If you think the Caribbean consists mainly of large, splashy resortswith equally large and splashy swim-up pool barsyoud be half right. But if you look beyond the deals plastered across many online travel websites, youll find these islands are home to a wonderful selection of small inns and boutique hotels that are perfect for a relaxing, under-the-radar romantic rendezvous. Best of all, spring and early summer mean great rates and fewer crowds. In other words, its a fabulous time to go tropical. Here are eight properties to consider:
Hotel Atlantis, Barbados Dont let the hotel in the name fool youthis colonial-meets-contemporary property on Barbados dramatic, boulder-strewn Atlantic coast has just 10 rooms, all large and airy with seriously comfy king canopy beds. Re-opened in December 2009 after an extensive renovation (by the owners of sister-property Little Good Harbour), Atlantis is an ideal spot to read by the pool as you sip superb rum punch and then dine by candlelight on ocean-fresh local cuisine (from $255).
Montpelier Plantation, Nevis This dreamy 19-room property, formerly an 18th-century sugar plantation, sits on a 60-acre hilltop oasis high above the sea (a private beach is a short ride away). But the pool, which is set beside a dramatic stone windmill, is the place to be. Rooms are soothing sanctuaries of white accented by soft hues such as powder blue and sage green, and the dining is Relais & Chateaux-worthy (from $320).
The Cove Eleuthera, Bahamas A cheery, carefree vibe prevails at this friendly, 26-room resort on the sleepy Out Island of Eleuthera (for a dose of Hamptons-style people-watching, hop the ferry over to nearby Harbour Island). Set atop a private beach lapped by stunning aquamarine sea, the cottage-style accommodations blend island charm and contemporary chic: white wicker furnishings and louvered shades with zesty pops of mandarin orange and lime green (from $205).
The Horned Dorset Primavera, Puerto Rico Sultry romance is literally on tap at this 22-suite boutique resort in Rincon (with adjacent luxury residences) where claw-foot tubs, carved four-poster mahogany beds, Moroccan-Arabic design details and private plunge pools put the sexy in every stay. Walking its lush, tropical grounds is like being in a vintage photo shoot and dining in its award-winning restaurant is like going to culinary heaven (from $360).
Ti Kaye Village, St. Lucia Sprawled over a cliff-top offering splendid sea views, this secluded 33-cottage enclave (Ti Kaye means little house in Creole) offers a welcoming mix of privacy and camaraderie. Choose an Oceanfront Cottage with a Pool and theres no need to see anyone except at mealtime over delicious Caribbean-fusion cuisine. Feeling social? Head for the communal pool or walk down 166 steps to the beautiful beach (from $190).
Jamaica Inn, Jamaica Old-school romance prevails at this 60-year-old but beautifully maintained Ocho Rios property with its colonial décor and shades-of-blue color motif (periwinkle walls meet turquoise waves). The 47 suites overlook a dazzling green lawncroquet, anyone?and a pristine white-sand beach, while a dining verandah is the setting for a six-course dinner under the stars (from $252).
Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barts If you are able to splurge, book one of the 15 pastel-hued private-pool villas at this lofty property on one of the Caribbeans most exclusive and très French isles. Indulgent? Mais, oui! Villas have polished wood floors, sexy canopy beds and large French (what else?) doors leading to a plunge pool with a view. Top off this luxe privacy with 24/7 room service or gourmet dining beside an infinity pool that melds with the shimmering horizon (from $705).
Bel Air Plantation, Grenada Its colorful Creole-style cottages scattered along a hillside accommodate a total of 30 people and its location on quiet and scenic St. Davids Point make it a sweet little tropical hideaway. Add a freeform infinity pool and a seaside restaurant/lounge serving zesty Grenada-spiced fare and your laid-back escape is complete (from $150).
For more trip-planning information, check out our Caribbean Travel Guide.