Sunday, November 27, 2011

Five great hotels for winter getaways!

The Thanksgiving holiday is over, and now we all start thinking about  our winter travel plans. In my next few posts, I plan to cover a few good holiday getaways, ones that you may not know about...the whole range from great spots for those sun-seekers (like me!) to ski resorts that you'll love to share with family or friends. 

The first one is a little-known gem in the BVI called Peter Island Resort...and like many destinations in the Caribbean, this one is ALL about the water and the beach! Peter Island is found just southwest of Tortola, in Sir Francis Drake Channel, so it's the typical arrival pattern of long flight, short flight, boat ferry, car or van, and the final flourish of a rum punch of some sort as you are being checked into your room. Ok, now the skinny about the rooms is this; the Resort has two DISTINCTLY different levels of rooms. DO NOT, Under any circumstances, book anything but the beachfront rooms! The harborside rooms were built back in the 60's for a convenient "overnight" for boaters and sailing boats, and are categorically unacceptable for any length of stay. (In my opinion, they need to be scraped, or only held for overnight stays.) Cramped, with dark decor and unacceptable bathrooms, they aren't consistent with any resort experience. So, the beachfront rooms are the only reasonable option, and be sure you ask for the recently renovated ones, as they others are quite shabby. The beachfront rooms, like the ones at Caneel Bay, on St. Johns, feel a little like an old Rock Resort, with one stone wall, and peaked wood ceilings. The renovation is reasonable, but really, this resort is ALL about the beach, so make sure your room has a good view, and if you must move to get the great setting, do so, as it's completely worth it!

So, did I mention that Peter island as ALL about the beach?! Take a look at one of the most beautiful natural curves of soft white sand you'll find in the Caribbean....perfect levels of shade and sun, and located in a cove to keep the waves gentle enough for a little fun, but not too strong to deter you from swimming. Warm, clear and filled with turtles and a moderate amount of tropical fish, you can spend entire days in a straight line from your room to the water(with an occasional diversion to the beach bar....)

If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can check out a Hobie cat or a kayak, and explore around the island, happy in the knowledge that this perfect beach is never far away....

Like most of the islands in the BVI grouping, Peter Island is a central spine of small hills cascading down to the beaches, and has a good bit of lush foliage, so it's the perfect dosage of "tropical", especially as we face these short, dark, cold winter days.

Here's a shot of the renovated beachfront rooms, of which this one's a second story (I prefer ground level, so I can walk straight out to the beach, but the view from the second story balconies is fantastic)


Another shot of the bathrooms in the renovated beachfront rooms, replete with the "tub with a view"...this is a favorite design feature of mine, and it's executed here in a cheery combination of colored tiles and plenty of glass.

This image is the dreaded Harbour side rooms, and at a quick glance, they look reasonable, but the moment you step inside them, youll insist upon being moved...

So, I think I've mentioned that this resort is all about the beach and the water, right? That's because the other amenities and services are average, at best! The main ding room is the typical stone-clad "sugar plantation" style building, the food is completely forgettable, the spa is not worth spending any time in, and the pool needs to be redone. What does truly exceed expectations is the staff. Many of them have been there since the resort opened, and are absolutely charming and delightful, going out of their way to care about the guests, and make your stay memorable. They are truly exceptional, and actually make the difference between this being an average resort with a great beach, and a truly delightful winter getaway...

The resort's staff can accommodate almost any request, and will happily arrange for deep sea fishing and diving trips if you are feeling the need to stir from your beach chair.

When you go, be sure to catch a sunset on the top of the mountain. The staff will arrange for some champagne and a lite bite, and will take you up to the best spot. If you're lucky, you'll even get to see the infamous "green flash" as you watch the sun sink below the water...

Peter Island Resort is an "almost" perfect antidote to winter... stay posted, more to come! 



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