The Latest Luxury Hotel Updates in the Caribbean

The infinity pool at Belle Mont Farm in St. Kitts. The hotel reopens November 1 with a host of new amenities.
The infinity pool at Belle Mont Farm in St. Kitts. The hotel reopens November 1 with a host of new amenities.

There has been a lot of luxury hotel news coming out of the Caribbean lately. Travel Agent highlights the hottest developments of interest to your more affluent clients to help make the fall and winter seasons more profitable.

Big Changes at Belle Mont Farm for Winter Season: The addition of a new spa and extra dining choices were just some of the added amenities announced by Belle Mont Farm in St. Kitts last month. The hotel will offer brand new luxury accommodations, four dining experiences, the world’s first “edible” golf course, new amenities and attractive rates when it re-opens November 1. It is currently closed for touch-ups, something that could be an annual practice for the hotel.

Other new amenities include Mango Walk Wellness Centre (eventually to become a full tree-house spa in 2016), offering private wellness experiences that range from creating custom body scrubs and therapeutic oils from locally sourced herbs, to al fresco morning yoga sessions on guesthouse verandahs.

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Also new and noteworthy this season is a four-bedroom Farmhouse designed specifically as a special place to share wine and food with family and friends. The Farmhouse provides ample space for up to eight people, and includes a large central pavilion with a private 100-foot infinity pool, expansive gourmet kitchen and curated wine selection by Isabelle Legeron, Belle Mont Farm’s Master of Wine. 

The new Patio Garden will be an extension of Executive Chef Christophe Letard’s farm-to-table philosophy, offering fresh and organic “comfort food” in a casual outdoor setting. The seasonal menu includes savory dishes such as fresh lobster macaroni and cheese, and lamb burgers. The outdoor verandah overlooks Mount Liamuiga’s tropical forest, and is adjacent to the fine dining restaurant, The Kitchen, now popular among locals and guests alike, especially for its high-end Sunday brunch.

Coco House will offer 12-course tasting menus and the highest level of curated dining. Between courses, Kittitian elders share traditional folklore and flavorful tales with guests, presenting another taste of St. Kitts culture. The design of Coco House incorporates a retractable roof and antique farm equipment inspired by traditional St. Kitts cocoa drying houses, while providing an elegant dining experience under the stars.

Belle Mont Farm will also introduce a ceviche bar at the Pool Grille, located by the sprawling infinity pool in front of the Great House. In addition to seasonal cocktails and fresh juices, guests can drink in views of neighboring islands St. Eustatius and Saba.

Arthur’s “sea-to-fork” restaurant will be another dining option on the black-sand beach in Dieppe Bay, just a 10-minute drive from the resort.

When it opens on November 15, Irie Fields will be a Par 71, 18-hole “edible” golf course that embraces its natural landscape with fruit ripe for the picking throughout. Designed by legendary Welsh golfer-turned-golf-course-designer Ian Woosnam, the complex course offers challenging, yet exciting obstacles at every turn.

Penthouses at The Palms Turks & Caicos, formerly the Regent Palms Resort and Spa, have a master bedroom plus two additional bedrooms.
Penthouses at The Palms Turks & Caicos, formerly the Regent Palms Resort and Spa, have a master bedroom plus two additional bedrooms.

Palms Turks and Caicos to Operate as Independent Hotel: After eight years of successfully operating as The Regent Palms Turks and Caicos, the hotel is returning to its boutique roots. On September 1, the 72-suite resort and spa on Providenciales’ famed Grace Bay Beach dropped the Regent name and affiliation to once again operate as an independent property under The Hartling Group.

Now known simply as The Palms Turks and Caicos, this Virtuoso member property will continue under the leadership of Karen Whitt. Whitt joined the property as general manager nearly five years ago, and was named General Manager of the Year by Luxury Travel Advisor, Travel Agent’s sister publication, in 2014.

We had an opportunity to chat with Whitt about the reason for the change. She says the two parties began to go their separate ways in 2012 when The Palms downgraded its partnership with Regent from a managerial agreement to a licensing agreement. That decision, says Whitt, was due in large part to Regent’s “shift and change to its business model,” which hasn’t focused very much on the North American market that The Palms relies upon.

A Lagoon Villa at the Canouan Resort
A Lagoon Villa at the Canouan Resort

Four Companies in Talks to Manage Canouan Resort: A quartet of hotel management companies is vying for the opportunity to represent the new hotel at Canouan Resort on St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The new $200 million property on Godahl Beach will consist of 24 one- to two-bedroom suites, two penthouses and six villas all right on the beach. When it opens next year it is expected to be one of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean.

Patrice van Isacker, director of sales and marketing for Canouan Resort, says discussions have begun with four possible management companies: Belmond Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

Mandarin would be especially interesting, since Canouan Resort would represent the company’s first Caribbean hotel. Regardless of who gets named, Jeff Morgan, hotel manager for Canouan Resort, tells us he doesn’t expect the new management company to make any major changes at the hotel, aside from splashing around a few of the management company’s logos.

Van Isacker says he expects a management company to be announced within the next month. There will actually be a sneak preview in December for past guests only. Then a grand opening is expected around February or March of 2016. Canouan Resort, which is on a separate part of the Grenadines Estate, continues to be fully operational. It is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

Galley Bay Upgrades: During a recent visit to Antigua, we chatted with Alex de Brito, general manager of Galley Bay Resort & Spa, and learned about the resort’s upcoming renovations. De Brito told us by the end of December, the resort will have a brand new gift shop that will also serve as a grocery store, a new Diamonds International shop, a new rum and cigar bar and a new fitness center that will offer ocean views, something the current gym does not offer.

The current gift shop will become the office of the owner and general manager and the current gym will be included as part of the shopping complex that will house the new gift shop. De Brito also told us roughly six of the property’s 15 bungalows will be completely renovated by the end of the summer while the remaining nine will be refurbished by the end of next summer.

Inside A Pair of Major Hotel Renovations in St. Barths: We recently had the opportunity to chat with Martein van Wagenberg, managing director of the Le Guanahani in St. Barths, about the transformation of his hotel. Earlier this year, Hotel Guanahani & Spa, the only full-service boutique hotel in St. Barths, announced its debut as Le Guanahani following the completion of a four-year, $40 million renovation. But it turns out that wasn’t the end of the makeover.

There are a total of 67 rooms here, 27 of which are suites. Fifty-two rooms have been renovated, while the remaining will be finished from September to the end of October when the hotel closes for annual touch-ups, van Wagenberg says.

Some of the rooms have been completely gutted, while others just needed a good refresh, says van Wagenberg. Most of the rooms were enlarged from the inside out.

Outdoor terraces with views were turned into focal points for the rooms, and all rooms received new furnishings and accessories in bold, Caribbean colors. The entire renovation project, which also includes the makeover of the reception area and spa, is about $46 million, says van Wagenberg.

The spa renovations will be mostly cosmetic as there are no plans to add any treatment rooms to the existing eight that are currently in operation. The spa improvements will mainly focus on bringing the spa back to the style of the rest of the hotel, as it currently has an Asian feel to it, van Wagenberg says. The entire vision of the redo was designed to reflect the laid-back, French Creole vibe of the island.

The best rooms here are the eight Prestige Suites. These suites have views of the ocean and are located just above the spa. They are equipped with an outdoor, covered bathroom with shower, sitting area and king-size bed. There is a 323-square-foot private terrace as well. Butler service is also included.

Le Guanahani isn’t the only luxury hotel in St. Barths that is undergoing a makeover. Hotel Le Toiny is currently closed for renovations and will reopen with completed enhancements on November 1.

This Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel on the isle’s southeastern side announced recently that it underwent a full-scale renovation this summer, including the addition of a new beach club, a redesign of all accommodations and updates to the hotel’s public spaces. The hotel’s gourmet restaurant will also be refreshed.

Each of the hotel’s 15 villa-style accommodations will be updated to a chic color palette of sandy beige, bright white, warm brown and driftwood gray, reminiscent of St. Barths beaches. Bleached wood-inspired floors, fine Belgian linens, textured accessories and handmade furnishings will round out the comfortable spaces. Striking blue accent pieces will tie the design together for a breezy look that is stylish yet unfussy.

The Toiny Beach Club will be incorporated around two historic cottages, constructed by the island’s pioneering Ledee family in the late 18th century. The outdoor space will also feature an open-air amphitheater, coconut grove, tamarind field, garden, orchard and pineapple trees. Sand will also be added to soften the beach club’s setting without interrupting Toiny Bay’s rugged shores.

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