Onsite Review: Little Whale Cay

It’s hard to ignore the appeal of a private island. There’s the privacy, the serenity, the feeling of luxury that comes from being catered to exclusively. But what about a feeling of authenticity—getting a real sense for the culture of the place you’ve visited? Many private islands replace the quaint details of their island with modern luxury amenities and services to serve high-end clientele. But there are clients out there who want it all: privacy, serenity, luxury and authenticity. And they’re staying at Little Whale Cay in The Bahamas.

This is a place to get away from it all, and not in any conventional sense. Accommodations and amenities here all have historic charm, from traditional Bahamian-style cottages with retro furnishings, to a small seaside chapel used for weddings. But while words like “hip” and “modern” don’t exactly apply here, descriptors like “luxury” and “paradise” certainly do. After all, any clients who book here will have the entire island to themselves—that’s a lot of service and space for 12 people or less. Consider it a laid-back, fully customizable island getaway for your clients to book one week at a time.

cottage comforts If you’re a fan of private island resorts in the Caribbean—and really, who isn’t—you’re probably accustomed to seeing open-air mansions sprinkling the beaches and hilltops of their grounds, accommodations that look plucked out of Miami or the Mediterranean. But here at Little Whale Cay, accommodations have a much more down-to-earth feel. Its three houses date as far back as the 1930s, and have been lovingly but authentically restored to quaint, updated versions of classic Bahamian homes from the past. The Flamingo House, with its four bedrooms, three of which have en-suite bathrooms and the other with two single beds perfect for kids, is an ideal living situation for large families. The Little Whale House, the main house—where you’ll find the kitchen and large living room and gathering space for guests—is also ideal for couples, with two bedrooms, one of which is set on a second floor with lovely views. Rounding out the accommodations is the Peacock House, a 1-bedroom cottage so simple and elegant, it makes you want to hole up there for months to write your novel. All the houses have flat-screen TVs, DVD players, WiFi access and air conditioning. Both Peacock and Flamingo Houses have full kitchens and terraces, as well.

choices, choices Explore the rest of the grounds, and you’ll find more of the same combined experience of luxury and quaintness. Dining, for example, can be as casual or as fancy as your clients desire. An easy, breezy lunch on the patio surrounding the swimming pool? Done. A high-end dinner with hand-picked wine selections held around the large round table in the main house’s elegant dining room? No problem. A cocktail reception on the terrace of your cottage? A candlelit dinner for two looking out over the ocean? The possibilities are endless. Like any private island, advance planning is key, of course. But if you give the staff of Little Whale Cay fair warning, they can produce just about any experience your clients wish.

And that’s not just true of the dining. Upscale add-ons like spa treatments must be arranged in advance as well—but once your therapist is on the island, a world of possibilities opens up. Massages can take place just about anywhere on the island, from clients’ cottages to along the beach, and even hillside. Little Whale Cay is also a fantastic place for small, intimate destination weddings. With the entire island at their disposal, wedding parties can celebrate to their hearts’ content without any threat of wedding crashers. An onsite chapel provides a traditional setting for the wedding ceremony, while less traditional couples can opt to say their vows on the beach or in any of its grassy gardens (perhaps with a few extra wedding guests in the form of the peacocks who roam the grounds). Afterwards, the party is wherever clients choose. And with an entire island devoted to no more than 12 guests at a time, it’s easy for the newlyweds to sneak away for some privacy.

Even getting to and from the island is a multi-faceted decision. Most guests arrive via charter plane from Nassau’s executive airport, but clients can also opt to show up via direct, private plane (assuming it’s the right size for the island’s 2,000-ft. airstrip) or by boat from any of the neighboring islands or beyond. Set just 140 miles southeast of Ft. Lauderdale, this is one of the Caribbean’s more conveniently located private islands for boat-bound travelers originating on the east coast.