Hot hotels for foodies
If you want to gorge on chocolate, cook up an oil down or raise a glass or two of rum, head for one of these tasty retreats around the Caribbean, says Joe Shooman
1 Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, St Lucia
Best for… Rum tasting
Where: Marigot Bay
Room rates: From US$499
Info: +1 758 458 5300; www.marigotbayresort.com
Visit any Caribbean island and you simply have to try a sip (or six) of that most magical beverage that permeates the region: rum. Lots and lots and lots of glorious, wonderful, special, delicious rum. Every island has its own. And even if you think your island is home to the best, you really have to taste them all to know for sure. Find out more from the experts at The Rum Cave, one of several restaurants and bars at the magnificent Marigot Bay Resort. The Rum Experience will take you on a spiritual journey, tracing the roots of rum from sugar-cane plantations all the way through to the bottles served behind the bar. And there’s a lot of those. The resort’s in-house experts are on hand to talk you through anything and everything rum-related. The Cave also serves light bites to help you soak up your drinks, and there’s often live music, too.
2 San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Puerto Rico
Best for… Local-style barbeque
Where: San Juan
Room rates: From US$329
Info: +1 787 722 7000; www.marriott.com
Beautiful San Juan is seeped in history, and on Saturday nights the San Juan Marriott offers an insight into the island’s culinary cultural heritage with its regular Guavate Barbecue. This superb family-centric evening recreates the traditional cook-up style of the nearby town of Guavate, which is famed for its lechoneras, outdoor restaurants specialising in seasoned whole pig, slow roasted over an open fire. Guests can learn how to pull off this most authentic of dishes, as well as sampling an array of side dishes such as pigeon peas and rice, cassava, sausage, plantains, breadfruit and sweet potato. All washed down, of course, with Puerto Rican rum.
As the hotel is in the heart of Condado, it’s also close to Route 184 – known as the Pork Highway because of the number of lechoneras up and down the street. While here you could also join an Old San Juan Walk and Taste Tour (www.spoonfoodtours.com), a guided stroll stuffed with history and eating. The stops will provide opportunities to try mofongo, the quintessential local delicacy of mashed green plantain, pork and garlic.
3 True Blue Bay, Grenada
Best for… Local cooking lessons
Where: Old Mill Road, True Blue Bay, St George’s
Rates: From US$288
Info: +1 473 443 8783; www.truebluebay.com
There’s a Street Food Night every Wednesday at True Blue Bay, with local dishes and vendors. And on Thursday afternoons Esther and Omega give cooking lessons. Free for guests, and under US$6 for non-guests, each session is a fun, interactive walk through local dishes and cooking methods, with lots of island humour mixed in.
Grenada is, of course, famous for its spices, and you’ll be taught what to do with them. You’ll also have a chance to create your own dishes – maybe an authentic oil down or a fried bake and salt fish souse breakfast? Sweet-toothed guests may prefer to have a crack at making coconut drops, cocoa tea or fudge. The best thing is that you can take the recipes away with you and recreate them back home – you’ll be instantly transported back to Grenada!
In addition, every week True Blue Bay hosts a rum and chocolate tasting at its Dodgy Dock Bar, which includes cocktail lessons with the expert bartenders. Delicious!
4 Southern Palms Beach Club, Barbados
Best for… Amazing deserts
Where: St Lawrence Gap
Rates: From US$325
Info: +1 246 428 7171; www.southernpalms.net
Barbados has designated 2018 as the Year of Culinary Experiences, so there are plenty of fine foodie options to choose from across the island. But we particularly like the sound of the Sugar and Rum season, which runs until the end of April. As part of this, the lovely Southern Palms Beach Club is hosting a series of Chocolate & Pastry Classes. Under the expert tutelage of Magnolia Chocolatier, you are promised ‘the sweet decadence’ of chocolates infused with local spices – and likely rum, too. You’ll learn everything about this most delicious art, including tempering techniques and how to create the perfect pastry. Best of all, you get to sample your own creations at the end of the classes. Lessons are scheduled for 10 and 24 March and 7 April at 10am, and cost around US$50.
There are many other events happening during the festival. And if you’re worried about the calories, you can burn off some of them by making the most of Southern Palms’ two pools, fitness centre and free watersports.
5 Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, St Lucia
Best for… Chocolate
Where: Rabot Estate, Soufrière
Room rates: From US$575
Info: +1 758 572 9600; www.hotelchocolat.com/boucan
Chocaholics rejoice! Set on a cocoa estate, this luxurious retreat looking out towards the Pitons is heaven for those who love the sweet stuff. The Tree to Bean and Bean to Bar experiences start with a tour of the cacao seeding nursery to discover how the plants are grown and grafted. Then learn more about the cocoa bean itself, de-shelling them, grinding them and setting your own chocolate mix into a bar (and tasting it, of course). After all that chocolate, relax in the spa, where you can have a cacao massage, facial, detox and exfoliation. Or simply chill out in Club Boucan, with one of the most spectacular infinity pools in the Caribbean.