Top New Island Hotels

Sandals LaSource Grenada bedroom

Sandals LaSource Grenada bedroom



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Caribbean hotels are popping up like the good old pre-2009 days and development doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. To narrow your focus a bit, Travel Agent targeted the 10 most influential hotels that have either opened their doors in 2013, had major refurbishments, or are getting primed for a big 2014 unveiling. Here, alphabetically by island, is a brief look at each one.

Ritz-Carlton, Aruba 

The 320-room Ritz-Carlton, Aruba resort is slated to open November 2. Amenities include four restaurants, a 15-treatment room Ritz-Carlton Spa, two swimming pools, a 24-hour casino, one of the largest state-of-the-art meeting facilities in Aruba, and the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

There are 55 luxurious suites that include Deluxe, Executive and Parlor Suites providing one-and-a-half baths, a spacious living room and boutique bath amenities. Two Ritz-Carlton Suites deliver panoramic ocean views and rooms as expansive as they are elegant, distinguished by a master bedroom, a living room and a private balcony facing the sea with outdoor showers.

Guest rooms at Santa Barbara Resort afford scenic views.

Guest rooms at Santa Barbara Resort afford scenic views.


Couples Barbados

Travel Agent, along with several of our 35 Under 30 agents, recently had the privilege of touring the new Couples Barbados, the first Couples Resorts property outside of Jamaica. It officially opened in June.

UPDATE: After press time, Sandals Resorts International announced that the Couples Barbados will reopen as the Sandals Barbados. Details here. 

The 280-room resort has undergone a roughly $3 million upgrade program that began in early February. One of the major projects involved in the re-flagging of the resort is the moving of the property’s spa. The spa will be moved to where the property’s former pizzeria was once housed. The old Kids Club will now be an outdoor fitness area where clients can take part in such classes as yoga and Pilates. Also, a new pool area, which will include a Jacuzzi and will be designated as the property’s “quiet area,” will be ready by November.

What impressed us the most was the landscape and the beach. Now, the word “lush” is usually tossed around in just about every hotel overview I come across, but in the case of this property, it certainly applies. I have personally never seen plants that rival trees in size, nor have I seen this much tropical flora at any Caribbean resort, and we were told that even more foliage will be added.

Great House at Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private island in the British Virgin Islands and part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection, is not exactly new, but it recently completed renovation on its Great House in September.

The Trident Castle reigns on a sprawling seven-acre oceanfront estate.

The Trident Castle reigns on a sprawling seven-acre oceanfront estate.


The retreat has been fully restored after a devastating fire caused by a lightning strike burned the house to the ground in 2011. It will be officially reopened to clients following an extensive two-year restructuring and has been inspired by the features and Balinese style of the original house. With some new and innovative twists, it affords views of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and neighboring islands.

Each of the eight guest rooms has 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 1,500 square feet, 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 fully stocked fridge.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao

Curacao’s premier luxury resort, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, formerly known as Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, opened in January. 

As the latest installment to join the Benchmark Hospitality International family, a partner of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the resort is the focal point of the 1,500-acre Santa Barbara Plantation community. The 350-room beachfront resort encompasses Old Quarry by Pete Dye, the island’s only 18-hole championship golf course; Atabei Spa, an eco-friendly holistic retreat inspired by the island’s ancient traditions and rituals; as well as a full-service marina.

Garden Bar Terrace, Occidental Royal Oasis, Haiti

Garden Bar Terrace, Occidental Royal Oasis, Haiti


The resort’s amenities include three oceanfront outdoor pools, a palm-lined sundeck, 24-hour fitness center, jogging trail, tennis and volleyball courts, as well as more than 38,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and banquet space. All 350 guest rooms, ranging from double, king and junior suites to VIP, executive and presidential suites, have natural sandstone flooring, luxe bedding, flat-screen plasma TVs, deluxe bath amenities and scenic views of either Spanish Water Bay or the Caribbean Sea. A private enclave of three beach bungalows is also available.

Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa

Although it’s not scheduled to open until December 12, Travel Agent was able to get all the information you need to prepare for a Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa rush.

The best rooms at the resort will be the Skypool Suites, Millionaire Suites and Rondoval Suites. For the best views, however, clients 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. Note: Private butler service is available in 75 Butler Suites, which are found among the Millionaire Suites, Rondoval and Skypool Suites. 

Sandals LaSource Grenada is only minutes away from Maurice Bishop International Airport. Clients receive chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce and Mercedes 500 series airport transfers. VIP transportation also comes with snacks, beverages and complimentary Wi-Fi.  

Best Western Premier Petion-Ville, Haiti

The opening of the 106-room Best Western Premier Petion-Ville marks the first U.S. branded full-service hotel to open in Haiti.

The hotel is in the business area north of Port-au-Prince and provides lodging and meeting space for financial and government institutions, humanitarian organizations, non-government organizations, and business and leisure travelers visiting the country. It officially opened on April 4.

Occidental Royal Oasis, Haiti

In January, Occidental Hotels and Resorts opened the Occidental Royal Oasis in Petion-Ville, Haiti. Occidental Vacation Club, a division of Occidental Hotels and Resorts, will be an important component that allows members to visit yet another destination included in their membership.

The property is sprawled over three acres in the heart of Petion-Ville, formerly an upscale residential suburb which has now gradually evolved to become Haiti’s most important business and commercial hub. Located in one of the area’s safest and most desirable neighborhoods, the Royal Oasis is earthquake resistant and hurricane proof. The largest hotel in Haiti features crisp and modern designs in its 128 luxurious rooms and is just a 30-minute drive from Port-au-Prince International Airport.

All Occidental Vacation Club holidays include unlimited meals and snacks, á la carte dining in specialty restaurants including unlimited alcoholic beverages, sports (including tennis on a lighted court, water polo, aqua aerobics, and kayaking), use of the fitness center and more. Daily entertainment and a supervised Kids Club (ages 4 to 12) are also part of the package where available onsite, as well as nightly shows and live entertainment, and all taxes and gratuities.

Trident Hotel/Trident Castle, Jamaica

The six-month-old Trident Hotel epitomizes laid-back luxury with just 13 studios, one- and two-bedroom villas with private, heated plunge pools, and terraces overlooking the sea. The hotel in Port Antonio was thoroughly renovated but maintains most of its original Jamaican-Georgian exteriors. 

When it opened in mid-April, we stayed in villa No. 14 (there is no villa No. 13 for superstitious reasons), also known as the Shiprock Villa because it is so close to the ocean and the rocks. It was easily one of the best rooms we’ve ever stayed at in Jamaica. There’s a king-size bed and a flat-screen smart TV to watch an array of movies on Netflix and to listen to just about any type of music. 

The room also comes with an outdoor shower. Some villas have outdoor showers while others have outdoor bathtubs. My tub was located inside. The best part of this room, however, was the private patio with a small swimming pool and lounge chairs. It is completely gated off from the other villas so you basically have a backyard to yourself. The pool is only about two feet away from the ocean and elevated about two feet above the ocean. It’s not uncommon to get sprinkled by the ocean as the waves crash the rocks. The villa is also the closest one to the hotel’s private beach. Most beaches in the Caribbean are public unless they are man-made like this one.

The Trident Castle, also in Port Antonio, re-opened around the same time and still reigns on this sprawling seven-acre oceanfront estate. Much of the original furnishings and interiors have been refurbished and kept intact, creating an exceptionally unique retro-chic ambiance. Built as a private residence by architect Earl Levy beginning in 1979, The Castle has become a symbolic landmark of Port Antonio’s history, and since been converted into a high style pied-à-terre for seekers of uncommonly refined living.

The Castle comprises eight bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, and modern amenities including 500-thread-count sheets, compact digital surround sound system, Apple TVs, mini-bar and Wi-Fi. The grand public rooms include an opulent ballroom and banquet hall, an elegant drawing room and living area, adjoining sunrooms and a state-of-the-art photography studio. 

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, Puerto Rico

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. 

In June, Suarez told 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. Instead, Suarez says rooms will now be ready by the first quarter of 2014.

In October of last year, the Condado Vanderbilt opened its signature restaurant, 1919, with hopes of having the rooms ready shortly after. The second phase of the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel includes 323 guest rooms. The hotel will offer clients a luxurious environment in an exclusive setting, filled with history and the nostalgia of past eras when the hotel was the social epicenter of San Juan.