The Caribbean's All Time Top 10 Classic Resorts

By Ian Keown
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A night at Antigua's Curtain Bluff for $80, including breakfast and dinner? How about a suite and all meals at Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda for $125? It's hard to believe, but those were the going rates in the first edition of my guidebook Caribbean Hideaways, published in 1978. Thumbing through it recently, I was delighted to discover that many of my favorites from back then have retained their places in the Caribbean pantheon and are still going strong. Three decades at the top is an extraordinary achievement, what with new resorts opening every other month, each hailing itself as the last word in style and service.

So how do the classics do it? Here's one theory: New resorts have business plans while the classics have innkeepers. Many of the golden oldies are still owned and, in some cases, still managed by their founders, who are tirelessly devoted to their properties. In many ways, these venerable resorts are younger than ever. Along with the perpetual maintenance required to counter the challenges of a tropical climate, these hotels also have to keep pace with the tastes and expectations of the children and grandchildren of their longtime guests, and to attract a new clientele. So they have gradually (and sometimes reluctantly) modernized, installing flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi and air conditioning and relaxing dress codes while staying true to their original spirit and sense of place.

Since it's probably safe to say that no one has been rating resorts in the Caribbean longer than I have, I feel qualified to honor the region's classics. Choosing only ten wasn't easy, so I applied this yardstick: The resort must have been around for at least 30 years, remaining at the head of the class for most of them. I also considered the condition of the property; the quality of its cuisine and the ambience of its restaurants; the range of activities available; value for money; and, of course, the standard of service delivered by its staff.

Reproduced with permission from Bonnier Corporation. All rights reserved.

Published: 12 Feb 2009 | Last Updated: 31 Jul 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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