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The Latest Caribbean Hotel Expansions and RenovationsSeptember 3, 2013 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
|Key West Luxury Village is the fourth and newest village to open at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa.|
The Caribbean is both timeless and ever-changing. There are places throughout the islands where one can leave civilization all but completely behind—with the comfort of knowing they can return to their resort hotel where every amenity known to 21st-century travelers is waiting for them. Over the past several months, we’ve witnessed quite a bit of new developments along the Caribbean’s millennia-old shores and, with the winter high season fast approaching, we figured we’d get you up to speed on some of the highlights.
‘GREAT’ NEWS IN THE B.V.I.: The new Great House at Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private island in the British Virgin Islands and part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection, is expected to be completed later this month. The Great House will officially reopen to clients following an extensive two-year restructuring and has been inspired by the beautiful features and Balinese style of the original house. With some new and innovative twists, it affords impressive views of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and neighboring islands.
Each of the eight guest rooms have a balcony, and all come with king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms. On the upper level you’ll find the Master Suite, which is a whopping 1,500 square feet and has been designed for panoramic views from virtually every angle and includes a two-person Jacuzzi, a stand-alone outdoor bath and a kitchenette area with a well-stocked fridge.
For exclusive-use bookings, accommodation on Necker Island includes nine bedrooms in the Great House and six individual Bali Houses dotted around the island. There is also a bunkroom in the Great House that sleeps up to six children. The total number of clients that can be accommodated on Necker Island is 30 plus six children in the bunkroom.
CAPPING OFF A NEW LOOK: Cap Juluca—the luxury resort in Anguilla known for its signature Greco-Moorish style architecture and pristine white-sand beaches—has put the finishing touches on its most recent refurbishment, infusing an appealing transitional style with clean lines and vibrant hints of color into each of its 70 guest rooms, as well as making significant upgrades to three eateries. Occupying 15 whitewashed villas, all guest rooms and suites have been refreshed with vivid splashes of colors, abstract art, new soft goods and furnishings.
Additional highlights of the redo include the newly refurbished Spice lounge, Blue and Maundays bars at the Main House as well as the addition of the 3,290-square-foot Jonquil Suite—a luxury villa with two master bedrooms, a sitting room, a full-service kitchen, an oceanfront dining terrace, a Jacuzzi and a private, freshwater infinity pool.
BARBADOS IS FOR COUPLES: Following a $3 million upgrade, the former Almond Casuarina Beach Resort officially became Couples Barbados—the first Couples Resorts property outside of Jamaica—in June. One of the major projects involved in the re-flagging of the resort was the moving of the spa to where the former hotel’s pizzeria was once housed. What had been the Kids Club is now an outdoor fitness area where clients can take part in such classes as yoga and Pilates. A new pool area, including a Jacuzzi and will be designated as the property’s “quiet area,” will be ready by November.
A GRACE-FUL TAKEOVER: Representatives of Grace Bay Resorts in Turks and Caicos announced in August that it will assume operational responsibility and take an ownership stake in the management of West Bay Club, a resort just three miles from the Grace Bay Club on Grace Bay Beach. The hotel will be re-branded as West Bay Club, a Grace Bay Resort, effective immediately. With 46 oceanfront suites, the hotel blends Caribbean charm with modern, chic design. West Bay Club currently operates one restaurant, Atlantic Bar & Grill that offers a casual, poolside dining experience, as well as an intimate spa and fitness center.
Gradual property-wide improvements will be made over the next 18 months, while Grace Bay Resorts’ short-term focus will be to complete a thorough repositioning of West Bay Club with a significant emphasis on enhancing service standards, implementing training programs to improve on the resort’s already strong reputation. Additionally, plans are already in place to enhance the resort’s food and beverage programs.
A NEW WAVE IN JAMAICA: Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club, formerly known as Beaches Boscobel, recently completed a $30 million renovation with four distinct villages, additional restaurants, an enhanced kids program and more. The Greek Village is one of the four neighborhoods to debut at the resort. It sits on a hill overlooking the resort’s private beach. True to picturesque Greek architecture, the buildings are whitewashed and lined with cobalt blue. There are 59 oceanfront rooms on three different levels, named after the three most-renowned Greek islands: Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos. The Village also has the new Calypso Bar and OPA Sunset Bar.
The French Village brings a new charm to the property, housing upgraded suites and amenities including the wedding lounge, Red Lane Spa, piano bar, Neptune’s restaurant and a fitness center. Additionally, it has the French Terrace, which overlooks the ocean and a new quiet pool. Guests can also refresh themselves at the Le Frappe Juice & Smoothie Bar, as well as the Saint Germaine Bistro & Creperie.
The Italian Village, home to the resort’s grand reception and lobby area, has 24 rooms and suites, including the Dolce Vita Penthouse. The Venetian Restaurant has been transformed, complete with chandeliers made from wine bottles, custom seating, wood plank floors and a new boutique bar.
To round out the collection, the Caribbean Village’s casual and natural island decor provides a serene atmosphere for guests during their stay. This village is the closest to the main swimming pool and allows for easy access to restaurants, live entertainment and the Pirates Island Waterpark.
A KEY ADDITION: The always-popular Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, considered by many agents to be one of the best luxury, family all-inclusives in the Caribbean, just got a little better. Its new Key West Luxury Village debuted in May, offering more than 150 rooms, suites and villas, three additional gourmet restaurants, private pools and more.
It is now the fourth neighborhood added to the resort; currently, Beaches Turks & Caicos comprises the Caribbean Village, French Village and Italian Village. The brand new accommodations in the Key West Luxury Village include eight exclusive villas with three and four bedrooms set along the beach with private pools, and large enough to feel like a private home.
These options are well suited for groups and even multigenerational families vacationing together. The best category here is the Key West Luxury Four Bedroom Beachfront Villa with Pool. This unit comes with butler service. Clients receive chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles for transportation to the resort, which also come with snacks, beverages, DVD players and complimentary Wi-Fi service. The spa at the Key West Luxury Village includes two singles treatment rooms and three doubles treatment rooms. Tip: The most popular treatment is the Red Lane Signature West Indian massage.
THE BUTLER WILL DO IT: Earlier this year, the Regent Palms Turks & Caicos has debuted new butler service for clients staying at any one of its six Penthouse rooms. In fact, the launch has been so successful that the resort is looking to expand the service to guests staying in three-bedroom categories, as well. Regent’s newly revamped spa, too, continues to be a success. Although no physical changes were done to the spa area (and this is a good thing since the aesthetics are about as tranquil as it gets), the menu has seen a major overhaul, combining the best treatments the Caribbean has to offer with a heavy Asian influence.
BETTER IN THE BAHAMAS: In March, the Bahamas celebrated the rebirth of an island icon. The Cove reemerged after a $30 million renovation to become The Cove, Eleuthera, a 40-acre luxury resort of cottages and villas. The new construction included two three-bedroom residential villas, each with private pool and staff. A two-story Sanctuary including 20 suites was also part of the new debut, along with eight Bush cottages and Bar Tony, a bar built into a point reaching 600 feet into the Caribbean Sea. All rooms and suites have iPod docking stations, 500 thread-count linens, 50-inch flat-screen TVs and more. Significant improvements were put into the Library interior and open-air fine dining restaurant Freedom. A new 110-foot infinity pool overlooking the sea was also developed.
The Cove, Eleuthera, wants guests to arrive in true style. The resort’s own private plane offers daily nonstop flights to and from Fort Lauderdale, FL, on its own Hawker 800XP. Daily flights are also offered from Fort Lauderdale and Miami to the Nassau and Eleuthera airports. A water taxi takes guests from North Eleuthera Airport and a Range Rover escorts guests to the hotel.
A GRAND RENEWAL BY WESTIN: This past spring, The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa unveiled a multimillion-dollar resort renewal project. The oceanfront resort has introduced additions through all guest rooms, suites, public spaces, meeting spaces, the fitness center, and the pool and beach experience. (Plus, it is home to our favorite restaurant in Grand Cayman, Casa Havana, which serves traditional Caribbean cuisine with a Cajun twist.)
BIG NEWS ON THE ‘SMALL’ FRONT: Petit St. Vincent, the privately owned 115-acre resort island in the Grenadines, has been accepted into the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio of hotels this month. Following the new ownership and island renovation in 2011, the 22-cottage Petit St. Vincent has focused on elevating the exclusive private island experience, while enhancing the level of service, amenities, and dining options. Meanwhile, construction of the Argyle International Airport on the island continues apace. It is expected that the terminal building will be completed toward the end of 2013 and its retrofitting will commence thereafter. All earth and site works are expected to be completed by July 2014.
OPERATORS SAY ‘CUBA, SI!’: This summer IsramWorld and Abercrombie & Kent became the latest tour operators to announce plans to operate tours to Cuba, joining a roster that includes Globus, and Central Holidays, who both began offering Cuba itineraries earlier this year, Tauck, and longtime operator to the island Insight Cuba.
On Our Radar
Here are a few developments to look forward to in the months ahead. Travel Agent will provide more in-depth coverage of new and upcoming hotels in an upcoming issue.
CONSIDER LASOURCE: Sandals LaSource Grenada is scheduled to open December 12.
We hear the best rooms at the resort will be the Skypool Suites, Millionaire Suites and Rondoval Suites. For the best views, however, VIPs should look no further than the oceanview Skypool Suites, which give outstanding views of the Caribbean Sea and come with large balconies, lounge chairs, dining tables and soaking tubs. Private butler service is available in 75 of the Butler Suites.
The resort’s Red Lane Spa will have seven treatment rooms and two couple’s sanctuaries. Clients will have a choice of nine global, gourmet dining options, including the island’s first top-tier steakhouse called Butch’s Chophouse, named after the resort company’s founder and chairman.
Sandals LaSource Grenada will have dining options such as Soy, a sushi bar; Café De Paris, a French café; Spices, serving Caribbean cuisine; Le’Jardinier, a French restaurant; and Neptune’s, a Mediterranean beach bar, as well as Kimono’s, a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant; CucinaRomana for Italian fare; and Dino’s Pizzeria.
|Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa completed a multimillion-dollar renewal this spring. Pictured is the parlor of the refreshed Governors Suite.|
DONE DEAL IN THE D.R.: Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village is scheduled to open in the Dominican Republic in October. The hotel will have 124 guest rooms, an outdoor pool and access to five miles of private beach. Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village also provides state-of-the-art meeting facilities, a 24-hour business center, a fully equipped fitness facility and full-service dining.
|The Great House on Necker Island, B.V.I., has been rebuilt with eight guest rooms and the same panoramic island views as before.|
Guests can stroll to the shops, restaurants and salons of Galerias Punta Cana within the Village, and hop on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle to visit Six Senses Spa, the Puntacana Ecological Reserve and a choice of world-class golf courses at Puntacana Resort & Club, which will celebrate its first anniversary this October.
|West Bay Club in Turks and Caicos is now being operated by Grace Bay Resorts.|
WAITING ON AN ICON: Rooms at the iconic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in Puerto Rico will be ready by early 2014, says Jose M. Suarez, president of International Hospitality Enterprises, which represents such notable hotels in Puerto Rico as La Concha: A Renaissance Resort and the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. Suarez tells Travel Agent that financial issues were at the heart of the delays for the unveiling of the new rooms. They were originally slated to open earlier this year, but plans stalled when International Hospitality Enterprises’ bank in Puerto Rico closed. “Now that the mess appears to be clearing up,” he said, “I think we are back on schedule for having the rooms ready by the first quarter of 2014.”
|Jonquil Living Room at the renovated Cap Juluca in Anguilla.|