Grenada La Luna
In St. Georges, Grenada,La Luna's 16 private, one-and two-bedroom, open-air guest cottages, each featuring a four-poster Balinese king-size bed and its own plunge pool and veranda, make this a particularly intimate spot - perfect for honeymoons.
By
updated 3/7/2007 11:25:12 AM ET 2007-03-07T16:25:12

Long stretches of packed beaches. Trinket-bearing vendors. Spring (gasp!) breakers. Just a few things that come to mind when thinking of the Caribbean.

And no wonder: Last year, more than 16 million sun seekers flocked to the area, which reaches as far north as the Bahamas and as far south as Guyana, according the Caribbean Tourism Organization, a public-private development group.

But many of the area's islands still boast luxe hot spots undiscovered by the masses. Here, thanks to sophisticated, secluded accommodations and an attentive staff, those seeking privacy can enjoy the Caribbean in peace. Many of the world's privileged--including Hollywood heavyweights and heads of state--are fans. Leonardo DiCaprio owns a small island off the coast of Belize. And British Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife, Cherie, de-stress on Barbados.

"Bajan people are very, very friendly, and they're not really in awe if Will Smith and his wife are here," says Michael Pownall, general manager of the Sandy Lane Golf Resort in Barbados, which has hosted Britain's first family. "They realize who they are, but they treat them with the same courtesy as they would other guests."

Ritzy Resorts
Barbados in particular has experienced a surge of popularity recently, especially among North Americans--it's been a longtime favorite for those traveling from the U.K., says Averil Byer, director of marketing for the Barbados Tourism Authority, a government-run organization that focuses on developing the tourism industry within the island.

"There is no doubt that Barbados is a very sophisticated destination," she says. "We are drawing in visitors across the board."

This, he adds, is partly due to the massive renovation ultra-posh Sandy Lane underwent in 2001.

The 46-year-old resort now boasts three brand-new golf courses, a full-service spa and a five-bedroom villa, in addition to spacious rooms (average size: 900 square feet) each with its own veranda. Tiger Woods loves the grounds so much that he rented the entire resort for his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren in 2004.

Luxe Island Living
But make no mistake: Caribbean sophistication reaches far beyond a singular island.

© Sandy Lane
A perennial hot spot for the upper echelon, Sandy Lane in Barbados boasts 112 luxury rooms and suites, as well as the 7,300-square-foot, five-bedroom Sandy Lane Villa, a favorite among such stars as Will Smith and Tiger Woods.
Antigua and Barbuda, located in the Eastern Caribbean seas, host the Jumby Bay Resort, which stands on a 300-acre private island two miles off the coast of Antigua.

This secluded hideaway boasts 40 suites, some with four-poster beds and wraparound terraces; 11 villas; and several private estates for rent. Here, guests can immerse themselves in such activities as sailing and scuba diving, as well as afternoon tea and an open bar with all meals.

If your idea of a perfect getaway involves dreamy romantic details, La Luna, on the island of Grenada, just might hit the spot. The resort's one- and two-bedroom cottages include Balinese beds, a plunge pool and a daybed on private verandas, so, if you so desire, you can wake up underneath the stars (minus the sleeping bag).

Christine Nelles, general manager at La Luna, says patrons prefer the intimate, relaxed atmosphere of Grenada over some of the Caribbean's more ostentatious destinations.

"It's not about Gucci and Prada," she says. "People that come to Grenada have done their research--it's not overdeveloped."

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Super Secluded
Privacy is all well and good, but for the true recluse, look no further than Guyana. The only South American country also considered a part of the Caribbean, Guyana is recognized for its dense rain forest and English-speaking locals. (Unlike the case in every other country in South America, Spanish is not Guyana's official language.) And driver beware: Cars travel on the left side of the road.

Many organized treks into the Guyana's tropical wilderness include a stay in the Le Méridien Pegasus hotel--the only place with luxury accommodations on the island. After getting a peaceful night's rest in one of the three deluxe suites, you can enjoy Sunday brunch at Le Poolside restaurant or work on your approach shot at the Lusignan Golf Club.

Whether you're making your way through the rain forest or lounging on the hot white sand, it's good to remember that the Caribbean exudes an overall casual vibe.

"It's more understated than you would think," says Pownall. "People come down and feel very comfortable. They don't have to dress for dinner."

Sometimes, donning jeans and flip-flops is the most desired luxury of all.

© 2012 Forbes.com

Photos: Caribbean way of life

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  1. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority shows Harrismith Beach, Barbados. Sun, surf and sand are the main draws on this tropical Caribbean island. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority shows The Watering Hole rum shop in Barbados. The rum shops on the island are good places to sample local food and drink, watch a game of dominos, or just get to know the friendly and hospitable Bajans. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. St. Lucia

    Developed, beautiful and situated in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia is accessible from Europe and Canada, and reachable -- albeit not as easily -- from the United States. St. Lucia is known as a romantic destination. The island gets plenty of visitors, including wedding parties. (Holger Leue  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. St. Lucia

    Cocoa pods lie on the ground ready to be processed at Fondoux Plantation in Soufriere, St. Lucia. Cocoa is one St. Lucia's main produce alongside the more obvious banana crop. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. St. George's

    The capital of Grenada, St. George's is considered one of the prettiest harbor towns in the Caribbean. Grenada's unique layout includes many finger-like coves, making the island a popular sailing destination. (Richard Cummins  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Cayman Islands

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Stingray City

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. St John's

    In high season, up to five cruise ships visit St John's, Antigua, each day. The boats unload mostly American and European passengers who fan out across the island visiting the casinos and beaches. Antigua is easily accessible, and can offer good values for tourists. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Antigua

    Antigua, located in the Northeastern Caribbean, is a popular tourist spot. While there are high-end, stylish hotels, the island also features a large number of mid-priced options. Visitors will find beach bars, restaurants, casinos and shopping. (Richard I'Anson  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Antigua

    People walk along an area known as Devils Bridge in Indian Town Point, Antigua. Antigua is a wintertime destination for many visitors from the north. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Dominica

    Not as well known as other Caribbean islands, Dominica is green, fertile and mountainous. Visitors will find some opportunites to scuba dive, but watersports are not its main draw. The island does, however, offer a slew of rainforest trails -- great for hiking and sightseeing. (Greg Johnston  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Dominican Republic

    An old church building is seen in La Romana, the third-largest city in the Dominican Republic. (Wayne Walton / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Belize

    Belize gets more than 850,000 visitors each year. The hot spot allows watersports such as kayaking and snorkeling, as well as inland activities like hiking and birding. The Mayan ruins of Altan Ha, pictured, are easily accessible from Caye Caulker. (Andrew Marshall / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. La Tortuga

    A fisherman repairs his nets on Cayo Herradura, off the island of La Tortuga in Venezuela. The country offers visitors a variety of activities to choose from, but remains undervisited -- especially compared to its South American neighbors. (Lynne Sladky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Cuba

    Cuba blends the fantastic attractions associated with other Caribbean destinations with an amazing history. Tourists can stroll white sand beaches, take in the incredible architecture and party into the early-morning hours. (Javier Galeano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. St. Barthelemy

    St. Barthelemy is a vacation spot of stars and millionaires. Trendy, chic and sexy, St. Baarths is safe for tourists, but expensive to visit. About 8,700 people reside on the island. (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Puerto Rico

    A man climbs to a 40-foot waterfall at the south side of the Caribbean National Rain Forest, commonly called El Yunque, near Naguabo, Puerto Rico. Most visitors hike the well-marked paths in the northern half of the park's rain forest but the trails in the south allow hikers and nature lovers to explore the only tropical forest in the U.S. national forest system. (Herminio Rodriguez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Puerto Rico

    The cupola of San Juan Cemetary as well as colorful homes sit next to the ocean in Old San Juan, the original capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The old city is a historic district of seven square blocks made up of ancient buildings and colonial homes, massive stone walls and vast fortifications, sunny parks and cobblestoned streets. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Puerto Rico

    Men play dominos in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is a well-preserved colonial city that allows tourists a peek into the past. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Guadeloupe

    Guadeloupe isn't as developed as some other Caribbean islands, but it offers a variety of beaches -- some active with watersports, some secluded. The island also offers beach bars, restaurants, mid-range hotels and other tourist amenities. (Marcel Mochet / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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