Travel: Petit Pleasures
When Haze Richardson bought a 77-foot yacht with a friend in 1964, he had no intention of acquiring an island as well. But a leisurely, aimless journey aboard the Jacinta, a three-decades-old mahogany-and-oak schooner, brought Richardson to Petit St. Vincent, a 113-acre spot of land in the Grenadines that he purchased and ultimately transformed into one of the most celebrated private-island resorts in the Caribbean.
Indeed, one of the main reasons that the resort has earned such notice is its embrace of the philosophy behind Richardson’s first voyage to the island. Petit St. Vincent is the perfect place to practice the art of doing nothing, all day, every day. Such leisure is an art form that perhaps reaches its highest expression when performed close to white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. Richardson’s island offers an escape to a land free of cell phones, crowds, traffic jams, and e-mail in-boxes. In fact, the most sophisticated system of communication available to guests is the use of flags to summon the staff. Raise the yellow flag on the bamboo flagpole outside your cottage, and an attendant will arrive within 15 minutes; raise the red flag, and no one will bother you until it is time to go home.
The resort’s 22 cottages, built of stone quarried on the island, are spacious and tastefully furnished cocoons, but swaying hammocks and the beautiful private beach compel you to venture outside. Lapsed members of the Church of Doing Nothing on Vacation can indulge their heresies with jaunts on a hiking trail that meanders up 275-foot Marni Hill. Waiting at its summit is a lone hammock from which hikers can admire both their accomplishment and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique.
Snorkeling is another fine option for whiling the day away. The harbor side of Petit St. Vincent is home to many brilliantly colored reef fish, and larger fish abound on the Atlantic side. Boats are also available for sunset cruises and other aquatic diversions. Petit St. Richardson, a small sandy island just off the western shore of Petit St. Vincent, is a popular day-trip destination. Resort staffers employ motorboats to chauffeur guests to and from the little island, which is furnished with two chaise longues and a hammock with room for two. Even here, you are only as far from civilization as you wish to be. Gourmet picnic meals, complete with fine china and white linens, can be sent with you. A masseuse can accompany you as well.
The most vexing decision that confronts you on Petit St. Vincent is the question of what to have for dinner. The restaurant pavilion, which has no name, is only a few minutes’ stroll away from any point on the island. Chef Eberhard Muller, whose résumé includes tenures at Le Bernardin and Lutèce in New York, created the menu. The dishes feature fruits, herbs, and vegetables that are grown on the island’s farm. The breakfast buffet has fresh fruits such as mango and papaya, and the dinner menu includes just-caught lobster and fish.
The restaurant pavilion is a favorite place for guests to gather and socialize. However, if you do not wish to mar your Robinson Crusoe fantasy with evidence that you are sharing Petit St. Vincent with others, you can arrange to have meals delivered to your doorstep and spend your entire stay in peaceful, pampered, tropical hermitage.
Petit St. Vincent Resort, 954.963.7401, www.psvresort.com