DAY 4 — The muffins are in the oven and the coffee is made. My husband is making eggs.
But we’re not home in our kitchen nor are we on the Moorings sailboat we’ve chartered in the British Virgin Islands for a week.
We’re at the most spectacular Caribbean Villa I’ve ever seen—the five-bedroom Villa Aquamare on the western coast of the island of Virgin Gorda. There are two other identical villas making this ideal for a family reunion or wedding. The living room’s massive doors open to a stone patio and infinity pool, the private beach (love that comfy beach bed!) and ocean just below.
We see lone sailboat in the distance and some of the other BVI islands—The Dogs and Beef Island and Tortola.
Last night, the private chef Martha Collymore cooked us a terrific dinner—Caesar salad, roast chicken and gravy, mashed potatoes and broccoli and carrots followed by cherry cheese cake. Yum! You can have the chef coo k as much or as little as you want ($75 pp for dinner, plus drinks, half for kids).
Most people come here to relax. But there’s plenty to do whether you want to snorkel, kayak, head to the famous Baths, the rock formations you can swim though or the North Sound of the island.
The Villa staff will provision for the house and will arrange whatever you want—one honeymooning couple was serenaded by a steel drum band.
Only 3500 people live on Virgin Gorda—only 20,000 live in the BVI Archipelago that about 50 islands. Most people live on Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyle. Tortola is by far the most populated with roughly 15,000 people.
Virgin Gorda is one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen and home to iconic luxury resorts including Little Dix Bay Resort down the road from Aquamare, and Biras Creek in the North Sound.
The rates at the villa for five nights in five bedrooms are $18,095 this winter and $16,285 for three bedrooms (considerably less in summer and fall). Yes it is pricey but not so crazy when you consider that $18,000 could be divided among 12 people. You might end up spending less than at a 5-star resort since you can cook and make drinks yourselves. There is even a deal that includes a private air charter transfer from San Juan or St. Thomas Airport—saving you an extra flight and either ferry or water taxi to Virgin Gorda.
I’m a huge fan of villas—whether simple beach houses or luxury properties like this—for families. We’ve enjoyed them everywhere from Cape Cod to Italy. You can spread out and get away from one another but join forces for a kayak or to cook in the well appointed kitchen or relax on the patio.
The BVI is not nearly as developed as the USVI—so that makes it more relaxed. “This is harder to get to… that’s a plus and a minus,” the resident manager William Matthews says. “It keeps the riff-raff out,” he jokes.
The advantage here—besides the privacy and the chance to putter in the kitchen yourself—is that you aren’t paying $5 each time a child wants a virgin colada or $15 for the real thing. You have a pool and beach to yourselves and a long dining table with white upholstered chairs ideal for catching up—as we are since my family hasn’t been together in one place for a year.
Did I mention the gorgeous bedrooms with hammocks outside, views to the sea and outdoor rain showers in a cloistered covered patio? And deepsunken tubs? We all enjoyed those showers after living on a sailboat for a few days.
This place of course is fancier than most but in an understated, elegant way with its own private yacht and the maids who clean up after the kids and the onsite concierge who will arrange everything from a picnic on a secluded beach to a massage at the pool.
“Your only job is to relax,” said William Matthews.