Off-the-water Oasis: 5 of the most exclusive villas in the British Virgin Islands

Batu Villa

Virgin Gorda

Renowned for spectacular sailing, the British Virgin Islands also offer some extraordinary experiences on land, far from the resort crowd. Chris Caswell checks out five of the islands’ most exclusive villas.

1. Batu Villa

Walk past the Buddha in the private entry to this Bali-inspired villa named Batu (Indonesian for “rock”) and you’ve entered a most serene property. The name is appropriate since it’s just steps away from the boulders of Virgin Gorda’s The Baths. Yet you’ve probably never seen it; the villa’s architect created the multi-building, multi-level villa to enhance the landscape, and it is virtually invisible from Whale Bay.

Lighted stone pathways meandering through boulders and tropical gardens connect five separate pavilions. Four of these create private bedrooms, each with dramatic views of the ocean and boulders from four-poster beds positioned mid-room for the best effect. All of these air-conditioned suites have verandas and en suite baths with al fresco stone-lined showers.

The main pavilion is the living area. Indonesian hardwood floors lead to an open great room with Balinese furnishings and Zen tranquility. The kitchen features stainless steel professional appliances for the cook in you or a chef is available. Mora wood tables create dining spots on the covered deck (with expansive views) and indoors.

The air-conditioned entertainment room with its 60-inch TV and surround sound doubles as a study, while a gym and fitness centre sports a full range of equipment to maintain your waistline. Just outside the main pavilion, a wraparound deck lined with sun lounges, overlooks an infinity pool, tucked between boulders like a tide pool.

The space between pavilions gives Batu guests exceptional privacy, making it ideal both for families and groups of friends. Me? I’ll just Zen out on the couch in the great room.

By boat: Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour in Spanish Town can accept yachts up to 48.8 metres.

Picture courtesy of Don Herbert Photography

Falcon's Nest

Peter Island

Peter Island is a yachtsman’s island: built by one and then rebuilt by a family of racing sailors. In addition to a luxury resort, there are three villas, but I can only rave about the time we spent in Falcon’s Nest, a 6,597 square metre villa atop a bluff overlooking Sir Francis Drake Channel. Its six bedroom suites all have spacious baths with rain showers and, yes, two-person Jacuzzi tubs plus outdoor showers — this is a getaway for an extended family and friends.

When I saw the three-story waterfall with its own grotto, I knew where I'd be spending much of my stay. A huge pool is built into the mountainside and lined with smooth rocks, with an infinity edge to open ocean.

Staff is available, including a butler, chef and housekeeper, but even if you choose the do-it-yourself plan, you get a car with driver.

The kitchen is huge, with all Viking appliances, but the famed Tradewinds Restaurant will save someone from cooking. Leave room for its signature Bananas Foster. The Tradewinds wine room has more than 300 selections, ranging from the standards through Champagnes, Cognac, Armagnac and even grappa for the brave.

Falcon’s Nest also has an enormous media room, full spa and fitness centre, an elegant dining room for 10, a well-stocked library and a majestic glass-lined living room with 9.1 metre ceiling. You can request a no-fly zone to banish paparazzi, but I don’t care; they can’t see me in the grotto!

Away from the five spectacular beaches on Peter Island, you’ll find tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, bikes for exploring, a 24-hour fitness centre and the legendary Spa at Peter Island that has an international following, making it one of the best spas in the Caribbean.

Every evening, you can be dropped off for “Sunset at the Loop,” with munchies and beverages provided to enjoy the view. A library is stocked with reading material, weekly events include wine tastings and buffets and don’t miss a tour of the fabulous Peter Island gardens with Joel, the gardener.

By boat: The marina at Peter Island handles yachts up to 51.8 metres (with 3.6 metre depth), and several coves nearby provide good anchorages.

Picture courtesy of Peter Island Resort & Spa

Cliff Penthouse Villa

Oil Nut Bay

The smallest of the villas I stayed in was also my favourite. Perched atop a ridge overlooking the Atlantic, it has a magnificent infinity pool that I only left when I’d wrinkled into a complete prune. Intended for couples, the three Cliff Villas are sleek and oh-so-romantic, from the Fendi Casa furniture to the outside shower that could see Ireland if the world were flat.

Oil Nut Bay is the new uber-cool resort that is all private villas, and we were able to visit several others, from Reef House (1,456 square metre, three bedrooms) to Waters Edge Ridge (830 square metre, four bedrooms, with views to die for). Spectacular private homes now being built will be added to the rental pool, making this an exclusive and elite villa getaway.

Additionally, while the villas have gourmet kitchens (with chefs/housekeeping/concierge staff available), the resort also has exceptional restaurants just a golf cart drive away. Created by the same developer as nearby Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Oil Nut Bay has the airily elegant Beach Club with its outstanding menu. If you miss the malted milk coconut French toast, blame yourself. The same applies to its Off the Cliff Kobe beef/foie gras truffle burger.

A private spa and wellness facility is another draw and, if you must use the “B” word on vacation, a complete business centre is on site. For kids, there is a wonderful club and nature centre, complete with flamingos.

**By boat: **The first two of four piers have been completed at Oil Nut Bay, with slips to 30.48 metres and a deep-water anchorage. Nearby, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda has dockage for yachts up to 91.44 metres.

Picture courtesy of Oil Nut Bay

Baraka Point

Virgin Gorda

The minute you walk through the entry of Baraka Point, you’ll start smiling and you won’t stop for the duration of your stay. Occupying its own peninsula on Virgin Gorda, this 3,657 square metre villa has several copper-roofed pavilions with five equal oceanview suites, so everyone gets the best room.

This is barefoot casual, with a spacious main pavilion for dining and entertainment, a terrace with infinity pool and al fresco dining under a shade sail. A deck built around a boulder is where you’ll savour BVI sunsets.

What captured my imagination wasn’t the incredible accommodations, however, but the fantastic palette of colours used throughout Baraka Point, and it makes any time spent here a delight for the senses.

Baraka Point comes with a staff, including a gourmet chef, concierge, manager and housekeeper. The kitchen is built to commercial standards, and the chef prepares your choices of meals, from multi-course tasting menus (with wines from the on-site private cellar) to pizza from the Italian wood-burning oven. Kids love learning to make pizza with Chef Tommy or sorbets from the gelato machine.

Other amenities include a full-size pool table, a home theatre, fully stocked wet bar, a spa and wellness pavilion and even a rooftop terrace for parties.

There are three private beaches where you can enjoy a built-in day bed, loungers, bonfires and picnics. Want to explore further? Fear not – a 4x4 beach buggy is at your service.

By boat: Leverick Bay Marina has dockage for yachts up to 106.6 metres on the North Sound, which also provides deep-water anchorages.

Picture courtesy of Baraka Point

Windward House

Scrub Island

Waking to views of the Caribbean through wraparound windows is not conducive to getting out of bed, but I struggled manfully and padded just outside the wall of glass sliders to ease into the warm infinity pool, determined to sample every luxury in this four-bedroom, 1,127 square metre villa.

But, while lingering in the pool, I was ambushed by the aroma of coffee coming from the gourmet kitchen with its big Wolf range and Sub-Zero fridge. We had our coffee and croissants on the balcony that surrounds the villa, enjoying the sweeping views from Virgin Gorda to Fallen Jerusalem.

Windward House is just that: to windward. During our time in the villa, we never touched the air conditioning. Open windows and doors and the ever-present trade winds keep the villa cool and serene.

All four master suites are equal, featuring king-size beds and lavish bathrooms with rain showers, soaking tubs and, of course, spectacular views. The central living area also opens to the terrace and the pool and is clearly designed for wonderful entertaining. The dining room seats eight and, for outdoor gatherings, the terrace has a Viking grill.

Some of our crew took the provided electric cart just down the road to the Ixora Spa, where they savoured facials, scrubs and massages in oceanview rooms, returning relaxed and glowing. The energetic can enjoy hiking trails or take sailing lessons at the resort. I found a shaded chaise on the terrace and started a new mystery novel, cooled by the breeze and totally enraptured by Windward House.

**By boat: **An all-new marina at Scrub Island includes five slips for megayachts up to 48.7 metres.

When to go: The traditional BVI season is from December to April. Hurricane season is June through November (be wary), and summer heat and humidity peaks June through September. Many businesses and restaurants close from August to October.

Picture courtesy of Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina

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