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Island life - Inspiration

Swap British chills for island thrills. Now is the perfect time to head to the Caribbean’s newest stylish boutique hotels, says Judy Bastyra.

Sugar ridge Hotel Jolly Harbour, Antigua

Set back in the hills on the west coast of Antigua, this is a four star hotel with a five star ambiance. the hotel was built in 2009 and although there are 60 rooms, it still feels cosy and stylish. Because of its location, this isn’t your usual ‘fly and flop’ beach destination. the hotel boasts an impressive gym and Antigua is packed with plenty of things to do; if you really want to blow the cobwebs away, explore the island’s endless choice of water activities, followed by a heavenly treatment at the Aveda Concept Spa.

The fine dining menu at Carmichael’s open-air restaurant is perfect for romantic dinners, with a multi-cultural menu that changes with the seasons. Sunday’s chill-out session at the restaurant is also a relaxing alternative to the popular Sunday music sessions at Shirley Heights (00 1 268 728 0636). Head to Cecilia’s High Point Café at Dutchman’s Bay for lunch on the beach: the Italian/Swedish menu is unusual with fennel Parmigiano, homemade warm smoked salmon and Swedish hash. and for a bit of fun, whizz through the lush rainforest on a high zip wire canopy tour. You’ll enjoy an unforgettable bird’s eye view of the colourful flora and fauna as you traverse suspension bridges and explore gorges, waterfalls and refreshing pools.

Sugar Ridge  Carmichael  Pool1

Travel Details

Doubles from £130,

Bequia Beach Hotel St Vincent and the Grenadines

Just an hour’s ferry ride away from St Vincent, Bequia is part of a chain of small islands known as the Grenadines, perched between St Vincent and Grenada. In the past, Bequia earned its stripes as a whaling station but is now more famous as a laidback playground for sailing and fishing. Once there, you’ll find the newly built Bequia Beach hotel located on friendship Beach, one of the island’s best.

A lush landscaped garden surrounds a varied selection of accommodation, including 11 rooms, 12 large suites and six villas – some of which boast their own plunge pools and breathtaking sea views. furnished in a similar way to its sister hotel, Grenadine house on St Vincent, the style is modern colonial with a chilled-out vibe. The hotel has a stunning infinity pool, a gym and spa, first-class restaurant and its own secluded sandy beach area. Beachside suites open at the end of this year.

Come supper time, the Blue tropic restaurant, perched by the swimming pool, offers candle-lit fine dining and amazing views across friendship Beach; the more relaxed, beachside Bagatelle restaurant does a great barbecue Sunday lunch. Both venues present a selection of locally caught fish and a range of speciality meat dishes. Further afield, Mac’s Pizzeria and Bakeshop (00 784 458 3474) in admiralty Bay makes possibly the best lobster pizza in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be there in February, don’t miss the annual four-day Bequia Music fest. Local musicians jam alongside international artists while the crowd dances the night away in the hotel restaurant and on the beach.

Bequia Ocean Suite

Travel Details

Doubles from £115 (

The Atlantis Tent Bay, Barbados

The recently refurbished Atlantis was one of the first hotels on the island and dates back to the 1800s, the rolling waves of the wild atlantic east coast providing the perfect backdrop. The present owners have totally renovated the property and it now has eight spacious rooms, and two two-bedroom apartments next to the newly-built infinity pool. The atmosphere and design is more US east coast beach house than anything else: the white bedrooms are crisp and cool, with pale wooden furniture, while the rest of the hotel is pleasingly uncomplicated and stylishly colonial.

This is a great place to stay if you want to get away from the brouhaha of Barbados’ west coast, with plenty of opportunities to relax, read a little or fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. The menu is good and simple with a local twist: try the pumpkin and salt cod fritters and, when available, the lobster. The executive chef Steve Belgrave (who is also executive chef of the fish Pot at little Good harbour hotel, sister to The Atlantis) is a young talent to follow. But be prepared for the lunchtime rush on Sundays and Wednesdays.

This bolthole of peace and quiet takes on a different personality on those days of the week, when hundreds of people come from all over Barbados to sample the legendary buffet. it could be the ideal time to explore the island for the afternoon before popping into the Sea-U Guest house (00 1 246 433 94 50), just minutes away. Run by German travel writer Uschi Wetzels, non-resident guests can book a table in the evening to enjoy local specialities such as marlin in rum butter sauce and coconut pie.

Atlantis  Dscf3577

Travel Details

Doubles from £195,

Cap Maison Resort & Spa Cap Estate, St Lucia

Book now for a chance to stay at Cap Maison, one of the most exciting new properties to open recently in St Lucia. the warmth of its spanish colonial design is echoed in the welcoming service of the staff. It’s quite large for a boutique hotel with 50 guest rooms, plus villas and suites, but it feels very much like a home from home. The signature restaurant, the Cliff, is fast becoming the best place to eat on the island thanks to its talented Welsh Rastafarian executive chef Craig Jones who has made St Lucia his spiritual home.

Apart from the à la carte menu, the saturday night ‘tapas’ is out of this world, showcasing such dishes as ceviche of island conch and a citrus fruit salad, Jamaican jerk sausages with whipped sweet potatoes and a dish of braised Kobe beef – all paired with wines from the Cliff’s extensive wine cellar.

After dinner, watch the sunset at rock Maison, a tiny offshore island below the Cliff where cocktails are served via a zip line! There’s an extensive rum menu to choose from and when the Cliff bar closes, you can head to the 24-hour honesty bar in the hotel library. If you want to eat local, make a trip to the weekly Friday night fish fry at the fishing village of Anse la Raye. The steamed snapper is a must, washed down with a cold piton beer.

Fill your days with a hike across the causeway to the pigeon island National park and, later, soothe tired muscles at the hotel’s modest spa. experience the massage of a lifetime with Julian who somehow manages to massage your shoulder with one hand and your ankle with the other. Travelling doesn’t get better than this…

Cap  Maison  Copy Of  Cap View 2

Travel Details

Doubles from £260,

Red Rock Haven Pointe Baptiste Beach, Calibishie, Dominica

Red rock haven boasts one of the few golden sandy beaches on this fertile volcanic island, and the red rocky cliff at the end of Pointe Baptiste Beach accentuates the hotel’s charming feeling of privacy and seclusion. Canadian Stacey Hovde came on holiday to Dominica and fell in love with the unique beauty of the location; a few years later, she opened the restaurant and a selection of different types of accommodation on the property.

Using only natural Dominican materials and inspired by the tropical surroundings, the modest accommodation blends in seamlessly. The Garden cottage is built in solid stone, with gleaming cherrywood floors and wooden jalousie shutters, creating a quaint studio apartment surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The two-bedroom Grande ocean villa has plunge pools off each bathroom and the bamboo guest rooms on the beach are the perfect romantic hideaway. Both villa and cottage also have their own kitchens, which gives the whole place a homely feel. Future plans at red rock haven include more rooms and a spa but, in the meantime, you can enjoy a heavenly massage by the infinity pool or as you listen to the waves lapping on the beach.

If you do venture out of your own kitchen, the escape Beach Bar and restaurant (00 1 767 275 7997) is open all week in high season, Wednesday to sunday the rest of the year. American-born chef Eric trained in France but his mouthwatering dishes have a thai twist. To experience the island, take a drive to the village of Wesley and visit Randy’s restaurant and Bar (00 1 767 315 7474) for locally caught river crayfish which are cooked on a coalpot by the delightful owner. Or take advantage of Dominica’s enviable reputation as the whale-watching capital of the Caribbean. Peak months for sightings are November until June, but Dominica is one of the only places in the world where you can see sperm whales all year round.

La Banane Lorient Bay, Saint-Barthélemy

St Barts has the reputation of being one of the most fashionable destinations in the Caribbean. With its intoxicating blend of French sophistication, gourmet dining and tax-free designer shops, the island’s exclusivity is second to none.

Tucked away in a lush tropical garden, and minutes from the silky white sand of Lorient beach, is the small but perfectly designed La Banane hotel. The nine one-bedroom bungalows are stylishly renovated in pretty tropical colours and iconic vintage decor; each one has a terrace, which can be set up for private dining, and all have open air bathrooms. La Banane has no restaurant but the hotel provides breakfast by the pool and can organise lunch or dinner from the K’Fe Massai restaurant next door. This means you get to enjoy four star luxury without the usual hefty St Barts price tag.

For a distinctly star-studded taste of paradise, rub shoulders with Hollywood celebrities such as Uma Thurman, Robert Redford and Hugh Jackman at the French restaurant in the Isle de France hotel nearby (00 59 059 027 6181). Everything on the menu is superb but the fresh lobster medallions served with mash and cauliflower with saffron and honey is exceptional. After the sun goes down, you’ll find an open-air library and bar just off La Banane’s two-tiered pool where you can sample the delicious vanilla rum.

Labanane Piter09 Banane0033 Hi

Travel Details

Doubles from £245 (00 590 590 52 03 00).

Bacolet beach club Tobago

Bacolet Beach Club is the new kid on the block in tobago and the closest thing to a boutique hotel that the island has to offer. Visionary developer gloria Jones-Knapp is known for her eclectic furnishing style, but what is really great about the hotel is the setting – right beside the breathtakingly beautiful Bacolet Beach.

Leaving the minimalist reception area, you certainly feel the tropical heat as you step down to the rooms, private beach and bar. The restaurant, Cafe Havana, is a welcome addition to tobago’s many watering holes and is fast developing an excellent local reputation for its food and service. The eclectic menu comes from Filipino chef, Cesario rivera, who has worked in a number of top international restaurants including those of Mandarin Oriental. You’ll find a good selection of salads, burgers, steaks, fresh fish and some exceptionally tasty local roti; the same menu is available at lunchtime in the RoK bar.

While you’re there, be sure to check out Scarborough Market every Saturday and try one of the freshly made salt cod bakes.

Bacolet  Beach  Club  Entrance After  Sun  Set 1  201009211554552

Travel Details

Doubles from £120,

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