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March 30, 2010

This Season

What's haute in the Caribbean?

The Caribbean is trying to catch up with the Indian Ocean this winter with a flurry of openings and upgrades. Some resorts we know, some we don't, and about some we've only heard rumors (good and bad). On Saint Barths the buzz is around Le Sereno's 37 new beachfront villas (590-590/29-83-00; www.lesereno.com), all with interiors by the hautest of haute Frenchmen, Christian Liaigre. Eden Rock (877-563-7105; www.edenrockhotel.com) is also on the move, having bought the Filao Beach Hotel as a way to make it easier to get a room on the island. The hotel is right to keep spending—the Turks and Caicos are giving Saint Barths a run for its money. Amanyara (800-477-9180; www.amanresorts.com), Amanresorts' first foray into the Caribbean, will debut in March—maybe—on the archipelago's main isle of Providenciales, where just last year The Palms (866-877-7256; www.thepalmstc.com), a glitzy beach resort featuring a 25,000 square-foot spa, awed even the most finicky gourmands. (This season the smart money is also on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's new Café Martinique [242-363-3000] in the Bahamas.) In the Dominican Republic, two new hotels are determined to polish up the country's image by going boutique. Casa Colonial Beach & Spa Resort (809-320-3232; www.casacolonialhotel.com) is a 42-room mansion with eight beachside suites, and Sivory Punta Cana (809-687-3118; www.sivorypuntacana.com) has 55 Baliesque rooms. The most conspicuous—and most awaited—newcomer has to be the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman (800-241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com). It's hard to ignore the Cousteau children's program, Greg Norman-designed golf course, Nick Bollettieri tennis clinic, and two restaurants by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York. Travelers heading to the Grenadines can check out Raffles Resort Canouan Island ( 784-458-8000; www.raffles-canouanisland.com), a 156-room, 300-acre property featuring a Trump International golf course (the service, imported from Asia, has translated well here, we're told). And for those seeking an easy, family-friendly spot, the style-conscious (800-869-5827; www.kuanguilla.com) on Anguilla—again, not yet tested by us—seems promising. It's relatively inexpensive (rooms start at $300) and the credentials are trustworthy; it's the sister hotel to Cap Juluca. Anguilla, in fact, seems bound to continue as the chicest spot among the Caribbean bunch. The island is just a hop away from Antigua, where Delta has started twice-weekly flights from Atlanta.


ISLAND SHOPPING

BAHAMAS
JEAN-GEORGES ALERT The maestro has taken over Café Martinique on Paradise Island. Famous for its cameo in Thunderball, the restaurant has been revamped by Adam Tihany.

FANTASY GOLF Peter de Savary's members-only Abaco Club on Winding Bay has a course by Tom Mackenzie and Donald Steel. www.theabacoclub.com

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
AMAN A-GO-GO In March the 40-room Amanyara (www.amanresorts.com) goes head-to-head with The Palms, a glitzy resort that has 72 suites and 25,000 square feet of spa.

ANGUILLA
CAP JULUCA SPAWNS A spin-off of the classic hot spot, Kú is casual, with a Miamified look, right on one of the island's best beaches, Shoal Bay East.

ST. BARTHS
ST. BARTHS, MAIS OUI! Le Sereno gets the full treatment with designs by Liaigre, while Eden Rock grows seven villas richer after buying its neighbor, the Filao.

CAYMAN ISLANDS
THE BIG DEBUT Delayed by Hurricane Ivan (2004), the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman—with chef Eric Ripert et al in residence—opened in December.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
THE D. R. DELIVERS Casa Colonial's 50 rooms, divine spa, and lovely boutique have just been followed by Sivory Punta Cana—55 Indonesian-theme rooms.

CRUISING
SMART CRUISING The three-masted, 160-foot Arabella has 20 cabins and docks at ports too small to accommodate big cruisers. St. Barths is a new one. www.cruisearabella.com

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
CROQUET, ANYONE? Besides the total room redos and new pool villas, the chicest improvement to Jumby Bay is the addition of a croquet field. 888-767-3966

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
CROQUET, ANYONE? Besides the total room redos and new pool villas, the chicest improvement to Jumby Bay is the addition of a croquet field. 888-767-3966

THE GRENADINES
BLING IN THE GRENADINES Though the Raffles Canouan Island may not be to everyone's taste—it's rather grandiose—the Trump golf course and villas are impressive.

ST. LUCIA
ST. LUCIA GETS SWINGING In April the Plantation on Cotton Bay will debut as the island's first golf-and-villa resort. 800-223-1108

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