Elevated view of Rosewood Little Dix Bay — Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay
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There are no room keys at Rosewood Little Dix Bay, though your assigned butler can summon a set if you’re somehow not immediately in the island hideaway mindset. No TVs, either, but why would you want one when a plunge pool is just outside your door and a lounger reserved for you on the white-sand beach is only a few steps farther?
This legendary British Virgin Islands resort, one of the original high-end hotels in the Caribbean, has been drawing guests with a promise of laid-back luxury since the 1960s. After a recent four-year renovation, it reopened as a beachside escape balancing nostalgia with modern comfort.
“There are no cars. There’s no honking. There’s no sound really,” says Andreas Pade, Rosewood Little Dix Bay’s managing director. “You arrive on holiday and you’re a million miles away – you’re truly disconnecting from that other life you had before you arrived.”
The Little Dix Bay story starts 60 years ago when conservationist Laurance Rockefeller spotted a secluded half-mile stretch of sand curved around a bay on Virgin Gorda’s coast. Being a Rockefeller, he bought the beach and the 500 acres beyond it and built an upscale resort – part of his eco-friendly RockResorts – that attracted the likes of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. It became part of the Rosewood group in 1993.
In 2016, Rosewood Little Dix Bay closed for a refresh. Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017, devastating the property just ahead of its planned reopening. Finally, in January 2020, four years after it initially closed its doors, the hotel reopened.
The outside of the resort
The Pavilion — Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay
The “skyline” of Rosewood Little Dix Bay is designed to look like palm trees swaying in the breeze, Pade points out, with each roof shaped slightly differently. There are actual palm trees, too — not quite as many as there were up until the 2017 hurricane, but the setting still feels lush against the green hills of Virgin Gorda.
All of the resort buildings, housing guest rooms, restaurants, a bar, a spa and a fitness center, are designed to blend into the landscape. “Laurance Rockefeller’s philosophy was that luxury is in the closeness to nature, and that carries through to what we’re trying to achieve today,” Pade says.
The inside of the resort
A one-bedroom pool suite — Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay
New York-based firm Meyer Davis went with muted colors and the clean lines of mid-century modern design – appropriate for a hotel first built mid-century. The rooms have a calming beachy feel, and not just because through the windows is a view of palm trees and endless blue-green water; there are retro photos of beachgoers, driftwood sculptures and stone walls, drawing to mind Virgin Gorda’s toppled-over boulders, like at the magical Baths.
Opt for a pool suite if you want to laze in your own plunge pool overlooking the bay (and rinse off in your outdoor rain shower after) or book a “tree house” suite with wraparound terrace, a nod to the resort’s original stilt houses.
The roomiest options include two-bedroom houses complete with full kitchens, dining gazebos and pools that will have you feeling like you’ve moved here. Or there’s the four-bedroom hillside villas, tucked away for maximum privacy.
Eating at the resort
The Sugar Mill — Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay
“People stay on average seven to 14 nights, so you have to be flexible to keep them entertained for that long, especially with food,” Pade says. That means a variety of restaurants, plus an entirely separate menu for the beach.
There’s the Reef House, which has a menu that changes daily and makes use of the resort’s garden. Sugar Mill serves small plates from an open-air stone mill with wide views of the bay. Meals at the Pavilion come with views of both the water and the open kitchen, where the chefs cook up elevated takes on Caribbean dishes.
Drinking at the resort
It would take a while to work your way through all the rums at the resort — Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay
You can order a painkiller – the British Virgin Islands’ unofficial national drink – at one of the restaurants, but at some point, you’re going to find yourself at the Rum Room. Bartenders at this chic open-air lounge just off the Pavilion can mix up any cocktail you crave, including the classics like fizzes and highballs, but the standout here is the collection of more than 100 different labels of rare and aged rums.
The spa at Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands — Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay
After a game on one of the six tennis courts, a swim in the free-form pool just off the beach, or an outdoor yoga session, head to the resort’s tranquil spa, set on a hill with views down to the water. Each treatment room has a private terrace, and there’s a two-tiered infinity pool surrounded by greenery.
It would be easy enough to spend your entire vacation at the resort, sipping rum, relaxing on the beach, and paddle boarding off the coast, but there’s an entire island to explore. Your butler is available to book tours, arrange transportation, set up restaurant reservations – whatever you need (note that access to the island may be restricted due to COVID -19).
The butler service is “so much more than just unpacking. Sure, that happens, but it’s more about having a dedicated curator to the destination for every guest,” Pade says. “You have someone who’s in touch with you from before you arrive and throughout your stay to open the doors for different experiences around the island. At the end of the day, yes, people come for relaxation, but they also come for cultural immersion.”