Doing Nothing

Written by Paula Conway

You can tell if a resort is confident in the excellence of its location by how it occupies its guests during their stay. Petit St Vincent gives guests literally nothing to do. It simply doesn’t need to; all guests need to do is relax and soak in the solitude and beauty of the island. In fact, it’s the sheer absence of details that makes Petit St Vincent (“PSV” to the locals) such an appealing castaway experience; there are no television sets, telephones or internet jacks. Who needs them when you have a beautiful tropical paradise that feels as if it is your own private island? Guests at Petit St Vincent are given something perhaps more exciting—time. It takes a little bit of decompression to adjust, since virtually everything is played by ear on Nature’s schedule, but when you do get situated on “island time,” the real pleasure and relaxation begin.Time on Petit St Vincent both begins and stops when you step off the boat and are met by a train of staff bearing warm welcomes and frosty pina coladas.

A few moments later, guests are whisked away by golf cart to individual hideaways, weaving along the unspoiled, winding paths where most of cabins and other structures are hidden behind landscaped gardens and nestled among a screen of native flora The 22 cottages built of native blue bitch stone, quarried from the island itself, are spacious and sparsely but tastefully furnished. Cottages have a sitting room, spacious bathroom, sun deck and a large bedroom with two queen beds. Telephone? Television? You don’t miss them. If you want sounds of civilisation, there is a radio, but the electric noise intrudes on the symphony and rhythms of sea, sun and surf that surround you. The air conditioning is natural, but very real, as cool sea breezes keep the air moving and very comfortable. There is nothing to distract you from spending concentrated quality time with yourself, in the hammock just off your patio or the private beach a few feet further. The entire island is absolutely immaculately groomed, from the white sand of the beaches to even the undergrowth of the woods surrounding most of ?the cottages.

One of the amazing aspects of the Petit St Vincent experience is that while there are 22 cottages on the island, they are spaced in such a way that guests would never know that they had neighbours unless they really went looking for them. Certainly, most of the cottages can be seen from the winding paths that cut across the island, but once on the cottage grounds and even the beach, nary another soul can be seen or heard. Robinson Crusoe would have felt at home. The unique flag system that the island services rely upon is even refreshingly simple. Raise the yellow flag, and room service will come by within 15 minutes to take requests. Raise the red flag, and nobody will bother you until it’s time to go.

The dream began in 1964 when Haze Richardson bought a boat in New York with a business partner with whom he had served in the air force. They sailed an old schooner down to Bermuda, then drifted south to St Thomas and finally Grenada. In St Thomas, they contacted a broker who arranged for charters on sailing boats. The first charter was to pick up a businessman, Willis Nichols and his family in Grenada for a three-week cruise. During the sail, Willis had a business proposition. “Help me buy an island and I’ll make you partners in a resort venture,” he offered to Haze and his partner. They anchored off the then uninhabited Petit St Vincent and discovered that it was owned by a local woman who resided across the channel on the island of Petit Martinique. She was older, had recently broken her hip and was bedridden. “It wasn’t for sale,” said Haze Richardson, “so I bought her a wheel chair to break the ice and then suggested she sell us the island.” Eventually, she agreed. The first inhabitant was Zeus, a golden retriever who was cared for on the island while construction began.

Haze, his partner and Willis lived on boats off shore. In the early Eighties, Haze bought out Willis’s interest in Petit St Vincent and has been the sole owner since. There are now five golden retrievers, who are seen poured into the sand and shade of their own tropical paradise and Daisy, now 12, is the only remaining lab from the original litter. Matilda, their nanny, takes care of them and they provide eager walking companions to guests who are encouraged to play with them at will.
For some active castaway adventure, there’s a hiking trail that snakes and winds lazily up to the 275-foot summit where a lone hammock swings in the breeze. Hikers can admire their accomplishment and the breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and other islands. The island also has a series of hidden cabanas with hammocks and chairs for further privacy, though, fear not, room service can still find you to deliver tea and snacks when they ?are desired.

Snorkelling around the entire island takes about two hours and the ocean and harbour sides provide very different marine-life viewing experiences. The harbour side of the island has myriad brilliant reef fishes, while larger open-water species abound on the Atlantic side of the island. The waters on both sides are calm enough to provide an easy experience, even for the most novice snorkellers. There are also numerous boats to take out, from a small sailing craft to glass-bottom paddleboats, and you can take in a picnic meal at the nearby sand spit just off the shore of PSV. For tennis buffs, the island can accommodate you—don’t forget your racquet. If it rains, the island has an extensive book and game library and since many of the guests are very social regulars, there is rarely a shortage of interesting people to meet if you choose. If you want to visit some of the surrounding islands or just want to try your hand at some Caribbean fishing, charters can be made on Petit St Vincent’s own schooner Jambalaya or the 28-foot speedboat Jahash.

Scuba excursions can be arranged through Grenadines Dive on nearby Union Island. The nearby reefs are a veritable paradise of colour, teeming with beautiful and exotic fish. Scuba courses and even night dives are offered. If you want to have a more holistic approach to your relaxation, Petit St Vincent offers massage and facial services, yoga, meditation, stress management and lifestyle evaluation services, all in the privacy of your new island home.

For honeymooners, Petit St Vincent offers a seven-night package that includes a two-person massage in your cottage, champagne on arrival, daily teas, a picnic on a small deserted island in addition to three meals per day and unlimited room service.The restaurant pavilion is centrally located, only a few minutes stroll from anywhere on the island and offers a variety of gourmet selections. There is a lounge area where you can meet and mingle with fellow guests and visiting yachtsmen, or just sit, relax, and enjoy the calming Caribbean breezes as you savour a cocktail before dinner.

Meals are continental style and feature local produce and seafood and fine imported meats. The menu is constantly changing and evolving, but every night there are several options that should tempt most every palate. If the casual dining atmosphere is more than you hoped for or interferes with your total relaxation, all meals can be ordered to your cottage. After all, what could be a better way to relax than breakfast on the beach, a nice afternoon lunch in the shade, a cold iced tea, a doze in the hammock with a good book and the gentle whoosh of waves on a dazzling white-sand beach before a full body massage and dinner on your veranda with the Caribbean stars dotting the heavens above?•

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