Travel Agent has been keeping tabs on new Caribbean resort openings. Here are a few that you need to know about.
In January, Hilton made its brand debut in Saint Kitts with the soft opening of KOI Resort Saint Kitts, Curio Collection; it also marks KOI Hospitality’s first entry into the hotel space. Set along Half Moon Bay and adjacent to the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club, the 102-room resort has a full-service pool terrace overlooking the ocean, a gym and spa, and a variety of elevated dining options.
Cuisine, understandably, is a focus of KOI Resort Saint Kitts. On property, guests will have a pick of three dining venues, with the signature offering being KOI Restaurant. The world-spanning KOI Restaurant brand brings its Asian-influenced design and Japanese-inspired cuisine to the Caribbean islands. The menu at the candlelit restaurant will include items such as KOI crispy rice and miso bronzed cod, as well as a variety of signature rolls (like a baked crab roll and sunfire roll).
Jaya Kitchen & Cocktails is the resort’s poolside bar and restaurant, offering beach-inspired entrees and snacks (think salads, grilled sandwiches, brick-oven pizzas and fresh seafood and sushi). Also available are craft cocktails, fine wines and beers.
For those looking for a sexy night of cocktails and vibrant scenery, Jaya Ultra Lounge serves a menu of Caribbean-inspired libations and customized craft cocktails. Guests can sample a flight of locally sourced Caribbean rum while grooving to a modern soundtrack and watching the sun go down.
The minimalistic design runs throughout the hotel, from the lobby into the guestrooms, each of which has floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace with views of the ocean, golf course or nearby mountain range; rooms also have rain showers, separate bathtubs and other modern comforts.
Looking for the best accommodation? The KOI Penthouse would be the pick. It has bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a large kitchenette and bar, an open living and dining room floor plan, as well as wraparound balconies. Note: For families, many of KOI Resort rooms can be connected to adjoining rooms.
At the Kaya Spa, guests can indulge in a variety of body treatments, massages and facials. The KOI Signature Massage is a blend between Swedish and Thai massage. Couples massages can be accommodated.
In addition to on-property activities, guests have the option to explore the destination in style by renting a catamaran to sail to Nevis, snorkeling at Dieppe Bay Beach and ziplining the island’s forests. The resort is just minutes away from the St. Kitts & Nevis International Airport, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Caribelle Batik and Mount Liamuiga. In addition to Royal St. Kitts Golf Club, which is directly adjacent to KOI Resort Saint Kitts, the Frigate Bay and Robert Trent Jones II golf courses are just a short drive away.
In November and December 2019, the all-inclusives Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, respectively, soft opened in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The grand opening for each will be this March. The resorts are side by side, one (Hyatt Zilara) being for adults-only, while the other (Hyatt Ziva) is open to all ages and caters to families. Together, the resorts share nine culinary spots, the underground Zen Spa, a quarter mile of white-sand beach and an amphitheater.
Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana has 375 rooms. Shown here is the main pool of the adults-only resort.
Both resorts have 375 rooms with the Presidential Suite being the top option in each. Although sporting different looks, each suite has 2,500 square feet of space that includes a private balcony, living and dining rooms, a tub with Jacuzzi jets and a king bed.
Consider booking your clients into one of the Club Level rooms; guests receive access to a host of additional amenities and services, including private check-in and check-out, personalized concierge services, premium-brand liquors, 10 percent discount on spa and salon services, private access to Club Pool and more. In both resorts, the Oceanfront Junior Suite Swim-Up has the best views. (Note: At Hyatt Ziva, guests must be over 13 years old to stay in swim-up rooms.)
Hyatt Zilara and Ziva’s Larimar Spa has 18 massage rooms, a hydrotherapy circuit and an outdoor oasis lagoon. There’s also a Himalayan Salt room. Other wellness activities include Aqua-cycling and AquaStrong classes; the fitness center offers bootcamps, boxing, yoga and cycling.
For families, Hyatt Ziva has a water-park with a lazy river, tall slides and water cannons. There’s also a Kidz and Teenz Club, for children up to 17 years old. Amenities include a Spider Zone, Euro Bungee and a VR simulator.
At Hyatt Zilara, a must is dining in the “Maharajas’ Express” — it’s an actual train car modeled after the Orient Express. Open only for dinner, Journeys serves Indian-inspired cuisine. Other options include The Pier, a buffet; Brandos, serving French cuisine with a Polynesian flair; Shutters Beachside, serving Peruvian / Caribbean cuisine; Waves steakhouse, near the pool; and Presto, a pizzeria.
Additionally, adults have a selection of bars and clubs on property, none of which require reservations. Bosque Lounge is a sophisticated lounge serving cocktails (open until 11 p.m.) and Grog Grotto is a Dominican Republic distillery-inspired rum bar (open till midnight). There are also four swim-up bars.
At Hyatt Ziva, Noodle & Thread serves traditional Italian cuisine in a space designed to look like an old-school tailor’s shop with sewing machines and vintage clothes. Guests also have the option of Tempest Table, centered around a Mongolian Grill and teppan tables; El Mercado, a buffet; Chinola Terrace, a beachside restaurant with clean eats; Navigator Grill, serving Caribbean dishes under a palapa; Coffee Republic and Prontoz.
Elsewhere in the Dominican Republic, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda opened in November, as Club Med’s first-ever Exclusive Collection resort in the Americas. The 93-acre resort is the first major site to open within the country’s Miches region.
Guests have access to four restaurants and four open-bar lounges at Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda.
Guests have the option of staying in one of four boutique villages:
- Archipelago is an oceanfront sanctuary exclusively for adults. The 18 oceanfront suites have their own private pool, outdoor shower and ocean views from the bedroom, while guests have exclusive access to a private section of the beach.
- Caribbean Paradise, in heart of the resort, is home to 111 rooms with a lively Caribbean island ambiance.
- Emerald Jungle boutique village is an eco-chic retreat with 48 deluxe rooms, and it is part of Club Med’s adult-exclusive Zen Oasis concept. The area is close to the Zen pool, fitness facilities, the spa and the wellness bar.
- Explorer Cove offers families a bunch of activities. Here, there are 158 family accommodations with large rooms that are close to the children’s clubs and sports facilities. Within this village is La Perla, an exclusive area with 16 oceanfront family suites and four oceanfront penthouse family suites with rooftop terrace; this area also provides special access to its own private family pool, family bar and beach cabanas.
Good to know: Sustainability is at the heart of the resort with special programs and initiatives, such as a lack of single-use plastics. Other initiatives include serving locally sourced coffee and cacao products and programs that stimulate the local economy via various farming development projects to increase the efficiency, quality and demand for local farmers. There’s also an in-resort nursery that currently houses 30,000-plus new plants.
Guests have access to four restaurants, four open-bar lounges, three wine cellars, a locally sourced Coffee House and the Secret Chocolate Room. The resort’s gastronomy is led by executive chef Thierry Van Rillaer. Trained at several Michelin two- and three-star restaurants in Brussels, Van Rillaer oversees the resort’s menu, teams and operations of the resort’s four all-inclusive restaurants.
At Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, guests have access to more than 25 different sports and activities, including fitness classes, tennis, pickleball, archery, indoor climbing, circus activities (including the flying trapeze), kayaking, snorkeling, aqua fitness, team sports, dance classes, a guided running trail and various yoga classes. The wellness program at the resort includes a scenic Treetop Wellness Canopy and oceanfront platform, meditation classes and five different types of yoga classes: Family yoga, gravity yoga, acro-yoga, aqua yoga and paddle yoga.
The resort hosts six active experiences that are a must-try: Electric surfboarding, Hobie Eclipse (stand-up pedal board), treetop yoga class, family paddle boarding, a fitness trail and horseback riding on the beach. The resort also has a Little Gardeners’ House (an interactive family-friendly gardening experience), a children’s Splash Park, a kid-focused zipline and ropes course, and sports activities that parents and children can do together.
The Cinq Mondes spa has single and double treatment rooms, reflexology and relaxation areas, hydrotherapy treatments, hot and cold plunge baths, steam room, sauna and a beauty salon.
In Puerto Rico, the InterContinental San Juan reopened in January. The hotel underwent an extensive, multimillion-dollar enhancement, including the first major room remodel for the hotel in 20 years. (Note this renovation wasn’t a result of Hurricane Maria. The property was open right after the storm; the project has been going on since June 2019.)
The InterContinental San Juan reopened in January after a multimillion-dollar enhancement.
Among the enhancements, all 398 guestrooms, club rooms and suites have been updated with a blue-and-white color palette, which is intended to echo the island’s beaches, while other room details highlight San Juan’s history and colonial style. Top Digs: A brand-new Master Suite and the addition of two Executive Suites. All suites have bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs and terraces with either city or ocean views.
The lobby was also updated with new furnishings and fixtures; the swim-up pool bar was reconstructed to offer a more intimate experience; and one of the restaurants, Ocean Breeze, underwent aesthetic changes.
On the dining side, guests have a pick of two other restaurants: Aleli Restaurant and SAK I; the former is an all-day dining spot, while the latter serves innovative Asian fusion cuisine, incorporating Latin flavors.
InterContinental San Juan is also home to an outdoor lagoon-style pool with a swim-up bar, 24,000 square feet of flexible conference space, four restaurants serving a variety of cuisines and a full-service spa.
The oceanfront resort is steps from the popular palm-fringed Isla Verde beach, minutes from local nightlife and just two miles from the San Juan International Airport.