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5 Hot hotels for hiding away

Secret Bay

Want to escape from it all? Try one of these beautiful boltholes, says Joe Shooman

1 Secret Bay, Dominica
BEST FOR… Eco-friendly amore
WHERE: Ross Boulevard
RATES: from US$822
INFO: +1 767 445 4444;
USP: Sexy and secluded villas offering oceanside romance

What a comeback. The much-lauded Secret Bay was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, but reopened in 2019, possibly even more spectacular than before. Now part of the Relais & Chateaux association of luxury hotels, this rejuvenated retreat features six individual, tree-tucked, nature-luxe villas. Options include Zabuco Honeymoon Villas (once voted one of the sexiest bedrooms in the world) and the new Ti-Féy two-storey treehouse, which has a private plunge pool, outdoor rain shower and fully equipped gourmet kitchen. All of the villas are designed to sit in harmony with their wild surroundings; they’re built using sustainably sourced Guyanese hardwood, while bedroom furniture is local red cedar.

What’s the location? A ten-minute drive from Portsmouth, the retreat sits atop dramatic cliffs. Wonderful Prince Rupert Bay Beach is a ten-minute kayak from Secret Bay.

What’s the vibe? Intimate, eco, boutique and beautiful – honeymoon perfection.

The lowdown: Six private villas, each with plunge pool, panoramic deck and hammocks; WiFi, Sonos speakers, Apple TV and Netflix; wellness activities, yoga classes and spa; locally sourced food served at the on-site restaurant; watersports hut provides kayaks, paddleboards, snorkels and a pickup point for other activities.

2 Palm Island, St Vincent & the Grenadines
BEST FOR… Grown-up getaways
WHERE: Palm Island
RATES: from US$948
INFO: +1 866 237 2157;
USP: Gorgeous top-end resort with exclusivity and privacy

Palm Island’s 135 idyllic acres were revitalised in the 1960s, when a coconut palm-planting programme helped transform this once-swampy backwater to its sublime natural state. The resort has 41 rooms plus two villas and a staff-to-guest ratio of nearly 1:1, ensuring wonderful service. Rooms – some with gabled roofs and rattan ceilings – are decked out in soft-toned pinks, pistachios, blues and pristine white; they also have deep-soak tubs, king- or queen-size beds and complimentary minibars. Terraces and lounging areas show off spectacular views of sand, sea and nearby islands. The spa offers everything from aromatherapy to body toning, facials to massage, using St Lucian Caribbean Blue Naturals products. Local ingredients grown on-site are also used in the spa and restaurants, and daily-caught fish keep the menus fresh and sustainable.

What’s the location? This tiny, tropical white-sand isle is accessible only by ten-minute private launch from Union Island. Staff will meet you at Grantley Adams International Airport and handle logistics from there.

What’s the vibe? Relaxed elegance for an older crowd (over 15s only).

The lowdown: Accommodation includes Palm View and Beachfront Rooms, Suites and Lofts; two Villas for groups; two restaurants and private dining; swimming pool with cascading waterfall; activities available, from kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkelling to biking, tennis and weekly staff cricket match; on-site library; cooking demonstrations and rum tastings; super spa.

3 Belle Mont Farm, St Kitts & Nevis
BEST FOR… Freedom-seeking foodies
WHERE: Kittitian Hill
RATES: from US$415
INFO: +1 869 465 7388;
USP: Stylish stays in harmony with community, culture and nature

The mission at Belle Mont Farm is to bring together local culture and food with ecotourism and conservation. The result is the crème de la crème of ecologically sound retreats, scattered across a hillside surrounded by the best of wild St Kitts. There’s certainly no skimping on quality: expect top-level service and attentive staff throughout. The cottages and villas at Belle Mont Farm are chic and sensitively designed, with high ceilings and big views of the ocean and trees, plush bedding, lovely rainwater showers and private pools; golf buggies can be booked if you need help getting around the resort.

Spend days interacting with local people, finding out more about their lives, exploring the organic estate and trekking through the forest or up Mount Liamuiga to build an appetite. Then dine at Arthur’s (for fresh seafood), the laid-back Kitchen or, for a real treat, at The Farm Table for a multi-course, locally sourced tropical spin on farm-to-table dining.

What’s the location? Set amid 400 acres of farmland and forest at Kittitian Hill, about an hour from the airport.

What’s the vibe? Colonial chic with eco ambience and fine food.

The lowdown: Expansive site with a range of accommodation designed by renowned architect Bill Bensley, including cottages, villas and a large farmhouse (sleeps eight); no cable TV but rooms have pull-down screens and projectors; adjacent golf course; sustainable farming; spa; beach bar and restaurants.

4 Jumby Bay, Antigua
BEST FOR… Car-free capers
WHERE: Jumby Bay Island
RATES: from US$1,871
INFO: +1 268 462 6000;
USP: conservation-focused, Sustainable paradise

Get back to nature in style. Set on a private 300-acre island, Jumby Bay is a lesson in how life should be. There are no cars, and sustainability is taken seriously: the island is the biggest recycler in Antigua, and the resort has solar water heating, rainwater-collecting cisterns for irrigation and a native plant nursery. There are serious conservation efforts, too. Guests can participate in the Hawksbill Turtle Project, spot an array of birds – including white egret, whistling duck and blue pelican – at the Waterfowl Sanctuary or amble across fields full of free-roaming Persian black-headed sheep, a species introduced in the times of Christopher Columbus.

Jumby Bay’s rooms and villas are spread across the island, all merging with nature and offering views to the sea. Each is a classy, understated space of pristine whites and dark hardwoods, vaulted ceilings and outdoor showers, and has easy access to wonderful beaches. The food – overseen by chef Mathew Liddell, who has worked in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant – is fresh, local and delicious.

What’s the location? Off the northeast coast of Antigua, about six minutes by boat.

What’s the vibe? Eco-conscious yet elegant.

The lowdown: Forty rooms and villas; three beaches; garden showers; coffee machines; WiFi and flat-screen TVs; bicycles; on-site watersports centre; floodlit tennis courts and weekly clinics with resident pro Jerry Williams; cinema on the beach; kids’ club; sustainable produce in the two restaurants; all-inclusive options.

5 Scrub Island Resort, BVI
BEST FOR… Waterside escapes
WHERE: Scrub Island
RATES: from US$419
INFO: +1 284 394 3440;
USP: Superb amenities at a hideaway hotel

It’s all at your fingertips at the Marriott Scrub Island Resort Spa & Marina. Sitting between a verdant hill and a lovely harbour bobbing with boats, the resort feels more like a secluded little town, with its own gourmet market, store and restaurants.

You could simply stay on your private terrace, soaking in the seclusion and the sublime views, chilling out with a cocktail as the sun sets. Or get out and about: there’s brilliant sailing, plus this is the nearest place to the game-fishing hotspot of North Drop.

What’s the location? Beach-and-marina-fronted hotel at the bottom of a hill, a ten-minute boat ride from Trellis Bay Dock, Tortola.

What’s the vibe? A mini-village feel; family-friendly, with a touch of classic colonial style.

The lowdown: Rooms – Guest, Suite and Governor – all have ocean views; private villas, sleeping two to six people, have private kitchens, pools and terraces; three meeting rooms; three private beaches; car rental; activities including scuba diving, sailing, watersports and jogging trails; grocery shopping services, American grill and two poolside bars; hiking; fitness centre and spa; resort ferry.