Think luxury in the Caribbean and Barbados or St Barts might spring to mind. But operators say top-end holidaymakers are looking at other destinations in a bid for ever more exclusivity.
Caribtours general manager Christina Hunter-Locke said: “Lots of luxury travellers want something less well known, perhaps the British Virgin Islands or the Grenadines, and will pay for private charters to get there.”
Here’s our guide to some of the new luxury Caribbean hotspots.
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are a string of over 60 pristine islands – Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke being the main ones. It’s a great place for sailing and diving, as well as exploring untouched rainforest. The beaches are stunning too.
Recent refurbishments have raised luxury levels in general, while Sir Richard Branson is planning a new eco-resort on Mosquito Island next year.
Who does it suit? Travellers whose idea of a luxury holiday is peace and seclusion.
Sample product:Harlequin Holidays offers seven nights at Little Dix Bay from £1,658 in July, including flights, transfers and breakfast.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is made up of around 30 cays and islands, of which only eight are inhabited. The white sand beaches and turquoise sea are a key draw – and there’s plenty of action for water sports fans.
Providenciales is the most developed for tourism, while the sleepy capital, Cockburn Town, is on tiny Grand Turk. National parks and nature reserves protect the landscape and there are some sumptuous resorts to choose from. Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont are opening properties there in 2009.
Who does it suit? Nature lovers looking for somewhere tranquil.
Sample product: Seven nights’ bed and breakfast at Amanyara costs from £3,098 in July, including flights, with ITC Classics.
Anguilla is just 16 miles long and three miles wide and remains relatively undiscovered. The main attraction is its powder-white coastline.
It’s also home to some of the Caribbean’s best restaurants. Despite its size there are some ultra-chic hotels and super-slick villas. The Temenos championship golf course opened last November.
Who does it suit? Those looking for stylish beach life and tranquillity.
Sample product:Elegant Resorts features seven nights in the Malliouhana hotel from £1,480 in July, for room-only accommodation, with flights and transfers.
St Lucia may be established as a mid-range holiday favourite, but it’s only now making its mark as a luxury destination with several new top-end hotels.
The lush mountainous scenery – including the dramatic Piton peaks – is unforgettable, and more exclusive properties are on the cards.
Who does it suit? It’s perfect for honeymooners or couples looking for a special holiday.
Sample product: Carrier offers seven nights at Jade Mountain at Anse Chastanet from £2,636 per person, with breakfast, flights and transfers in July.
The Mayan Riviera on the Caribbean Sea is seeing a boom in five-star properties. Just an hour away from Cancun, it’s a world apart, with empty sandy beaches, great diving and snorkelling, and nearby Mayan sites.
Among new hotels opening this autumn are the Rosewood Mayakoba, with 120 suites and 38 villas set in a jungle and lagoon landscape, and the Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya. A Banyan Tree property is planned for 2008.
Who does it suit? Anyone wanting to combine the beach with culture.
Sample product: Caribtours offers seven nights at the Fairmont Mayakoba from £1,687 per person, room-only, with British Airways flights and transfers in July.
The Out Islands, Bahamas
New Providence island and its glitzy capital Nassau may be well-known destinations – but there are over 700 islands in the Bahamas and, away from the crowds, the idyllic Out Islands await.
The diving is fantastic and it’s a great place for sailing – particularly in the Abacos.
Who does it suit? Anyone looking for somewhere off the beaten track. It’s good for island hopping too.
Top hotels:The Abaco Club
Sample product: Seven nights’ bed and breakfast at the Abaco Club costs from £2,288 with Abercrombie and Kent in July including flights and transfers.
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