At the southern tip of the Grenadines, a lush island skims the azure waters of the Caribbean. With its white beaches and heat-cutting trade winds, Petit St. Vincent is the little-known star of the West Indies: a private island of profound beauty and luxurious isolation. And thanks to its world-class resort that has been recognized by National Geographic for its sustainability efforts, travellers from around the world are able to experience for themselves the island’s laid-back life of sunbathing, sailing, and diving along the vibrant coral cities that hem the coastline.
I happened to stumble upon this beautiful island while touring the Grenadines in a water taxi. I’d never heard of this place, but after a morning spent touring the island with a guide in an electric cart, I came to appreciate Petit St. Vincent as a true hidden treasure. The island’s beautiful, long pier makes for an inviting first impression. As your yacht or boat approaches, this port is a hint of the high class, luxurious island that lies beyond.
The resort’s origin stories are almost as poetic as the island itself. Current co-owner Robin Paterson was sailing his yacht through the area in 2007 when he spotted Petit St. Vincent from afar, and it was love at first sight. “It really is the most beautiful island,” says Paterson, chatting with us from the UK, where the savvy developer is based. “It’s very unspoiled.”
The island had an existing resort at the time, but Paterson and fellow purchaser Phil Stephenson worked hard to ensure that their renovations of the facilities would honor the local landscape and its natural materials. Its cottages are built with native bluebitch stone, locally quarried; the floors of the cottages use terracotta and limestone, and are shaded with peaked ceiling of purpleheart hardwood. One of the first things that I noticed about the place was the detail and the meticulousness of the accommodations; every room is an isolated slice of paradise.
Part of the island’s appeal is its unplugged, open-door environment; not only are there no televisions or telephones in the accommodation facilities, but there are also no keys or formal check-ins. Guests in need of attention from staff are invited to make use of a flag system, a feature Paterson and Stephenson carried over from the resort’s previous iteration. A red flag raised on the mailbox indicates to staff that you wish to be left alone; a green flag indicates that you have a request noted on paper in the mailbox. Privacy is paramount here, and the staff is incredibly respectful of a guest’s wishes.
It’s important, Paterson explains, to maintain the island’s air of natural sanctuary — and that also applies to sustainability in its architecture and infrastructure. “We’re looking to always develop the rooms in the most ecological way,” says Paterson. “Using natural woods, using driftwood, using stones from the island – [the resort] doesn’t stand still. It constantly evolves.” This rustic, low-tech environment has been increasingly attracting visitors from around the world, with an impressive sixty percent of clientele composed of returning guests.
“It’s that castaway island,” says Paterson. “I live in London, which is a very different, very hectic world. When you get [to Petit St. Vincent], it’s just a different world. It’s a different pace.”
The island also offers a barefoot beach bar where guests can mingle as a reprieve from the privacy. The bar pavilion, situated on a high promontory that offers breathtaking views of the island, is constructed from local woods. Towards the beach, private tables shaded by thatched roofs offer a seaside setting for guests to sample local fare or a vast selection of wines. The food here is excellent, and for those who wish to dine in, the culinary experience can easily be delivered to your cottage by accommodating staff.
One of the newer additions to the resort is a Balinese-inspired spa, located high amongst the trees of Marni Hill. These facilities also make use of local materials: coconut, thatching with local grasses, and shell curtains that offer privacy during services. Even the products used contain hints of local flora and fauna, making use of herbs, spices, and aromatic plants.
For those in search of more adventure than relaxation, the island offers numerous outdoor activities. Some are aquatic in nature: kayaking, snorkeling, kite surfing and diving, deep-sea fishing, and scuba diving are all on the itinerary. For guests who prefer to stick to land, trails that wind up into the hills make for excellent hiking and jogging. More conventional sports are often on hand: at Petit St. Vincent, guests can play tennis, golf, and even challenge staff to soccer tournaments. There are also natural trails that wind through the island’s interior, making it easy to explore on foot.
Another hidden, picturesque gem of the region is an oasis at sea; off the coast, a lonely sandbar with one thatched umbrella makes for the perfect picnic spot.
For those interested in exploring Petit St. Vincent for themselves, guests can stay for a week or more. There is also the option of renting the entire island if you so desire, making this an ideal spot for family gatherings, excursions with friends, and corporate retreats.
From a luxury perspective, Petit St. Vincent is everything you could want of an island resort — opulence and taste without pretension. I could have all the money in the world, and this is still where I would want to be.