Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands budgeted $4
million to renovate its 20 beachfront suites. Caribbean editor Gay
Nagle Myers was curious to see how that money was spent. Here is
ell someone you are going to a
private island in the Caribbean that only has one resort, and it's
guaranteed to bring even Enron-bashing to a halt. Peter Island is
just that -- an 1,800-acre, 1.7-square-mile gem across Sir Francis
Drake Channel from Tortola. Getting to Peter Island can be a
challenge. Even with air, taxi and ferry connections timed just
right, it's a long day. But it's so worth it.
Peter Island Resort takes nothing for granted, having been
slammed twice in recent years by hurricanes that flooded its
kitchens, cracked its pool and closed it for a season.
When $1 million-plus repairs were necessary, managing director
Wayne Kafcsak did them right, thanks to owners who recognized that
while desalinization plants and new sewer lines do not make good
brochure copy, they do make good business sense.
renovated beachfront junior suites are the latest improvements at
the resort. Agents who book these units can rest easy, secure in
the knowledge that clients have a water view in every room.
The units have a homey feel, thanks to a seating area with
comfortable rattan furniture, fresh flowers, lots of windows and a
nonslippery tile floor with throw rugs.
The bathroom-for-two features double sinks, a two-person Jacuzzi
and a shower with two separate showerheads.
The resort did not forsake its ban on televisions in guest
rooms, but did add a CD player and discs of island music.
Added to the list of amenities are robes, a coffeemaker with a
selection of British teas, a stocked minifridge and teak patio
furniture with plush chaise lounges.
Air conditioning is available, but rarely needed;
cross-ventilation, sea breezes and two ceiling fans do the
The suite was so inviting that it was hard to leave. Jeffry
Humes, resort manager, said other guests felt the same way. "They
check in and settle in, especially the British."
The resort's market share breaks down to 40% U.S., 40% U.K. and
the rest from everywhere else, he said. Agents account for 70% of
Humes is one of the few Caribbean general managers able to
report that occupancies did not dip appreciably last fall.
Peter Island reopened in October after its annual month-long
closure for refurbishing (dates this year are Sept. 3 to Oct. 10)
with few cancellations and a full house at Christmas.
"January was a bit soft, but since then, we have been full or
close to it," Humes said. "We exceeded our targets for February and
March without rate discounting, and our summer bookings look
The reason for this, Kafcsak explained, is the resort's
approach: "A good product is what sets us apart from the
competition. We constantly upgrade staff training and work closely
with wholesalers and agents."
Peter Island also reduced its group bookings and launched a food
and beverage initiative with new menus and staff.
On tap for this year are a spa expansion and another boat for
the fleet of five ferries.
Inclusive rates start at $615 per oceanview room, double, or
$710 per beachfront room, double.
To book, call (800) 346-4451. The resort also can be found on
the Web at www.peterisland.com.
Wasting days away
PETER ISLAND, B.V.I. -- What's to do on this island? Lots ... or
nothing at all.
With trail map in hand, I hiked to White Bay's Honeymoon Beach,
two miles up -- and down -- a few steep hills.
The beach, aptly named, is designed for couples. The chaises are
set discreetly apart from one another.
Because I was solo that morning, I did not tarry. Because I was
hot and had no water, I did not hike back. Instead, I called the
front desk from a walkie-talkie on a peg near the beach. Minutes
later, Bugs the bellman arrived in a golf cart.
Island tours by van are well worth doing. Grassy hillsides,
winding dirt roads, crashing surf and vistas of neighboring islands
offer many Kodak moments.
My husband and I swam at Deadman's Beach, which curved in front
of our room. Anchoring the beach at one end are kayaks, watercraft
and the Deadman's Beach Bar & Grill.
The best angle for the afternoon sun is the horizon pool near
Drake's Channel Bar, where tea is served at 4 p.m.
We watched the dive boats leave from the marina, waved to guests
who ferried over to Tortola to shop and saluted as the 41-foot
Silmaril set sail for nearby islands.
We had no desire to go anywhere else. --