By Ruth Doherty
With so much time spent at home over the last year, it's no wonder we're all chomping at the bit to book a sun-soaked vacation with a salty sea breeze in our hair and palm-dotted powdery beaches under our feet.
Well, with a handful of design-led new hotels in the Caribbean opening their doors this year, there hasn't been a better time to start that sun-seeking search.
From sparkling seas and your own beachside villa in the Turks & Caicos, to understated luxury and refined elegance at a true boutique hotel in St Barths, discover five new hotels in the Caribbean to put on your must-visit list below.
See: Best design hotels in the world – our most coveted global destinations
1. The Hotel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf, St Barths
The newest hotel to open on St Barths, the Hotel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf is an upscale hideaway oozing French-style charm. The 23 rooms, suites and bungalows offer relaxed luxury amid tropical elegance.
Designers Gilles & Boissier have created a discreetly chic retreat; adorned with soft fabrics and natural materials, it's a tranquil haven overlooking the peaceful harbour of Gustavia, the island’s capital.
Just a five-minute walk from the idyllic Shell Beach, it's a super-chic picture-postcard scene. And, when you're peckish, there's cuisine at Le Fouquet, created by 3-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire.
2. Palm Heights, Grand Cayman
A revel of the glory days of Caribbean understated glamour, Palm Heights is a generational reboot celebrating regional culture, cuisine, wellness, thinking and design.
Creative director Gabriella Khalil has created Grand Cayman's first beachfront boutique hotel, filled with collectible design pieces like Mario Bellini sofas, Ingo Maurer lights and an Ettore Sottsass rug.
Working with designers Sarita Posada and Courtney Applebaum, the London-based interior designer developed the design aesthetic to be like a 1970s-era mansion. The trio sourced suitable designs to decorate the property from Parisian flea markets, Los Angeles and Mexico.
'The design concept was inspired by the idea of a 70s era Caribbean mansion featuring collectible unique design pieces from Marcel Breuer, Mario Bellini, artworks by Pierre Paulin, and Vladimir Kagan to name a few,' said Khalil. Beachside bliss with a side order of retro style.
- See: Best new design hotels in the US – everything you need to know
3. Beach Enclave Long Bay, Turks & Caicos
Pull up a pew on your own private deck with direct access to a powdery beach and azure sea at the Beach Enclave Long Bay - a villa-resort located in Turks & Caicos overlooking the beautiful Long Bay Beach.
Designed to embrace the natural beauty of the island, the project includes brand new standalone Beach Houses with the resort's design ethos of seamless indoor-outdoor living.
The two-story homes were designed by acclaimed architects of Jacobsen Arquitetura, and showcase an elegant and minimalist design; each Beach House has a large indoor kitchen and great room with double height ceiling, opening onto an expansive covered deck with a summer kitchen and sun terrace.
The open living spaces are layered with local wood and coral stone, with sppliances from Sub-Zero & Wolf, and expansive sliding glass doors lead to private infinity-edge pools, signature outdoor showers and multiple terraces for alfresco dining and lounging. We've packed already...
4. 02 Beach Club & Spa, Barbados
The re-imagined O2 Beach Club & Spa will open its doors in October 2021 as the newest luxury boutique all-inclusive retreat on Barbados.
Set on 1,000 feet of powder-white beach and glistening turquoise waters, the resort offers relaxing, luxurious accommodation. It's been designed by Caribbean-based firm Apple + Iron, led by Michelle Leotaud, whose design concept was to incorporate the natural beauty that surrounds the hotel and, by extension, the Caribbean, combining modern design with a tropical heart. The perfect fly-and-flop destination.
5. The Morgan Resort & Spa, St Maarten
The Morgan Resort & Spa, a sleek and modern boutique resort hotel, officially opened on 1 June, 2021, and was designed by award-winning interior architectural design firm DiLeonardo.
Simple, clean and modern materials and textures blend seamlessly into the island’s breathtaking scenery, with natural wood tones and sleek interiors featuring cool blues and whites.
The island of St. Maarten is world renowned for its beautiful beaches, bustling nightlife and epicurean experiences, as well as being a honeypot for the A-list. The newest boutique hotel in St. Maarten, it's minutes away from famous Maho Beach, Sunset Beach Bar and the most photographed airport in the world, the Princess Juliana Airport; there's even a Rooftop Observation Deck for 360-degree views of the jets landing.
And, when you're relaxing, you can sift sand through your toes at the beach-style pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Ruth Doherty is an interiors writer who has worked for Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home magazines among many others.
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