Private Islands Sizzle

These are the elements that make a private island stay so appealing say representatives at the islands themselves. And as the resorts continue to make improvements to enhance the guest experience, look for the hot factor for private island escapes to rise in 2012, making them a Recommend editors’ pick for hot destinations in the upcoming year.

british virgin islands Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, for one, will officially become part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection in January 2012. This luxury private island resort was the first resort development to be built in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in more than 15 years when it opened in July 2010. It features 52 guest accommodations as well as a collection of 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom villas.

Scrub Island will be the first Autograph Collection hotel in the Caribbean and Marriott International’s first property in the BVI. The Autograph Collection brand was launched last year and Marriott defines the group of more than 20 properties in the U.S. and Europe as, “exceptional independent hotels, each hand-selected for their originality, character and uncommon details.”

Maureen Morgenthien, director of sales and marketing for Scrub Island, says, “Guests are seeking an experience where they can enjoy all the pursuits of their own private island estate with the personalized service and sophisticated amenities of a luxury resort.”

Seclusion is a stand-out feature of Scrub Island, says Morgenthien. “There is something magical about taking a ferry from a main island to a private island that offers an escape from the everyday hustle and bustle,” she adds. Scrub Islands’ three private beaches allow guests to feel like the only humans around, while its miles of nature trails, full-service marina with its yachts and sailboats, world-record fishing, diving, and top spa and dining all keep the discerning traveler busy and happy. High season rates begin at $525 per night dbl.

antigua At Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort guests are treated to an all-inclusive luxury 300-acre private island two miles north of Antigua that is more of a “residential experience versus a typical resort vacation stay,” says Andrew Hedley, managing director for Jumby Bay. “It is infused with the atmosphere of an elegant house party,” he adds.

“For Jumby Bay, the concept of ‘hot’ to high-profile guests is privacy and tranquility complemented by ultra-luxe accommodations, services and amenities,” he says. “Jumby guests have little down time in their daily lives; time is precious and they do not want intrusions. With no urban intrusions for miles around, Jumby Bay is a tranquil refuge.”

Jumby Bay re-opened in 2010 following an 18-month, $28 million renewal project. Additions to the private island include SENSE, A Rosewood Spa; upgrades to the Verandah restaurant; a third dining option, The Pool Grille; 28 new oceanfront suites; new estate homes; and an oceanfront infinity pool. The existing 12 suites were renewed at that time as well, plus the property has 16 villas with private pools and eight estate homes. Two new estate homes, Kairos (seven bedrooms) and Sandpiper (five bedrooms), will be added in 2012. Guests are also treated to three white sand beaches and sports and activities for those who seek a more active stay.

Jumby Bay rates start at $995 per night. All-inclusive rates include breakfast, lunch and dinner; beverages, cocktails and house wine by the glass; afternoon tea service; culinary welcome amenity; complimentary non-motorized watersports; use of three tennis courts, croquet courts and putting greens; access to concierge service, and Jumby Bay scheduled water taxi to/from Antigua.

st. vincent and the grenadines St. Vincent and the Grenadines, too, offers several options for clients looking to truly get away from it all, and the private island resorts sprinkled across this island chain are upping the ante with continuous renovations and upgrades. Over at Cotton House on Mustique, the 17 rooms, cottages and suites have been renovated either in 2010 or 2011 with soft furnishings. There are also a 2-bedroom home and four duplex suites as accommodation choices. The five-star resort places “relax” on the top of its list of things to do.

“[Cotton House is an] exclusive private island where one can switch off from the world and relax—though with today’s technology one can remain in touch, “ says John W. Petch, v.p., sales & marketing, UK & USA. “Mustique also has the great factor of being a safe and family-orientated destination—the whole 1,600 acres is the resort and with Atlantic beaches on one side and Caribbean on the other, guests can choose the depth of water and wave height they want to swim in.”