Looking for all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico? Luxury Travel Advisor has just the picks for you.
On October 14, Cobblers Cove on the northwest coast of Barbados reopened with a new look. As part of the five-year refurbishment, the Relais & Châteaux resort, which offers both a bed-and-breakfast and all-inclusive rate, updated all of its suites, guest areas, swimming pool and pavilion. The great entrance hall, drawing room and two signature suites also received updates.
Good to know: The all-inclusive rate covers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, soft drinks, local beer, house wines and house spirits, as well as a myriad of water sports, tennis, boat trips and fishing. Premium alcoholic beverages and snacks are not included.
Claiming a one-quarter mile of white-sand beach in a quiet cove, the family-owned boutique hotel — which opened in 1968 — is surrounded by three acres of lush tropical gardens. The 40 suites are spread among nine two-story cottages set in the gardens surrounding the original plantation-era Great House. Here, the two honeymoon suites have hand-woven grass carpets, four-poster beds, historical island prints, botanical drawings, basketwork lamps and views directly over the Caribbean.
The honeymoon suites — Camelot and Colleton at the Great House — are the top options on-property. Colleton is the larger of the two (1,780 square feet) and is located on the first floor. In addition to the four-poster bed, the suite has his-and-hers dressing rooms, a double shower, a kitchenette, a private covered terrace with its own plunge pool and an open terrace with sun loungers. Camelot at the Great House comes in at 1,380 square feet but is spread across two floors; it has a first-floor terrace, private rooftop with sun loungers, a separate bathtub and shower, and kitchenette. Good to know: Each of these rooms also has the best views of the Caribbean.
The Ocean Front and Ocean View Suites are the most requested. The Two-Bedroom Suite is best for families. Note: Only six of the 40 rooms have bathtubs, so enquire with reservations managers Sheena Goodridge ([email protected]) or Renee Smith ([email protected]) should that be a preference.
Known for locally sourced food and fish caught daily by Barker, the hotel fisherman, Camelot Restaurant is run by Bajan chef, Jason Joseph. Guests of the Camelot restaurant should order the catch of the day (available blackened or grilled with potato, zucchini and red pepper coulis) and follow that with the Grand Marnier Soufflé with vanilla bean ice cream. In addition to a seasonal menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, chef Joseph also offers Tuesday Cocktail Party and “Easy Sunday” BBQ menus, as well as an Island Night menu, available on Fridays. All three events include live music (think: soca, calypso, steel pan and swing). Tip: Be sure to request a table at the Gazebo.
Good to know: Guests can also arrange for a private dinner — whether it’s a romantic evening for a couple, a family picnic or a celebration with friends. Dining locations include the Lazybones Pavilion, offering the top sea views; North Patio, near the pool and bar, or any number of private beaches. Chef Joseph will also work with you to completely customize the menu. To arrange a private dining experience, travel advisors should contact Anne-Marie Green ([email protected]; 011-12-464-222-291), assistant to the general manager.
Cobblers Cove can arrange private lunch and dinner at Lazybones Pavilion, which offers sea views.
For guests looking to learn more about the island, Cobbers Cove can arrange a variety of interesting tours, including garden, heritage and hiking tours. The private, chauffeured Garden Tour will visit numerous notable gardens on the island, including Hunte’s, Andromeda Botanic Gardens, Orchid World, Welchman Hall Gully and Flower Forest. The tailor-made heritage tours, led by a guide from the Barbados National Trust, visit both public and private plantation houses not usually open to the public and / or Bridgetown’s UNESCO World Heritage garrison.
After a day on the water or exploring the island, be sure to book a spa treatment with Carla Cumberbatch, the resort’s therapist. The spa has only one treatment room, so book as far in advance as possible (couple’s treatments are available).
The hotel is 45 minutes from Grantley Adams International Airport. Tip: Book FastTrack through immigration via the hotel when making your reservation. Christmas, New Year’s and February are the busiest times at the resort; it’s best to book a year in advance for these times.
Cobblers Cove closes yearly between August and October for upkeep. The general manager is Will Oakley ([email protected]; 011-12-464-222-291).
In Turks & Caicos, The Meridian Club on Pine Cay first served as a private members club before opening as a hotel in 1973. Here, three meals daily, afternoon snacks and tea, water sports, taxi and boat transfers are all included in the rate but no drinks of any sort are included.
Guests can stay in any of 13 beachfront residences and the original Clubhouse. The Premium Beachfront Rooms were renovated in 2018; each of these open-plan rooms has a king bed and built-in closet space. In the bathrooms, guests will find double vanities and a large, walk-in shower that leads to a private outdoor stone waterfall shower. The Premium Beachfront Rooms look out onto Pine Cay’s secluded two-mile beach, and are set among the same sand dunes as the Standard Beachfront Rooms; these rooms have a more traditional Caribbean aesthetic and a separated living and bedroom space. Note: The Standard Beachfront Rooms do not have air conditioning.
Good to know: Both the Premium and Standard Beachfront Room categories have screened-in porches.
The top accommodations on property are the two new Luxury Beachfront Cottages, Sand Dollar and Sea Biscuit. The cottages have slightly more space than the Beachfront Rooms (912 square feet compared to 814 square feet) and offer more seclusion. They have the same amenities as the Beachfront Rooms but additionally have private outdoor dining spaces and terraces with a hammock.
There are also six private homes available in varying sizes, meaning they can accommodate couples, families or groups of friends; they also vary from modern to “casual island chic” in décor. Good to know: The Private Homes come with their own golf cart for easy access to the Clubhouse.
Note: The Meridian Club accepts children ages 12 and older from November through May; from June and July, ages six years and older can stay at the resort. Children under the age of 12 are allowed to stay in some rental homes but there are limitations in terms of them eating dinner at the Clubhouse.
Travel advisors should contact Avianna Adolph Penn ([email protected]; 011-888-286-7993), reservations manager, or Melissa Jennings ([email protected]; 011-888-286-7993), guest services manager, for bookings. Note: The Meridian Club on Pine Cay can be fully bought out.
Similar to Cobblers Cove, The Meridian Club is most busy for Christmas, New Year’s and February. It also closes yearly, from August through October.
The Meridian Club on Pine Cay has 13 beachfront accommodation options.
There is one restaurant on property, helmed by executive chef Carlos Andrés Meléndez, who creates tropical-inspired fine dining dishes. Jump Up Night (hosted every Saturday) is a must. You should also definitely head to the upstairs bar in The Clubhouse to take in views of the sunset, while enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
The construction of a new spa and fitness room is nearing completion. Among the new amenities? A couple’s treatment room. Currently, however, the Sand Dollar Spa has two treatment rooms. Yani ([email protected]), the spa director and Balinese spa specialist, selects products that are natural and organic. The Balinese Massage is the signature offering, but the Deep Tissue Massage is among the most requested.
How to get there: Guests should fly into Providenciales International Airport and take a 15-minute taxi to the marina, where a Pine Cay boat will pick them up. A guest service representative will get the guests acclimated during the 20-minute boat ride. Pine Cay does have its own small airstrip that can accommodate some private jets.
If you’re looking to get off-property, among the more popular options are bird watching, bike rides across the island or walking any of the nature trails that lead to secret beaches. On the water, Hobie Cats, kayaks, paddle boards and snorkeling gear are included and available. Guests can also sign up for scuba diving, deep sea fishing, kitesurfing, whale watching and more.
Should guests prefer a Mexican retreat, here are a couple resorts to keep on your radar.
The Paradisus Playa del Carmen offers a pair of options for travelers seeking either a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation. The resort complex is divided into two halves — the adults-only Paradisus La Perla and the family-friendly Paradisus La Esmeralda — and both offer exclusive, upscale service in the form of the Family Concierge at La Esmeralda and the Royal Service at La Perla resorts-within-a-resort.
All-inclusive rates at the resorts comprise roundtrip transfers, à la carte meals and drinks — at La Palapa for the Royal Service and at the Olio Restaurant for the Family Concierge — as well as private check-in, pool and beach areas and, of course, butler service, complete with a complimentary cell phone to message the butler while on property.
Both Royal Service at La Perla and Family Concierge at La Esmeralda offer access to the best suites Paradisus has to offer in Playa del Carmen. At La Perla, ask for Presidential Suites Nos. 1392 or 1396, each of which have Thierry Mugler amenities, a view of the ocean and access to the exclusive Royal Service Pool and the water ritual at YHI Spa.
For families, Presidential Suites Nos. 3325 and 3328 at La Esmeralda are the ones to pick. These have much the same amenities as the Presidential Suites on the adults-only side of the resort, but with access to the exclusive Family Service Pool instead of the Royal Service Pool.
Outside of the Presidential Suites, the resorts’ two-bedroom master suites, some of which have swim-up access, are a good bet for families and large groups. All told, 67 of the connecting rooms are available at La Esmeralda. For girls’ or guys’ getaways or other friend groups, the adults-only La Perla also has 54 connecting two-bedroom master suites. For other options with great views of the ocean, book the one-bedroom suites on the third floor on both the La Perla and La Esmeralda side.
Royal Service at La Perla also grants access to a number of exclusive amenities, including dedicated, personalized assistance from a private butler, who can be contacted via instant message. Billed as a boutique hotel within the larger all-inclusive resort, it has its own dedicated lounge for private check-in and checkout, plus a terrace with private whirlpool in every suite.
Paradisus Playa del Carmen’s adults-only section Paradisus La Perla has 395 rooms, many with swim-up access.
Family Concierge at La Esmeralda likewise offers butler service — a lifesaver for managing the little ones! — as well as exclusive access to the Olio restaurant, a traditional, poolside Italian trattoria. The area also has its own private swimming pool and beach area with concierge service, plus there are daily, specially organized enrichment activities for the whole family. In the suites, a number of fun touches for kids abound (think: kid-sized bathrobes and slippers, turndown service with milk and cookies and a “bathtime fun” setup for the whirlpool). Best of all, the area just opened a new water park, so there will be plenty to keep the children busy during the day.
Adults at both resorts, however, can opt to relax with a trip to the YHI Spa, which is home to a full-service beauty salon (bridal treatments available), 14 massage cabins and wet and dry saunas. The most popular treatment here is the 50-minute Mayan massage; be sure to ask for Andres García, Maribel Juarez or David Escamilla, the top estheticians at the facility. A full menu of treatments, including aromatherapy, sports and relaxation massages and hydrotherapy, is also on offer. For those interested in keeping up their wellness routine, even on vacation, the fitness center offers trainers, group studio classes and one-on-one coaching. Contact Carla Paladino ([email protected]; 011-52-984-877-5720), spa manager, for special requests.
Once refreshed, it’s time to hit the town, and fortunately the famous shopping area of La Quinta Avenida is only 10 minutes away by taxi. The hotel is also 45 minutes by car from famous archeological sites such as Tulum, Chichén Itzá and Cobá. It’s also close to the Xcaret ecological park.
For golf buffs, the Grand Coyote Golf course is five minutes away from the property, where outings can be arranged for an additional charge. Advisors should contact Aldo Espino ([email protected]; 011-529-848-775-133), La Perla guest services manager, and Rocío Juárez ([email protected]; 011-529-848-775-205), La Esmeralda guest services manager, to arrange an outing. Espino and Juárez also serve as the head concierges for their respective resorts and can arrange for a number of other VIP activities, as well.
A taste of the Riviera Maya scene is also available at the resort; the Passion Restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Martin Berasategui draws a local crowd. Note: “Elegant attire” is required here, and only adults are allowed, but the menu of Basque-French fusion cuisine is not to be missed. Foodies will also want to check out the Fuego restaurant, which serves up Latin fusion dishes and a raw bar in a sexy atmosphere — be sure to try the octopus ceviche! There’s even a terrace to dine on while enjoying the breeze.
Terrace dining is also available at Vento, the resort’s Indian restaurant that’s open for dinner and available to both families and adults, as well as Bana, the property’s contemporary Asian fine dining restaurant. The latter also has an adults-only area with Teppanyaki tables and a sushi bar.
Elsewhere around the resorts, there are a number of other ways to while away the time or blow off some steam. La Perla has great adults-only sports activities ranging from light stretching and meditation to, for the more competitively inclined, volleyball. Travelers can also opt to learn a new skill with tango classes or a number of workshops focused on tequila sampling or wine tasting.
For kids at La Esmeralda, daycare service for ages between 12 months and four years old is available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., while older kids (ages five to 12) can check out the Kids’ Zone, where they can take part in beach games, treasure hunts and enrichment experiences such as cookie workshops or an exploration of the nearby natural environment. There is also a special program for teenagers that runs the gamut from beach volleyball to snorkeling, kayaking and more. For those who simply must spend their vacation indoors, there is also a games room with a PlayStation, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360. Twenty-four-hour babysitting service is also available for an extra charge.
Both resorts are 40 minutes away from Cancun International Airport, and roundtrip airport transportation is included for guests of both properties. Travelers can also opt to land at Playa del Carmen Domestic Airport, which is 10 minutes away and has facilities to handle private helicopters and jets.
Leisure travel manager Gerardo Palma ([email protected]; 011-529-848-773-963) serves as the primary advisor contact for both properties. Managing director Conrad Bergwerf can also be reached at [email protected], or 011-529-848-773-900.