Welcome to a new year at Angelinascasa. Perfect for the month of January is the chance to daydream about where you’d like to escape to this year. But don’t go anywhere until you’ve read my ultimate travel guide for 2014. The latest destinations, newest hotels and hottest places to be will be revealed over the next few days. Stay tuned…
THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Pristine, unspoilt and stunningly beautiful, the British Virgin Islands have always been the port of call of choice for a mix of travel connoisseurs. Yacht owners set off for the hidden bays and tranquil waters while jetsetters are lured to one of the blissful private island resorts. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that this under-the-radar, and somewhat exclusive, part of the Caribbean is the most idyllic way of seeing ‘the islands’. Forget Barbados, St Barts and Mustique – as lovely as they are – there’s a frisson of excitement happening in the waters of the BVIs this year.
Ever since Rockefeller founded the eco-conscious Little Dix Bay (www.littledixbay.com), back in the 1960s, and therefore putting it and the island of Virgin Gorda on the map, the hotel has been a hotspot for the world’s glitterati. Now owned by the ultra-slick Rosewood group, it is gearing up for a year of 50th anniversary celebrations, which include new yoga and fitness retreats in the cliff-top spa and five seafront super-suites. Interestingly, instead of increasing its inventory, as is the bent of most hotel brands, Rosewood has taken the view that less is more. It has carved the spacious suites out of 10 smaller versions, in order to offer a heightened experience but to fewer guests.
Meanwhile, on the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda, Oil Nut Bay (www.oilnutbay.com) is a new luxury development offering glorious villas to purchase and suites to rent, one of which has been designed by Fendi Casa. It also boasts the state-of-the art YCCS Marina, the only super-yacht marina in the BVIs.
Of course, you can’t think of the Virgin Islands without Richard Branson coming to mind. This year also sees the re-opening of The Great House, on the infamous Necker Island, which he owns (www.neckerisland.virgin.com). The two-year renovation came after a fire razed the sprawling family mansion to the ground. Keeping its Balinese theme, it’s full of the top-end details you’d expect a multi-millionaire’s house to have: from roof-top Jacuzzis to eight-foot sofas with stunning sea views.
Gourmet chefs, a spa, pool pavilion and an additional six private houses add to the mix. But it’s really the stunning location and panoramic views that give the true buzz on Necker. But this type of exclusivity comes at a price: the whole island can be hired on all-inclusive basis from £40,000 per night for up to 30 guests.
Read my full feature on travel trends for the year ahead in the January issue of The Mayfair Magazine. Out now.