The view from Punta Cana's Six Senses Spa in the Dominican Republic (Photo credit: Harrison Shiels)

Looking for a luxurious or adventurous experience this winter to ward off the chill? Put your toes in the sand and review this breezy, Caribbean treasure map:

Dominican Republic: Punta Cana Resort and Club’s “whisking service” literally leads guests around customs at the international airport because it lies on the resort property and is owned by the Punta Cana’s holding company. The resort’s two-story, all white Tortuga Bay villas, decorated by resident Oscar de la Renta, feature glass doors leading to oceanfront verandas. A low-density property means a high-quality experience that will have you wondering where everybody went. Don’t ask. Just enjoy the quiet, desert island experience.

Oscar de la Renta with Michael Patrick Shiels at Punta Cana Resort.

Six Senses Spa’s outdoor lounging areas, adjacent to a Tom Fazio-golf course, overlook the beach and quiet pool while dramatic, Spanish-style treatment rooms provide a sanctuary for ‘jet lag recovery,’ ‘natural sunburn soother,’ and the ‘Sensory Spa Journey’ – a 90-minute facial and body massage performed simultaneously by two therapists.

Jamaica: Half Moon’s low-rise villas and rental cottages near Montego Bay line a remote beach for quiet privacy because the expansive property allows the motorized and non-motorized water sports to take place in separate activity areas. You can be in the action or away from it all. Be cool riding horses or dolphins – they both frolic in the surf with riders aboard! This, old-fashioned, time-honored resort has a British Colonial feel to it, and it should – it is home to the royals when they visit.

Nassau: Atlantis, bustling on Paradise Island, offers an innovative water park, shark-filled streams meandering through the guest areas, underground aquariums, a casino, constant entertainment and, yes, and beach. The One & Only Ocean Club, adjacent, is for guests who want a quiet, pristine, white sand beach, indoor-outdoor spa, and the solitude of the former Huntington Hartford baronial estate. Guests may use facilities at neighboring Atlantis, but that door swings one way – it is not reciprocal – which is what makes the Ocean Club clubby.

In town, Graycliff Restaurant, with high ceilings, sofas, and a parlor setting in a 1740-circa building in the heart of Nassau, serves sophisticated Bahamian dishes, followed by cognac and cigars, in a residence once occupied by the likes of pirates, a governor and the U.S. Revolutionary Navy.

Puerto Rico: Built into and along a 300-foot cliff, each guestroom at the El Conquistador Resort, 90-minutes outside San Juan, plus the swimming pool and waterslides, have panoramic views of the ocean. A catamaran ferries guests to the resort’s 100-acre, private, Palomino Island for a beach adventure, including snorkeling, water sports, and horseback riding. The golf course is inhabited by iguanas and a small casino ramps up the nightlife, as do multiple indoor and outdoor dining options. The convention space does not disturb the vacationers or family fun.

Nevis: You’ll share the golf course with monkeys and the beachfront pool with celebrities at Four Seasons Nevis, known as a Hollywood hideaway.

Michigan-based travel writer Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at or via

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