There’s no greater salve for a wound than time — and an infinity pool. While we were wearing sweatpants by day and doomscrolling all night in 2020, several beautiful, posh, and secluded hotels opened across Central America and the Caribbean. Here are the ones we are most looking forward to checking into IRL soon.
Don’t miss all our picks for the World’s Best New Hotels in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. In the United States, we’ve broken down our favorite new hotels by region: the Northeast, the South, and the West.
Where: St. Barts
Why We’re Excited: The five-star property debuted in the famously posh port of Gustavia with 23 cottages, lofts, and villas, all with their own private pool. The hotel’s central location above the yacht-filled harbor is ideal for travelers wanting to be close to all the action — trendy restaurants, shops, and pristine Shell Beach (covered in thousands of white shells) and its chic beach restaurant, Shellona. The Parisian-inspired Diane Barrière Spa will offer luxury body treatments, yoga and Pilates, and an outdoor terrace relaxation area with 360-views of the harbor and neighboring islands of the French West Indies. Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire debuts his French-Caribbean brasserie, Fouquet’s, designed with raw, unfinished wood, wicker furniture, and a sea breeze to complement his take on French classics. To really experience island life, guests of the hotel can visit the Gustavia fish market (get ready for an early wake-up call!) to pick the fresh catch for that evening’s ceviche and grilled fish.
Where: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Why We’re Excited: The groundbreaking and iconic Caribbean eco resort is back after a heavy thrashing by hurricane Irma in 2016 and a four-year renovation by Rosewood. The half-mile slice of paradise was purchased in the 1960s by conservationist Lawrence Rockefeller, who set out to create a tropical oasis that could exist in harmony with its lush, vibrant surroundings, rather than interrupting them. Through his initiatives to blend the organic with the luxurious, he launched what travelers fifty years later are evermore seeking: low-footprint and low-tech spaces that effortlessly blend natural and elevated environments, sustainably sourced meals from the on-site garden, outdoor showers, treetop suites, and relaxed daily agenda that resets your body clock. The property’s thatched roof structures are precisely positioned to follow the curved lines of the landscape, making the turquoise-blue waters and white sand beaches unobstructed from any view. Guests are assigned a butler (not the penguin-suit-wearing stiff gent you’re imagining) who is their go-to source for the best snorkeling spots, secluded beaches, spa appointments, and daily excursions around the island.
Feel-Good Factor: Kids can learn to grow and eat their vegetables too with cooking classes by chef Francisco Sanabria using local produce grown on the organic farms on the property. There is also virtually no plastic in sight on the resort.
Where: Mexico City, Mexico
Why We’re Excited: Design lovers will flock (once again) to Mexico City where ultra-cool Mexico-based Grupo Habita took a storied pre-Hispanic ruin near the National Palace and the first cathedral in the Americas, and mirrored it with the vibrant and thriving social scene of the city. The boutique hotel is tucked inside the birthplace and long-time home of the nation’s most celebrated photographer, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, whose photographs are on display in guestrooms and common spaces. Interiors are airy and minimal with Shaker-inspired furniture, skylit interior balconies, Oaxacan tiles, and handcrafted pieces from the cult Mexican designers, La Metropolitana. The rooftop pool and restaurant, ONA Le Toit is worth a trip in itself with panoramic views of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Where: Oaxaca, Mexico
Why We’re Excited: Another new entry from Grupo Habita, which kicked off its twentieth birthday with the remodel of a former 19th-century Oaxacan adobe-style family home in the center culturally rich Oaxaca City. Cement, stone, and palm take center stage in 12 guest rooms minimally furnished with textiles and low-hanging furniture designed by local craftsmen and artisans. There’s a certain energy about this place with its tranquil desert colors, high ceilings, sun-drenched cacti, and stone pathways that feels grounding and nurturing — even with a bustling city right outside its thick protective walls.
Where: Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Why We’re Excited: Having long ago established its luxury footprint in Baja California at One&Only Palmilla, the hotel company has turned its sites to a 33-hectare beachfront plot on the still-developing Riviera Nayarit, between the mountains and the ocean where three microclimates intersect, ensuring a setting rich in wildlife and flora, including a 235-year-old tree they call “the grandmother.” The 105 accommodations are treehouses and villas in the tree canopy and on the cliffs, all designed to maximize the indoor-outdoor experience. The highlight of the culinary program is Carao, the restaurant overseen by Enrique Olvera, Mexico’s most impressive and innovative chef. The massive kids club — filled with climbing walls and trails in the jungle — conceived by the Academy Award-winning art director and production designer of Moulin Rouge — promises to be not only thrilling fun but also culturally and ecologically educational.
Feel-Good Factor: Botanical experts consulted during development ensured minimal damage to the existing environment, and the rooms were crafted from local materials like clay, wood, and stone and decorated the work of local designers.
Where: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Why We’re Excited: A beachfront, all-inclusive wellness retreat that espouses progressive thinking in everything from its principles (inclusivity, non-violence, self-expression) and its children’s programs (Waldorf-based and device-free) to the cuisine (plant-based) and spa treatments (astrology with the resident shaman). That all suites are ocean-facing is the vegan icing on the cake.
Feel-Good Factor: In addition to all of the above, the hotel was built with minimal disruption to the surrounding old-growth trees, mangroves, and cenotes.
Where: Tola, Nicaragua
Why We’re Excited: The breezy palapa lifestyle goes luxe on a white-sand stretch of secluded beach with a sustainably designed golf course and a spa program that includes a hammam, crystal temple, and various hydrotherapies. As part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, expect a host of plush suites, villas, residences, and rentals that cater to all types of groups.
Feel-Good Factor: Leave a Legacy is all about impacting the Emerald Coast community — staff hosts hospitality training in nearby towns, plants trees, and help farmers protect their water supply. Guests can take part in raising funds for local projects, fixing up buildings in disrepair, purchasing water filters and digging wells, and supplying materials to elementary schools.
Read More on Fathom: Where Should You Go After the Pandemic? Making a Case for Nicaragua
Where: La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Why We’re Excited: Nothing sounds like a greater thrill than waking up to a buzzing jungle canopy with a view of a monstrous volcano before diving into your personal infinity pool above the rainforest. Elevated above the trees of its sister properties, Nayara Springs and Nayara Gardens, the new glampsite is undeniably the most connected to its wilderness surroundings, with 21 elevated canvas suites in perfect frontal view of the smoking peak of the Arenal Volcano. There are also six natural hot springs fed by crystalline volcanic water, suspended bridges to roam, an open-air yoga studio and a spa, local music every night, and friendly visits from Tony, the hotel’s resident sloth.
Feel-Good Factor: Speaking of Tony, when Nayara Resorts’ owner first purchased the property bordering the Arenal Volcano National Park, nearly all the surrounding forest had been cut down to create dairy pastures — a troubling issue that has led to the increased razing of the rainforest for the past 70 years. So his first initiative was the bring the rainforest back, hiring a landscape artist who specialized in reforesting devastated areas by planting guarumo trees, a species beloved by the Costa Rican sloths who were suffering due to the deforestation of their habitat. Today, the property maintains an abundant sloth population of fifteen (and growing!) three-toed perma-vacationers roaming the jungle.
Where: Arequipa, Peru
Why We’re Excited: There’s no name on the door of what was once an Augustinian monastery dating back to 1540, eight years after Pizarro began his quest for the Incan Empire. Today it’s a 11-room boutique hotel made from original snow-white volcanic stone, with vaulted ceilings and exposed archways that all give nod to Arequipa’s nickname, Ciudad Blanca, “the White City.” At nightfall, alpaca-fleece blankets are strewn across the lantern-lit patios and outdoor plunge pool. At 8,000 feet above sea level, the Andean night sky shines much brighter.
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