Caribbean: Hit the heights

Caribbean: Hit the heights

Booking clients a Caribbean beachfront property may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s also a welcome in the hillsides, writes Jo Cooke

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That ribbon of white sand that edges the shore of many a West Indian isle draws us like a magnet. The urge is to get as close to it as possible. After all, it’s hard to beat falling out of bed just footsteps away from the sea and sand that are the region’s biggest selling points. But if we turn our backs on this beach scene for a minute, there’s just as much beauty within.

The interiors of islands such as Jamaica and Saint Lucia are a sweeping mass of tropical vegetation that begins beyond the shoreline, then extends to cloak undulating mountain ranges.

It’s punctuated by bursts of exotic blooms from fiery ginger lilies to vivid bromeliads. Staying at a hotel surrounded by this botanical wonderland will see clients swap the sound of breaking waves for bird song, beach buzz for countryside tranquillity, and tropical fish for fireflies.

It complements the more typical seaside experience beautifully, so why not suggest a hillside retreat with day trips to the beach, or a twin-centre with stays at both, to clients who want more than sun, sea and sand? Here are some of our favourite suggestions.

Saint Lucia



The wow factor of Saint Lucia’s twin Piton peaks cannot be overstated. The first time you gaze upon these majestic, alluring pinnacles remains etched on your memory for ever. But they’re just a hint of the island’s natural assets.

Rainforest trails teeming with bird life, waterfalls, botanic gardens and the geysers at Saint Lucia’s sulphur springs, all make life quite exciting beyond the beaches. Get your clients close to all these treasures by booking them into the hilltop Ladera resort, one of the upscale properties in the island’s hilly south-west.

Ladera recently added Paradise Ridge, a collection of four luxury suites and a villa. They all have an eye-level view of the Pitons and wooden furnishings handcrafted by local artisans.

For those who prefer to be smack bang on the beach, rather than looking down upon it, there’s the 155-room BodyHoliday. Set on a secluded beach, it also has its own golf academy, extensive spa, yoga pavilion, three swimming pools and tennis courts.

Book it: Elegant Resorts offers four nights with breakfast in a suite at Paradise Ridge at Ladera and four nights’ all-inclusive at The BodyHoliday, plus private transfers and British Airways flights from Gatwick, departing May 11, from £4,845.
elegantresorts.co.uk

BVI



The British Virgin Islands is an archipelago that champions individuality. Each property, and each island, has its own distinct personality, which is perfect for those who see variety as the spice of life.

Island-hopping is easy too, so you can book clients a beachside and mountain-top experience in the same holiday. A perfect elevated escape is the 850-acre Guana Island, a private island reserved for residents only.

A mere 19 minimalist-chic rooms and a restaurant are perched on a ridge overlooking Guana’s rolling hills. A network of trails up, over and around those hills offers a closer look at the flora and fauna, as well as views of outlying islands.

Virgin Gorda’s Bitter End Yacht Club is the antithesis and therefore a good pairing. An abundance of watersports and bags of entertainment, including live bands and movie nights, are on tap at this fun, beachfront property, which has 58 cottages decorated with a maritime theme.

Book it: ITC Classics offers five nights’ full board at Guana Island and five nights’ full board at Bitter End Yacht Club from £4,055. The price includes all transfers and economy flights, departing May 1.
itcclassics.co.uk

Jamaica



Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios

Jamaica’s Blue Mountains aren’t just a pretty backdrop to the funky capital, Kingston. They offer great hiking and mountain biking, and this is where the famous Blue Mountain coffee is grown.

Clients can take a tour of coffee plantations such as Twyman or Creighton, or simply sip a cup on the verandah of the extraordinarily attractive Strawberry Hill Resort. This hotel has five elegant, clapboard cottages, fashioned in the colonial style.

Strawberry Hill is where Bob Marley came to relax, where Grace Jones likes to hang out, and is the haunt of the Kingstonian upper classes. It has the best view of the capital and the mountains, well tended gardens and an Ayurveda spa.

Yet you are just a chauffeured car ride away from the National Gallery, the Bob Marley Museum and Port Royal, the 17th-century stomping ground of the real pirates of the Caribbean.

After a period of relaxation here your clients might enjoy planting themselves at the 53-unit Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios. This beachfront treasure has an exceptional arch of white-sand beach and lots of old-school charm.

Book it: Caribtours offers four nights with breakfast at Strawberry Hill and five nights on a room-only basis at Jamaica Inn, plus private transfers, flights and a lounge pass at Gatwick, from £2,125 based on a May departure.
caribtours.co.uk

Barbados



While Barbados’s highest point is just 340m above sea level, the rolling hillsides that back the island’s western Platinum Coast are home to just as many desirable properties as the beachfront.

Barbados is also a relatively small island – just 21 miles long by 14 miles wide – so even when clients are on higher ground they aren’t far from the fabulous towns, attractions, restaurants, bars, and of course the golden sand, that make Barbados an excellent all-rounder.

Tucked away above charming Speightstown, and edged by cane fields, is The Sugar Cane Club Hotel & Spa. This neatly laid out property has 43 smart and comfortable chalet-style guest properties set apart around lush gardens, a pool and inviting bar and restaurant.

There’s also an art gallery, spa and a forested walking trail to keep guests amused. Speightstown’s sweep of white sand is less than 10 minutes’ drive away but, wherever clients roam, they’ll be eager to retreat back to The Sugar Cane Club to sip cocktails on the property’s deck, away from the crowds, while enjoying an exclusive view of the sunset.

Book it: Virgin Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Sugar Cane Club from £1,125, including transfers and flights from Gatwick, departing May 18.
vhols4agents.co.uk

St Kitts



Less developed than many of its neighbours, St Kitts has a rugged, undulating interior where fields of swaying sugarcane merge seamlessly with emerald highlands.

Zip lines at former rum distilleries and the St Kitts Scenic Railway provide a taste of life away from the coast for holidaymakers staying at beach hotels such as the St Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino.

Those staying up in the hills, however, get to enjoy country living every day. From its vantage point, Ottley’s Plantation Inn boasts sweeping sea views across its manicured lawns and from the terrace.

Spa treatment rooms are enshrouded by woodland, the pool is in a walled garden, and a botanist gives tours of the property’s landscaped grounds that are planted with exotic fruits, flowers and palms.

The 23 rooms here are either set in the great house-style building or separate stone cottages. All are furnished in the colonial style of St Kitts’ heritage.

Book it: Kuoni offers five nights’ room only at Ottley’s Plantation Inn and five nights’ room only at the St Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino, including flights from Gatwick and private transfers, from £1,488, based on a May departure.
kuoni.co.uk

Sugar Railway


New Hilltop Hotel, St Kitts



St Kitts’ newest hotel, Belle Mont Farm, is a hilltop property – you can tell from the name, which means beautiful mountain.

Its 84 guesthouses and seven, four-bedroom farmhouses, set in a 400-acre site, offer panoramic views of neighbouring islands St Eustatius, St Barths and St Maarten from their wrap-around verandas.

It’s a luxurious spot with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-table eating, and is part of Kittitian Hill, an ongoing $600 million hospitality and real estate development.

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