by Stella Magazine writers, The Telegraph, January 17, 2019
It’s time to flee the winter chill and get roasting on a beautiful Caribbean escape. Pick an island and set your dial to chillout mode.
Jade Mountain, St Lucia
Best for... all-out luxury
The low-down: This architectural masterpiece, where suites are open-air with no fourth wall, occupies 2,000 sq ft. With private infinity pools, Molton Brown toiletries, butler service and views from the four-poster beds of the famed Pitons, some guests have been known to not leave their 'sanctuary' after checking-in, but it’s worth venturing out to sample the island’s famous chocolate. Sign up for a workshop at the hotel's chocolate lab (tip: the 70 per cent cocoa variety with spicy cashews and papaya is divine). Afterwards, head to the spa for a meditative Rainbow Body Massage, which promises to balance the chakras.
Out and about: Wake up at sunrise to climb the Gros Piton before it’s too hot (the hotel can arrange a ‘climbing butler’) or book a private sunset sailing trip to view the Pitons from the ocean. Also try paddle-boarding and windsurfing (both free to hotel guests) and jungle biking at the Anse Mamin Plantation. Make sure you’re back at the hotel in time for the weekly Saint Lucian rum mixology class at the Beach Bar every Sunday.
Stella loves: The enormous raised bath. It’s surrounded by candles, overlooks the ocean and is big enough for... well, a lot of people, and in the past has been voted the world's sexiest bathtub.
Seven nights from £3,799 per person sharing a Sky Jacuzzi Suite including breakfast, flights, lounge access and private transfers (on request only); caribtours.co.uk
Read the full review: Jade Mountain
Royal Fairmont Pavilion, Barbados
Best for... lazy, elegant days
The low-down: The Royal Pavilion experience begins with a pretty, pale pink outdoor reception area – sink into a sofa with a fresh juice and immediately feel stresses melt away. The hotel has had a recent upgrade so the spacious rooms – which all come with a sea view – are pristine and airy. And because it was built before strict building regulations were introduced in Barbados, you are never more than a few metres from the beach, where you can paddleboard or laze on the floating platform. Amidst the elegant buildings and lush gardens, there are three restaurants to choose from, including a relaxed beachside café and chic terrace dining. Morning yoga classes are another highlight.
Out and about: The hotel can organise island tours – they recommend a visit to the more rugged Atlantic coast. A short stroll along the beach is The Top Deck restaurant, which has a great reputation for modern Caribbean dishes.
Stella loves: Each morning a member of the watersports team swims out with guests to where the turtles gather off the beach – so special!
Rates from £600 a night in a Signature Oceanfront King, including breakfast; fairmont.com/barbados
Read the full review: Royal Fairmont Pavilion
Curtain Bluff, Antigua
Best for... heritage and nostalgia seekers
The low-down: Antigua’s Curtain Bluff was founded in the Sixties, and following a refurb it retains the laid-back glamour of the era, with a dose of feel-good Caribbean culture (expect steel pan bands, rum punch, freshly caught spicy mahi mahi and possibly the world’s best banana bread). The headland boasts 72 rooms, and every single one overlooks a beach replete with hammocks and a soundtrack of gentle surf. Interconnecting rooms for families are guaranteed, its renowned for tennis and the kids' club is a beachside haven where parents can join their children and the resident tortoises (or alternatively head to the serene spa overlooking nearby Montserrat).
Out and about: Shirley Heights look-out point hosts a sunset barbecue every Sunday, overlooking the English Harbour and its infamously ogle-worthy yachts and restored colonial architecture. Eat by the infinity pool at Boom restaurant at Admiral's Inn, or relax at trendy Catherine's Café on Pigeon Beach. And book an outing to Stingray City, where you can cuddle a friendly stingray (not kidding). Head to visitantiguabarbuda.com to see what other delights await.
Stella loves: Watersports are unlimited – yes really! This includes snorkelling at Cades Reef, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking and water skiing.
Deluxe rooms from £542 a night on an all-inclusive basis; curtainbluff.com
Read the full review: Curtain Bluff
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Best for... chilled out vibes
The low-down: Carlisle Bay's quietly luxurious vibe is perfectly complemented by its chilled Caribbean setting. The resort itself is huge and wandering around its expansive tropical rainforest is quite magical. Spend your days on the beachfront (only a few feet from your bedroom door) lunch at the Jetty Grill (and be sure to order a piña colada), and then dine at Indigo on the Beach in time for sunset. If you're fairly active, the gym and numerous tennis courts are brilliant and there's an in-house coach, too. If you're planning to relax, the Blue Spa is a slice of heaven and we'd highly recommend the West Indian head massage. The resort's informal Italian restaurant, Ottimo!, is hugely undersold by the humble staff as a snack bar – expect some of the best pasta dishes you've ever tasted.
Out and about: Head outside of the resort and you'll be instantly greeted by a host of friendly locals selling homegrown fruits at their stalls. You won't regret buying a pineapple: they're delicious – softer, smaller and much sweeter than what you're probably used to. Shirley Heights, a stunning view point complete with steel pan performances, is a must on a Sunday evening, too.
Stella loves: The amazing in-house water sports team. Whether you're a beginner or like to think you're a pro, the team are friendly, helpful and full of fun and interesting facts about the island.
Rates from £738 a night for a Garden Suite, breakfast included; carlisle-bay.com
Read the full review: Carlisle Bay