We all want to feel special, whether we’re reserving a private room at a restaurant or box seats at the stadium, so for years Recommend magazine has updated you on the growth of enclaves and even entire resorts within larger Caribbean resorts. This trend keeps growing, too, so what follows is a guide to special resort sections that have opened and/or will soon open in 2018. All rates are for one week in January.
Azul Beach Resort Negril’s Adults-Only Section
In May Azul Beach Resort Negril by Karisma debuted a new adults-only section at the south end of this Gourmet Inclusive’s beach, one of the finest in Jamaica. The new area is popular with romantics and with couples who just want to decompress in an adults-only setting.
This enclave’s Premium Couples Ocean View Suites and Premium Couples Ocean View Swim-Up Suites feature 608 sq. ft. of space (including the terrace) and contemporary decor with tan-and-white furnishings and a few splashes of burgundy. Guests also enjoy a personal concierge, a private section of the beach, and the adults-only Premium Pool, with its Tamarind Pool Bar and butler service. Naturally, they also have access to other amenities at Azul Beach Resort Negril.
At press time the Premium Couples Ocean View Suite was going for $1,102 per night, or $7,714 per week, and the Premium Couples Ocean View Swim-Up Suites were going for about $100 more per night, or $8,456 per week. There’s strong demand for swim-up suites, so travel advisors should book asap.
Bahia Principe Punta Cana’s Double Relaunch
In November Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Green in the seven-resort Bahia Principe Punta Cana cluster will relaunch as the Grand Bahia Principe Aquamarine, the company’s first adults-only property in the Grand category. Because it will be a Grand rather than a Luxury resort, guests may forfeit some amenities such as butler service, but the rates will be more affordable. From $1,916 per week; or $2,050 for the most popular room, a Junior Suite Superior.
Another first for Bahia Principe: It closed the 528-suite oceanfront Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Blue off-season for top-to-bottom renovations. In November Ambar Blue will reopen as the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar, which will have new swim-up facilities for ground-floor suites and more modern interiors featuring white and tan tones. Three of the restaurants are getting makeovers and there’s a new coffee shop with fresh-baked goods. This relaunch “comes at an exciting time…as we recently…reclassified our properties into four categories and distinct experiences,” says Helen Montijano, v.p. of sales and marketing, U.S. and Canada for Bahia Principe Resorts. “The renovated hotel will…provide high-end amenities and five-star service, entertainment, and gastronomy specifically for adults.” From $2,617 for a Junior Suite Deluxe; $3,271 for a Junior Suite Deluxe Swim-up.
The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real: A Brand Transformed
In December Melia Hotels International will debut the 288-unit, $110 million Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real. Its guests will have free run of Paradisus Palma Real’s amenities, but Grand Reserve will also have its own restaurants, bars, spa, fitness center, cigar bar, beach club, kids club and aquapark. “With its unique design, superior amenities, and technological advancements, The Grand Reserve is set to radically transform the way travelers experience our hotels in the Dominican Republic,” says Alvaro Tejeda, senior v.p. for the Americas for Melia Hotels International.
An 800-sq.-ft. 1-Bedroom Suite for one couple, with earth-tone hues and a pull-out couch, starts at $2,521 per week; a swim-up, at $3,336. For a couple with two children, ages eight and 10, those suites will cost $3,779 and $4,999, respectively.
Other news about Melia Hotels International resorts within resorts: The company is dividing the Melia Caribe Tropical into the Melia Punta Cana Beach Resort for adults-only and Melia Caribe Beach Resort for families. This will be completed by November 2018. Each of the new resorts will have its own VIP section, aka The Level. At press time, a Level Suite at Melia Punta Cana Beach Resort for one couple in January was going for $2,446. At the Melia Caribe Beach Resort, a Level Premium Room for a couple and two children, ages 8 and 10, was priced at $2,822.
Rosewood Baha Mar
How does Rosewood Baha Mar, which opened June 1, distinguish itself from the other hotels in that development? By positioning itself as a smaller (237 guest rooms), more luxurious, butler-served resort that’s fairly removed from Baha Mar’s other two properties, nightclub, and casino. Moreover, Rosewood’s “Sense of Place” principles protect the guests from that “we-could-be-anywhere” feeling. For example, afternoon tea in the library offers the options of real Bahamian teas and local pastries such as rum cake. Rosewood Baha Mar will soon launch outer island excursions, too.
True to the “Sense of Place” ethic, the rooms, suites, and villas, although new, subtly evoke the clapboard walls and four-posters of Bahamian tradition. A 480-sq.-ft. Resort View room in January would cost our hypothetical couple $6,362 per week including taxes and fees.
Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa: The Club Is It
In January 2018 the family-oriented, 730-unit Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa debuted with (of course) a Diamond Club section. Royalton’s motto is All-in Luxury, but Diamond Club offers even more luxury, including personalized check-in, butler service, preferred room locations (important in a resort this large), a Diamond Club-only beach area, preferential dining reservations, a Diamond Club Lounge, upgraded room service, a pillow menu, spa discounts, in-suite liquors, and easy access to the Memories Splash waterpark.
Thanks to Royalton Luxury Resorts’ Early Booking Bonus (good through Aug. 15), our family of four would pay $5,222 per week for a Luxury Family Suite Ocean View Diamond Club with a pull-out couch. FYI, a Luxury Family Suite that isn’t in the Club would cost $5,504 —almost $300 more!
In early 2019 the company will also debut its first property in Antigua and Barbuda: Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa. At press time it was not taking bookings for January 2019, so here are the numbers for our family of four for March 2-9: $5,600 per week for a non-club Luxury Junior Suite, and $6,118 for a Luxury Junior Suite in the Diamond Club, well worth the premium.
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort to Reopen
Not only is Sint Maarten’s adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort reopening Nov. 15, but it’s offering travel agents discounted stays. Its See For Yourself program includes stays in a Junior Suite, all-inclusive, for $145 pp. The offer is good through Dec. 20, 2019, subject to availability. It’s also offering a pre-opening special to the public that lets you book clients a Junior Suite for $3,300 per week.
The Sonesta Ocean Point Resort abuts family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, so its guests have free access to the larger resort’s facilities. Maho Beach will not reopen until February, so its facilities may not be available to Ocean Point guests until that month. Ocean Point does, however, have a romantic rooftop gourmet restaurant, a new tapas bar, and an Italian restaurant, as well as a fitness center, pools, spa treatments, and access to the beach.
Azul Beach Resort Negril by Karisma: karismahotels.com
Grand Bahia Principe Aquamarine & Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar:
Melia Hotels International: melia.com
Rosewood Baha Mar: rosewoodhotels.com/en/baha-mar
Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa: royaltonresorts.com
Sonesta Ocean Point: sonesta.com