Travel & Leisure Travel, Food & Drink

British Virgin Islands: Top Resorts and Villas for 2022

New and refreshed vacation destinations are making the British Virgin Islands an enticing getaway as international travel begins to show signs of recovery

With restrictions easing and progress made in vaccination programs, recent months have seen a significant increase in international travel. According to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals increased by 58 percent in the third quarter of 2021 compared with that same period in 2020. The report finds that in the Americas, the Caribbean recorded the strongest results by sub region with arrivals up 55 percent compared with 2020.

In the British Virgin Islands (BVI), tourism is returning with a new and refreshed offering following the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. “Based on everything new that’s happening here in the tourism sector, things are looking really good for the first quarter of 2022 and we have all the protocols in place to make sure the area is travel friendly,” says Clive McCoy, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board. “Many of the resorts have reopened recently after having to rebuild following the storm, and in my opinion, the BVI is still the most beautiful place in the world—60 small islands and cays, with the four main islands all offering a different vibe.”

We are seeing a significant increase in clients who are looking for extended stays, or to purchase homes to use as their remote office—Lara Leyton

The ability to work remotely is also having a positive impact. “While the vacation market took a serious hit from Covid-19, it thankfully created a new form of travel and tourism in the guise of remote working. We are seeing a significant increase in clients who are looking for extended stays, or to purchase homes to use as their remote office, says Lara Leyton of Smiths Gore B.V.I Limited, a Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate. 

Aerial BVI

Swimming pool with Aerial BVI property in the background
Whether you want to relax on a sunlounger, take a sunrise hike across the island, try watersports on the private beach, visit the exotic petting zoo, or get creative in the recording studio, there’s something for everyone at Aerial BVI.

Under new ownership, the transformed Aerial BVI—formerly private Buck Island—welcomed its first visitors last year. The resort was created by real estate entrepreneur Britnie Turner to provide a new kind of luxury with purpose, which serves as a resource for the islands through community and environmental initiatives.

Choose whether to take over the entire island, book a single suite on a Getaway Week, or join a multi-day summit offering programs such as wealth and abundance. Whatever you opt for, guests enjoy a transformative experience combining farm-to-table cuisine, wellness therapies, and a connection to the natural environment through activities such as beach yoga and sailing.

The 43-acre (17.4 ha) resort is home to just 14 individually designed suites, which are split across five luxurious residences at the top of the island, with amenities ranging from a beach bar to spa and pool at beach level.

Long Bay Beach Resort

Long Bay Resort ariel shot showing proximity to the sea
Laid-back luxury meets a historical past at Long Bay Beach Resort, a renowned retreat on Tortola since the late 1960s. Its building methodology aims to create the smallest possible effect on the surroundings, allowing nature to guide the design.

Over on the western shores of Tortola, Long Bay Beach Resort is now hosting guests following a complete rebuild of the long-standing property. The boutique resort backs idyllic sandy shores with 20 oceanfront suites—each with its own terrace facing onto the beach—along with the typically Caribbean Johnny’s Beach Bar and 1748 Restaurant, which is located in an 18th-century rum distillery.

The restaurant serves sophisticated Caribbean-inspired dishes using local ingredients, and guests are introduced to their surroundings through activities such as paddle-boarding. With decor inspired by the laidback styles of Tulum and Bali, there are plans at the resort to open several hillside ocean-view villas and a spa this year.

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

A bar and restaurant featuring wooden furniture
Designed by Laurance Rockefeller, Rosewood Little Dix Bay was one of the first Caribbean resorts to promote sustainable luxury. The beachside accommodation welcomes guests to a world of tropical splendor.

One of the archipelago’s most highly acclaimed properties, originally founded by Laurance Rockefeller in 1964, Rosewood Little Dix Bay reopened at the beginning of 2020 following an extensive renovation. The resort on Virgin Gorda is hosting guests in 81 guest rooms, suites, and beach houses. There’s also a hillside villa designed by Meyer Davis to stay true to Rockefeller’s original vision.

Extensive amenities dotting the lush 500-acre (202 ha) beachfront site include beach dining venues Reef House, Sugar Mill, and Pavilion, and the Rum Room offering an extensive rum collection. There are also tennis courts, swimming pools, and a spa.

Saba Rock

Open air bar overlooking the water
Saba Rock was put on the map by diving pioneer Herbert “Bert” Kilbride, when he founded his diving base and launched the famed Pirates’ Pub. Set on a slice of paradise in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, Saba Rock is known for its playful spirit.

Most recently, October 2021 saw the relaunch of the legendary Saba Rock resort, originally founded in the 1960s by the diver and treasure hunter Herbert “Bert” Kilbride. The resort features a bold new design combining items from the past, such as marine artifacts found by Kilbride, with contemporary style.

The resort houses seven guest rooms and two suites with ocean views. There are also two bars, a lounge area, and open-air restaurant, between them spanning the structure’s two open-sided levels, plus a garden and helipad. Guests arrive by boat to drink and dine or stay for longer.

On the Market 

Living room looking onto terrace and the sea at Aquamare in the British Virgin Islands
Aquamare is a boutique beachfront resort on renowned Mahoe Bay, Virgin Gorda. The villas open onto a sandy recreation area with sheltered waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Aquamare features an enviable beachfront location on Virgin Gorda’s western coastline in Mahoe Bay. The 17-bedroom villa complex is surrounded by verdant landscape and offers unobstructed views over the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Its manicured grounds are home to spacious terraces, three infinity pools, and a private beach. As a part of the larger Mango Bay Resort development, this property benefits from shared facilities including a dock.

Terrace with sun loungers at Cooper Villas, British Virgin Islands
Cooper Bay Villas is split across two properties, a three-bedroom main house and a two-bedroom guest villa. Tropical landscaped gardens connect the two with a viewing deck that lends itself to quiet meditation or cocktails at sunset.

Over on Tortola, Cooper Bay Villas occupies a 1.7-acre (0.69 ha) expanse of land above the shoreline, a short walk from secluded Cooper Bay, and just a 10-minute drive from capital of the British Virgin Islands, Road Town. The hillside, ocean-facing property comprises a three-bedroom main house and two-bedroom guest villa, which are separated by a dramatic rock formation. These villas are finished to the highest standard with coral stone tiles, glass balconies, and Bali-inspired woven ceilings. The indoor–outdoor living space comes with everything from a media room and fully equipped kitchen to a vast deck and infinity pool.

Overhead shot of the property Water's Edge on the British Virgin Islands
Water's Edge is uniquely connected with outdoor living as all three of the property's buildings have been constructed to fit amongst the granite rocks. The patio and deck afford plenty of space to relax.

Water’s Edge, on Virgin Gorda, is built amid imposing granite boulders on a private estate close to the island’s Baths National Park. The three-bedroom home features a contemporary indoor–outdoor ocean-view space that’s designed in harmony with nature and hidden by exterior garden walls. Highlights of the unique property include a patio and deck with an outdoor bar and a 24 ft (7.3 m) pool with a footbridge. The indoor living space spans three buildings, from a kitchen with a central island to the bedrooms, featuring outdoor showers constructed between the boulders.

Banner image: Rosewood Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands