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Resorts without room keys


Hotels without room keys? No, I’m not talking about a debauched, all-inclusive-type resort scene where you leave your door flung open, pay for drinks with beads and get berated into playing volleyball. And I’m not talking about techie hotels where you use your smart phone to unlock your door (though I’m sure they will become increasingly common in the next few years and are admirably eco).

No, the exalted class of keyless resorts means luxury hideaways where the panic of “Do you have the key?” is off the menu. (But always be sure to ask about safety deposit boxes; most places have them).

Cap Juluca, Anguilla

This iconic resort, a string of Moorish-style buildings fronting the powdery sands of Maunday’s Bay, just completed a renovation of the rooms and common areas. Once I stayed in a villa that was a bit far from the restaurants and lounge, so I was given a golf cart to tool around in. The cart had a key; the room did not. Somewhere between standup paddle boarding, accepting hugs from the legendary hostess Wilma at Pimms restaurant, and being plied with complimentary sorbet on the beach, I even noticed that.

Biras Creek, Virgin Gorda

Positioned picturesquely on an isthmus between the Atlantic and the Caribbean, Biras Creek is lush and remote. And so laid back. It’s a place for lazy bike rides (your room will come equipped with a bicycle), and a rope across your threshold serves as the Do Not Disturb sign — and somehow, room keys would break the mood. The cottages have been beautifully redesigned since the first time I stayed there.

Jumby Bay, Antigua

When you’re at Jumby Bay, you’re in Antigua — but not really. This pricey all-inclusive resort is set on a private islet off Antigua’s main island, a short ferry ride away. There are 40 rooms and suites on property, from octagonal “rondavels” to the 1,346-square-foot Pool Suite. And if none of these meets your criteria, some of the resort’s private homes, popular with visiting celebs, are available to rent. In such rarified company, a locked door and a room key would be a faux pas.

Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda

Get past the giggle factor of the name. Attention must be paid: This is one of those beach paradise resorts created by Laurance S. Rockefeller, who made a mission of developing luxe, low-rise, environmentally-friendly properties (Caneel Bay in St. John, Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island). My favorite memories of Little Dix Bay: the freestanding hexagonal key-less cottage; the cliff-top spa; and the “beach drop.” At little more than a moment’s notice, I was ferried to a stunning empty beach near the famous baths. I was supplied with a box lunch, beach towels and a foam raft. Could have floated there all day, but the captain came back to collect me after a few hours.

Lizard Island, Australia

Seclusion and keyless-ness typically go hand in hand, and nowhere is that truer than at this idyllic resort set along the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 2,500-acre private island boasts 24 beaches — and no room keys. Catamarans, motorized dinghies and excursions in glass-bottom boats are complimentary, and the scuba and snorkeling are exceptional. Should be: There are 1,500 fish species swimming along the coral reef — and they don’t lock their doors, either.


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