Flying over the British Virgin Islands—the collection of more than 60 islands just east of Puerto Rico—it’s immediately clear that this region is not like other parts of the Caribbean. Its four main islands, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, sprout up in jagged shapes, while the rest of the islands in the archipelago surround them in clusters, often just a stone’s throw away.
The largest island, Tortola, has a population of only 35,000, and 16 of the country’s islands are completely uninhabited. Indeed, this low-key sanctuary has been a secluded retreat for decades. Philanthropist and conservationist Laurence Rockefeller first established Little Dix Bay on the 8.5-square-mile island of Virgin Gorda in 1964 as a luxury retreat nestled within a pristine environment. And in the decades since, the concept of the resort has not changed much, even when it became a Rosewood property in 1993. When Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017, the property was ravaged. But after an extensive renovation by OBMI architects and acclaimed interior design firm Meyer Davis, the resort has reclaimed its place as one of the world’s most captivating getaways, receiving guests once again this last January.
“When resorts rebuild after something like this, they often come back bigger. We actually came back smaller,” says Andreas Pade, the property’s managing director, pointing to how the inventory went from 95 to 80 guest rooms. “In downsizing, we created new suite inventory, with one-bedroom pool suites and two-bedroom suites right on the beach. We didn’t just rebuild but enhance. There is a notion that something terrible happened, but you have to rebuild, and in knowing that, we were conscious about coming back better.”
Environment and sustainability were at the forefront of the renovation. The property added a farm in order to source more ingredients locally. “There’s been a resurgence in farming here. With few jobs available after the devastation, we wanted to do something to support the small farmers,” says Pade. “Also, sustainability is spoken about, but often there is a financial burden. We felt strongly that people should become more aware about it, so we eliminated single-use plastics, added water-treatment facilities, and have been conscious of our footprint.”
While nightlife and luxury shopping are scarce in the BVI, the area is known for its rugged natural beauty, all of which can be explored directly from Little Dix Bay. “We’ve had the same dive operator located on our dock for 20 years. You can go out on a small boat and visit the small keys, visit the local solar-powered brewery, snorkel, relax in the spa, or hike around the 500-acre property. Everything you’d want to do in the region can be done easily, directly from our dock or right on property,” he says.
Those resigned to stay on property will not be disappointed. The property’s two iconic restaurants—the Pavilion and the Sugar Mill—have been restored, and they’ve added the Reef House, where fishermen cruise in daily with their fresh catch and the chef writes a new menu each day based on available ingredients from the sea and the onsite garden. Throughout the property, chefs from seven different nationalities create a range of menu items, as well as pop-up food and beverage venues throughout the seasons, assuring guests will never get bored. Additionally, the Rum Room bar overlooks the picturesque bay and features a range of hard-to-find rums. From $1,500 for an ocean view cottage; rosewoodhotels.com
Getting there: Flying from New York to the BVI typically takes six hours, with a stopover in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Once landed on Beef Island, the property can arrange a 20-minute boat transfer. Or, keep things simple and charter a sea plane directly through Tropic Ocean Airways. The planes depart from St. Thomas (which receives direct four-hour flights from New York) and can have you at the dock of Little Dix Bay in less than 15 minutes. The company also flies from San Juan, which is about a 40-minute seaplane flight directly to the property. From about $6,500 for a plane that can accommodate eight passengers; flytropic.com