By Pamela Jacobs
The Caribbean is one of the most popular vacation spots in the entire world—and it’s also one of the most unique. While travelers often refer to the entire region as their destination—i.e. “I’m going to the Caribbean for Thanksgiving”—there are actually an astounding 7,000 islands in the area. Under that large umbrella, there are at least 28 island nations.
In short, of the entire expanse that is the Caribbean, there are numerous islands that are completely distinct, each offering their own unique cultures, with something for every type of traveler. Some flock to the idyllic, soft-sand shores for relaxation and sun worshipping, while others are seeking history, culture, and adventure.
While island options abound, there’s one hotel brand that offers the exact right property for each type of Caribbean pleasure-seeker. Marriott is a travel name synonymous with comfort, customer satisfaction, and loyalty. It also happens to be one that offers surprising levels of luxury and something for everyone.
Here’s a look at three Marriott resorts in the Caribbean, each distinct to its locale, and each offering the very best of what the island it calls home is known for.
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino
At the risk of sounding repetitive, St. Kitts really is an incredibly unique island. It has somehow managed to remain under the tourist radar—despite its extreme beauty—which means that it’s still quite untouched and authentic. This doesn’t mean you’ll want for anything, but rather that you’ll get a true taste for the lush beauty and lovely culture that is St. Kitts.
At times it can seem as if there are more monkeys and palm trees than there are people. With its lush rainforests, warm waters, cool breezes, mountain springs, and lack of street lights, St. Kitts is what the Caribbean was before it was discovered by tourists with selfie sticks. It’s casual yet lively, and colorful in every sense of the word. It’s also one of the friendliest places on Earth; you can’t walk down the street or drive past a group of people without a wave and a hello from a stranger.
This small-island authenticity also means that the Marriott is the only major hotel brand on the island, and the absolute best choice for your stay. Its ocean view suites offer breathtaking views of the turquoise waters (with private balconies from which to enjoy those views, of course), large living spaces, and casual comfort.
Should you wish for more space for your family, the two-bedroom villa comes complete with a fully-stocked kitchen, three bathrooms, a dining room, numerous amenities, and elegant décor.
Outside your hotel room doors and beyond the vast, open-air lobby, you’ll find an onsite championship golf course, the luxurious, full-service Emerald Mist Spa, a fully-equipped fitness center with free classes daily, and a winding, free-form pool with a lively swim-up bar, beyond which lies the blue water and white sand beach.
With ten options for dining and drinking, there’s no shortage of food and beverage, and your perfect day can begin with a large buffet breakfast, followed by lunch at the Golf Clubhouse Grille or poolside at the Bohemia Beach Pool Bar & Grille, a happy hour cocktail in the lobby bar, and fresh, local seafood—paired with panoramic ocean views—at Blu Seafood Restaurant. You can end the night trying your luck at the casino, or simply soaking in the excitement from the casino’s Sky Ultra Lounge. The next day, you can feast on Italian food, steak, or hit the town and mingle with the locals (check out the beloved Shiggidy Shack for stellar sunsets and the literally-hot entertainment—a fire dancer).
Ask anyone who’s been to St. Kitts, and they’ll tell you that no visit is complete without a tour with Greg’s Safaris, where you’ll be transported into the rainforest and take in the sights and sounds of an ancient jungle, ascending to over 3,000 feet high while surrounded by old sugar plantations, numerous monkeys, volcanic mountain ranges, tropical birds, towering trees, and nature at its absolute best. You’ll end your tour feeling invigorated and astounded, while tasting fresh fruits and homemade local candies and pastries.
On the drive back, you’ll learn about the fascinating history of St. Kitts (it was the first Eastern Caribbean island settled by Europeans and the sugar from its sugar mills was so valuable, it’s said to have funded the industrial revolution).
The history continues (and comes to life) on the St. Kitts Scenic Rail and Sail Tour, as you ride along the St. Kitts Railway (dating back to 1912, built to deliver sugar cane from fields to mills), hugging the coastline while stepping back in time as you take in the magnificent views. You’ll then move from the railway to a catamaran, sailing along western St. Kitts and passing some of the most historic sites in the Western Hemisphere.
Be sure to include a visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, an incredibly well-preserved fortress (and UNESCO World Heritage Site), and spend some time absorbing the history and culture in downtown Basseterre, the island’s capital that happens to be one of the oldest towns in the Caribbean. Despite a tumultuous and often tragic history, Basseterre has persevered and remained largely intact, and serves as a great example of the island as a whole. Not sure how to include all of this in your St. Kitts history-and-culture getaway? The tour desk at the Marriott will help you make it all happen seamlessly.
The fact is, St. Kitts is a truly special place, and for those looking to learn, explore, and immerse themselves in its wonders—while enjoying a good amount of R&R in paradise—the St. Kitts Marriott Resort is the perfect place to call home.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
The motto of Aruba is “One Happy Island,” and it never fails to live up to it. If you’re looking for the quintessential tropical getaway—filled with easy island living and luxuriating in tropical bliss—Aruba will definitely keep you very happy.
Here, it’s all about crystal clear waters with gentle waves lapping on soft, white sands, and sipping on tropical frozen drinks while enjoying the company of your dushi (that’s sweetheart in Papiamento, and you’ll hear it plenty on island). This is the island famous for its trademark divi divi tree—a natural compass that always points southwest due to the trade winds—and its postcard-worthy beaches.
The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino embodies the look, feel, and spirit of this blissfully beautiful island. Located on Palm Beach, it’s a luxurious playground that somehow manages to offer something for everyone—couples revel in the romance, solo travelers find peace and serenity, and families return again and again for the fun-for-all-ages factor. What they all have in common is they’re looking to relax and be spoiled.
The guest rooms here are the largest on the island, and all are contemporary, light-filled, and amenity-rich, with private balconies that look out onto the tropical surroundings. For the ultimate in exclusivity, stay in the Tradewinds Club, a luxury hotel-within-a-hotel that sits on the resort’s top floor and comes with a host of benefits, including complimentary food and cocktails throughout the day, club lounge access, garment pressing, concierge services, and access to a members-only beach area. The Tradewinds Governor Suite is expansive and chic, offering up one-of-a-kind views of this sublime island.
With dining options ranging from Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Ketsu Sushi Bar to the much-loved lobster buffet at La Vista and the spectacularly beautiful Simply Fish—where you dine not next to the beach, but on it, surrounded by waves, tiki torches, and the colors of the setting sun—it’s no wonder guests of other resorts flock to the Marriott for their meals.
Really, though, it’s all about easy living here. The Balinese-style Mandara Spa provides pampering to the max, while the grounds of the hotel offer up places to relax (with or without a dushi) everywhere you look; turn the corner and there’s another cozy nook, palapa, hammock, or hideaway. And while everyone enjoys the large main outdoor pool, it’s the H2Oasis adult-only pool that really ups the ante and puts the “away” in getaway. With a bit of Hollywood-esque glamour, a lot of tropical charm, and a bar that keeps the Aruba Ariba cocktails flowing, you can spend every waking moment here and not want for anything.
You might never want to leave the resort (specifically H2Oasis), but the island itself is certainly worth exploring. From a visit to the volcanic stone circles that create the island’s natural pool, considered a hidden gem, to the almost-desolate, untouched northern shores, the beach-goers paradise continues. If you’re looking for something a bit different, there’s even a donkey sanctuary (a personal favorite of mine).
Considering Aruba is the happy island—therefore naturally a great choice for a celebration—the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is offering a Celebrecation Package, which includes Ocean Front Junior Suite accommodations, a private photo shoot, sparkling wine upon arrival, a private cooking lesson for two with the Executive Chef, and a customized picture frame. And really, you can’t choose a better place to celebrate anything (a birthday, an anniversary, a Tuesday).
Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
So where do you go if you’re a New Yorker looking to feel right at home, but in the tropics as opposed to the concrete jungle? Where you’ll find food as good as you’re accustomed to, and an environment that’s casual yet elegant. The logical choice is the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
Fresh off an extensive $15 million renovation—revamping the design inside and out, and the entire food and beverage program—this high-end resort along Seven Mile Beach is a traveling-foodie favorite for good reason. They feature a highly-curated farm-to-table culinary program that includes both locally-produced and globally-inspired elements. How about an apothecary happy hour, a boulangerie brunch, a pop-up poolside mojito bar (yes, please!), and four-course lobster nights?
The newest additions extend beyond the exciting food and drinks and past the contemporary décor to the ultimate in easy island living: The Beach House Experience. This brand-within-a-brand, home-away-from-home welcomes guests to be a true part of the island, inviting them to live the culture and feel as if the resort is their vacation home. Here, the theme is “endless summer”—that carefree feeling of slowed-down time and infinite enjoyment.
Beach & Pool Ambassadors cater to your every waterside wish, personalized picnic baskets and vintage-style bikes await, and sublime days end with a sunset ritual, complete with beach bonfires, cotton candy, and S’mores.
For the ultimate accommodations to match the perfection of your Beach House Experience, the 1,778-square-foot oceanfront Presidential Suite should do the trick. And like the other two resorts, options for pleasure in all its form abound; the La Mer Spa soothes, the Caribbean sea refreshes, and the entire atmosphere breeds tranquility.
Beyond the resort’s property, you’ll find an equally relaxed, picture-perfect scene. Grand Cayman is a favorite among world travelers, with its calm, crystal clear waters and laid-back, life-is-good vibe. You can’t leave without a visit to Stingray City, and more opportunities for wildlife encounters include horseback riding along the beach and the always-popular turtle farm.
Back at the resort, you’ll sip on cocktails made with homemade sodas and fresh-pressed juices, receive poolside pampering, and live in the lap of tropical luxury—wondering how you went this long without a Grand Cayman Beach House.
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