Every year in Feb/March I take a solo trip for 5-7 days where it's all about me. My schedule, my reading, my sports, my sleep, my iPad-ing! Every other solo trip though, has been where everyone else is also there on their own, as I've gone to bootcamps, yoga retreats and juice fasts/cleanses. This year, I knew I needed to not only chill, but get some focused time to mark a clear 2013-14 strategy for my two companies.
I'd been told years ago about Guana Island, by a dear friend, whom like so many I met on the island, had been going for 15+ years, as an annual holiday/get-away-from-it-all. So, I knew it was rustic, yet very comfortable, that it attracted down-to-earth rather than scene-y people, and was a Gilligan's Island of sorts where one would go to disconnect. Not only did I recharge, I made some nice friends and had this great experience of being in such a comfy and safe place on my own; frankly, I think it's the way to most enjoy this house-party of sorts (albeit a very mellow one). Large tables of eight are set for communal dining, so one never eats alone unless you feel like it - you go off to one of the terraces. Every night, cocktail hour feels like you're at a friend's home, as does the help yourself bar, make your own smoothie at the beach bar - type way of being here. Personally, I've always loved places where staff are around to help if you need it but leave you to do what you like & how you like it without asking "how are you" at every turn and having you sign bills the whole day for everything from a bottled water to dinner! On Guana, there are no bills, there are few rules, and there is plenty to do or plenty of places to sit and do nothing.
One lives on foot and golf cart, has the choice of a few options at each meal all lovingly prepared by their talented Catalan chef (no huge menu to navigate), there is no 'other restaurant' or village or place to go check out - just walks, hikes, a gorgeous long beach and plenty of spots to soak up the extraordinary two-sided sea views and sunsets. Put your phone or watch down somewhere, it'll be exactly where you left it when you returned. There are no safes, no locks, no worries; even the iguanas stay out of your way... Don't you kinda feel relaxed just reading this?
Need to Know
Unspoiled, 850 acre private island with some of the best beaches in the world. Extensive hiking and walking trails, hidden beaches, exotic flora and fauna; spectacular view points from all guest areas. The friendly, helpful staff offers the highest level of service, yet is unobtrusive.
Solo, with a multi-generational family or a romantic getaway (I'd not bring kids under 18 here on their own - they'll need one another for activities etc.)
Paddle boarding out about 30 minutes to Monkey Island; snorkeling with thousands of tropical fish.
Best time to go
When it's cold where you live (I'm told Summer months can be dry too).
This is not a resort, nor really a hotel. It's more of a 'guest house' with plenty of services on offer. It is not chic nor stylish, yet everything including the refurbed cottages (most) are lovely and as comfortable as can be, plus are outfitted with WiFi and air conditioning.
Something for everyone — from Sea View Cottages (rooms in hilltop cottages overlooking the ocean) through private villas. North Beach Villa has its own — you guessed it! — beach, Harbour House has Jacuzzi and pool, Anegada House has pool and private garden and 10,000 square foot Jost House has pool winding around the house, Jacuzzi and private golf cart. Each cottage has a slightly different style, but all share an island feel that means stone walls, tiled floors and lots of local wood, as well as crisp floral-subdued fabrics and large terraces and showers with sea views.
Service & vibe
Very warm staff who somehow blend efficiency and friendliness perfectly. They make every single guest feel like they have just arrived at their own private island home — no request is too small. When they all see you off at the boat on departure, waving until they fade into the dock and distance, it feels they are certain you'll be back.
Choose either an incredibly special private dinner, or mingle with other guests — nothing is too much trouble. I love the idea of the Castaway picnic — you solo or you with your love whisked off for lunch and the afternoon on a private beach all to yourselves... Food is simple but delicious with island-grown fruit and veg served alongside fresh-caught fish. Any diet can be easily accommodated. (Veggie, gluten free, etc.) Mealtimes are set, but free-flowing and casual.
Price per night
$700 - $5000, all inclusive
To Do & See
One of the best beaches in the BVI, White Bay Beach is the place to introduce yourself to the island with snorkeling, swimming, sunning. But it doesn’t stop there — six more beaches, some only accessible by boat, water sports, cruises, boat charter...
Sport & Activity
Start the day with some yoga on the beach, and then get going! kayaking, waterskiing, paddle boarding, scuba, snorkeling, fishing etc. And on land: tennis (right next to the beach), volleyball, basketball, lawn bowling and the legendary hiking trails. The library hosts hundreds of best-selling books and at least 15 board games.
Spa & Grooming
Massages – almost any type you like (aromatherapy facials, mineral scrub, local fruit body polishes...) looking out over the ocean or in the privacy of your own cottage. Every level of sunblock and bug spray is provided at the beach and at the main house - nice touch to encourage traveling very lightly.
Fly by commercial airline into British Virgin Island's Beef Island airport (EIS) via San Juan, St. Thomas, or Antigua (or charter a private plane). Boatmen from Guana Island will be waiting to collect you. Easy trip given the proper connections; the reservations team will help you to select the best flight option depending where you live.