La Suite Villa is located on a cliff overlooking Fort de France and was designed by a husband and wife. // © 2016 Creative Commons user Steve Bennet
Feature image (above): Plein Soleil is a boutique hotel and restaurant located in Pointe Thalemont. // © 2016 Plein Soleil
Choosing a Caribbean getaway can be daunting, with so many sun-drenched islands peppered with beautiful beaches and even more gorgeous hotels. While many Caribbean islands lean toward the all-inclusive hotel model, the island of Martinique has moved away from this seemingly ubiquitous trend, opting instead for locally-run boutique-style options for a more intimate and authentic experience.
While the all-inclusive hotel model certainly has its merits — letting travelers know what to expect as well as maintaining a wallet-free vacation — Martinique has swung more homegrown.
“The ‘bigger is better’ mantra that has characterized Caribbean hotel development in recent years doesn’t apply as much in Martinique as it does in other islands,” said Muriel Wiltord, director of the Americas for Martinique Promotion Bureau. “The latest openings here have mainly consisted of small and stylish hotels de charme, each exhibiting the unique tastes and personalities of the individual owners. These boutique hotels provide guests with a more intimate experience; one that allows them to enjoy the real Martinique without sacrificing modern comforts.”
There are more than 3,000 hotel rooms in Martinique, with several projects in development. The hotel product across the island is diverse, from family and budget options to five-star luxury and, yes, even a few all-inclusives for those who still want that experience.
But for the boutique seekers, here are four to know.
La Suite Villa
Perched on a cliff overlooking Fort de France is La Suite Villa, a boutique design hotel. The owners have created a hotel that combines beautiful views with open spaces, modern art, gourmet cuisine and sex appeal. At every turn, a piece of eye-popping art catches the eye. The hotel is like a high-end psychedelic funhouse that plays with indoor-outdoor space. The building’s two floors feature Suites and Mini Suites, each with panoramic views over Fort de France’s bay.
For larger accommodations, opt for one of the villas, which come in one-, two- or three-bedroom configurations, each with a terrace and a Jacuzzi. Downstairs is the restaurant, Le Zandoli, which overlooks the water. Helmed by Ivan Duchene, a protegee of famed chef Alain Ducasse, diners are in for a treat for all the senses.
For a more rustic countryside feel, consider Plein Soleil, a three-star hotel and restaurant located in the heights of Pointe Thalemont in Le Francois. Situated in a tropical garden, the property consists of a main house and five villas scattered throughout the gardens. There are a total of 16 rooms and suites, as well as a restaurant and an outdoor pool. The rooms are light and airy, with white linens and wood.
Visitors can choose from Guest Rooms, Master Pool rooms, Garden Suites and Duplex Suites, and the on-site restaurant serves Franco-Caribbean cuisine. Clients can also partake in excursions to nearby golf courses, distilleries and museums or a tour of the island via helicopter.
Domaine de Robinson
Domaine de Robinson on Martinique’s southwest shore appeals to nature lovers with its seven eco-friendly rooms. Just outside Trois Islet, this secluded property offers black-sand beaches, gardens of wildflowers and fantastic snorkeling and hiking.
Those who aren’t afraid of elevating their vacation to new heights should consider the treehouse bungalow, perched 20 feet above the ground in an apricot tree. Guests access the suite via a cable bridge to enjoy the large terrace tucked underneath the branches, offering views of the sea.
La Maison de L’ilet Oscar
If private islands are more your thing, consider La Maison de L’ilet Oscar, a secluded escape that won’t break the bank. A 15-minute boat ride from mainland Martinique brings visitors to Ilet Oscar, one of several smaller islands surrounding Martinique. The colonial-style guesthouse is picture-perfect privacy and seclusion, with just four guestrooms, none of which have televisions.
The purpose is to completely unplug, sunbathe and enjoy some of the freshest seafood around at the restaurant — the octopus and lobster are a must.
Norwegian airlines recently launched new nonstop flights to Martinique from three Northeastern gateways: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) in Baltimore. These nonstop flights operate three times weekly from JFK on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; twice weekly from BOS on Wednesdays and Sundays; and twice weekly from BWI on Mondays and Fridays.
Connecting service is also available via San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Seaborne Airlines, which operates on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Codeshare agreements exist between Seaborne and American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue.