The Caribbean is one of the UK's most popular winter sun destinations, but with so many islands and hotels to choose from where should you go? One option for luxury-seekers is to follow in the slipstreams of the private jets of the rich and famous. So if you have the money, these are the two resorts to book.
Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
These paradise islands in the West Indies are the holiday destination of choice for Hollywood's A-list. The reason for this aside from the white sandy beaches, calm blue waters and palm trees of any Caribbean island is that these islands offer one of the most luxurious resorts in the world: Parrot Cay. Opened in 1998 by billionaire Christina Ong, Parrot Cay has all the luxury associated with the world's top resorts and a little bit more. For example, you'll be greeted on arrival by your private butler but rather than just carrying your luggage for you, these butlers unpack it too.
The spa offers one of the most comprehensive massage menus you will ever see. And, rather than being shut away in a windowless box while your chakras are aligned, the "rooms are full of natural light", says Rosa Monckton in The Mail on Sunday. The rich and famous have given the resort its seal of approval, with Christie Brinkley, Bruce Willis and Keith Richards owning villas in the resort (£6m will buy you a three-bedroom villa). Some of these are available to rent, with Willis's costing £3,000 a night, not including food and service. But if you can afford it, it's worth it for the gardens alone. Willis was unhappy with the resort's gardeners, so flew his own in from America, who created "a riot of colour" along the villa's own long drive, which is signposted 'Big Daddy Boulevard', says Monckton.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
Those worried about safety after this summer's headlines about the Caribbean will be glad to hear that Gurkhas guard Parrot Cay. Although given that Turks & Caicos has one of the lowest crime rates in the area and the resort is on a private island, it's unclear what they are protecting guests from.
Parrot Cay costs from $525 per room per night. See www.parrotcay.como.bz or call 00 1 649 946 7788.
Sandy Lane, Barbados
It may not have the nicest beaches in the Caribbean, but Barbados experiences little crime and the Sandy Lane resort has just been voted the second-best resort in the Americas and the Caribbean by Cond Nast Traveller (Explora en Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico in Chile came first).
Sandy Lane is paradise on earth, says Tanya Gold in the Daily Mail, who spent Christmas there. "The beach looks as if Jesus has ironed it, just for me. And then there are the security guards lurking, hands on batons, reassuringly keeping the riff-raff at bay." The hotel is ideal for families, with children's and teen clubs to offload the little darlings while you relax at the spa. Just watch out for the pink marble floors, which are "so slippery it's amazing they're not constantly delivering guests to the local hospital", says Adriaane Pielou in The Daily Telegraph.
Regular visitors include Sir Philip Green, Simon Cowell and Michael Winner, who, despite being rushed back to England for hospital treatment after eating a rogue oyster at the hotel last year, still returns regularly. But don't let Winner's bad oyster put you off the restaurants (it clearly hasn't put him off). The food is "good to excellent", says Pielou, with four restaurants and five bars to choose from.
Rooms from $1,000 a night with breakfast (closed for refurbishment until 3 October 2008). See www.sandylane.com , or call 00 1 246 444 2000.
Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.
Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.
Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.
Act now: First Direct’s £175 switching bonus ending soon
First Direct has launched a £12,500 prize draw on top of its £175 cash bonus - but they both finish soon, so you’ll need to be quick
By Vaishali Varu Published
Credit card providers slash 0% balance transfer deals
Customers face a double whammy of rising interest rates and shorter 0% balance transfer periods. We look at what’s going on in the credit card market and why you’ll need to act fast to get the top 0% balance transfer deal
By Ruth Emery Published