At Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands, the concept of being shipwrecked has never been so appealing
For the ultimate luxurious, private escape head to Peter Island, the largest private island of the 60-odd islands, cays and exposed reefs that make up the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It’s not quite undiscovered Caribbean (footballer Rio Ferdinand hired out the entire island for his wedding in 2009, Robert De Niro has stayed here too) but if you find yourself as a castaway, I’m telling you Peter Island is the place to wash ashore.
Rio and Robert aren’t the only famous faces associated with this paradise island. Early visitors are said to have included Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake and even Blackbeard, who is rumoured to have buried treasure here. It wasn’t until the late 1960s, when a Norwegian millionaire bought the idyllic island, built a marina and a few A-framed chalets, that it became a resort. Over the years, additional building and extensive renovations transformed it into the luxury resort it is today. It now has 52 guest rooms and junior sweets as well as three super-luxe designer villas.
Travelling to Peter Island involves flying from London to Antigua, where you’ll transfer from familiar BA to local Caribbean airline LIAT, which is a lot like an actual air bus – stopping down at St Kitts and Nevis and St. Maarten before you reach Tortola, the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Island. From Tortola (the capital of the BVI), Peter Island is around four miles away (as the word island would suggest, out at sea). We were whisked from one island to the other via private yacht, an enthralling experience arriving in the dark of night.
After a warm, Caribbean welcome we were shown around our villa. We stayed in Crow’s Nest, a chic and stylish gated villa with four bedroom suites, a private swimming pool and (we discovered when the sun rose the next day) panoramic views of the Sir Francis Drake channel. A well-stocked bar and with access to our own personal butler, chef and housekeeper we wanted for nothing during our time here – aside from more hours in the day to really make the most of our luxurious surroundings. One could happily hole up in one of Peter Island’s three private villas for the duration of one’s stay (the biggest is Falcon’s Nest, which can accommodate 12, has its own infinity-edge pool, dipping pool and large outdoor whirlpool and a three-story waterfall with grotto that you never knew you needed. While Hawks Nest has three bedrooms and jaw-dropping views of Deadman’s Bay and the harbour).
Do leave your villa though, because it would be rude to visit this 1,800 acre-island and not explore it. Keen on keeping fit? A private island in the Caribbean may not seem an obvious gym-bunny retreat but having (attempt to) run the 5-mile uphill loop I can confirm there’s scope to keep uber fit. The running, walking and biking trails have water stations to keep you hydrated and what better way to cool down at the end with a swim in the Caribbean sea? Choose between the island’s five secluded beaches: Deadman’s Bay, Little Deadman’s Bay, Honeymoon Beach (for two), Big Reef Bay and White Bay – each with golden sand and stunning turquoise sea.
The good news for those needing to refuel (or simply those with an appreciation for eating rather than sweating) is that Executive Chef Lisa Sellers (from Birmingham no less) cooks up a storm in the Peter Island kitchens. Tradewinds is the resort’s signature restaurant, serving a mix of Asian-Caribbean cuisine. The Gala Buffet on Saturday evenings is an extravagant affair; choose between a vast array of delectable dishes (the cheese display is insane) or order from the fresh pasta station. Do leave room for dessert. Tradewinds is open for breakfast too, and you must try Jean Kelly’s famous French toast (and if you like it, buy the t-shirt too). A truly memorable meal for me was the BBQ at Deadman’s Beach Bar and Grill, fresh fish, lobster and perfectly chargrilled meats. For an extra special occasion (or if you’re feeling antisocial) you can request private dining too. We had an in-villa dinner party one night and the standard of cooking and service was second-to-none.
If the lure of a private island isn’t enough to entice you, how about the promise of an impressive 10,000 sq ft Ayurvedic spa? ¬Treat yourself to an incredible 75-minute Peter Island Signature massage and then relax by the pool, or in the tranquillity garden, or the ocean-side Jacuzzi.
If being surrounded by ocean inspires your sea legs, head out for a sail. We set off on a half-day sail on Simaril, a classic 51 ft Hans Christian Sloop with charming Captain and First Mate Jason and Lindsay Geyser. Their love of the water is in infectious – and their hospitality is legendary. A day out on Simaril is an ideal way to discover more about the BVI and will give you the chance to swim and snorkel in some mesmerising secluded coves. Other excursions on offer include deep sea fishing, golf and shopping in St. Thomas, offshore scuba diving and day trips to The Baths, Virgin Gorda. Or you could just lounge by the beach, with no one else there to judge you.
Travel notes: ITC Luxury Travel (01244 355 527; itcluxurytravel.co.uk) has prices from £1,765 per person based on 2 adults sharing an Ocean View Room at Peter Island Resort & Spa for 7 nights on a room only basis including return economy class flights with British Airways from London Gatwick, inter-island flights and private transfers. Saving up to £500 per person. Valid for travel completed between 4 January – 19 December 2016. Book 1 April 2016.