Malu Custer Edwards, 29, graphic designer; Micky Hurley, 35, interior designer and antiques dealer; Rex Hurley, 9; Malu Hurley, 7; and Olympia Hurley, 5
Duration: 3 Weeks
“This past summer, we visited Paris, Antibes, Monaco, Nice, Rome, Florence, Portofino, London, and Ireland. The ocean is big for us; we love sailing, especially with the kids.”
Go here: St. Lucia
Why now: The 238-square-mile Caribbean island has never been more welcoming for those with means, now that tax incentives have brought a fresh crop of upscale accommodations, along with better roads and come-hither tourism programs (November is Chocolate Heritage Month). Winter bonus: The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the world’s largest transatlantic sailing race, culminates at St. Lucia’s Rodney Bay Marina with events from November 25 through December 22.
What to do: Zoom past the the volcanic Pitons and into a historic village with Soufriere Hotwire Rides (from $69; 758-459-7340), the island’s newest zip line. Then make your own chocolate at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat; participants in the “Tree to Bar Experience” pick, roast, ferment, and grind cacao pods at this boutique hotel’s working cocoa plantation ($65; the Rabot Estate, Soufriere; 800-757-7132). On the rare rainy day, stay dry while experiencing extreme weather in the special-effects theater at Our Planet Centre (from $20; La Place Carenage, Jeremie St.; 758-453-0107), a new high-tech environmental-conservation attraction from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Where to stay: After a $100 million makeover by the Viceroy, the Jalousie Plantation reopens as Sugar Beach this November (from $350; 758-456-8000). Set in a rain-forested valley between the Pitons, the resort houses new two-bedroom villas, beachfront bungalows, and three- and four-bedroom residences. Kids 5 to 12 years old can take glass-bottom boat trips and volcano tours. Manatee, a 42-foot Hans Christian–designed wooden sailing sloop, is available to hotel guests for day charter (from $800). Closer to the capital of Castries, the all-inclusive Morgan Bay Beach Resort (from $275; morganbayresort.com) has 343 guest rooms, including five-person family suites. The grounds feature four pools, an expanding-this-fall mega-spa, and complimentary sailing lessons.
What to eat: Grilled dorado, baked fry bread, and boiled green banana with salt fish can be found among the twenty or so food vendors who gather on Friday evenings in the village of Anse La Raye. In the northern part of the island, restaurants Windsong, the Charthouse, and the Coal Pot all make crab back, a traditional St. Lucian dish of peppery crabmeat and garlic butter.
Buy this: Among the straw bags and fish for sale at the 118-year-old Castries Market (Jeremie and Peynier Sts.) is Baron banana ketchup (from $4). The savory condiment—made from banana pulp—is a fixture on restaurant tables islandwide.
Also consider: Jumby Bay (from $995; 888-767-3966), the all-inclusive, five-diamond Rosewood Resort set on a private island off Antigua. It just launched a program where guests fish for wahoo on private day charters, then eat their catch at the resort’s restaurant. Other perks include complimentary bikes, alfresco movie screenings, a kids’ spa menu, and, puzzlingly, access to a resident astrologer.