Caribbean

Martinique

written by | Posted on February 1st, 2010

You know what they say: good things come to those who wait. That’s especially true when it comes to the Caribbean. The most secluded getaways—the private paradises with smooth, empty beaches and authentic local cuisine and culture; destinations that give you a true “deserted island” feeling—are often those that are the most difficult to reach and more often than not, the most exclusive. Sure, it takes longer to get there, but once you’re off the plane you’re in an exotic, upscale paradise.

Take the island of Martinique, for example. Set way out in the Eastern Caribbean and connected to most U.S. gateways solely via a layover in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the island is certainly a lot harder to reach than, say, Jamaica or Nassau. But it’s also a world apart from the Caribbean that most U.S. travelers know. And for clients looking for a unique, exotic experience, that’s a very good thing.

unexpected accommodations Due in part to Martinique’s difficult airlift from North America, U.S. travelers to the island make up only a small percentage of its overall tourist income. But that’s not to say there’s no tourism product here. Europeans, particularly the French, fly into this overseas department of France year-round, in numbers that have sustained a thriving and diverse collection of hotel and resort accommodations.

One of the newest is La Suite Villa, a boutique property set on a hillside just above the sea. Inside its main building, modern bohemian design meshes with traditional Caribbean desires, with rooms that employ bright colors and sea views as well as streamlined designs and modern art in their decor. The six suites each have their own color schemes, with common elements like open showers and raised beds to ensure that clients see the ocean as soon as they wake up. The bottom floor of the hotel is home to a small dining area, bar and an outdoor swimming pool, all also looking down to the sea.

Walking down from the hotel, guests encounter the resort’s nine villas, designed in a similar style and offering more space and more privacy than the suites. Ranging from 2- to 3-bedroom units, the villas also offer small living areas indoors and outdoors, covered patios with jacuzzis—all, once again, facing the view to the ocean. Artsy touches like appliances painted by Cuban painter Ricardo Ponce (a favorite of the owner, who also painted a mural on one of the hotel walls) add a quirky, colorful ambiance to the space.

The artsy-chic feel of the place extends into its activities, which include yoga classes and painting sessions in the resort’s small conference space when it’s not used for meetings. Suite rates at La Suite Villa start at $220 per room per night dbl; villa rates start at $309 per villa per night dbl.

Compared to the vibrant vibe at La Suite Villa, the hotel Le Plein Soleil is positively spa-like. Here, accommodations are housed in French country-style homes decorated in soothing natural tones with a kind of comfortable colonial feeling. But though the inspiration for these rooms comes from the past, the amenities inside are very modern: separate his and hers sinks in the bathrooms, plunge pools attached to some of the more lavish suites, and modern art adorning the walls are just a few ways old meets new here. A small swimming pool and restaurant serving up elegant French-style seafood dishes round out the options for guests here. Rates start at $206 per room per night dbl.

Possibly the most famous resort on the island of Martinique, Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa is a larger, ultra-luxe resort that offers guests an almost impossibly personalized approach to vacationing. Upon arriving in the specially scented lobby of this Relais & Chateaux property, clients are immediately whisked away to their rooms—no checking in at the desk required. Spread out across its 3.5 acres, accommodations here are Asian-inspired and spacious, with unexpected elements like flat-screen TVs that swivel around a pillar to face in any direction and bathtubs that can be completely hidden from view with sliding doors that turn into an artificial wall.

And those rooms are just the beginning of the luxury to which guests here are treated. A free-form swimming pool with an infinity edge facing the ocean gives guests a place to relax and soak up the sun during the day. Dining ranges from the casual seaside restaurant, Campeche, to Belem, an upscale evening restaurant serving French-Caribbean fusion cuisine. But perhaps the spa is most impressive. Accommodating just three guests at a time, spa-goers here can take advantage of having over 3,000 sq. ft. of relaxing facilities, including plunge pools, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, all to themselves. Rates start at $589 per room per night sgl or dbl.