Where to Go Next in the Caribbean | December 2003
best new restaurant Norma's, Sea Splash Resort Local legend Norma Shirley prepares fabulous jerk-chicken pasta and guava-glazed pork chops in a dining room that's right at the edge of the ocean (Norman Manley Blvd., Negril; 876-957-4041 or www.seasplash.com).
best value resort The Rockhouse Hidden among Negril's backpacker shacks and big all-inclusive resorts, the environmentally conscious Rockhouse offers charming rooms with balconies and a good New Jamaican restaurant (doubles from $75; West End Rd., Negril; 876-957-4373 or www.rockhousehotel.com).
best restaurant Jasmines, Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall The dining room is formal by island standards (no flip-flops allowed) and the Jamaican-Asian menu from chef Dennis McIntosh is equally serious, with dishes such as chilled tomato soup with cucumber-mint sorbet and teriyaki salmon with conch risotto (1 Ritz-Carlton Dr., St. James; 876-953-2800 or www.ritzcarlton.com).
insider tip The Lilliput Jerk Centre There are jerk shacks all over Jamaica, but the best is the Lilliput in Montego Bay for the richest, spiciest chicken, pork and fish (Lilliput Main Rd., St. James; 876-680-0179).
Jamaica classic Round Hill Montego Bay's Round Hill still feels fresh after half a century (that's got a lot to do with a stylish recent renovation and a new spa). Now the rooms and villas on the former pineapple and coconut plantation—on 110 acres of seafront property—are even more airy and bright. Round Hill's elegant international restaurant is a favorite of Ralph Lauren, who owns one of the 27 private cottages (doubles from $260; Round Hill Bluff, Hopewell; 800-972-2159 or www.roundhilljamaica.com).
best new arrival L'Esprit Salines In a cozy wooden house surrounded by gardens, St. Bart's stalwart Jean-Charles Guy does everything from cooking and waiting tables—there are only 20—to chatting with customers. Don't miss the Moroccan kebabs, the Provençal grilled prawns or the peppery Creole brochettes (Saline; 011-590-590-52-46-10).
best scene On the Rocks Bar, Eden Rock Hôtel A young and beautiful crowd comes to drink mojitos and piña coladas and snack on blue-marlin tartare and lobster spring rolls. The bar's cliff-top view of the ocean is extraordinary (Baie de Saint-Jean; 011-590-590-29-79-99 or www.edenrockhotel.com).
best restaurant Maya's Chef-owner Maya Gurley's excellent, eclectic cuisine shows a strong influence from Guadeloupe, where she once lived. It's a great place for spotting the island's many visiting celebrities while dining on tomato and mango salad, shrimp with sweet potatoes and coriander or the grilled fish of the day. Maya's To Go, a take-out place on the Gallerie de Commerce, sells picnic-size portions of Maya's dishes (Public Beach; 011-590-590-27-75-73).
best resort Guanahani On its own peninsula on the northeastern end of the island, between the Atlantic Ocean and a bright blue lagoon, the small but luxurious 18-year-old Guanahani is the place to play tennis, ride horses, sea kayak, windsurf and eat. Open for dinner only, the resort's Bartolomeo restaurant features some of the best French cooking on St. Bart's (doubles from $360; Grand Cul de Sac; 800-223-6800 or www.leguanahani.com).
best new resort Wyndham Martineau Bay Last May the U.S. Navy pulled out of Vieques after 60 years, leaving miles of untouched beaches and luminescent bays—all just a 20-minute plane ride from San Juan. The island's first resort, Wyndham is a 156-room property with a lovely spa and an inviting Indo-Latino restaurant, Paso Fino (doubles from $350; State Rd. 200, Vieques; 877-999-3223 or www.wyndham.com).
best value hotel Numero Uno Guest House A secluded alternative to the fancy resorts along the beach in the low-key San Juan neighborhood of Ocean Park, Numero Uno has 14 small, comfortable rooms. Its restaurant, Pamela's, is well known for Nuevo Latino dishes such as spicy jalapeño-ginger shrimp (doubles from $80; 1 Calle Santa Ana, San Juan; 866-726-5010 or www.numero1guesthouse.com).
best new arrival Pikayo Wilo Benet is as close as you get to a celebrity chef in San Juan. The menu at his newest location, at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, is an eclectic mix of traditional criollo (creole) and Continental. Some examples: sea bass with chorizo and corn sauce and mojito-spiced grilled shrimp (299 De Diego Ave., San Juan; 787-721-6194).
insider tip Luquillo Beach The white sands, coral reef and azure lagoon at Balneario de Luquillo are a 45-minute drive from San Juan along easy-to-follow Route 3. Snack at the long strip of food stalls, which offer local dishes such as piononos—thinly sliced plantains wrapped around beef stew and fried—and tostones, another beloved take on savory fried plantains.
Puerto Rico classic Ajili-Mójili San Juan's best destination for traditional dishes. Visit on Sundays, when locals return to their roots for arroz con pollo, flaky meat-stuffed empanadas and mofongo—mashed plantains served with shrimp, beef or lobster (1006 Ashford Ave., San Juan; 787-725-9195).
best new restaurant Water's Edge, Bel Air Plantation Grenadian-born, Canadian-trained chef Craig Copland grows the herbs and many of the vegetables for his modern island menu. The garlic shrimp-topped callaloo tartlet, the rum-flamed chicken with ginger cream and the panoramic ocean views are all great (St. David's Harbour, St. George's; 473-444-6305 or www.belairplantation.com).
most anticipated arrival Rhodes Restaurant, Calabash Hotel For the past four years, chef Gary Rhodes has taken time off from his two Michelin-starred London restaurants to consult at the fashionable 33-suite Calabash Hotel. In January of 2004, Rhodes will formalize this partnership with the opening of Rhodes Restaurant, his first overseas outpost, in the hotel's landscaped gardens overlooking the beach. Expect excellent versions of jerked pork ribs and Grenadian fish stew (Lance Aux Epines; 473-444-4334 or www.calabashhotel.com).
insider tip River Antoine Rum Distillery It's organic, ultrahigh proof and not available for export— three reasons why a bottle of Rivers rum is worth a pilgrimage to the 18th-century distillery in St. Patrick's parish. Take the tour to see one of the world's oldest waterwheels in action before sampling the fiery liquor (River Antoine Estate, St. Patrick's; 473-442-7109).
best snack food Roti Its roots may be Indian, but roti reaches the height of its popularity in the West Indies. A local equivalent of the burrito, Grenada's versions are stuffed with spicy chicken, fish or the traditional staple, conch. Try one at the Nutmeg Restaurant, which hugs the sea along Grenada's main harbor (The Carenage, St. George's; 473-440-2539).
best resort, Grenada Laluna When it opened in late 2000, Laluna was Grenada's first boutique resort, a 16-cottage hillside hideaway with a southern Italy-meets-Bali design from Carmelina Santoro and Armani architect Gabriella Giuntoli. Three years later, Laluna is the Caribbean's best-kept secret, where celebrities like Kate Moss and Jerry Hall lounge on oversize daybeds after eating Sicilian chef Benedetto La Fiura's rich red risotto with scallops, shrimp and crab (doubles from $270; Morne Rouge, St. George's; 866-4-LALUNA or www.laluna.com).
best value resort Rendezvous Bay Anguilla's oldest beach resort has been revitalized, thanks to a renovation of its sunny rooms. Also refurbished is the resort's Cedar Grove Café, where linen-topped tables are set steps from the ocean and the Caribbean menu is tasty and innovative (doubles from $100; Rendezvous Dr., The Valley; 800-274-4893 or www.rendezvousbay.com).
best scene Kemia, Cap Juluca With its stylish Middle Eastern interior, overstuffed sofas and meze menu (curried samosas, gingered crab cakes), Kemia feels right at home at Cap Juluca, the sprawling Moorish-themed resort on Anguilla's west coast (Maundays Bay; 264-497-6666 or www.capjuluca.com).
best new spa Malliouhana The resort's French restaurant and wine cellar are already considered the best in the Caribbean, so it's no surprise that its new 15,000-square-foot oceanfront spa is world-class. Treatments range from state-of-the art to classic and include customized thermo baths in therapy suites (Meads Bay; 800-835-0796 or www.malliouhana.com).
best new resort Temenos Year-old Temenos has three sparkling white villas, each with four immense master suites and an infinity pool. Up next: A bigger Temenos resort is slated to open in 2005 with the island's first 18-hole golf course (villas from $20,000 a week; Long Bay; 264-222-9000 or www.temenosvillas.com).
best new wine cellar The Wine Room at Turtle Bay, Caneel Bay Resort This intimate dining room (it seats 10) is part of a 17th-century plantation house. Seven-course meals feature local seafood and wines from the 1,000-bottle collection from one of the only temperature-controlled cellars in the Caribbean (N. Shore Rd., St. John; 340-776-6111 or www.caneelbay.com).
best new restaurant Great Bay Grill, Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas Among the highlights of the Ritz's recent $75 million renovation is the opening of the Great Bay Grill, a creative replacement for the formal dining room. Crocodile satay and pan-fried wahoo—a local mackerel—are two standouts (6900 Great Bay, St. Thomas; 340-775-3333 or www.ritzcarlton.com).
best casual restaurant Top of the Baths Overlooking Virgin Gorda's famed Baths—a cluster of immense boulders half-submerged in the sea just off the beach—this classic Caribbean spot has a simple and satisfying menu with conch fritters, broiled lobster and jerk chicken (The Valley, Virgin Gorda; 284-495-5497).
best spa, Virgin Islands Little Dix Bay It's been 40 years since Laurance Rockefeller built this seaside camp on Virgin Gorda. Little Dix—now grown to almost 100 rooms, suites and villas—also has a luxe spa for treatments like lemongrass wraps (Virgin Gorda; 888-767-3966 or www.littledixbay.com).