This review article began with a simple question: Which is the best Sandals resort in Jamaica?
Sandals, as you may know, is a chain of all-inclusive beach resorts with properties in a handful of Caribbean countries including St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Antigua. The country with more Sandals resorts than any other — there are seven altogether — is Jamaica.
But which of those seven Sandals should I choose for my vacation? you might be asking.
With that specific question in mind — and with a skeptical view of Sandals in general — Spot Cool Stuff took a tour of the all-inclusive resorts on during our last trip to Jamaica. Here’s what we found:
When the likes of Harrison Ford, Scarlett Johansson, Bono and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit photographers visit Jamaica they head to the caves. The Caves Resort, that is, a luxurious-rustic getaway located in Negril—Jamaica’s “capital of casual” famous for its Caribbean sunsets and Seven Mile Beach.
Celebrities are drawn to the Caves Resort partly because it is owned by one of their own, legendary music producer Chris Blackwell (who also hosts the Flashpoint Film Festival here). And partly because, well, it is one cool place to stay.
Bora Bora has only 29 square kilometers of land. Yet, incredibly, the French Polynesian island has 9 outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts. That gives Bora Bora a OCLR/KM (outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts per square kilometer) value of .31, which is surely the highest of any island in the world.
Each of Bora Bora’s nine outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts has its merits. A stay at each is also somewhere between expensive and exorbitant, especially once you account for the cost of food, activities and local transportation, all of which is pricey even before tacking on the 14% national tax. That makes choosing the optimum resort key. And, of course, if you are staying for your honeymoon you want to get it right.
For this overview, we’re listing Bora Bora’s OCLRs in the order of overall resort quality as we judge it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the first resort on our list is the best fit with what you are seeking for your particular trip. Also, while reading our comparison, keep in mind that all these resorts have overwater bungalows. All have service that exceeds that of a typical luxury hotel. And all are set in stunning locations, Bora Bora offering nothing but. In those ways, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices:
The Dhoni has been a central feature of life in the Maldives for nearly as long as there’s been a recorded history of people living there. Traditionally, Dhonis were small sailing vessel built from coconut palm wood. Today, a Dhoni (pronounced: “doh-nee”) comes in a variety of sizes and is as likely to be powered by an engine as it is by the gentle trade winds that grace the Maldives. Travel around that archipelago of tropical islands south of India and you’ll see Dhonis everywhere. People fish in them. Children ride to school in them. Merchants sell their goods from them. And at one hotel, the Cocoa Island Resort, Dhonis have been turned into romantic, idyllic luxury suites.
Amazing hot tubs. But going to the restroom is an undeniably chilly affair.
Spot Cool Stuff is occasionally asked what our favorite hotel chain is. The answer depends. We are fans of the W Hotels, appreciate the inexpensive airport stylings of Yotel and are keen on virtually all the Kimpton properties. But our choice for favorite hotel chain might have to be the igloos of Iglu-Dorf.
Why do we like the igloo rooms of Iglu-Dorf? Because they are igloo rooms. Made from real snow and ice.
Visit the site of the Whitepod ski resort in the Swiss Alps between April and November and what you’ll see of it is . . . nothing.
You’ll see no roads. No electrical wires. No place to stay. Just a 19th century farmhouse and a pristine alpine meadow that’s begging for some von Trapp kids to twirl around in it Sound Of Music style. The views of the snow peaks from this place 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above the oceans might be the grandest untouched mountain vista in Europe. “Untouched” being the key word.