Best New Resorts for the Food-Obsessed
Sage-roasted rabbit in Provence, fiery fish curry in Sri Lanka: The best new resort restaurants offer spectacular dishes like these in some of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Ristorante Caruso / Ravello, Italy
Travelers typically add the Amalfi coast hilltop hamlet of Ravello to an itinerary only after trips to nearby Positano and Capri, despite the cachet of celebrity residents like author Gore Vidal and some of the best-tended gardens in southern Italy. But Ravello has been stealing some attention from its neighbors since the venerable Hotel Caruso reopened this spring after a $30 million face-lift. Originally built in 1893 and frequented over the years by writers Virginia Woolf and Graham Greene, the new Caruso has 54 rooms and suites in an arch-filled palazzo 1,000 feet above the sea. Ristorante Caruso has had a makeover too. Padua-born chef Franco Luise, formerly at Lisbon's Lapa Palace, is using regional staples every way he can: raw shrimp marinated in olive oil and citrus; chilled zucchini soup with Parmesan ice cream; glazed duck breast with licorice honey; and a simple but perfect spaghetti with pomodoro sauce and basil. Caruso's fresco-ceilinged bar serves local liqueurs like limoncello and others brewed from myrtle and fennel. DETAILS Doubles from $730; Piazza San Giovanni del Toro, 2; 011-39-01-852-67890 or orient-express.com.
On-the-Rocks / St. Barts
Considered by many to be the most fashionable hotel in the Caribbean, the cliffside Eden Rock has just undergone a major renovation and expansion. The rooms and common areas now have a cleaner, more streamlined design, and new rooms have been added in the building next door, which once housed the Filao Beach Hotel and is now part of Eden Rock. Now the hotel has a total of 25 suites, cottages and penthouse lofts—some with private plunge pools—along with a wellness center and an art gallery. At the revamped, celebrity-packed On-the-Rocks restaurant, chef Jean-Claude Dufour's open kitchen prepares dishes such as seafood soup with lemongrass, watercress and squid ravioli, and roasted rack of veal with braised endive and mascarpone—served in a three-story dining room with terraces overlooking the sea, or at the cozy tapas bar. The Sand Bar, the hotel's casual café, offers simpler selections, like tuna sashimi with cucumber sorbet, at tables on the beach. DETAILS Doubles from $570; Baie de St. Jean; 011-590-590-29-79-99 or edenrockhotel.com.
Café Martinique / Bahamas
The massive 2,317-room Atlantis resort on Paradise Island already has a huge shopping and dining complex, with 29 restaurants and dozens of boutiques, including Versace and Ferragamo. Now it's debuting the renovated Café Martinique, a Bahamas classic that has a new interior by Adam Tihany—who added a birdcage elevator and a grand mahogany staircase—and a new menu by star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Back in the '60s, the original Café Martinique—"an icon of the Caribbean," Vongerichten calls it—was cool enough to cameo in the James Bond film Thunderball. Under Vongerichten's direction, the kitchen turns out dorade baked en croûte and delicious versions of retro dishes like lobster thermidor and coq au vin. The wine list is impressive too, with 31 Champagnes. Café Martinique will soon be joined by branches of two other celebrity-chef restaurants: Nobu will open at Atlantis this month and Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill launches in 2007. DETAILS Doubles from $230; One Casino Dr.; 1-888-528-7155 or atlantis.com.
Restaurante Maravilha / Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
The Fernando de Noronha area, off the northeast coast of Brazil, has long been a hideout for the jet set. The island archipelago is so remote, it requires two (and often three) connecting flights to reach. But now this heavily protected ecological escape—which limits visitors to 420 each day—gets its first high-end hotel, Pousada Maravilha. Owned by the scions of some of Brazil's wealthiest families, the resort has eight bungalows, all facing the ocean, and a clean but lush design: richly colored Brazil wood, white daybeds, endless walls of glass. The restaurant's menu is simple but inventive, with Brazilian- and Italian-influenced basics—shrimp and mango salad, artichoke risotto, seafood stew with cassava, dulce de leche with cinnamon—prepared by chef Aladim Alves and served by candlelight near the pool. DETAILS Doubles from $550; BR 363 Sueste; 011-55-81-3619-0028 or pousadamaravilha.com.br.
The Restaurant at Casa Casuarina / Miami Beach
Once the home of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace, this 1930s mansion has been converted into a private club and a 10-room hotel. It retains many of the house's original Moorish-Moroccan details, from colonnaded hallways and domed ceilings to an indoor pool with a mosaic floor made of colorful tiles. But it also comes with some very of-the-moment amenities, such as Quintessentially concierge services and a rooftop observatory. The restaurant, headed by German chef Wolfgang Birk, serves dishes like chorizo-stuffed brook trout with polenta fries and cipollini, and almond-crusted king crab cakes with crisp lotus roots. DETAILS Doubles from $1,200; 1116 Ocean Dr.; 305-672-6604 or casacasuarina.com; reservations through Leading Hotels of the World (800-745-8883 or lhw.com).
Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Periwinkle and Blue / Cayman Islands
Delayed for a year following 2004's Hurricane Ivan, the $500 million Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has finally opened, with 69 multimillion-dollar homes and 365 ultraluxe rooms, some with large kitchens or private elevators. The La Prairie Spa and Greg NormanÃï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½designed golf course are big attractions, as are the ecological tours, developed by Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques)—and the restaurants are standouts as well. There's the casual Periwinkle and the posh Blue, overseen by famed chef Eric Ripert of New York's Le Bernardin, whose menus for both restaurants display Caribbean influences, as in the lobster with citrus-mango emulsion. DETAILS Doubles from $299; Seven Mile Beach; 800-241-3333 or ritzcarlton.com.
One & Only Reethi Rah
Reethi Restaurant / Maldives
This new 130-villa Maldives resort is on the private island of North Male, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Despite the remote location, its restaurants get sushi-grade fish from Tokyo, free-range lamb from Australia and strawberries from Belgium flown in fresh each week. Chef Stefano Artosin uses those ingredients, along with herbs and produce from the organic garden, to create exceptional dishes (like Thai-inspired lobster green curry and tandoori scallops with lentils) at Reethi Restaurant and in the resort's other three dining rooms. The pampering at the hotel extends beyond the food: There are luxurious yachts to pick up guests from the airport; thatched-roof guest rooms perched over the ocean; a dozen secluded beaches; and a 1,400-square-foot spa with waterfront treatment rooms. DETAILS Doubles from $680; North Male Atoll; 011-960-448-800 or oneandonlyresorts.com.
The Restaurant at Amanwella / Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka was badly damaged by the tsunami of December 2004, but its tourism industry is getting back on its feet—as evidenced by the two new Aman resorts that have opened there in the past year. Amanwella, the newest, is built among coconut palms on a beautiful stretch of shore that's a short drive from Uda Walawe National Park, filled with wild elephants and monkeys. Each of Amanwella's 30 loftlike rooms faces the Indian Ocean and has its own plunge pool. The resort's infinity-edge main pool is steps from Amanwella's excellent, glass-walled restaurant, where chef Briony Crowder creates dishes accented by ingredients like lemongrass, chiles and coconuts from the resort's gardens. His specialties include a classic dal soup and fiery curries made with home-ground spice blends—a light version for fish and a spicier one for beef and mutton. Book a seaplane to get to Amanwella; the five-and-a-half-hour drive from Colombo is grueling. DETAILS Doubles from $550; Bodhi Mawatha, Wella Wathura, Godellawela; 011-65-6887-3337 or amanwella.com.
Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche
Faventia / Tourrettes, France
Attempting to translate rustic Provençal chic into a big resort setting is a dicey move. But Four Seasons has pulled it off gracefully with the new 115-suite haute country retreat at Terre Blanche. Opened early last year, the property successfully combines Côte d'Azur style—villa suites with terra-cotta-tiled roofs and heavy stone walls; a lavender-filled garden—with a Four Seasons level of service. The restaurant is overseen by chef Philippe Jourdin, whose training at Paris's famed Tour d'Argent and the Moulin de Mougins near Cannes is evident in dishes such as sage-roasted rabbit paired with king prawn paella. Best of all, you can have a black-truffle omelet for breakfast the next morning. DETAILS Doubles from $340; Domaine de Terre Blanche; 011-33-4-9439-3600 or fourseasons.com/provence.
Notios / Paphos, Cyprus
Chef Rob Shipman worked at Nobu in London before taking the job at Cyprus's first designer hotel, the Almyra—where the white-on-white interiors are as innovative for Cyprus as the black-tiled swimming pool. Shipman's restaurant, Notios, was designed, like the rest of Almyra, by Tristan Auer and Joelle Pleot. (Pleot created Karl Lagerfeld's residence and Coco Chanel's Paris boutique.) Notios offers the island's only true Euro-Asian fusion menu, with dishes like flamed salmon sashimi with gremolata and truffle oil. Adventurous diners should go for Shipman's five-, seven- or nine-course tasting menus, where selections can be paired with local wines such as Ayios Andronicos. DETAILS Doubles from $260; Poseidonos Ave.; 011-357-2693-3091 or thanoshotels.com.
Al Hambra / Dubai
Opened a little more than a year ago, Madinat Jumeirah brings Moorish Spain to the Middle East. Its top restaurant, Al Hambra, has vaulted ceilings and terra-cotta floors, a reference to the Moorish edifice in Andalucía from which the restaurant takes its name. Chef Alfonso de la Dehesa, a Ferran Adria protégé, trades El BulliÃï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½style experimentation for slightly more traditional Spanish food. The best dishes include rack of lamb with foie-gras sauce, salted cod with crispy bread and a perfect paella. DETAILS Doubles from $270; Al Qasr; 011-971-4366-8888 or madinatjumeirah.com.
The Parker Palm Springs
Norma's and Mister Parker's / Palm Springs, California
The building that once housed Merv Griffin's Givenchy Hotel and Spa got a colorful $35 million makeover last year by hip New York CityÃï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½based pottery-maker Jonathan Adler. The new hotel, a 13-acre desert "swanktuary," has 144 bedrooms furnished with whimsical Adler creations such as zebra-skin rugs and geometric white poster beds—as well as four pools, a reception area filled with Gio Ponti furniture, a golf course and staffers dressed in hot-pink blazers who serve Moroccan tea in the afternoon. Like its sibling at Manhattan's Le Parker Meridien hotel, the restaurant Norma's has an over-the-top breakfast menu, which includes a $1,000 frittata made with 10 ounces of sevruga caviar. Mister Parker's is a French bistroÃï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½style restaurant with mirrored ceilings and oversize leather booths. Here, Parisian chef Pascal Lallemand serves a menu of dishes ranging from a luscious lobster bisque to pistachio-crusted rack of lamb. DETAILS Doubles from $395; 4200 East Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-770-5000 or theparkerpalmsprings.com.