The venerable tradition of afternoon tea is flourishing in the Caribbean, as posh resorts from Bermuda to Barbados entice guests with brimming cups of colonial history.
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Not to be confused with “high tea” (a heavier, working class evening meal eaten at a high dining table rather than a lower lounge table), afternoon tea is intended to sate rumbling stomachs until dinner – a relaxing social respite as the day winds down. Island chefs often add tropical touches: flavored iced brews and Caribbean breads and pastries. Some hotels limit service to their guests while others invite visitors, providing a civilized way to gain entree to elite resorts where the room rates are steep.
Panoramic ocean views provide the perfect backdrop for afternoon tea at the Rosewood Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands. The Pavilion Terrace, an open-air restaurant beneath four vaulted rooftops, serves innovative cuisine and offers sweeping postcard-worthy vistas of the sea from every table. Relax here for five minutes and the hustle and bustle of the real world seems light years away. About 75 guests per day have been enjoying this afternoon tradition since the resort opened in 1964. English scones, fruit brochettes, and local johnnycakes, along with banana bread and traditional accompaniments of creams and jams, are served with tropical mango melon tea, among other popular choices.
You could define luxury as something like this: sipping your favorite tea or fruit infusion while gazing at spectacular Crane Beach from your balcony on a balmy afternoon at the Crane resort, Barbados. Island insiders consider it a pleasantly indulgent respite from the rigors of the day. The resort’s tea includes delicate cucumber and cream-cheese-and-chive finger sandwiches, chocolate or peanut butter cookies and warm scones with strawberry jam. English Breakfast is the most requested tea, but the slightly more daring can choose from a wide range of green, black and herbal varieties.
Nisbet Plantation, Nevis, has honored the teatime tradition since the hotel opened in the 1950s. Tea is served formally on the elegant Great House terrace along with scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches, cookies and cakes. Imported teas like chamomile and English Breakfast share the limelight with such local infusions as soothing mint, lemon-grass and traditional bush tea.
The Pink Beach Club, Bermuda, does not take its tea lightly . Guests adhere to the resort’s formal dress code: blazers for men, skirts or dresses for women. Presented at precisely 4 p.m. for the past 60 years, the service includes fresh-baked scones, biscuits and almost any tea imaginable. Most guests stick with the tried-and-true, such as English Breakfast, although non-purists can order coffee.