The only perk better than a beachfront resort is a beachfront resort that’s brand new. From Jamaica to Mexico, a new crop of all-inclusive resorts has popped up across the Caribbean since spring, ready to check in a new group of travelers.
While the expected amenities — a beach, plenty of pools, fruity tropical drinks, buffets — remain, these resorts feature unique twists, including a recording studio open to guests at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya; an oxygen bar at CHIC by Royalton Punta Cana; and swimming under caves at Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa.
The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya boasts more than 1,000 rooms, while Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres targets couples with just 35 rooms, as do the adults-only Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, CHIC by Royalton Punta Cana and Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.
Whether you crave reggae or relaxation, spa time or snorkeling … whether you’ll be boarding a plane with your sweetheart, your family or your buddies … consider booking a stay at any of these new resorts to add some “wow” to your next vacation.
1. Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, Puerto Aventuras, Mexico
An hour south of Cancun International Airport, near the marina village of Puerto Aventuras, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya seeks to attract an edgier crowd. Open since May, each room at the 1,264-room resort on a white-sand beach flaunts a terrace or balcony (and your own hammock), nine restaurants (from steak at Toro to Brazilian Rodizio at Ipanema) and eight bars, plus kid-friendly spots like the Teens Lounge & Club and HIT Entertainment’s Little Big Club. Countering that is Heaven, an adults-only haven, with Rock Spa’s 75 treatment rooms, its own beach, four restaurants, a nightclub and three bars. Work out the kinks on a rock-climbing wall, in a kayak, on a bicycle or on the tennis courts. On Thursday afternoons guests can record a music video — and perform on stage that night.
2. Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa, St. Thomas
Perched on a 31-acre hillside spot with beachfront access and set to open on Dec. 21, Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa will be Dreams’ first property in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tucked into the 294-room resort — all rooms have water views — are three interconnected pools (with caves and waterfalls), seven restaurants (serving French, Asian, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine), an Explorer’s Club for kids and Dreams Spa by Pevonia. Cyril E. King International Airport is just 25 minutes away, and there are plenty of flights from hubs in the U.S. (including JFK, Miami, Charlotte and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta), making this a convenient getaway.
3. Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall and Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Thanksgiving week introduced these two companion (and adjacent) resorts, part of Hyatt’s foray into all-inclusives. Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, with 387 suites, is family-friendly, with 43 swim-up suites and eight pools. Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, with 234 suites, is adults-only, featuring poolside beds and restaurants like Brazil, a churrascaria. The hotels are located along a 1,500-square-foot private beach on the property of the former Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall Resort, which is seeing new life after an $83 million renovation. Fire pits throughout the properties create fun gathering spaces.
4. CHIC by Royalton Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Open since the fall, this adults-only playground on Uvero Alto beach is geared for bachelorette/bachelor parties, girlfriend getaways and couples’ vacations. Each of the 323 suites carries a sleek pink/gray/white décor. There are eight restaurants (with sushi, ceviche, steakhouse and Moroccan themes), plus a lavish buffet spread, Royal Spa and several entertainment venues. There is a live performance every night, a disco and six bars, including an oxygen bar, a sports bar and a daytime swim-up bar.
5. Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Thirty minutes off the coast of Cancun’s party scene is a quieter, more relaxing beach area: Isla Mujeres, where Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres expects to welcome its first guests on Dec. 15. With just 35 rooms, all with views of the Caribbean, the design-focused property in a private cove chose Tikal stone and tiled-vault ceilings for grandeur. Its two restaurants offer French fare and Swiss-Northern Italian dishes (including pizzas baked in a brick oven), plus local, organic and gluten-free dishes and afternoon tea. Guests can swim in the pool, golf for free at the nearby Playa Mujeres Golf Club and receive a free beach bag upon check-in that has been handmade by children at a local non-profit.
6. Sonesta Ocean Point, St. Maarten
A rare introduction to St. Maarten’s Dutch side (there are few all-inclusives here), Sonesta Ocean Point debuted in late November, featuring 129 suites on the island’s southernmost point. Guests have access to three pools (including The Edge, an infinity cliffside pool with a private beach), three bars and lounges and Mediterranean-inspired dishes at Azul. As proof of the resort’s eco-friendly mantra, it has an organic garden, a dedicated open-air wellness area, carpets crafted from fishing nets and solar panels that provide hot water.
7. Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa, Cancun, Mexico
Touting family-friendliness with an Explorer’s Club for kids, Core Zone Teens Club and films on the beach — but also ample options for night-owl adults — the 438-room Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa opened in September. Six restaurants (including French fare at Bordeaux), a buffet, an ice-cream parlor, five bars, two pools and the Dreams Spa by Pevonia quickly fill a week’s stay. And listen up, golf fans: Greens fees are free at the nearby Playa Mujeres Golf Club. A 650-foot private white-sand beach is open to guests only.
8. Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, Playa Mujeres, Mexico
Fresh off its mid-November opening, Secrets Resorts Playa Mujeres —35 minutes from Cancun’s airport — is an adults-only property in a gated community. Next door to the 424-suite resort — each with either swim-out access or a Caribbean Sea view — is the Greg Norman-designed, 18-hole Playa Mujeres Golf Course, with no fees for Secrets guests. On the grounds, a fitness center, two pools, four Jacuzzis and Secrets Spa by Pevonia help guests unwind. Nine restaurants offer everything from grilled poolside fare at Barefoot Grill to just-caught seafood at Oceana and French dishes at Bordeaux.