The private island of Petit St. Vincent in the Grenadines has long been a favorite retreat of mine. For 30 years, I have relished its isolation, the sense of being somewhere that feels close to the end of the world. And the lack of air-conditioning, televisions and telephones in the cottages never fazed me at all. Over three decades, the resort has been perennially popular with Hideaway Report subscribers. And the property prospered under the enlightened ownership of Haze Richardson and his wife, Lynn.
For 30 years, I have relished its isolation, the sense of being somewhere that feels close to the end of the world.
Alas, tragedy struck in 2008, when Haze died in a swimming accident in Costa Rica. Lynn continued to run Petit St. Vincent until the fall of 2010, at which point she sold the property to Phil Stephenson and Robin Paterson. The new owners have since invested heavily, initiating an overhaul of the resort that has included a complete refurbishment of the cottages. (These were originally designed in 1966 by Swedish architect Arne Hasselqvist, responsible for many of the original homes on Mustique.) I had heard good things about the makeover, but wanted to see the results for myself. So I checked into PSV at the end of my recent sailing trip. What I found was reassuring: The resort has been upgraded in a variety of ways — among the less noticeable improvements are a new water desalination plant and the complete rewiring of all buildings — but its distinctive character has not been lost.
I was fortunate to be allocated Cottage No. 1, atop The Little Bluff above the northern shore of the island. On arrival, I immediately noted the new air conditioner, a Bose iPod dock and a Nespresso coffee machine. As it had been a while since my last visit, I wanted to see if the unique system of room service worked as well as it had in the past, so I hoisted the yellow signal flag. My order was picked up by a butler within five minutes, and a half-hour later, we were savoring lobster tempura accompanied by a fine Pouilly-Fuissé, while gazing over the serene expanse of Conch Bay.
While I appreciate such enhancements, I am also grateful that the resort has stayed so much the same.
The new owners have installed a yoga pavilion, plus a hilltop spa with four open-air treatment rooms and a lengthy menu of treatments. So later that afternoon, I indulged in a superb 90-minute massage administered by a highly competent Balinese therapist. As well as this welcome addition to the resort, a new beach bar and an open-air restaurant have been constructed, which give guests alternatives to the elevated main pavilion dining room. Both are open to the public, so sailors now have the chance to visit PSV without impinging on the jealously guarded privacy of resort guests.
During a dinner of locally caught fish and seafood in the main restaurant, I learned that a new wine cellar houses more than 3,000 bottles, including an extensive range of Champagnes. While I appreciate such enhancements, I am also grateful that the resort has stayed so much the same. I was delighted that I could still take long walks up Marni Hill or along the circular beach without encountering another soul. And I still relished the utter lack of noise or interruption in my cottage, which was conducive to a profound sense of repose. Longtime devotees need have no fears: PSV is just as wonderful as ever.
AT A GLANCE
LIKE: Glorious natural setting; unsurpassed sense of privacy; the new spa.
DISLIKE: The lack of Wi-Fi in the cottages. The new beach bar and beachside restaurant are open to the public, which may not prove to be a good idea.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Tobago Cays, with some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, are within easy reach.
Petit St. Vincent 96 Cottage, from $1,400 (all meals included). Tel. (954) 963-7401.