Living Large

The luxe life in the British Virgin Islands

By: Eleanor M. Wilson

The Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands hold many secrets. While they’re famous for wreck diving and sailing, one lesser known attribute is the magnificent, luxurious resorts hidden in lush surroundings on atolls and cays. Their claims to fame are privacy and personalized pampering on every level.

A prime property among them is Peter Island Resort, located on an exclusive private island only accessible by boat. A member of Virtuoso, the resort has 52 guestrooms and two villas, with another opening late this year. Staff to guest ratio is 177 to 104 in high season, assuring clients very special attention.

It begins at Tortola’s Beef Island airport, where guests are met and escorted to the private launch for a short ride to the island. Tropical flowers and massive date palms pave the way to the arrival gazebo, introducing guests to the resort’s 1,300 acres of beaches and hilly terrain.

Twenty beachfront Junior Suites cluster on Deadman’s Bay. Thirty-two Oceanview Rooms, in two-story poolside cottages with peaked roofs and balconies, overlook Drake’s Channel. Two private villas with their own director occupy a secluded area, and a third will open in December.

The four-bedroom hillside Crow’s Nest Villa features mission-style architecture with sweeping views from secluded verandas. Staff includes valet, chef, maid, groundsman and a driver for the accompanying vehicle. Two pools are ample for a private dip.

The three-bedroom Hawk’s Nest Villa is more Caribbean style with high ceilings and lots of windows. Extended balconies make the most of the lofty location over Deadman’s Bay and the yacht-filled harbor. A private sundeck has its own plunge pool.

The newest addition, Falcon’s Nest, tailored for 12 people, has six spacious bedrooms with a flat-screen television in each and a two-tiered pool with cascading waterfall, swim-up bars and a spacious Jacuzzi. An open living room and outdoor terrace with covered dining area offer sweeping views, while the lower level includes spa rooms, an exercise facility and nanny quarters.

Spa Treats
Peter Island Resort’s sophisticated spa features 10 treatment suites and two separate outdoor huts. A hydrotherapy tub, steam rooms, gardens and

private swimming beach, plus spa lounge, dining terrace, meditation area and hair salon complete the setting.

The signature treatment is the Thermal Sand Bundle massage. While aromatherapy oils invite deep relaxation, heated sand bags are placed on specific tension areas a hot stone massage, Caribbean-style. Catching up in popularity is the Mud Bowl Alfresco. This do-it-yourself massage takes place by the pool or on the beach, using the spa’s bowls of rich Thalasso Mud. Guests slather it on, bake in the sun and rinse in the sea.

The Beach and Beyond
Among Peter Island’s five dazzling white-sand beaches, Honeymoon beach encourages intimacy with just two lounge chairs beneath a single thatch hut. A resort specialty is a beach picnic set up by the concierge, with white linens, china and the works. The White Bay beach garners most of the picnics, as snorkeling here is the best on the island.

As guests languish on this private reserve, they experience no feeling of isolation due to a generous off-island excursion menu. Helicopters fly golfers to St. Croix for a round on one of two championship courses. The private launch makes daily trips to Tortola and to one of Virgin Gorda’s most beautiful attractions, The Baths. The resort’s private crewed yacht, Silmaril, specializes in intimate sailing trips for full or half days, sunsets or overnights. Passengers can take the helm or lounge on deck and enjoy the passing scene. For the best of both worlds, suggest the Ashore/Afloat package with two nights on board Silmaril and two or five nights at the resort.

Peter Island rates include three meals daily, plus an elaborate afternoon tea. Dinner is served in a classic setting with views through large waterfront windows. The adjoining Wine Room, used for private events and specialty dinners, displays close to 400 bottles in climate-controlled cabinets. The Wine Cellar houses a $60,000 inventory of fine wines.



Although not on its own island, Little Dix Bay, a Rosewood Resort on Virgin Gorda, projects the same luxurious accommodations and special attention to guests.
This garden paradise was first established by Laurance Rockefeller in 1964. The latest additions include the Cliff Spa Suite, located next to the spa high over the beach, and a yoga platform towering 800 feet above the sea.
The sensual hillside spa offers indoor and open-air wet treatments, and a whirlpool positioned to evoke a top-of-the-world feeling.