Caribbean initiatives by Simon Baeyertz and Chris Blackwell

The music execs shake things up in Puerto Rico and Jamaica

Image: Dianne Puliza

The Caribbean has just got a whole lot more interesting with the opening of El Blok (; from $230; first picture), the debut project from music executive Simon Baeyertz, on sleepy Vieques, a 20-minute flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico. This 22-room “inn by the sea” gives a nod to Moorish architecture in the exterior latticework, but pastiche this is not. Exposed concrete, polished plaster and spare decor make for a thoroughly contemporary feel, resonant of San Juan’s 1950s tropical-modernist style, with concrete beach balls and strategically placed “light wells” for sun and ventilation. But the main draw is the chef, José Enrique, whose beachside cuisine relies on the wood grill, with steaks and fish cooked over the indigenous sour-orange wood for extra flavour.

Image: Island Outpost/Peter Brown

Another rocker-hotelier, Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, is also partial to natural ventilation. He encourages guests at the hotels in his Island Outpost collection ( on Jamaica to switch off their air-conditioning in exchange for $25 per room per day credit. Blackwell’s bugbear is the cultural clichés afflicting Jamaica, from crime and drugs to all-inclusive mega-hotels. Hence his new Inside Outpost initiative – expert-led tours that reveal a culturally layered Jamaica, from the music scene in Kingston that gave birth to his greatest collaboration, Bob Marley, to Blackwell’s private farm, Pantrapant. Here, guests of his resorts (The Caves, GoldenEye – second picture – and Strawberry Hill) can stay overnight and soak up the rural pace, with horse-riding, river-swimming and Jamaican farm-to-table eating. Tours cost from £200 per person.


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