Caribbean resorts are known for being high in price and the urban pretension you want to get away from. So before the first frost and the winter-long fantasy kicks in of the Caribbean’s turquoise waters, sunny beaches, and breezy palapa huts, we consulted the charming and knowledgeable Meg Nolan van Reesma, author of the just published Caribbean Hideaways (Rizzoli) for advice on where to go that’s more barefoot than luxury.
For the book, Meg considered hundreds of properties, visited 50, and settled on 30 worthy of inclusion. Here are her top three picks for owner-operated, one-off Caribbean retreats that aren’t teeming with tourists, and cost less than the peak-season rate at the Four Seasons Nevis.
La Luna, Grenada
The Italian owner created La Luna to commemorate his passion for all things Balinese, says Meg. “The 16 cottages are kitted out in teak furniture and gauzy fabrics and all the spa therapists administering plant-based treatments are Balinese.” After a class in the new open-air yoga pavilion overlooking the water, you can get a juice—or a really good espresso. The aesthetic may be Indonesian, but the culinary program is 100 percent Italian. www.laluna.com
Kanopi House, Jamaica
This jungly Jamaican hideaway with a handful of cottages is literally the place to “live your inner Brooke Shields,” jokes Meg. As the setting for Shield’s breakout movie, Blue Lagoon, Kanopi inspires a casual bikini-and-barefoot state of mind with a serious infusion of nature: Take a midnight canoe ride amid phosphorescent plankton and eat all of your meals outdoors (the chef uses produce grown on-site). It’s the sister property of Kamalame Cay in the Bahamas, which has a new overwater spa with Naturopathica treatments. www.kanopihouse.com
Guana Island, British Virgin Islands
You’d never think, “let’s go hiking in the Caribbean,” but that’s the reason why people come here, says Meg, of this private island reachable by water taxi or ferry from Tortola. “It’s probably the Caribbean’s most wild island. And a doctor-environmentalist lives on site and will show you the bat caves, flamingos, and donkeys,” she says. There are only about 30 guests on the 850 acre island at a time. There’s a yoga instructor (who didn’t demonstrate NYC-level prowess, unfortunately), and a great little one-room spa hut on the beach. www.guana.com
Caribbean Hideaways: Discovering Enchanting Rooms and Private Villas by Meg Nolan van Reesma; photography by Jessica Antola. Rizzoli, October 2010.
READER GIVEAWAY, ENDS TONIGHT 9/16 AT MIDNIGHT!! Tell us which of the three destinations you’d choose for a getaway (and why) to be entered to win a free copy of Caribbean Hideaways. Winner chosen at random. Please post your comment below. Thanks and good luck!