By { Beth Weitzman

With eight high-end Caribbean hotels—seven on Barbados, one on St. Lucia—the folks behind Elegant Hotels know a thing or two about genuine hospitality. Guests feel at home at each property in the brand’s portfolio of traditional, adults-only and all-inclusive resorts: Colony Club, Tamarind, The House, Crystal Cove, Turtle Beach, Treasure Beach, and Waves Hotel & Spa on Barbados; and The Landings Resort & Spa in St. Lucia.

At all Elegant Hotels, guests enjoy an array of complimentary services and activities, such as breakfast, WiFi, fitness center and classes, and water sports like kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Beach and pool ambassadors provide constant attention and are at your service with everything from sunscreen to chilled fruit popsicles. In addition, with the Dine Around Program in Barbados, all-inclusive guests have the opportunity to dine at any the four other all-inclusive properties. There is a supplemental charge if a guest is staying at a non-all-inclusive but would like to dine at an all-inclusive. 

Barbados Bound

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Barbados, an independent British Commonwealth nation in the eastern Caribbean, known for its breathtaking beaches and crystal blue water, lush gardens and plantation houses. The House, located on the western Platinum Coast of the island, was my home away from home for three lovely, relaxing days. The serenity I found at this luxe adults-only retreat was a most welcome break from my hectic city life.

Designed to emulate a chic Caribbean beach house, the charming 34-room, all-suite haven exudes comfort and sophistication. Checking in was a breeze. Without a formal front desk, the super-quick process was carried out by a personal property ambassador from the comfort of a plush white couch in the living room. Whether you want an ice-cold cocktail, a beachside massage or an offshore excursion, the ambassadors can make it happen. Other extra-special touches at The House include a complimentary 30-minute jet-lag revival massage and welcome drink; a daily Champagne breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapés.

Rest and relaxation are in order in the light and bright guest accommodations, where it’s easy to feel at home. Each features soft ivory linens, feather-topped beds, iPod docking stations and marble bathrooms with rain showers and a full tub with body jets in each room. Large patios or balconies are the perfect spot for reading a book while sipping wine and taking in the views.

Days can be spent relaxing poolside (which I did) or lounging on the beach, one of the best on Barbados’ west coast. The staff has the knack of knowing exactly when to come by to see if another cocktail or snack is desired. They’re perfectly attentive, but not intrusive.

On-property dining options include the lobby lounge, the oceanfront deck, private beach cabana or in-suite. All day and nighttime menus are available as well as room service 24 hours. Complimentary daily Champagne breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails are served in the lobby lounge right off the main living room overlooking the pool and beach. Adjacent is Daphne’s, combining the fine Italian menu of its famous London counterpart with island flavors and fresh seafood (the lobster pasta was among the best I’ve ever had). There’s also the 1703 Mount Gay Rum Bar on-site, which is the perfect spot for sundowner cocktails. Another dinner option is the Laguna Restaurant, the nearby Colony Club’s signature eatery, serving up an international feast with fresh local seafood, prime cuts of beef and produce seasoned with island and global spices. Follow with a decadent rum-and-chocolate pairing at the Rum Vault. Off-property dining is also wonderful, especially lunch at oceanfront Round House, which serves local specialties with American and British details using fresh local ingredients.

All-inclusive excursions, both on and off the property, include cultural and historical tours, beach cricket and neighborhood walks. For an additional fee, guests can take island safari tours highlighting iconic spots, such as the Caribbean’s oldest windmill; rum tours; catamaran cruises; horseback rides on the beach; cave tours; and submarine trips. For travelers seeking something extra special, the LX by The House package is the answer. It includes polo lessons, a private rum tasting and tour, a VIP shopping experience, luxury airport transfers, a three-hour sunset catamaran sail and the option to fly to the neighboring islands of Mustique or the Grenadines. 888.996.9948,

Sensational St. Lucia 

St. Lucia’s unique topography, ecology, fresh cuisine, hospitable locals and luxe accommodations set the stage for both relaxation and outdoor adventure. Part of the Windward Islands and the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, it is a 14-mile-wide, 27-mile-long nature-lover’s paradise, featuring 19,000 acres of mountainous, tropical rainforest and 29 miles of trails. 

Elegant Hotels’ property on the island, The Landings Resort & Spa, is situated on Rodney Bay, near the northern tip of St. Lucia. The condo-style resort, perched on 19 beachfront acres, features well-appointed one-, two- and three-bedroom villa suites from 900 to 2,300 square feet, all centered on a private yacht harbor exclusive to The Landings’ owners and guests. Private crewed yacht charters for evening sails and dinners can be arranged. 

In addition to the full range of Elegant Hotels’ perks, an extra all-inclusive option adds meals (full American breakfast, lunch and dinner), beach snacks and unlimited deluxe beverage service (some restrictions apply).

Imposing in size but comfortable in nature, the elegant five-story grand pavilion houses the reception area, The Palms restaurant and The Viscount bar on the first level; and the spa and the fitness center on the second. A three-story waterfall made of indigenous dark green andesite stone, walls clad in coral rendering handmade by Guyanese artisans, and custom-made alabaster and coral chandeliers reflect the natural setting and local culture. 

The super-spacious villas are outfitted with high-end appointments, including Miele appliances and Liebherr refrigerators. Whether you are traveling alone, with your honey, bestie or entire family, having a fully accessorized kitchen is a welcome feature, as are the washer and dryer. Opt to take advantage of the Personal Pantry, where you are able to preorder your favorite foods, snacks and beverages, and have them delivered to your suite prior to arrival. Splurge and reserve a chef for a night (or two) via the resort’s Chef-En-Suite program and enjoy fresh island cuisine in the comfort of your own villa dining room. After dinner, chill out in the large living room and enjoy beautiful vistas of the beach, harbor, lagoon or channel. Perhaps indulge in a dessert wine on one of two large balconies or landscaped terraces in the front and back of each villa. Some even come with a private plunge pool. An added benefit of ground-level accommodations is the ability to walk right out to the beach or the The Beach Club restaurant where you can enjoy live music in addition to your main meals while gazing at the sunset each evening, with a specialty cocktail in hand. 

Boasting fine finishes in stone, porcelain ceramics and top-quality hardwoods complemented by rattan furnishings and island-inspired artwork and accessories, the villas feel very homey. Retire in the evening into pure serenity—many of the villas feature four-poster beds in the master bedrooms and all have large, marble en-suite bathrooms. I truly enjoyed starting the day by indulging in room service set up on my private balcony. It’s vacation, after all. Why not?

Menus in all of the resort’s restaurants showcase fresh seafood, organic vegetables, herbs and fruit from local farmers and markets, with Caribbean and Mediterranean influences. You can never go wrong with the day’s fresh catch or the region’s famous spiny lobsters. The resort’s theme nights, such as Taste of Lucia, Family Style Night and Seafood Night, are quite popular and feature large buffets. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at The Beach Club, located at the water’s edge, just off an 800-foot stretch of white-sand beach. Here, a large breakfast buffet delights guests in the morning, and a Caribbean menu with Mediterranean and Asian influences wows at lunch, in the afternoon and at dinner. For lunch, the chicken roti with local spices and chutney is delish, as is the ceviche. The pizzas are great, too. For dinner, the crustacean menu features lobster Thermidor, grilled lobster and lobster Provençal. From the main menu, Thai-style crispy popiah, shrimp and lobster cocktail; and surf and turf are great selections. At the Beach Club is The Turquoise Beach Bar, serving a premier selection of rums and specialty cocktails, such as the popular Sweet Euphoria and the Green Flash, which can also be found on The Beach Club menu.

Callaloo Beach Bar and Grill, situated directly on the sand, is where you can often find bartender extraordinaire Ellijah and Chef Arturo Eduardo Avila Zarraga serving up great food and tons of fun. Don’t be surprised when they break out in song, serenading guests with old-time tunes. The casual spot is great for an afternoon light snack, a cold drink or full meal filled with St. Lucia’s farm-to-table offerings. 

Late afternoon or in the evening, enjoy a tapas-style menu filled with canapés, caviar and a wide array of sophisticated libations at The Viscount Lounge, which overlooks the marina, followed by dinner at The Palms. An open-air patio with a dramatic view of the marina is a romantic setting for the inventive Mediterranean menu of fine meats, fresh fish and seafood cooked on a lava stone grill. Tasty starters include scallop crudo, Greek-style calamari and tabbouleh with hummus. Delicious entrees include fisherman’s pot en croute (brimming with fresh fish, scallops, shrimp and mussels), lentil ratatouille and salmon kabobs. Be sure to save room for desserts like baklava, panna cotta and peanut butter cheesecake. 

Recreation is year-round in St. Lucia. Swim in the ocean right off The Landings’ pristine beach or in three outdoor pools (including an adults-only serenity pool); take out a sailboat; or play human-size chess on the sand, tennis on two courts or golf at the nearby St. Lucia Golf & Country Club. Get close to nature at nearby Pigeon Island National Park, where the landscape includes two beaches and a lookout point with panoramic views of St. Lucia’s northwest coastline. We opted for a guided snorkel tour, including rental gear, and we saw an impressive array of bright-hued fish. There are also moderately difficult hiking trails, as well as more leisurely walking paths and military ruins (most notably Fort Rodney), around Pigeon Island, which was once the site of battles between the British and the French. Learn a bit about St. Lucia’s history at the Interpretation Centre. While here, we enjoyed a local-style lunch at Barnacles beachfront eatery. Situated in an 1750s old cellar and featuring beautiful stone archways, the bar and restaurant grill serves Creole food, fresh-caught seafood and great beers. You may see the owner walking around, showing off live octopus. He and his entire staff exude warm St. Lucian hospitality and provide quick service.

Calling all avid hikers: The Pitons, a pair of volcanic peaks, beckon. You can challenge yourself by hiking to the summit of Gros Piton, the taller of the two. At almost 3,000 feet above sea level, this is one challenging mountain. Whether you reach the top or ascend only partially, the views are incredible. Trekking through the rainforest is also a popular activity; meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can take a zip line above indigenous treetops, exotic flora and fauna (an open-air tram is a more down-to-earth alternative). You may even encounter rare birds, like the gorgeous St. Lucia parrot. With all that to choose from— plus parasailing, deep-sea fishing, sailing, jet-skiing and other aquatic activities (all of which can be chartered through The Landings’ Water Sports Concession)—days can be as action-packed as you’d like.

Beyond dining, fun in the sun and outdoor adventure, check out The Landings’ 7,000-square-foot spa. With eight serene treatment rooms (including one couple’s room and some with outdoor hydrotherapy terraces), several relaxation rooms, a fitness gallery and a full-service salon, multiple visits are in order. There’s a wide array of locally inspired and Natura Bisse treatments, facials, body treatments and massages. When it comes to working out, the fitness center, with free weights, a multitude of cardio equipment, yoga, body sculpting and kickboxing classes, is top-notch. 

In the evenings, should you want to venture out, nearby Rodney Bay Village is filled with nightlife and dining options. Real estate investments with rental pool opportunities are currently available for sale at The Landings Resort & Spa. 866.252.0689,