If your idea of a winter vacation means trading snowmen for sand castles, it’s time to make your Caribbean escape. From Anguilla to Turks and Caicos, new hotels have sprung up across the region, including an off-the-grid, eco-chic hideaway, a getaway beside one of the largest reef systems in the world, and a resort steps from what’s being billed as “the first world-class theme park in the Caribbean.” Some properties are even offering opening discounts. So book a flight and grab a swimsuit. Whether you want to pile your plate high at an all-inclusive resort or spring for a suite in St. Barts, these seven destinations aim to ensure that the only thing frozen this winter will be the cocktail in your hand.
Overlooking the white sands of Rendezvous Bay, the Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club has hundreds of acres to explore. On them you’ll find a farm with ebb and flow hydroponics that can grow dozens of varieties of vegetables (indoor tours of the hydroponic space are available); a 27,000-square-foot spa offering massages, body treatments, facials, and manicures and pedicures; and a new nine-hole short golf course by Greg Norman, who also designed the resort’s 18-hole championship course with views of St. Maarten and the Caribbean Sea. When not on the green or swimming in the turquoise water, you can go hiking, try kitesurfing, take a steel pan class, or swing by the fitness studio for a guided meditation. Lest you get bored, the resort is also planning to open a water park and a 500-seat amphitheater for live entertainment. When at last you climb into bed, choose from one of 178 suites, be it a room with a wraparound terrace and private Jacuzzi, a multi-bedroom villa, or an “estate home” with a private pool and butler.
The property (formerly the CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa and its sister hotel, the Reef by CuisinArt on Merrywing Bay) is being managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts and recently announced that it will stay open year-round, including in the fall when other resorts on the island typically close. Rates in December, from $544 a night. Traveling from New York? On Dec. 22 the resort will begin offering charter flights to Anguilla from Westchester County Airport in White Plains. (Rooms and flights can be booked through the resort’s website.)
A lodestone for scuba divers, including Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Belize is home to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second largest reef system in the world. And it’s just a few hundred yards from the Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection on Ambergris Caye. In fact, the property offers scuba diving and snorkeling excursions directly from its dock as well as PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) instruction and certification through the on-site Belize Pro Dive Shop.
Yet the reef is hardly the only draw. Alaia Belize, the first Marriott International resort in the country, has a spa and three pools, including a rooftop pool and lounge with views of the Caribbean. Tour around in a golf cart, a common way to explore the streets of San Pedro, and pop into art galleries and restaurants (guests can rent carts at the hotel). Upon returning to the resort you can pause for a nightcap at one of four bars before retiring to one of the 155 guest rooms and suites. Rates from $349 a night.
More ideas to escape the cold:
7 New Escapes in the Caribbean: From an off-the-grid tropical hideaway to a reefside diving resort, these new hotels will take you far from anything that resembles snow and cold.
Can Responsible Travel to Hawaii Be Fun?: It turns out that farm stays and eco-friendly snorkeling trips really are more entertaining than sitting on a beach with a mai-tai.
The Key to Vacationing With a Toddler? A Wave-Free Beach: A family-friendly guide to destinations that are basically bathtubs — even in the winter.
Going Local on the Island of St. Lucia: Creole cooking classes, boisterous street parties, a tour of a cacao plantation and visits with islanders preserving local traditions.
How Green is Your Cruise?: As cruise companies head into their busiest season, they say they have ambitious plans to curb greenhouse emissions and find cleaner sources of fuel.
Sitting atop a lush green mountain ridge with views of the Caribbean Sea, Coulibri Ridge has all the trappings of a carefree resort — a spa, yoga pavilion, gym, high-speed Wi-Fi — while being fully off the grid. The 285-acre retreat uses solar energy as its primary power source (there are wind turbines, too), grows much of its own produce, and funnels purified rainwater to its two infinity pools and 14 spacious studios and duplex suites. Each has a terrace with views of the sea, as well as a kitchenette, binoculars and a birding book. Certain suites have a second terrace overlooking the Sulphur Spring Valley, some with outdoor rain showers and others with private pools.
Should you feel the urge to roam, tropical gardens, an orchard and ruins from an 18th-century estate await. And it’s easier than ever to get there: American Airlines this year began offering daily flights to Dominica from Miami International Airport. Rates from $500 for a special opening package (stay seven nights, pay for five) until Dec. 14. From Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, 2023, rates start at $800 a night. Breakfast is included; lunch and dinner are à la carte.
If you’ve ever been sunbathing on the pale sands of Punta Cana and thought to yourself, “If only I could battle a fantastical character in a duel right now,” consider the all-inclusive Falcon’s Resort by Meliá — All Suites Punta Cana. Referring to itself as “resortainment,” Falcon’s Resort by Meliá is a new brand from Meliá Hotels International, which was founded in Mallorca in 1956, and Falcon’s Beyond, an entertainment development company with headquarters in Orlando, Fla. Punta Cana is the brand’s first location and the resort is part of a new entertainment hub where you’ll find Katmandu Park, which includes interactive rides and attractions, as well as Falcon’s Central, a shopping, dining and entertainment district still in development.
The resort, which opens Dec. 8, is a combination of two existing Meliá properties that will result in 622 suites when fully completed in 2023. It will have the sorts of amenities you would expect from an all-inclusive Caribbean getaway — swim-up suites beside a pool, a water park, kid’s camp, bars and restaurants — but here nightly rates will also include admission to the theme park. Rates from $420 a night (from Dec. 8 to the end of this year, each resort guest will receive a “VIP Preview Pass” to the park before it opens to the public in early 2023).
The Motto by Hilton brand aims to attract travelers who want to feel like locals, with easy access to prime locations and the sort of lively communal working and socializing spaces typically associated with hostels. Among the shared spaces at Motto by Hilton Tulum are two rooftop pools, a rooftop bar, a casual bistro and a fitness center. Guest rooms are modern and on average under 200 square feet, though friends and families traveling together can book connecting rooms. A number of guest rooms also have flexible sleeping setups, like a queen bed that stows into the wall, and a bunk bed with a lower queen bed and an upper twin bed. The Wi-Fi and parking are free, and the rates (flexible and based on double occupancy) in December just might leave you with spending money for dinner on the town: From $145 a night; $139 for members of the Hilton Honors loyalty program. Those who book and stay by April 1, 2023 may receive a $30 credit per stay.
Cloistered on a private peninsula, Le Guanahani resort was a destination for laid-back luxury for more than 30 years until it shuttered in 2017 after damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Now redesigned and reopened as Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth, its two dreamy beaches dotted with palm trees remain — though plenty is new.
A children’s club offers young guests cooking and gardening classes, lessons about local wildlife, and arts and crafts. There’s a spa with a fitness center, blow-dry bar, nail salon and tennis facility. And the open-air Beach House St. Barth serves food and drinks inspired by French and Caribbean culture. But be warned: It won’t necessarily be easy to leave your cottage. Each of the 66 sunny rooms and suites has private outdoor space, be it a covered veranda, sun deck or dining alcove. Some even have their own pools. Rates from 1,900 euros a night in high season, or about $1,900 (high season is January through April); and from 1,200 euros a night in low season (June through October).
Turks and Caicos
A departure from the resort scene at Grace Bay beach with its long ribbon of sand, Rock House from Grace Bay Resorts drew its inspiration from cliff-side homes and villas in European getaways like the Amalfi Coast. Its 46 stand-alone homes and studios are built into the limestone of Providenciales’ north shore. The studios have views of the 100-foot infinity pool while the one- and two-bedroom homes have terraces, vaulted ceilings, bathrooms with outdoor shower gardens, and floor-to-ceiling windows from which to gaze at the water.
When you work up an appetite, the Beach Club at Rock House has a restaurant serving Adriatic cuisine, including seafood, pasta and aged steaks, alongside views of the Atlantic. Afterward you can go kayaking or snorkeling, follow a walking or jogging trail, take a yoga class, or stretch out on a jetty that extends into the ocean to soak up the sun before it’s time to fly home. Rates from $655 a night (which reflects an offer of up to 20 percent off the “best available rate,” for arrivals through Dec. 20, 2023, blackout dates apply).