Four World-Class Private Island Resorts

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One of Guana Island’s Sea View Pool Cottages

“(Private island resorts) conjure up a romantic experience and a sense of adventure.”

Jeremy Home-phillips, Island Inns

Clubhouse at The Meridian Club in Turks & Caicos offering coconut-infused body treatments

Seclusion is a luxury, but even a secluded getaway still has to offer enough stimulation—activities, dramatic surroundings, delicious food, snappy service, some other select escapists for companionship—so people don’t feel merely isolated or bored. The best private islands get the balance between seclusion and stimulation just right; they “conjure up a romantic experience and a sense of adventure,” says Jeremy Home-Phillips of Island Inns, an agency specializing in luxury hotels and villas in the Caribbean.

Of course, these getaways aren’t right for every client. They cost a pretty penny, they discourage public use of cellphones (horrors!), and there’s not much in the way of evening entertainment. Also, despite their similarities—glorious nature, outdoor activities, a sophisticated crowd—each appeals to different people. Here’s what you need to know about four of the best private island resorts in the Caribbean.

Peter Island’s spa is one of the best in the Caribbean

guana island

This British Virgin Islands hideaway with 15 cottages and three villas accommodates a maximum of 42 guests. Guana Island caters to a worldly clientele but is not about bling. The website boasts: “As far as we know, we are the only wildlife sanctuary in the world with a cocktail hour.” Indeed, Conservation Agency president James Lazell says, “Guana Island has more flora and fauna than any island of its size yet studied in the Caribbean and possibly the world.” Moreover, there’s so much sea life that marine biologists do residencies at Guana Island.

Most guests fly to Tortola (EIS), where a Guana Island employee greets them and takes them to the resort by boat, a 15-minute ride. Alternatively, the resort can arrange a water taxi or ferry ride from St. Thomas (STT). Once arrived, guests enjoy the beaches (a half-mile beauty plus six that are accessible by boat), snorkeling, hiking, spotting tropicbirds, kayaking, Hobie Cat sailing, croquet, tennis, and, for an extra charge, fishing and diving. Above all, they decompress, perhaps by reading beside the pool or getting a
massage in the spa pavilion, their room or their private terrace. ”Anywhere you want it, we can do it,” says general manager Jason Goldberg. Families as well as couples are welcome, but at certain hours the dining room may be adults only.

The stone Sea View Cottages, up on a hill, evoke the Quakers who settled Guana Island centuries ago; as in other traditionalist Caribbean resorts, these rooms have WiFi but no TVs. All have ceiling fans and are positioned for cool sea breezes; half feature air-conditioning. The three villas have private pools and are more about polished wood than Quaker restraint. North Beach Villa is ideal for honeymooners, and the 10,000-sq.-ft. Jost House Villa has three bedrooms and commanding views. In a concession to our media-mad world, the villas also have DVDs and/or TVs.

Guests chat over cocktails on the Queen’s Terrace (yes, Queen Mother was here) before enjoying dinner in a breeze-cooled dining room or private terraces. There are weekly beach BBQs and movies in the resort’s Garden of Eden; otherwise, you send clients to Guana Island for peace and quiet, nature and outdoor pursuits, not nightlife.

Guana Island doesn’t sponsor FAMs but does participate in trips organized by other entities. High season (Jan. 4-March 31) rates for booking Sea View Cottages are $1,250 dbl, plus 18 percent tax and resort fee. That includes three meals with wine, snacks, laundry service, watersports, and, for 4-night stays, the boat ride from Tortola/Beef Island. Agents can book the entire resort, too; April 1-May 31 it’s just $22,600 plus 18 percent for 32 guests; June 1-Aug. 31 it’s $22,150. When you contact Guana Island, you may find yourself speaking to the GM, who can arrange almost anything except crowds.