AS I DISCOVERED at The Caves in Negril, Jamaica, not every all-inclusive hotel is a mega-playground. Rather, the Caves is a jewel-box retreat for top-tier incentive winners who have been, there, done that — and want to experience the kind of laid-back luxury and attention to detail that rated it one of the world's 10 great escapes in the March 2004 issue of the Robb Report.
As soon as I entered the lush tropical grounds of the Caves, I wanted to stay there indefinitely. Spread out over two acres and nestled in foliage are thatched-roof buildings that seem to grow organically from the craggy, seaside cliff top. There are 10 handcrafted cottages, each with a different decorative theme but all distinguished by colorful local artwork that evokes a special sense of place. There's a saltwater pool, but it's more fun to walk down one of the sets of wide stone steps for a dip in the clear turquoise sea. Along the way are a series of stone outcroppings that serve as sundecks (or as diving platforms) and the caves for which the resort is named. Some of them hold surprises: an outdoor shower, a romantic dining grotto, a Jacuzzi tub.
Bicycles, snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and water rafts are included in the all-inclusive pricing, and additional activities can be arranged. A highlight of my visit was a relaxing massage in the open-air Aveda mini-spa overlooking the sea.
In the off-season, groups of as many as 24 can take over the resort. A new outdoor function area upholds the colorful, handcrafted aesthetic with a peaked, thatched-roof bar that has inlaid blue-glass accents. Even the metal barbecue equipment was sculpted by local artisans. www.islandoutpost.com