Martinique offers a pair of gems perched high above the sea, and a stay at either one – or both – is sure to be a highlight of a trip to this lush French territory.
Between Robert Bay and François Bay, the 16-room Hôtel Plein Soleil is all about color, its grounds ablaze with vivid allamanda and bougainvillea blooms. Stylish red, peach, teal and mauve cottages trimmed in Creole-style gingerbread fretwork overlook the sea, and four new suites feature boldly hued minimalist decor and private plunge pools. Young chef Nathanael Ducteil – trained by vaunted French chef Alain Ducasse – is working wonders in the table d’hôte restaurant, and owner Jean-Christophve Yoyo and his staff will direct you to Martinique’s prime south-coast beaches, 30 minutes away, or north to the island’s mountains and rainforests. They also arrange trips to the nearby offshore shallows known as Josephine’s Bathtub, after French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, who was born on the island and swam in these waters as a child.
Up the coast near the town of Trinité, Le Domaine Saint Aubin has converted its erstwhile stables into guest rooms and added new rooms to the main house, a 19th-century plantation manor. The expansion bumps the room count from 11 to 30, but guests will find the same attention to detail in the new quarters, which feature antiques and Colonial-style mahogany furniture. The owners are a former Parisian costume designer and a jazz musician, so this laid-back spot has beaucoup flair. Toss in fabulous dining and a shaded sea-view veranda, and you’ll appreciate why Saint Aubin is an insider’s fave.
Hôtel Plein Soleil
596-596-38-07-77; pleinsoleil.mq From $194 in low season ($262 high)
Le Domaine Saint Aubin
Petite Rivière Salée
From $185 in low season ($308 high)