IT’S not what it’s got, but what it hasn’t got that makes Petit St Vincent so appealing. At this private luxury resort in the Grenadines, there are no butlers at your beck and call, or waiters hovering to take your drinks order. There isn’t even a pool, let alone a spa.
The resort’s 22 secluded guest cottages don’t have door keys, televisions or telephones. If you want to order room service or request more ice, you simply use a bamboo flag system. Just raise the red flag and you’ll be left alone. Raise the yellow one, put your request form in the wooden message box and someone will be along to take your order.
The staff – there are 80 in all – that’s just short of two for every guest – drive around in mini mokes looking for yellow flags to respond to.
Guest cottages are tucked away in the hills overlooking the beach or right on the beach itself. Each one has two queen-sized beds, a living and dining space, a wooden sundeck with loungers and a hammock and a large shower room.
The island has a restaurant and bar, but most guests prefer to dine in their cottage or on one of the vast stretches of near-deserted beaches that circle the 113-acre island.
During our week-long stay my boyfriend and I spent every day on the beach but we only encountered six other people.
We snorkelled daily, sailed a Hobie Cat and paddled around the island in a glass-bottom kayak. One day we joined the resort’s skipper Jeff Stevens on his 73ft wooden yacht, on which he takes guests to the Tobago Cays for snorkelling.
Mainly we just chilled out on the beach. By day three we had grown attached to one of the 12 thatched cabanas on West End beach – the best for snorkelling and swimming.
All the cabanas are steps from the water’s edge and are nestled in palm trees so you’re hidden from your neighbours.
Each has a hammock, two sun loungers, a table and two chairs, an ice box and glasses.
Only in the evening, when we ventured to the laid-back bar or the weekly beach barbecue, did we see other guests.
Petit St Vincent is probably the closest you’ll get to experiencing what it’s like to have your own paradise island.
It’s owned by US Air Force veteran Haze Richardson, who lives on the island with his wife Lynn and their six Labradors. Richardson and a couple of his acquaintances discovered the uninhabited island on a sailing trip in 1963, and reportedly bought the island for £26,000 from the local lady who had inherited it.
The three friends built a low-key, intimate resort which Richardson managed. He has since bought out the other two owners.
Apart from regular renovations, nothing much has changed about the resort since its early days.
Richardson is frequently approached by hotel chains wanting to take over the resort, but he’s determined to make sure that never happens.
“That would completely change the feel of the place. It’s not what I would want, for me, the guests or the staff,” he told us at the weekly cocktail reception at his home.
We wholeheartedly agreed.