Caribbean Private Island Paradises
by Anne Kazel-Wilcox
There are Caribbean resorts and then there are "private island resorts," where you can have a slice of some of the most secluded and exclusive pieces of paradise almost entirely to yourself.
These havens can ironically be more authentic than your typical island getaway, eschewing manicured perfection and an overload of activities, instead relying on natural beauty and serenity to touch your senses.
As they say on Guana Island, it's the "Caribbean before it went public."
Here are my top picks for creating your own private island paradise.
Guana Island, British Virgin Islands
A couple that has visited Guana Island regularly for the past 41 years introduced me to their "newer" friends, who count just 18 years of visits.
What's the draw?
With 850 acres of lush terrain and just 45 guests at a time, that's about 19 acres per guest. Meandering trails dot the landscape, sprinkled with pretty, stone cottages overlooking the sea.
Evening cocktails begin on the Sunset Terrace complete with gorgeous views, and culminate with quiet romance or getting to know new friends at communal tables. Many meal ingredients are drawn from the island's private orchard, tended to by a Chinese expert who has been reviving native species from extinction on behalf of the family stewards that have minded Guana Island for years.
Rates start at $695 for double occupancy, including all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, water activities and wash-and-fold laundry service.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Guana Island was around long before Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island hideaway was created for his family, but Branson perhaps brought the concept of a "private island" to new prominence when he made his picturesque island available for rent years ago. Though its Balinese-inspired residences are stunning and exotic with the finest amenities, unlike most other private island resorts, Necker is typically rented out only in its entirety at a staggering US$51,000 per night for up to 28 guests.
Special "Celebration Weeks" allow for as little as a three-night stay starting at $10,900 per couple plus $1,470 per child. Rates include all meals, use of sailboats, speedboats and other water equipment, tennis and more.
Petit Saint Vincent, The Grenadines
Forget phones and TVs, because Petit St. Vincent Resort is truly about escaping.
Gorgeous stone cottages are tucked into the hillside amidst natural windswept beauty; many cottages have their own private beaches. Hoist a small flag should you desire immediate service; another flag indicates privacy.
The 113-acre resort ranks as one of my favorites for tropical seclusion that includes amazing food, service and attention to detail, like coffee perched on a post outside my cottage each morning. There's a good reason the family-owned resort has had many of the same repeat couples and families for decades; it's private island paradise at its best. Cottages start at $525 per night for single occupancy including all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, and water activities, or $675 for double occupancy.
Peter Island Resort, British Virgin Islands
Peter Island Resort is a lush, mountainous island with 1,800 acres providing ample room for gorgeous beaches to suit every taste, from snorkeling and beachcombing to a couples' beach and one perfect for yacht watching -- the island's deep harbor attracts yachters from around the world.
Accommodations are in guestrooms and villas, some featuring A-frame styles inspired by Peter Island's original Norwegian owners. The resort offers a 10,000-square-foot spa, helicopter golf, shopping and fishing, where you're flown to neighboring islands to enjoy these activities. Rates start at $340 per night, including all meals.
Parrot Cay, Turks And Caicos
I'd call Parrot Cay Estates, a 1,000-acre "un-resort." Here, instead of manager's cocktail parties and limbo contests, there's a quiet stillness and calm, a tropical sanctuary where East-meets-West surrounded by the azure blue waters. Parrot Cay's signature spa draws on points East for inspiration from Javanese Royal Lular Baths -- originally a wedding ritual for brides in Java -- to the 5,000-year-old ancient healing and detox traditions of Ayurveda.
Stars flock to the resort for its understated elegance, privacy and luxurious villas. Rates start at $575 per night for double occupancy and include breakfast and complimentary yoga classes.
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