By Roger Cox, Editor
Anyone with an enthusiasm for white sands, turquoise waters, and indulgent comfort has to be thrilled with the long-awaited reopening of iconic Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. Ever attentive to quality, the resort had initially closed in 2016 to undergo a thorough renovation—only to have its progress cruelly halted when the 200-mile-per-hour winds of Hurricane Irma crashed through the Caribbean in 2017, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. But all of that is in the past, and what awaits island visitors now is a fresh new take on the sybaritic comforts and superlative service that have long been a hallmark of this winsome 500-acre beachfront property.
Little Dix and its sister property Caneel Bay (which, sadly, has yet to reopen) owe their existence to conservationist Laurence S. Rockefeller, grandson of Standard Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. He set out to develop resorts that embodied low-key luxury while also embracing conservation and a reverence for the environment. Its new incarnation keeps to those same tenets. It remains intimate, having just 80 one- and two-bedroom cottages, suites, and villas showcasing natural materials like stone and wood and set in manicured gardens behind a white-sand beach. And in keeping with the dedication to service, each room has an assigned butler, who serves as a kind of personal concierge to make restaurant and spa reservations and generally see to each guest's comfort.
Secluded in its own north-facing bay, out of sight of development on the rest of the island, Little Dix feels remote. Yet "town," as defined by Spanish Town is only a mile away and accessible by cabs available at the entrance. That feeling of having totally escaped aside, Little Dix's principal asset is a sinuous, half-mile ribbon of soft sand protected by an offshore coral reef and bordered by very shallow,turquoise waters. Behind it all rise low hills covered with dryland foliage of trees and shrubs and now dotted with villas. Hiking trails lead up to low hills at either end.
Tennis players, meanwhile, can look forward to half a dozen tennis courts and two pickleball courts, a fully stocked pro shop, player matching services, and some sort of clinic or round robin on weekdays in season. Those round robins often draw local residents, who can provide first-hand advice about where to eat and what to do on the island (a snorkeling trip through Boulders and grottoes of the Baths of Virgin Gorda is not to be missed).
Pro Shop: 284-495-5555
Jason Kesselmann presides over the complex. He played college tennis for Salisbury University in Delaware before going on to a 30-year career in teaching and coaching, most recently at the five-star Anantara Resort in the Maldives. At Little Dix, he runs a variety of programs, including specialty clinics and round robins, while also offering private lessons and player match-ups. With six hard and artificial grass courts for 80 rooms, Little Dix has one of the better court:room ratios in the Caribbean. The courts have all been recently resurfaced and abut a handsome pro shop and fitness center with stone pillars, stucco walls, and a metal roof.Courts & Fees. There are two hard courts and four covered with artificial grass. They're supplemented by two pickleball courts. Court fees: None.
Spa & Fitness
Beach. The beach at Little Dix extends for half a mile. Bohios, or thatched umbrellas, shade pairs of cushioned lounge chairs along the entire length of the beach and are free for guests to use. The waters along all of it are very shallow and remarkably warm. In addition, guests can request a free shuttle to any of nearly a dozen other beaches—The Baths of Virgin Gorda the most famous among them—located elsewhere along the west coast of Virgin Gorda or on such nearby islands as Great Dog and George Dog.
Spa & Fitness Center. The Spa sits atop a ridge at the western end of the beach. Before and after treatments you can lounge around a terraced pool with views across the water of other islands, the quiet of the secluded setting only broken by the sound of the sea washing the shore below and the birds in the trees overhead. Treatments take place not in rooms but in nine tiny huts scattered among lush tropical foliage and illuminated by the natural light that pours in through windows in doors that open onto a private outdoor patio. The spa also stages yoga classes. The Fitness Center shares a building with the tennis pro shop. Its dozen Cardio machines face outward through windows overlooking the courts while in between stand half a dozen exercise stations.
And ... Watersports abound, including snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing. Hiking trails lead up into the hills. And on various days there are guided garden tours, hands-on exhibits by a reef expert, local conch and coconut jewelry demonstrations, and more.
Kids have their own Children's Grove, adjacent to the tennis courts, where 3-to-12-year-olds tackle a changing menu of activities, mostly indoors, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There's also a room for older kids with board games and a computer.
Options range from oceanview cottage rooms with private terraces up through 3- and 4-bedroom villas.
Fruits and vegetables for the four restaurants come from a far m on property, seafood from the local fisherman. All four have views of the sea and cuisine that reflects the Caribbean and the chefs inspiration. For lighter fare, there is the Rum House, which has extensive library of rare and aged rums from around the world, as well as a limited bar menu of mezzehs, sandwiches, and salads.
For comparison's sake, also check out these resorts which also have beaches and spas:
Visit the website for current rates
Travel Instructions. From North America, most flights are likely to be routed through San Juan, Puerto Rico and then on to Terrence B. Lettsome Airport (EIS) on Tortola, where ferry service is available directly to Little Dix Bay. Alternatively, you can fly to St. Thomas and board a ferry there. Limited service is also available directly to the airport on Virgin Gorda. The BVI Tourist Board website (see below) can provide details, as well as information about access from other parts of the world.
General Tourist Information. Travel to the British Virgin Island requires a valid passport. The local currency is the $US; voltage is also the North American standard 110 volts. They do, however, drive on the left. For general information about travel to these islands, visit the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board website or contact one of their offices.