Room to Get: The View From St. Lucia
Book room S or X at Ladera, a small and unpretentious hotel in the volcanic heights above Soufrière. Both have views of the Piton peaks and azure coast. Rooms, $395 and $820; 758-459-7323; www.ladera.com.
Great Find: Pick a Pepper
Every island in the West Indies makes its own hot sauce—sometimes as many as a dozen varieties. And our favorite is Erica's Country Style Pepper Sauce from St. Vincent. We love its bite and clarity of flavor (you can really taste the fresh peppers). Pick up a bottle for a few dollars at any grocery in Kingstown, the capital. Erica's Country Style Products, Prospect, St. Vincent; 784-456-2951.
Postcard: Bequia, The Anti-St. Barths
For anyone looking to escape "the scene," Bequia (pronounced Bek-way) is friendly, has pristine beaches, and is utterly indifferent to what's fashionable. Which is not to say that this tiny island in the Grenadines doesn't have its own chic: The hotels here may still be sub-par, but it has several luxe, full-service villas to rent from Bequia Villa Rentals (784-458-3393) and plenty of good food. For lunch, try the steamed mahimahi or lobster-salad sandwiches, coconut cake, and rum punch at De Reef (lunch, $36; 784-458-3958). L'Auberge des Grenadines (dinner, $110 $; 784-458-3201; www.caribrestaurant.com) has a very good wine list, as well as a lobster tank that yields sublime grilled rock lobsters. Even the local market and grocery offer better food than you normally find in the islands: fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, and an assortment of goods that seem imported from Dean & DeLuca. When you're ready for some adventure, charter the Passion, a 60-foot motorized catamaran with an amiable Floridian captain, for a day trip to snorkel in the Tobago Cays or to fish off Mustique ($75 $; 784-458-3884).
Villa to Rent: Brand New on Mustique
"From the day I saw the lot, I knew we had to build something extraordinary," says Tatiana Copeland, who with her husband, Gerret, finished building Toucan Hill, a five-bedroom hilltop villa, in August. The result is a Moorish delight, modeled on the Alhambra in Spain, with views of both the Atlantic and Caribbean. The house is filled with great finds from the world over: silver furniture from India, a mirrored Balinese table, paintings from Mexico in mother-of-pearl and gold frames, and antique tiles from Morocco and Tunisia. On more than six landscaped acres and with two pools, the house astonishes without intimidating. "It's a place where you can put your feet up on the table," Copeland says. Rates, $35,000 a week for up to eight people; 800-747-9214, 784-458-4621; www.mustique-island.com.
• Malaysian-born Lotty Bunbury first came to Mustique when her husband answered the call to be the island's only doctor. Today her hand-painted Lotty B. silk sarongs are spotted beachfront by day and at Basil's Bar after dark. $250; 201-567-7536; www.lottyb.com.
Hot Properties: Where to Stay on Grenada
ONE TO WATCH It's been 20 years since America invaded Grenada. But even now, "people still call to see if the fighting is over," says Bernardo Bertucci, the owner of the island's first design resort, Laluna. The only battles being waged now are over occupancy of one of Laluna's 16 cottages. It's a glitterati hot spot, with a barefoot chic (still, you absolutely must know your Manolos from your Choos), so it's not for everyone. If seeing Kate Moss and Jerry Hall at the pool is not your idea of a vacation, there are other options: The Bel Air Plantation, on 18 acres of mango and papaya orchards, has 11 family-friendly cottages with fourposter beds, big bathrooms, and views of the beach from open porches. Spice Island Beach Resort is a compound with 66 suites, all tastefully if not imaginatively decorated, along Grand Anse, one of the best beaches on the island (room to get: the Royal Suite, which has its own sauna). The resort has a spa and gym as well as 17 villas with large private pools. Laluna: Rooms, $530-$680; 866-452-5862; www.laluna.com. Bel Air Plantation: Rooms, $295-$595; 473-444-6305; www.belairplantation.com. Spice Island Beach Resort: Rooms, $570-$990; includes meals, drinks, and activities; 473-444-4258; www.spicebeachresort.com.
The Scene: A Rising Star
Barbados generally offers some of the best food in the Caribbean, but its good restaurants—The Cliff and Josef's, for example—often have a certain formality that some find stuffy. Some. For them, The Lone Star is the perfect antidote. A little like London's Caprice and The Ivy rolled into one, this seaside dining room serves good jerk chicken, prawn curry, seared tuna, and grilled lobster. Candlelit and friendly, it has the just the right buzz (especially when Princess Caroline dines here). Dinner, $110. Mount Standfast, St. James; 246-419-0599.
Villa to Rent: Grand Sprawl
The new villa at Sandy Lane is a five-bedroom fiefdom with a huge pool, gardens, and a golf cart—but not great views. Still, it's worth staying for Patsy Small, the butler and ultimate fixer. Rates, $20,000 a night; 866-444-4080; www.sandylane.com.
With Reservations: Lunch at Sandy Lane
Much as we like Sandy Lane, the Bajan Sunday buffet on the beach isn't worth $150. We say head inland to a terrace table at Villa Nova. It's the chicest place for a long, lazy Sunday lunch overlooking beautiful English-style gardens. Lunch, $100. 246-433-1524.
With Reservations: Can the Carib Be Too Laid Back?
The House is the first hotel in Barbados to attempt Boho chic—but it's altogether too relaxed. The staff is more inclined to giggle than apologize when they've forgotten a drink order. The airy public spaces are hip, with ceiling fans and Indonesian couches, but the all-white rooms fall flat: drab flowers, forgettable furniture. Its dining room is good, however, serving dishes like marinated white anchovies with roast beets and linguine with spicy crab. Rooms, $776-$2,186. At Tamarind Cove; 800-326-6898; 246-432-5525.
Hotel rates range from the lowest-priced double to the highest-priced suite in high season. In most cases VAT is not included. Meal prices are for a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverage and gratuity.
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.