Caribbean Food Festivals Worth the Splurge
Move over Paris and Rome, the Caribbean is quickly becoming a gourmet dining epicenter. Beckoning to international award-winning chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert and José Andrés, the Caribbean boasts an impressive array of acclaimed resort restaurants and foodie festivals. Care to pair your umbrella-laden drink with a mouthwatering meal? Found everywhere from St. Barts to Turks & Caicos, here are four splurge-worthy culinary festivals you won't want to miss.
Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3, the Taste of St. Barth Gourmet Festival will tempt the palates of hungry visitors, with Jean-Georges Vongerichten of NYC's Jean-Georges as the festival's honoree. Along with Vongerichten, seven of the world's finest award-winning chefs (with nine Michelin stars among them) hailing from France, Brazil, Japan, the U.S. and Sweden will create multi-course menus at seven host restaurants. Alongside the delicious menus, there will also be two professional cooking competitions — the St. Barth Chef Challenge by Taittinger and a traditional Saint Bart "galettes" and cake competition. Guest barman, Stephane Ginouvès from Fouquet's Barrière Hotel, Paris will preside over the Bartender Competition to decide who creates the best, original "Taste St. Barth Cocktail."
Where to stay: Hôtel Guanahani & Spa — the largest resort on the island. It boasts two white-sand beaches, colorful cottage-style suites and an expansive Spa by Clarins. The resort's executive chef, Philippe Messeglia, oversees Le Bartolomeo and Indigo restaurants, considered some of the best dining locales on the island. Hôtel Le Toiny, Relais & Chateaux exudes total privacy, elegant villa-style accommodations outfitted with private pools, and in-room spa services and a French gourmet dining experience at Restaurant Le Gaiac. Eden Rock-St. Barth, an Oetker Collection hotel, sits on St. Jean beach with stylish suites and ultra-luxe villas. Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, with its idyllic setting on Baie de Flamands, touts freshly redesigned suite interiors and bungalows evoking the glamour of 1960s-era St. Barts.
Providenciales (better known as Provo), home to white-sand beaches and brilliant turquoise sea, will once again play host to the Caribbean Food & Wine Festival. From Nov. 6 to 8, James Beard finalist chef David LeFevre, Leah Cohen and Hans Peter Haider will join Provo's finest chefs for a culinary celebration of classic Caribbean cuisine. Guests will satisfy their Caribbean cravings and sample island fare — including native conch — at a variety of food and wine events. Each event is priced individually, and for $250 you can take a jaunt around the island on a Gourmet Safari. Whet your palate with libations at the Grace Bay Club followed by dinner at the Coyaba Restaurant, Seven Stars Resort, Regent Palms and Gansevoort Turks + Caicos, a Wymara Resort.
Where to stay: At the Regent Palms, whitewashed coral stone offers a striking contrast with the turquoise sea views at this 72-suite beachfront resort. After indulging at the festival, head to the 25,000-square-foot spa for a little detox. Gansevoort Turks + Caicos suits travelers looking for contemporary chic accommodations on a pristine stretch of white-sand beach. Grace Bay Club, Provo's first all-suite luxury resort, boasts villas and the ultra-luxe estate, a space so indulgent you'll probably wish you could move in.
Jade Mountain, one of St. Lucia's best hotels, will once again play host to the Spices of the Caribbean, a five-day festival devoted to the island's signature flavors. From Dec. 12 to 16, James Beard Award-winning chef Allen Susser will lead guests in a series events, including a cocktail party with complimentary tropical rum punches, tours of the resort's own Emerald Estate organic garden, 18th century historic plantations, and live interactive cooking demonstrations led by Susser himself. Some events do cost money, but most are free to Jade Mountain guests.
Where to stay: Take advantage of the complimentary events by bedding down at Jade Mountain — an architectural marvel with rooms the hotel refers to as "sanctuaries" (accommodations are missing a fourth wall — putting you even closer to St. Lucia's tropical paradise). Start each day with a swim in your private pool overlooking the majestic Pitons. Also consider Anse Chastanet — Jade Mountain's sister resort. This classic beachfront Caribbean outpost offers a technology-free getaway: With no TVs or radios to distract you, you'll be able to immerse yourself in the spectacular sunsets and bevy of activities the resort offers, including snorkeling and kayaking.
If your New Year's resolutions do not include refraining from caloric food and wine, then make your way to the Cayman Islands for the annual Cayman Cookout. From Jan. 15 to 18, celebrity chefs the likes of Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés and Daniel Boulud flock to Grand Cayman for over-the-top wine tastings, culinary demonstrations and gala dinners. Plan to resume your New Year's resolutions when you get home. Tickets go on sale Oct. 15.
Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman sits on famous Seven Mile Beach and is considered by guests and experts to be one of the most luxurious oceanfront outposts on the island. It's also home to the coveted Blue by Eric Ripert — a seafood restaurant helmed by the same New York chef behind Le Bernardin, and a recurring guest judge on "Top Chef." Stay here if you want to be close to the Cayman Cookout action — the hotel will host all of the event's festivities.
About the author: Tiffany Dowd is the founder and president of Luxe Social Media and a global luxury hotel expert. You can follow her on Twitter @LuxeTiffany, Facebook and Instagram, connect with her on LinkedIn and add her to your circles on Google+.