As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’m not a fan of big, splashy, Disneyland type resorts. I go on vacation to reconnect with spirit and commune with nature, but I also don’t want to sacrifice good service, outstanding food, and photo-worthy accommodations. I have had my eye on a few properties that fit the bill, no pun intended, as they are between $120 and $255 per night. Here are my top picks for bohemian luxury resorts with a flair for uniqueness.
The Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel, Negril, Jamaica
I have had my eye on this award-winning gem located on the West End Cliffs of Negril, Jamaica for over a year. The adults-only ‘rustic chic” escape seamlessly blends modern technology with the natural island landscape and features 18 handcrafted stone cottages, poolside organic dining, and a fabulous spa and yoga center. The resort offers a variety of packages for yoga enthusiasts, foodies, and newlyweds and has received numerous accolades from the press, including the Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Award in 2014 and 2 International Hotel Awards, including Best Spa Hotel in the Caribbean and Best Small Hotel in the Caribbean in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Trip Advisor also named the Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel #1 of 81 hotels in Negril. Rates start around $150/night.
Ahau Tulum, Tulum, Mexico
Ahau is a resort and community based on the principles of Mother Nature, as it mimics a healthy ecosystem and promotes biodiversity utilizing the science of permaculture. It received a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor in 2017 and is Green Key Certified, an award given for properties with a standard of excellence in environmental responsibility. The hotel consists of a series of thatched roof cabanas sitting directly in the sand and just steps away from the sea. Barefoot elegance is key here, with a perfect balance of low-key and luxury in a magical setting where the ocean is described as “glowing”. Boasting a vegan restaurant, spacious and beautifully appointed rooms, and a high level of customer service, it is astonishing that a night here starts at around $120/night.
Belle Mont Farm, St. Kitts, West Indies
This unique, sustainable luxury hotel, set on lovely Kittitian Hill, was created out of a vision by founder Val Kempadoo to form a community that benefits both visitors and locals alike, through the fusion of art, culture, mindful conservation of natural resources, and enriching experiences. The resort offers farm fresh cuisine using locally foraged ingredients, volcano treks, exquisite cottage-style rooms (some with private plunge pools and incredible views of the surrounding islands), a golf course, and a variety of regularly hosted arts festivals. Belle Mont Farm has been dubbed “Best new Caribbean hotel” by Food & Wine Magazine and described as “A refined stay in a rustic setting” by The New York Times. Rates start at about $175 per night. All-inclusive packages are also available.
The Papaya Playa Project, Tulum, Mexico
Created by Design Hotels as a venture to merge hospitality with local culture and sustainability (see a pattern here?) Papaya Playa Project is known as a “communal playground for the creative community” and an ideal destination for those looking to blend nature, relaxation, and spirituality. The rustic, eco-friendly complex of beachfront cabins and cottages have panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. There is an organic market and juice bar on site and the room rate includes breakfast, use of bicycles, and yoga classes. The spa is a vibrant beachside space specializing in Mayan Shaman therapies and even has a sweat lodge. Saturday nights are lively at Papaya, as the resort hosts weekly events featuring international dj’s and a full moon party once a month. Room rates start at about $200 per night.
Cape Santa Maria Resort, Long Island, Bahamas
Last but not least is this tranquil haven in the Bahamian Out Islands and where I’m headed in June. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Nassau via charter plane, Cape Santa Maria is an intimate resort of just 40 units, all directly on the beach with private patios overlooking the clearest water you will ever see and 4 miles of powdery sand beach recognized as one of the top 10 best in the world. Cape Santa Maria has also been named the #2 Most Romantic Resort in the Bahamas by Travel and Leisure and was awarded the 2017 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor. Ready to be shipwrecked? This is the place. It is a perfect destination for anyone seeking rest and renewal and to experience the true warmth of the Bahamian people. Amenities include in-room massages, all manner of watersports, bicycles, and a fitness center. Room rates start at about $255 a night. More on this Utopia once I’ve returned….