna sits on the French side of the island – crisp white villas are dotted along the coast of Baie Longue’s mile-long white sands. The property was renovated and restyled in December 2018 by London interior design firm MuzaLab. New seaside restaurant L’Oursin serves fresh seafood and French cuisine. Top your meal off with a bottle from La Cave Wine Cellar, a treasured piece of the property that was built in 1972 and is located two stories below sea level. As the largest private wine cellar in the Caribbean, it holds 12,000 bottles of wine and Champagne, including 150 varieties of Bordeaux and the property’s own private label: Hospices de Beaune La Samanna. What’s more: St. Martin is now easier than ever to get to, with a 30 percent flight route increase since 2018. But, book soon, as stay-over arrivals are up 144 percent over 2018 year to date.
After a few days of channeling your inner bourgeoisie exploring St. Martin’s chic shops and restaurants, head across the Caribbean Sea to Anguilla, just a 25 minute boat ride away. Sister resort Belmond Cap Juluca also reopened in December 2018, following Belmond’s acquisition of this long-beloved property and a top-to-bottom redesign by Rottet Studio. The white sands of Maundays Bay, known to be one of the most crystal-clear beaches in the Caribbean, offer a private and quiet escape from the rest of the world. Once a place of worship by the indigenous Arawaks, the energy of the property exudes a peaceful, barefoot luxury that has kept loyal guests returning year after year. Each of the 108 rooms has private access to Maundays Beach, as well as a dedicated butler. Soak in the Caribbean sun in complete privacy or sway to live calypso and reggae at the Cap Shack, a laid back beach bar with a vintage ’ 80s food truck serving up everything from fish tacos to rum punches and poke bowls. Mornings begin with a leisurely swim directly from guest suites over to the seaside Cip’s by Cipriani, where a ‘Julucan’ – a.k.a. staff member – awaits with a warm robe and fruit juice in hand. Afternoons can be lolled away with yoga next to the crashing waves, rides on any of the bicycles that are left dotted around property, or a more adventurous sunset sail or kite surf around the Caribbean Sea.
Why visit PONANT: Guests will be able to see the Caribbean like never before onboard two of its new PONANT EXPLORER ships, each featuring an underwater lounge – an industry first – and a collective seven new itineraries.
The recently launched Le Champlain and Le Dumont-d’Urville will offer 29 sailings for the 2019-2020 season. Of particular note is that guests can enjoy the Blue Eye Lounge. Located eight feet below water, the unprecedented views from the lounge offer a peek into underwater life through the whale-eye shaped portholes; as well as project images of the sea onto screens in real time. For a completely immersive experience, the lounge also brings the sounds of the sea inside. Highlights of Le Champlain and Le Dumont-d’Urville’s seven new itineraries include:
Maya Treasure of the Yucatan / Le Champlain
A brand-new itinerary around the Yucatán Peninsula, the ship will visit Mayan sites such as Uxmal, Palenque, and Chichen Itza. Also on the program: a stop at the capital state of Merida, guided tour through a cacao plantation, and visit to Chaak Tun cenote, regarded by the Maya as passageways to the world of the gods.
The Essential of the Caribbean / Le Dumont-d’Urville
This new itinerary sails round trip from Fort-de-France, with an experienced diving instructor on board throughout the duration of the cruise. Guests will also enjoy a private beach day on Mayreau Island, an optional excursion to the mineral baths at St Lucia’s Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, and the opportunity to see a variety of sea life including turtles, barracudas, spiny lobsters, and parrot fishes.
You Can Be Well in Yucatan
Why visit Viceroy Riviera: Maya’s on-site shaman offers a breath of traditional wellness activities and rituals.
Viceroy Riviera Maya, set on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is an adults-only, all-villa oasis surrounded by lush jungle. The resort is less than an hour drive away from Cancun International Airport, making for an easy jaunt to the beach. Upon arrival, each guest is greeted by the resort’s resident Shaman. Descended from a long line of Yucatan shamans from the village of X-pichil, the Shaman offers a traditional blessing to release guests from cares and worries. When he is not welcoming travelers, the Shaman can be found tending to his Jardin Pak’al, the garden where he grows herbs used at the Wayak Spa, before meetings guests for a one-on-one consultation to determine individual preferences and needs to create a personalized treatment – such as the Xaman-Ek (Love Ritual) treatment involving Mayan meditation, rituals to balance the chakras, and an herbal bath made from a black Zapote tree. He can even perform a Mayan Kamnicté wedding ceremony for guests looking to tie the knot the local way.
In the Footsteps of 007 in Jamaica
Why visit Jamaica: Walk in the footsteps of Ian Fleming at GoldenEye ahead of the release of the 25th James Bond film in April 2020.
Jamaica. That Jamaica. The 25th James Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s final appearance as 007 is heading back to the island nation and the former home of Ian Fleming, the character’s creator. The untitled movie will be partly set on the island. The film finds the spy out of active service and enjoying tranquil life in Jamaica, much like Bond’s author. Fleming was a former British intelligence officer and discovered Jamaica during a WWII mission in 1946. When the war ended, he returned and purchased 15 acres of tropical overbrush, which he named GoldenEye. The island was Fleming’s retreat and passion, and he resided there every January and February for more than two decades. In between snorkeling in the azure waters and birding in the Blue Mountains, he wrote a new Bond novel each winter. Today, Fleming’s legacy remains. His bungalow – renamed the Fleming Villa – is part of the 52-acre GoldenEye resort. Fleming’s writing desk, sunken garden, and beloved coral reef are all still part of the story. Ramsey Dacosta, Fleming’s former gardener, still lives on property and exclusively refers to him as “Commander,” a nod to his military rank. Visitors can also tour Noel Coward’s hilltop home, which is nearby. A dear friend of Fleming, Coward’s residence is a time capsule, left largely untouched since he passed in the ’70s. The local Port Maria Town Hall where Fleming and his wife married also still stands. This winter, GoldenEye will carefully expand with the addition of three, three-bedroom cottages on the resort’s lagoon.
The Sunsets of St. Barth
Why visit: Set on the quieter western side of St. Barth, The Christopher offers epic sunsets and will soon unveil three brand new villas.
Flying to St. Barth is easier than ever now that Tradewind has expanded its service from San Juan, Puerto Rico. St. Barth Commuter has also added flights, with new routes from Guadeloupe, plus additional scheduled options from St. Martin and Antigua. With new restaurants, reconstructed roads, and the last of the major hotel renovations wrapping up this season, this island is a must-visit.
The Christopher is located on the island’s quieter, more residential Pointe Milou, with westward-facing views toward St. Jean Bay, a perfect place to catch the sunset. The 42-room hotel will lift the veil on three brand new villas this December, concluding a tiered renovation following the hurricanes of 2017, which included the addition of a new restaurant, Christo, and a Sisley Spa. With interiors by French designer Olivia Putman, each villa has four bedrooms and a private swimming pool. Many visitors to St. Barth opt for a villa, and Pointe Milou is home to some of the poshest on the island. This addition will marry the comfort and space of private residences with all the services and amenities of the hotel.
Contributed by: Kathryn Coughlin – Alice Marshall Public Relations