The Caribbean is never a bad decision. All the more reason to visit in 2021: During the pandemic, construction on new hotels continued, while others received some pretty impressive facelifts. Here’s the latest from across the islands.
The Ritz-Carlton will open in Turks and Caicos this June, just in time for summer vacation. Located on Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales, The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos will be home to a variety of luxe accommodations, including 27 ocean-view suites, adults-only and recreation pools with private cabanas, a collection of dining experiences, state-of-the-art spa facilities, and a casino with the latest in slot machines and table games.
Provo, as it’s known locally, is the most developed and populated island and the hub of tourism activity in Turks and Caicos. In addition to the world-famous Grace Bay Beach, the resort’s surrounding areas offer an abundance of activities for those looking to adventure off the property. For example: A round of golf at the 18-hole Provo Golf Club; Thursday’s Island Fish Fry with locals; restaurants and eateries with local culinary delights; and snorkeling at Smith’s Reef.
We’re told the Deluxe Guestrooms can accommodate both couples or families (the king bed option for the former and the two queens for the latter). These rooms are oceanfront and have balconies. The Junior Suite is also a good pick for couples looking for more space, while the Two Bedroom Presidential Suite is the top dig on property. It offers one bedroom with a king bed and a second with a queen bed, as well as two-and-a-half baths.
Dining venues will include BLT Steak, an American steakhouse that serves prime steaks, fresh seafood and a weekly “Blackboard Menu” featuring specials that highlight seasonal flavors and local ingredients. Cocktails, craft beer and a robust wine list will accompany the menu. There will also be a beachside restaurant and an all-day dining eatery.
We’re told that The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Turks & Caicos’ menu is “inspired by the calming power of the ocean.” Treatments will utilize indigenous plants and customs for a holistic approach to wellness. Beyond the spa, facilities include relaxation areas, a fitness center and hair and nail services.
Also opening this year is The Strand, Turks and Caicos, a private residential community located on 2,230 feet of shore frontage on Cooper Jack Bay. The Strand will offer a limited collection of luxury beachfront villas, custom residences and homesites along with access to community programming and full resort amenities and services.
A courtyard of one of the residences at The Strand, Turks and Caicos.
Opening late 2021, The Strand will have direct ocean access from every residence. In addition to the beachfront setting, the site has 1,400 feet of canal and marina frontage, offering a marina and slips for owners, as well as several community yacht slips.
Owners and guests of the 46 residences can enjoy a collection of shared amenities for sport and socializing, as well as access to the Beach and Tennis Club. Community amenities include a tennis court, two pickle ball courts and a fitness center with a secluded yoga deck. Scheduled yoga and fitness classes will be available for owners and guests.
Tip: Cooper Jack Bay is well-located for sport fishing and diving and is ideal for swimming, paddleboarding and various other water sports. Additional water amenities include access to The Strand’s own Club Boat with a private captain, catamarans, kayaks, paddleboards and more.
There will also be a water’s edge restaurant and bar, extending from an indoor covered space to an outdoor beachfront patio with tables dotting an open-air garden. The Beach Club further flows into the centerpiece resort-style swimming pool, designed as a lagoon surrounded by native limestone, palm trees and soft lighting at night. The restaurant and bar will allow limited public access, with priority seating given to club members and guests.
Good to know: An on-site caretaker/resort manager is available 24/7 for owners’ and guests’ every need. À la carte club services will include in-home spa services, housekeeping, pre-arrival shopping, private chef and catering, airport transportation, landscape maintenance, and security.
The two-bedroom villas are designed with lock-off units on separate levels, offering one- and two-bedroom layouts. Each will have its own plunge pool and outdoor shower and soaking tub. An optional rooftop terrace includes an open-air kitchen, bar and dining space. The Villas will have more than 3,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor living space.
These four- and five-bedroom residences will have a two-story great room overlooking the pool and the Caicos Banks. The main house has four oceanfront en-suite bedrooms, an infinity pool and a courtyard with an outdoor kitchen. Certain lots include a courtyard plunge pool and spa, one-bedroom guest house and family/flex room. Luxury Residences start at approximately 4,500 square feet of enclosed space and 8,300 square feet of indoor-outdoor living space.
Lastly, the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom Grand Residences will offer approximately 7,300 square feet of enclosed space and 14,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor living space. The main houses will have five oceanfront en-suite bedrooms, including a second-floor master suite. An expansive great room opens to a formal outdoor terrace and infinity pool. The courtyard will have a plunge pool and spa, outdoor kitchen, family/flex room and one-bedroom guest house.
In Jamaica, Ocean Coral Spring, which opened late 2019, is slated to open its second property, Ocean Eden Bay, in May 2021. The adults-only Ocean Eden Bay is located in Trelawny, Coral Spring, right along the shores of Montego Bay with access to a spectacular white sand beach with turquoise waters. Ocean Eden Bay will offer modern rooms, a large swimming pool and wide range of dining options, including an exclusive dinner-show restaurant with themed performances, the Senses Dinner Show.
A guestroom at Ocean Eden Bay.
Guests will have their choice of 444 suites. Our favorites are the Swim Up Suites, which — as the name suggests — offer direct access to the swimming pool via a terrace. These rooms also have a bedroom, a living room with a sofa bed and a bathroom with a whirlpool. We also like the Roof Top Suites, two-level accommodations offering some of the best views on property from their terraces (which come equipped with sun loungers and a jacuzzi). There’s also a master bedroom, a rest area with a sofa bed, and a bathroom with a whirlpool.
There will also be one buffet restaurant, along with four à la carte restaurants and the dinner-show venue. For Senses Dinner Show, advanced reservations are required, so be sure to get that done at the time of booking your stay. Other options include a Steak House, open for dinner only, and Blue Moon, a romantic restaurant serving international cuisine, which will be open for breakfast and dinner.
Other amenities include a pool with bar service, a beach area with sun loungers and the Despacio Spa Centre. At the spa, guests can use an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath. Services include massages, personalized health and beauty treatments, a beauty salon and hairdresser, and a 24-hour gym.
As for the adjacent Ocean Coral Spring, it is family-friendly and has 513 suites equipped with all the amenities for a comfortable stay. Guests can expect another swimming pool, as well as a lazy river with a gentle current, plus 10 restaurants, nine bars, Mike’s Coffee and ice cream parlor, a theater, disco, bowling alley and more.
Ocean Coral Spring’ Daisy Club is designed for children aged four to 12 and is led by a team of professionals and accompanied by the mascot, Daisy. Kids will have access to a water park, playground, a game room, music shows and more. A Teen Club is also available, as is a Despacio Spa Centre, should adults need a little R&R while the kids are being looked after.
The Privilege Master Suite is the top accommodation on property. Offering sea, pool or garden views, these suites have a terrace with sun loungers and jacuzzi, as well as a bedroom and separate living room; however, for larger families the Daisy Family Junior Suite is located next to the water park and has a bedroom, living room with a sofa bed and a terrace.
The range of F&B venues includes international cuisine, Italian, Asian, West Indies, Indian and American barbecue.
The South Seas Village at Sandals Royal Barbados will be home to two new pools. Shown here is the main pool at the resort. // Photo: Sandals Resorts International
Additionally, Sandals Resorts International is working on a new expansion at Sandals Royal Barbados. Set to premiere July 1, 2021, the South Seas Village at Sandals Royal Barbados will be home to 66 new suites, bringing the total room count to 338, as well as two new wellness-inspired eateries, bringing the resort’s restaurant count to nine, and two new pools.
Flanked by gardens and Maxwell Beach, the new accommodations will have high-pitched ceilings and chic, light-wood furnishings with quartz inlays. The South Seas Village will include signature offerings, such as a king-size bed with fine linens and a pillow menu, along with marble baths, his-and-her sinks, bath amenities by Red Lane Spa, a private outdoor tub for two and a full in-room bar. These accommodations also have an aromatherapy system with relaxing essential oils. Guests staying in the new butler suites category will also enjoy a personal butler, 24-hour room service and VIP check-in.
Two new culinary concepts will also be introduced at Sandals Royal Barbados. The Greenhouse, a rustic, “farm-to-table” eatery will offer guests elegant cuisine prepared with locally sourced meats and seafood and straight-from-the-garden fruits and vegetables. Heart and Sol, the resort’s café, combines the variety of a New York-style deli with locally sourced culinary offerings for a fresh and clean alternative to sandwiches, soups, salads, smoothie bowls and fruit and vegetable smoothies and juices.
In addition, two new freshwater swimming pools will be located in a quiet section of the South Seas Village. One swimming pool will have a full-service pool bar offering low-calorie cocktails (think: Ginger Mules, Brûléed Lemon Sours, Green Gins and Cucumber Slushes).
Good to know: Guests of Sandals Royal Barbados also have full exchange privileges with the neighboring Sandals Barbados for a total of 20 restaurants, 14 bars, 11 pools and five whirlpools.
Another hotel reno includes Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, located on Palm Beach, which has recently completed a multimillion-dollar makeover. Enhancements include Trankilo, a new adults-only pool, updates to both the ZoiA Spa and casino, as well as a new Regency Club, dining experiences and wellness offerings.
Trankilo has 10 private cabanas, complete with a shower, smart TV, Bose Bluetooth sound system, minibar stocked with water, sodas, local beers and wine, crudités, island aloe products, lounge chairs and a sofa. Tip: Guests can utilize the private butler that solely caters to visitors who are renting the cabanas and receive spa treatments in select cabanas, as well.
Trankilo, a new adults-only pool at Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, has 10 private cabanas.
The resort also has a new wellness program, “Rise and Shine,” consisting of various daily classes, including yoga, meditation and Tai Chi. The new ZoiA Spa menu offers a variety of treatments, such as “Aruba Sun Rescue,” using local aloe, and “Island Breeze,” with a pineapple sugar scrub. Another highlight of the new ZoiA Spa is “Massage den Awa,” a gentle form of body therapy performed in the Trankilo pool for deep relaxation combining elements of massage, shiatsu and muscle stretching. Spa therapists use face masks and shields and utilize gloves, while air purifiers sanitize the air through UV germicidal technology in each of the six treatment rooms.
For those interested in a libation, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino is now offering a new “Master Mixology” class with Green Bar Distillery organic liquors every Sunday at Palms Beach Bar. Guests receive instructions on beginner bartending for one hour, explanation of selected liquors, a certificate, recipe cards and two custom drinks.
The newly renovated Regency Club offers personal concierge service, breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres and beverages — all complimentary. And the non-smoking casino now has 44 new machines, socially distanced gaming tables and video poker machines, as well as a bar serving a variety of cocktails.