From afar, you may not be impressed. Petit St. Vincent (PSV) looks like a green hump of land as you approach it by ferry from Union Island, about 6 miles from the destination. Then, a series of cottages emerges, built into the hillside and bluffs and along the beach. That’s when things begin to look promising. And, once you’re whisked by golf cart to your stone-and-hardwood abode through a whorl of sweet-scented tropical blooms, you realize you’re in for something special.
Welcome to your own nearly private island. There’s no town on this 115-acre volcanic isle, just a single resort with a practical name that reiterates its location: Petit St. Vincent. It’s been called “one of the world’s most enchanting hideaways.” Part of the island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, lying between St. Lucia (to the north) and Grenada (to the south), Petit St. Vincent is not easy to get to. For many U.S. guests, it involves a day of travel — a flight to Barbados, a shorter flight to Union Island and then a ferry ride to PSV. Any travel-induced crabbiness vanishes once you see this place up close: a collection of 22 rustic one- and two-bedroom cottages and villas, ringed by 2 miles of white sand and lapped by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Do the math: “Every guest has a couple of acres each,” says Matt Semark, general manager of the resort, which owns the island.
This is peaceful luxury: vibrant artwork, teak furnishings, a wood-paddled ceiling fan and — of course — a hammock tied between two palm trees. (There’s also air conditioning, but you probably won’t need it thanks to those ocean breezes.) Cottages and villas have king-size beds, Italian linens, Bulgari toiletries, Nespresso coffee machines and Bose MP3 docks.
What you won’t find in your room: Wi-Fi, TV or locks on the doors.
Guests are often taken aback when they learn that the only connected spot is at the resort’s main pavilion. (Rooms do have intercoms in case of emergency.) “At first, some guests panic,” Semark admits. “But the following day, they appreciate it. You can see the weight shift off people’s shoulders when they are unplugged from their devices.”
It can also be disconcerting that the doors don’t lock — but in such an open-air space, it probably doesn’t matter anyway. The resort has never had an issue with security, Semark says. “It’s been like this (no locks) since the resort opened in 1968. On this island, it’s just us. There’s no crime. Everyone’s ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle.’”
Untethered from the 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy to fall into the carefree rhythm of island life. PSV uses a flag system to alert butlers if you need anything, and you place your breakfast order in a bamboo tube the previous night. Like magic, your meal appears in the morning. It’s easy to go into major chill mode and spend the day sitting under a palapa watching the sailboats glide by. But most guests can’t resist the array of sporty activities available at the resort: kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, Sunfish sailboating, sailboarding and snorkeling — all included in the room rate. Some of the finest snorkeling in the West Indies is found in the Grenadines, and you can snorkel right off the beach. Once you’ve found the perfect spot for sunbathing, don’t bother getting up. On some beaches, guests can order food using the flag system.
Rather sail or scuba dive? Sessions and courses provided by Professional Association of Diving Instructors guides are available. Or spend a day aboard Beauty, a classic 49-foot sloop (extra charges apply for both of these). Captain Jeff Stevens and crew sail Beauty to the famed Tobago Cays (named one of the most beautiful places on Earth in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die) for a snorkel tour, an island hike and barbecue lunch of local fish and Caribbean lobster.
If hiking is more your speed, lace up those sneakers and trek to the top of Marni Hill (an elevation of 275 feet), for sweeping views of the northern Grenadines. Or get plenty of exercise riding your bike around the island; every cottage is supplied with bikes for guests’ use. Other things not to be missed: a Balinese massage at the resort’s treetop spa with an ocean view and morning yoga at the Conch Bay Yoga Pavilion.
As if choosing which sport to try and which hammock has the best views weren’t difficult enough, you’ll also have to decide what to order at PSV’s restaurants. There’s no wrong answer — the food is delicious, and it couldn’t be fresher. The resort’s gardens are lush with kale, different types of lettuces and herbs, and the kitchen relies on the bounty of farmers and fishermen from the islands. Sustainable practices are a priority. (Refill stations for water bottles are one example.) You can literally dine with your toes in the sand at the casual Beach Restaurant, where the menu leans toward Caribbean tapas and pizza from a clay oven. The Main Pavilion Restaurant and Bar offers a more formal three-course dining experience, atop a hill overlooking the harbor amid flowering frangipani and hibiscus.
With rates starting at around $1,260 per night in low season, Petit St. Vincent is a splurge, but it’s the rare resort that makes unwinding so effortless. And while you’re here, watching the world go by from your hammock, it sure feels like it all belongs to you.