No Kids Allowed: Adults-Only Resorts in the Caribbean
by Melanie Reffes, Special for USA Today
Staying up late, sleeping in and savoring a drink in-hand by noon is the pot of gold at the end of the vacation rainbow. Whether it’s a romantic getaway or a wild weekend, a stay in an adults-only resort can be the best kind of grown-up fun. Indulge in a guilt-free vacay away from the fray at home; you can bring the kids next time.
Close enough to the duty-free capital city Philipsburg, yet far enough for those who prefer a quiet dinner by the sea, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort is casual chic on a one mile-long sandy beach. All-inclusive with 257 rooms and suites (some with butlers), this adults-only spot is one of three all-inclusive Sonesta resorts on the island (Sonesta Maho Beach and the newer Ocean Point Resort are the other two) and comes with three pools, Serenity Spa, tennis courts and the Golden Casino. Champagne check-in sets the tone for an elegant seafood dinner pour deux at Il Pescatore, seaside sharing at the Water’s Edge, a slice at Pizzeria Capri and views of the big cruise ships from the yummy buffets at the Bay View restaurant. From the Anchor Swim-Up to the Lobby Bar, bartenders pour limitless glasses of the finest and the fruitiest. Gratis add-ons include aerobics in the pool and snorkeling in the sea, and for the young-at-heart, there’s crab racing on the sand and volleyball on the beach. For the get-out-and-explore crowd, a stroll along the beach and boardwalk leads to the city, and free guest passes to the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort are available.
Retro-classic in Nassau, Sandals Royal Bahamian is where the Beatles filmed their 1965 campy comedy Help! and where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent many a vacation by the sea. Named for the regal guests, the Windsor Building marries vintage with modern in swim-up river suites, while vistas of Sandals Cay Island are picture-perfect from the Balmoral Tower. There’s no wallet necessary for the ten restaurants, from British pub grub in The Cricketer’s, Italian light bites at Bella Napoli, steaks and scallops on the pier at Gordon’s, and teppanyaki at Kimonos. After dinner, the chocolate fountain in the Royal Theater hits the sweet spot. Easy to navigate, the 404 room and suite resort tops it off with seven pools, six whirlpools, scuba, sailing and massages in the spa or seaside in a palm-covered gazebo.
It’s not your grandmother’s resort unless granny likes toga foam parties, co-ed steam rooms and chocolate buffets at midnight where all you bring is your appetite and your bravado. About as adults-only as it gets, Hedonism II is one of those resorts where everything you’ve heard about it are true, or at least most things. On the beach in the party town of Negril, the all-inclusive, clothing-optional (including a side for folks who choose not to take it all off all the time) has pushed the polite envelope for three decades with king-size mirrors above the beds, adult toys in the gift shop, leather and lingerie theme nights, pizza delivered to the au-natural hot tub and those wildly wicked toga foam parties. For couples or singles staying at a nearby hotel, day and night passes are available should the urge to check out the wild side strikes.
As far from a big box hotel as it gets, there are no room numbers at the Olive Boutique Hotel in the hip Condado neighborhood of San Juan. To enter one of the fifteen rooms including the honeymoon suite with a Jacuzzi on the outdoor patio, guests simply match the tassel on the key to the tassel on the door. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the swank small hotel with magical views of the Condado Lagoon was inspired by the Mediterranean travels of its Puerto Rican owners who furnished it with artsy fountains, Spanish tiles and restored woods. Steps from designer boutiques and across the street from a big beach that hosts a weekend farmers market, the best seats in the house are high on the rooftop with its party bar, plunge pool for tapas-snacking and mojito-sipping, and nimble-fingered masseuses working their magic with herbs and hot stones. For a local spin on a traditional steakhouse, Chef Mario Pagan’s menu at the Sage Restaurant aims to please.
Serenely seaside on the west coast, The Club, Barbados Resort & Spa (or simply The Club) marries Bajan charm with a British vibe. All-inclusive with 160 rooms and suites, the resort is catnip for couples who covet a champagne breakfast on the balcony, tea poured every afternoon like clockwork, a trio of freshwater pools, a pair of a la carte restaurants, an impeccably manicured beach, and a bevy of gratis water sports. Mimicking the distinctive Bajan rum shops that dot the island, the aptly named Rum Shop Bar is home to evening tastings and the Green Monkey cocktail shaken with dark rum and orange-infused liqueur. When the sun sets, the Piano Bar opens for a fine brandy or a classic three-olive martini.
An artistic melange of tropical design and Caribbean charm, Galley Bay is distinctive with Gauguin cottages named for the French artist and inspired by his life in Tahiti. Splashed in bold colors, woven bamboo ceilings and peaked thatched roofs, the cottages are a popular pick of privacy seekers who like the concealed patio and plunge pool. On forty waterfront acres, the all-inclusive is also a top choice for dining with three restaurants and four bars including the stand-out cone-shaped Teepee Bar with a high-peaked roof and bartenders who pour heady cocktails crafted with the local Cavalier rum. Naturally elegant with a lagoon, bird sanctuary and never crowded white sandy beach, the west coast resort fits the bill for adults craving an unplugged vacation away from the nine-to-five.
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