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Living Large on Deadman's Bay

By Greg Oates

Peter Island ResortMy wife and I had only been in our room at Peter Island Resort maybe ten minutes. I was finishing up the private check-in with our friendly concierge Benji while she was pouring champagne out on the patio. The minute Benji left the room, she gasped: "Wow, this is going to be the best vacation, EVER!" Moving to the patio to see what all the fuss was about, I was quickly inclined to agree. Peter Island elicits those kind of emotional responses.

The main attraction of this elegant outpost in the British Virgin Islands is almost absurdly simple: one big island, one small resort and one ungodly beautiful beach. This is the "classic Caribbean" as managing director Wayne Kafcsak likes to point out. The owners of this private island and the 52-room hotel that bears its name have no plans to develop any more acreage, because exclusivity is the secret to Peter Island. What guests are booking is a supremely romantic island where there's never a crowd, never a lot of noise, absolutely zero in the way of themed activities, and very few children jacked up on Nintendo and Coke. In the absence of that, you're left with mostly well-to-do couples who dance to live music at night by the pool, and frolic barefoot on the beach by day.

To understand the setting, here's two interesting factoids. First, directly to the southwest, Norman Island was the basis for Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." Second, just off Peter Island's glorious Deadman's Beach is Deadman's Island-where a marooning inspired the popular poem: "16 Men and a Deadman's Chest." These are Peter Island's neighbors, and that sense of escaping to an (almost) deserted island never leaves guests' minds.

"We want to be the best classic Caribbean resort in the region," says Kafcsak. "Most hotels are trying to be all things to all people but we're not really set up for a lot of family business, and I think it dilutes the product anyway when you try to do too much. We get some families in the summer but we discourage kids under eight years old."

I ask Wayne why he thinks the property is constantly rated among the top three resorts in the Caribbean.

"Every year since '97, we've invested $5 million in both cosmetic and infrastructure upgrades to make it the best," he says. "That's one reason. The other is that 30 years ago when people visited the Caribbean, they felt like they were staying in the owner's home. That's how we want our guests to feel."

3 stars Peter Island Resort & Yacht Harbour

Peter Island Resort & Yacht Harbour
Hotel Details | Book Hotel | Book With Air
Private-island resort with five beaches
  • A 30-minute boat trip from Tortola, this 52-room resort on private, 1,800-acre Peter Island features five distinctive beaches.
  • Guestrooms and suites supply privacy, tropical ambience, and easy living. Suites have two-person jetted tubs and showers.
  • The resort's boats transport guests to snorkeling/diving sites and to neighboring islands for shopping and sightseeing.

Decisions, Decisions
The first choice for visitors to make is between the 32 harbor suites versus the 20 beachfront suites. This is an easy one. While they're a little more expensive, the beach units underwent a $3.2 million renovation in 2002, plus they're maybe 10 steps from the powder white sand. The rooms are situated in five 2-story buildings with the lower level offering natural stone walls, patios and a personal hammock. Upstairs gets a deck and wood walls, while all of the rooms feature huge Jacuzzi bathtubs, dual shower heads and ocean views from the pillows-literally.

For dining options, there's Tradewinds up by the lobby bar, pool and mega-yacht marina. Or, the Beach Bar & Grill offers a more casual ambience although nice tablecloths and professional service are still the rule. This is the place to be when the steel drum bands are playing. And twice a week, there's a wine dinner around the captain's table that seats 16.

As for activities, snorkeling options include White Bay on-island and the Wreck of the Rhone nearby that appeared in the movie "The Deep." There's also scenery-chewing walking trails, tennis, a brand new oceanfront spa, deep-sea fishing, sailing and mountain biking. Scheduled ferry service to Tortola runs 11 times daily, while tours to Virgin Gorda and St. Thomas run periodically throughout the week.

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