Perfect Trip: Canouan
Day 1 As nice as a bathrobe brunch on my veranda would be, I'm craving a massage in one of Raffles Resort's glass-floored treatment rooms set on stilts over the bay. A two-minute golf-cart ride later, I'm walking the path to the Raffles Amrita Spa, located on one of Canouan island's isolated seaside nooks. It has a private jetty and its own mini funicular railway leading to additional hillside spa suites. I get my first whiff of island ginger and nutmeg in the reception area before climbing aboard a waiting boat for the 30-second ride to my over-water treatment suite. At the first hint of heated oils, I'm quick to situate myself on the table, eagerly anticipating Amrita's signature four-handed massage.
Day 2 There's no use packing swanky clothes if they don't see any action, so I book an openair table at Raffles' gourmet restaurant, La Varenne. From its perch, isolated atop a peninsula, the restaurant (inside a whitewashed, colonial-style house dubbed Villa Monte Carlo) looks back over the resort's muted lights and down the sparsely populated spine of Canouan toward island peaks further down the Grenadine archipelago. If ever there was a place to indulge in a cocktail, private-label caviar and visions of grandeur, this is it. I dine on lobster à la meunière and then, feeling a bit James Bond-ish, sidle up to a blackjack table in the adjacent Trump Club Privee, hoping to trick "the Donald" into paying for day three.
Day 3 The sun is out, and the trade winds are heavenly, making it prime beach time. On my way to the water, I tip my visor to the resort's 17th-century Anglican church (brought here from England a few stones at a time during the 19th century) in thanks for the weather. As I do, a small wedding party bursts out the doors. Further down the hillside I claim a chaise beneath a palm umbrella just downwind from Raffles' Godahl Beach Bar and Grill, which is gearing up for a barbecue. The last thing I see before dozing off is a handful of snorkelers, the swaying shadow of my shelter on the sand and a stark-white yacht loafing beyond the reef.
Day 4 My willingness to submit to a strict massage-eat-lounge cycle is topped only by my desire to get out on the sea. One call to the concierge, and soon I'm setting the main sail of a 35-foot yacht as we tack out of Carenage Bay en route to the neighboring Tobago Cays. Cutting through the aquamarine Caribbean under the hidden power of a late-summer breeze, I look back to see Charlestown, one of Canouan's villages, which shares the island's southern peninsula with a short airport runway. Beyond I spot a cove off a palm-fringed, uninhabited islet. I shift my direction, aim for paradise and am splashing in its warm waters before the anchor even hits bottom. tim jacob
Sure, Seven Mile Beach on the west side of Grand Cayman is quintessential Caribbean: powdery sand and blue water that is just the right temperature. It's even more quintessentially Caribbean in that it's not really seven miles more like five and a half. Regardless, make it your front lawn when you stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Your spa will be Silver Rain (a La Prairie Spa), and your indulgence: a Caviar Firming Facial. Before you get started, choose the type of music you want played during your treatment. When you're finished, you'll be served a glass of champagne. Your personal dining room is Blue; your chef, Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin (New York) fame. And the dish you'll crave every night, the absolute best dish in the Caribbean, is Ripert's tuna foie gras: melt-in-your-mouth yellowfin tuna seasoned with sea salt, pepper, chives, olive oil and lemon juice. Eat Blue out of business. Rates from $249. ritzcarlton.com; caymanislands.ky christine richard
Remember that scene in the film The Great Gatsby where the long, white curtains catch the wind and swirl out over Gatsby's pool? You'll find yourself caught in a similar moment when sitting on a white-cushioned chaise beside the plunge pool of your hillside cottage at Hermitage Bay on Antigua's west coast. Outdoor curtains frame the view from your deck down to the oval-shaped bay and its crescent of beach below. Antigua may be larger and far more populated than its little sister, Barbuda, but its vibe remains mostly wholesome and uncomplicated. Hermitage mirrors this simplicity in both its decor clean lines and dark woods and its menu: simple dishes featuring straightforward ingredients deliciously combined, such as a steamed mahimahi fillet with local green fig (the island name for bananas) and tomato stew. Though it's easy to settle in at Hermitage, hire a driver and spend a day exploring: Fig Tree Drive cuts up from the south coast through the island's jungly interior and ends at Elaine's Culture Shop for homemade guava jam or passion-fruit juice. Rates from $670, including all meals and drinks. hermitagebay.com; antigua-barbuda.org kelly lack
Great House Getaway
From the veranda of the main house at the Rawlins Plantation Inn, a reclaimed 17th-century sugar plantation on the slopes of Mount Liamuiga, you can see fields of sugar cane, swaying palms and flittering hummingbirds that fill the valley below. In the kitchen, freshly picked avocados, limes, papayas and the day's catch are being crafted into a West Indian-inspired, fourcourse dinner. The plantation's 10 rooms are spread across 12 mountainside acres; many still have their original stone walls and breeze-cooled sitting rooms. They've even turned a centuries-old windmill into a honeymoon suite. Nap in a hammock strategically placed among fragrant hibiscus and oleander blossoms, or if you can stay awake, savor a quiet moment with a book from the plantation library or join a game of croquet out on the lawn. Rates from $180, including breakfast. rawlinsplantation.com; stkittstourism.kn tj