The House, St. James
Each guest is welcomed to the House with an in-room massage. There's no front desk; instead, your personal "ambassador," a butler-concierge, takes care of everything. The 31 one-bedroom suites were carved out of a low-slung 1960's hotel. Some elements of the former property remain—which explains the odd mix of Asian and colonial furniture. White slipcovered chairs, teak checkerboard sets, and giant urns with flaming torches set the scene in the main area. The crisp blues and whites are the perfect foil for the jungle of bougainvillea and other tropical flora outside. Despite the landscape, though, Paynes Bay's newest hotel somehow fits in. Those wanting time alone can order from the in-room menu (called Flavors to Awaken Your Senses) or indulge in a five-course dinner for two under a gauzily draped four-poster shelter—with nothing but sand underfoot.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.