Print

car-petit_st_vincent-largeIt is twilight when we step onto the dock at Petit St. Vincent, a tiny tropical resort island snugged down like an anchored sloop in one of the most beautiful bays in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

No Ricardo Montalban waiting to greet us in a white suit, but this is no TV show. This is the real Fantasy Island.

At least guest services manager Charlie Carroll is wearing white. Better yet, he's holding a tray of piña coladas.

Forget television, I think, scanning the island under lavender skies.

Just south of the dock, cottage nineteen boasts its own little sundeck, the perfect spot for watching the sunset. "We hardly see anybody," says Ohio newly-wed Michelle Gdovin.

"Our own stretch of beach – perfect sunsets. Doesn't get any more romantic than that," says husband Steve.

Or maybe it does. After sunset, the lights of Petit Martinique flicker like candles in a gale. On a clear night you can just see the horizon glittering with Grenada's lights far to the south. To the east the sea assaults a deserted beach where the surf's thunder is a serenade for two.

Most of the twenty-two cottages laze along this shore.

Our own cottage, number five of twenty-two, crouches high atop one cliff – "The Bluff". It's built from greenheart wood and stone quarried on the island. Big wraparound deck, living room, bedroom, hammock built for two. A fantasy built for two.

In the morning the sun completes a phantasmagoric vision – peeking out from scurrying cumulous clouds, laying down a light show for me alone.

A path leads from here to the Little Bluff, skirting Telescope Hill, with a path leading to views of Mayreau and Union, Tobago Cays, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, Mustique and Canouan, mystical monoliths of diaphanous green and blue rising from sapphire seas.

When I die, I want them to spread my ashes here.

There's also a view of a beach on Conch Bay just below. At one end is a yoga pavilion, a daily ritual for some. Not my fantasy, but the spa treatment offered both there and in your own cottage sure is.

And it's not the only activity they offer here.

Snorkeling is superb. There are Hobie Cats and Sunfish, sea kayaks and windsurfers. There is a hiking trail with fitness stops strategically located en route. There is a beach with my name on it, just past Conch Bay.

Close your eyes. Picture paradise. Open them. Welcome to West End.

Palapas laze in the sun at West End, fronting onto a beach with alabaster sand. Red flags fly here, as on the entryways to the cottages. They mean "don't disturb." Here you can sun and swim in privacy. Here your fantasies are rated "R".

And then the sun goes down and you book dinner for two on the beach, sunset views, haute cuisine.

"It was the single most romantic experience I've ever had," says Michelle Gdovin. "A fantasy come true."

Food's pretty good too. On the centre of the island, just past tennis courts that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair dominated during his stay here, is a garden area where they grow fresh fruit herbs and much of the produce. For the rest of the menu that changes daily they depend on local fisherman and a Boston butcher.

You can dine on the beach, in your room or at the central dining room, sporting cantilevered beams of greenheart over hand-carved tables of purpleheart. Flowers sashay in the trade winds – a cannon guards the harbour approach.

For PSV is coveted ground. A charter captain named Haze Richardson first conquered her back in the 60s. He built a resort so fantastic that U2 booked the whole island to chill after a tour, an island three times rated among the world's best places to stay and best Caribbean resort by Conde Nast Traveler.

This is no mere fantasy.

Haze's widow, Lynn, now runs the place. She met Haze at one of the regattas he used to annually host. She was once a sailmaker. Cruising boaters are allowed to visit the island – "They can dine here if there's room," says guest services manager Christine Knoff – but most of its delights are reserved for guests.

So maybe the cannon guards against an amphibious invasion. Makes sense to me. I have never seen a more desirable piece of real estate.

Nor one with a better nautical heritage. One highlight is a voyage on a traditional wooden sloop built under the supervision of skipper Jeff Stevens.

Make north for Tobago Cays, one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean. Snorkel inside a reef, do lunch in the lee of islands that played backdrop for much of "Pirates of the Caribbean." Laze on the deck as you make your way back south.

"We did the Titanic thing," says Michelle Gdovin. "I balanced myself on the bow even if I couldn't convince Steve to sing for me. It was –" she pauses.

"Don't tell me," I say. "A fantasy come true?"
She laughs and nods as we return to heaven.

Until one morning they come to take us away.

A line lies coiled on the dock. I reach for it. "Tie myself up," I say. "Then you can't get rid of me."

I'm half-kidding.

We cast off and make for Union Island. Reality, dead ahead.

Falling away inexorably astern, like an emerald mirage encased in turquoise, is Petit St. Vincent.

The real fantasy island.