You spent the last three months of 2017 assuring clients that hurricanes Irma and Maria never even touched most of the Caribbean islands. Then you spent much of 2018 communicating the following: Hellooooo! Scores of hotels and attractions have reopened on the affected islands!
Although you got through to most of your clients, many people still assume that much or even most of the Caribbean was blown away. They could not be more mistaken, and this fall even more hotels are resuming normal operations—in better shape than ever, too—on the few islands that were seriously damaged. Here’s a look at which luxury-level hotels are reopening these final months of 2018:
Hurricane Irma hit Anguilla hard, but that only makes the island’s recovery more remarkable. In January 2018 a brand-new Relais & Chateaux, the Quintessence Hotel, made its debut. Within months the Four Seasons Resort & Residences, Frangipani Beach Resort, the Reef by CuisinArt, and Zemi Beach House were all welcoming guests again, as were Meads Bay Villas, Shoal Bay Villas, and other high-end vacation homes.
Now Anguilla’s three flagship resorts are about to resume business. CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa will reopen Nov. 1 with updated public spaces, rooms, and an even larger hydroponic farm. Belmond Cap Juluca will also reopen in November with new furnishings, a new spa and fitness center, CAP’s Cool Pool dining by an infinity pool, and other innovations. Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection, which created the Anguilla brand in the 1980s with Moorish design and a Michelin-starred chef, will reopen Dec. 15. Meanwhile, Long Bay Villas (as “Elements” it was the site of FOX TV’s “Coupled” series) will re-emerge in November under new management.
Antigua & Barbuda
Although Antigua escaped the worst, tiny Barbuda got flattened. However, most of its 2,000 residents, not to mention its birds and beaches, have returned, and Barbuda Belle, a member of Great Small Hotels, will reopen in November with six cottages for seekers of a low-key, high-end escape. Think “Fantasy Island,” but with a higher tab (from $1,190 per night in January, plus 22.5 percent tax and fees) and a more tasteful, nature-oriented beauty.
Characterized by small luxury hotels and a large yachting business, this pristine archipelago is home to top private island resorts, and several have already reopened, including Cooper Island Beach Club, Guana Island, Scrub Island, and Oil Nut Bay. The latter is also about to unveil four new 1-bedroom bay Suites Villas, and it will soon introduce a new pool, spa, and bar lounge. Cooper Island and Scrub Island, which have been welcoming guests while some facilities were being restored, are completing restorations this month.
This month Necker Island reopens with 11 guestrooms in the Great House, plus bunkroom accommodations for six children and rooms for 16 more guests on nearby Moskito Island. That’s a lot of high-priced rooms to fill, so look for low-season Celebration Weeks, when Necker operates as a by-the-room boutique hotel. Sure, it costs $35,000 per week for two, AI, but it’s stellar.
Half of Dominica’s approximately 1,000 hotel rooms were open by late summer, and on Nov. 1, Secret Bay eco-luxury lodge will reopen six villas, each with a private plunge pool and a chic nature-meets-luxury look. Secret Bay will also have a new wellness center and restaurant. Although 2019 falls outside the time frame of this article, remember, too, that Range Developments’ five-star, all-suite Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski will debut next year with European standards of service, design, and gastronomy.
Despite the painfully long time it has taken to restore normalcy on this island, especially in rural areas, more than 130 of the best 150 hotels have reopened. In the luxury class they range from hip O:live Boutique Hotel to the all-encompassing Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa. The Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve reopens on Oct. 1, this issue’s publication date, and The St. Regis Bahia Beach will be back in business Oct. 9. The 657-room Caribe Hilton and the legendary El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton will reopen this winter.
Add St. Bartholomew to the list of islands that made a remarkable recovery after hurricane season. Scores of villas and boutique hotels have reopened, and now the big news: Award-winning Hotel Le Toiny, which recently added a beach club, will reopen Oct. 15—with a new villa product, too. Le Barthelemy resumes operations Oct. 28 with new interiors by Sybille de Margerie and cuisine by Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin. In December Le Sereno will reopen with a new look for the main restaurant and a new beach eatery, spa and fitness center. New family suites will raise Le Sereno’s room count to 39.
Posh Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France welcomes guests in December with 61 rooms, suites, and villas (that’s huge for St. Barts). Eden Rock Villa Rental homes are already open, but on Dec. 22 the Eden Rock-St Barth hotel will open, too. This is the classic that shaped St. Barts’ upmarket vibe. Renovations will maintain that ultra-luxe look, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten will again oversee the cuisine.
Sint Maarten/St. Martin
The border between these outposts of two different countries is no obstacle to drivers, nor was it one for Hurricane Irma. On the Dutch side, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, and quite a few other hotels have been operating for months. Despite its more exposed position on a promontory, adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort sustained less damage than its Maho Beach sister, so it will re-open Dec. 15 with an updated contemporary lobby and a new tapas restaurant on the rooftop terrace above Azul restaurant.
Among the island’s many reopenings this fall are these two luxury properties on the French side: Grand Case Beach Club Grand Case Beach Club opens in a few weeks with all new furniture, art by Sir Roland Richardson, an increased emphasis on locavore cuisine, new gym equipment, and best of all, the same great staff and designer swimming pool. Belmond La Samanna will welcome guests again on Dec. 10 with 93 rooms and suites that sport an updated “pastel chic” look, and the return of destination restaurant Trellis and La Cava Wine Cellar, arguably the largest private wine cellar in the Caribbean.
U.S. Virgin Islands
On St. Thomas Bolongo Bay Beach Resort reopened months ago, but the most luxurious property on the island, The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, will not open until the third quarter of 2019. On nearby St. John, the hurricanes came just as the Westin St. John Villas were wrapping up a $35 million renovation that had converted all accommodations into studios and 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units with kitchen facilities. There is no exact reopening date yet, but it will be soon after New Year’s.
St. Croix’s recovered the quickest from the hurricanes, so many properties reopened in early 2018. On the luxury level, that includes The Buccaneer, with its own golf course, tennis center, and impossibly long beach, and a hip new South Beach-style resort in Frederiksted, The Fred. St. Regis Bahia Beach; travelagents.marriott.com/travelagents/signin.mi U.S. Virgin Islands
Belmond Cap Juluca: belmond.com
Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa: cuisinartresort.com
Long Bay Villas: villasofdistinction.comvillasofdistinction.com
Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection: malliouhana.aubergeresorts.com
Antigua & Barbuda
Barbuda Belle: barbudabelle.com
Hotel Le Toiny: letoiny.com
Le Barthelemy: lebarthelemyhotel.com
Le Sereno: serenohotels.com
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France: chevalblanc.com/stbarthisledefrance/en
Eden Rock-St Barth: oetkercollection.com
St. Maarten/St. Martin
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort: sonesta.com/StMaarten
Grand Case Beach Club: grandcasebeachclub.com
Belmond La Samanna: belmond.com
U.S. Virgin Islands
Westin St. John Villas: westin.marriott.com