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Caribbean Hotels Holidays

To the uninitiated, Caribbean holidays conjure images of white sand beaches, turquoise seas, those idyllic tropical sunsets and plenty of rum cocktails. And of course this is an accurate picture. But for those in the know, the diverse islands of the Caribbean offer so much more.  

Take the popular island of Barbados, known as ‘Little England’. This island can be a cultural haven with festivals like the Holder’s Season, a world-class golfers’ and polo players’ paradise, a spa and foodie’s heaven and a celebrity spotters dream.

St Lucia is another favourite that just keeps on getting better with diverse luxury accommodation, a world renowned Jazz Festival, those incredible World Heritage Site Pitons, its own rainforest where you can go mountain biking, a walk in volcano, botanical gardens and top spas.  

Antigua is loved for its vibrancy and colonial history with great spots like Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour as well as its sailing and regattas.

Jamaica is a legend in its self with strong art and artisans from its reggae roots to top musicians like Alicia Keys who come to the island to record. Jamaica has great family activities like Dunns River Falls, sporting legends like Usain Bolt and everything from yoga on the beach to coffee plantations in the hills and a literary heritage to blow you away. You can even stay in Ian Fleming’s former house, GoldenEye. Even tiny islands like Anguilla offer something unique, in this case, the best feet in the sand dining you’re likely to experience and a great love of letting a beach party evolve. For incredible scuba diving, the Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos are hard to beat.

And all these islands welcome those in search of romance with everything you need for the perfect overseas wedding or exotic honeymoon.

Caribbean holidays come in all shapes and sizes when it comes to accommodation too. There’s understated elegance at Cobblers Cove and Coral Reef Club on Barbados, Carlisle Bay on Antigua and Hotel Le Toiny on St Barths. There are glitzy five-stars where guests come to see and be seen like The Sandy Lane Estate on Barbados and Round Hill on Jamaica. The Caribbean has the low down on buzzing all-inclusives with major players like Sandals. Or there are less hectic, more serene all-inclusives like Blue Waters Hotel in Antigua and wellness meccas like The BodyHoliday on St Lucia.

Then there are the gentle, family run hideaways like Maca Bana on Grenada and boutique gems like Atlantis on Barbados as well as the one-off stunners like Jade Mountain, St Lucia. Private villas are a great option for Caribbean holidays, not just for groups and families but for those who want the privacy and freedom they offer.  Most Caribbean villas have dedicated staff, which makes for a considerably different experience of un-staffed villas closer to home.  Of course if you can’t live without all the amenities of a resort, there are many villa resorts where you can have your self-catering or private chef, but also enjoy the resort’s restaurant, spa and golf course as at Royal Westmoreland in Barbados. There are plenty of charming, lower key resorts too – try Fort Recovery on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands or the charming Villas at Stonehaven on beautiful.

 

Caribbean Hotels can offer budget is likely to be the key determining factor in where you stay, but this will stretch further in some islands than others.Youth hostels are non-existent, while camping is not a viable option in general although some islands, such as Puerto Rico or the French Antilles, have well-organized campsites; however, on many islands camping is actually forbidden.

The cheapest accommodation can be found in guesthouses, small, privately run establishments which sometimes offer breakfast but do not rely on a full restaurant service. Many of these are not registered with the local tourist office and therefore difficult to find until you get there. They may be perfectly adequate if you are not very demanding, or they may be flea pits. You will soon find out why they have been left off the list.

Turning up at a cheaper place may not always yield a room because competition is great. Note also that, if booking ahead, tourist office lists may not include the cheapest establishments, so you may have to reserve one or two nights at a mid-price hotel for when you arrive and then ask around for cheaper accommodation if that is what you want. The longer you stay the better deal you will get, so negotiation is recommended. Remember also that high season runs from mid-December to mid-April and everything is more expensive then as well as being more heavily booked. The best deals can be found in - you guessed it - hurricane season.

The Dominican Republic and Cuba have the most hotel rooms in the Caribbean, so there is no real problem in finding a space there. The most popular form of accommodation for independent travellers in Cuba is to stay with a registered family in their home, a casa particular. In Havana they cost around US$25-40, but elsewhere they are about US$15-30. Food and lodging with families is far better value and much more rewarding than staying in a hotel, although it is not legal in the beach resorts of Varadero of Guardalavaca and not available in remote places such as Cayo Coco.

In Jamaica there are places costing less than US$20 but they are not to be recommended. Haiti is surprisingly expensive. The Dominican Republic, on the other hand, has a far greater range and mid-range hotels can be found in fairly decent areas, although not beachfront properties. In the eastern Caribbean cheap places can be found in the capital cities, from where you can use public transport to get out to beaches and places of interest, but you will have to pay more if you want to be on the beach. Further south, Trinidad and Tobago have lots of good value places to stay, either in town or close to the beach.

We assume that most Footprint readers are not interested in the all-inclusive resorts, although we include details of a few, partly to alert you if they predominate, such as in Ocho Rios in Jamaica or Playa Dorada and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. We also include the super-luxury hotels, although we do realise that few readers will be able to afford Richard Branson's Necker Island at US$25,000-42,000 a day. Some, however, are within range for a special occasion, such as a honeymoon.

 

 

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