This Caribbean Hotel Sits on an 8-square-Mile Island — With a Luxury Tree House Suite, Butler Service, and a Pristine Beach

Rosewood Little Dix Bay, a luxurious Virgin Gorda resort, is a tranquil time capsule equipped with modern amenities. Here’s what it’s like to stay there.

It takes me a while to fall asleep my first night at Rosewood Little Dix Bay. Despite the fabulously plush comforters I’m cocooned in, I can’t relax; the lapping waves and orchestra of crickets are too peaceful for my racing mind, which usually dozes off to sirens and late-night revelers carousing on my Brooklyn block. I’ve come to this lush corner of Virgin Gorda, an eight-square-mile crop of soft sand and otherworldly rock formations in the British Virgin Islands, to unwind.

My butler, Chenelle, charms me into vacation mode as soon as I arrive at the resort. She tells me to WhatsApp her with any requests and to call her Chanel No. 5, laughing as she explains there’s another Chenelle on staff; her warm demeanor quickly dispels my nervousness about any forced formality, which is the last thing I want on vacation. She whisks me directly to my room and checks me in there, where my luggage arrives moments later.

<p>Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure</p>

Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure

The first thing I notice is there are no locks on the doors here in paradise. Chenelle points out a flimsy wooden cutout of a salamander, explaining that I can flip it from the green side to the red when I’d like privacy. “You’re at home here,” she tells me. I don’t tell her that at home, I triple-lock my doors, and I certainly don’t have a butler.

The no-lock policy is part of Rosewood Little Dix Bay’s nearly 60-year legacy, explains managing director Andreas Pade. “When we reimagined the resort, it didn’t feel necessary to add room keys given our private and secluded location, and the general atmosphere that we try to cultivate that welcomes guests to come and go as they please,” he says, adding that they want the resort to “feel like an extension of home.” This detail is what ultimately helps me give myself over to the out-of-time magic of the legendary seaside resort, where the lack of rigidity and stuffiness allows me to relax as if I were at home — if only home were a luxurious bungalow with a view of the sea and a wraparound patio.

<p>Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure</p>

Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure

Rosewood Little Dix Bay was founded in 1964 by billionaire conservationist Laurance Rockefeller, who purchased the spectacular beach and surrounding 500 acres with a view to establish one of his famous eco-conscious RockResorts. Nestled between emerald-green hills and an unspoiled coastline, the pristine, palm-fringed “wilderness beach,” as he dubbed it, is now home to 80 rooms, suites, and villas that are all less than a five-minute walk from the water.

The property joined Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in 1993, and has remained one of the Caribbean’s premiere luxury destinations for decades. It underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2016, which was set back after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the British Virgin Islands. In January 2020, it reopened at long last, having doubled down on its reputation for barefoot luxury with freshly appointed rooms that still retain much of the resort's original Caribbean charm.

I ask Pade what their legacy of barefoot luxury means to him. “To us, that means we are able to offer the best in service and amenities, but in an atmosphere that feels truly laid-back, relaxed, and separate from the stress of the world,” he says.

On my last afternoon at the resort, I was strolling the crescent of golden sand, keeping a safe distance from a small lemon shark that was swimming along the shoreline. A passing staff member offered up a platter of fresh smoothies, and I sipped it gratefully as the warm water lapped at my toes. When I talk about barefoot luxury, that is what I mean.

Here, everything you need to know about Rosewood Little Dix Bay.

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

  • There are two crystalline pools, a tennis court, and a water sports center where guests can sail Hobie Cats, kayak, snorkel, and paddleboard in the tranquil bay.

  • Each room, suite, and villa is designed with organic materials like wood and local stone, and even the secluded hillside villas are just a short walk from the beach.

  • Three restaurants and a specialty rum bar provide an array of options for dining and drinking, from elevated farm-to-table fare to a majestic open-air breakfast buffet.

  • Escape to your own private, pristine beach with a delicious picnic lunch and bottle of bubbly.

  • The hotel is a five-minute drive from Virgin Gorda Airport and also offers catamaran transfers from the nearby island of Tortola.

The Rooms

<p>Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure</p>

Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure

Climbing the stairs to my 970-square-foot tree house suite felt like entering Eden — swaying palms and bursts of bright yellow flowers provided ample privacy while offering glimpses of the sea from the spacious, wraparound terrace. Three separate seating areas create an inviting outdoor living space, which opens into a mid-century modern living room with a sleek sectional sofa, vaulted ceilings, driftwood side tables, and a wooden writing desk. The room flows naturally into both the bedroom and bathroom, with large double doors connecting the former and a sliding wooden door opening into the latter. While I was tempted to flop onto the plush white bed as soon as I stepped into the sun-soaked bedroom, the enormous bathtub and outdoor shower beckoned.

There are also cottages spread out along the beach and up into the hillside, as well as one- and two- bedroom suites adorned with a minimalist array of local objets d’art, from geometric accent pillows to porcelain coral sculptures. For larger parties, the five expansive villas are incomparable — two-, three-, and four-bedroom residences spanning up to 4,500 square feet with private plunge pools and spectacular views.

Food and Drink

<p>Courtesy of Rosewood</p>

Courtesy of Rosewood

There are four bars and restaurants at Rosewood Little Dix Bay. Pavilion offers idyllic island breakfast — think a rainbow of fresh juices, bagels and lox, mini chocolate croissants, and a made-to-order station where the chef whips up eggs any way you like (whatever you do, don’t skip the homemade hot sauce).

In the evenings, it focuses on Indian-inspired fare. For lunch and dinner, take your pick between Reef House and Sugar Mill, both of which offer seaside views. The former dishes up fresh takes on Caribbean flavors using ingredients hand-picked each day from the on-site garden; the latter is built around a previously functional mill, where you can tuck into oysters Rockefeller (a fitting homage to the founder’s family), a fabulous raw bar, tender jerk branzino with coconut rice, or even a juicy porterhouse steak. But if you’re blissed out on the beach or beside the pool, you can always order food straight to your lounge.

While Painkillers are a classic local cocktail, I’d steer you toward a dirty gin martini (they’re shockingly excellent). Otherwise, you can always hop over to the Rum Room for a flight of rare and aged rums, vintage cocktails, and an extensive wine list.

Activities and Amenities

The resort has two pools: a lagoon-style option with a separate wading area for kids, and a more secluded infinity pool perched high up on the hillside, which is available to anyone who books a service at Sense, A Rosewood Spa. Park yourself at the former with a rum cocktail and book in hand, or bliss-out at the majestic view over the Sir Francis Drake Channel after a rejuvenating massage. For those looking to stay active, there’s a well-appointed fitness center, as well as tennis and pickleball courts, where you can book private training sessions or lessons during your stay. Guided yoga and meditation classes are offered for both kids and adults. Free Wi-Fi is available everywhere, and Priority bikes are studded throughout the property for anyone to use.

While the comforts of the hotel are difficult to tear yourself away from, the sea is more than a backdrop here, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay offers a range of ways to gain a new perspective on it. Guests can rent snorkeling equipment, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, or Hobie Cats, or opt for guided tours of Virgin Gorda’s famous national park, The Baths. Rising early to beat the crowds, I headed over in a car sans guide at 7 a.m., which allowed me ample freedom to wander the spectacular saltwater caves on my own time — but also meant not knowing the trail was a loop and having to double back for my shoes and cover-up.

<p>Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure</p>

Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure

The Spa

Sense, A Rosewood Spa, is tucked high up in the emerald-green hillside, with panoramic views over the sparkling bay below. The spa incorporates African ancestral healing traditions that early inhabitants of the British Virgin Islands relied on to combat new diseases that arrived with European settlers; treatments are infused with native plants in the form of balms, oils, lotions, and more. Guests looking to truly pamper themselves can also choose from three curated Sense Journeys, which include options like a detoxifying wrap or exfoliating scrub, a relaxing massage, a hydrating facial, and more.

Family-friendly Offerings

While few children appeared to be on the property during my stay, the resort has a legacy of family-friendly programming that ensures kids can stay active while parents kick back and relax. There’s a vibrant children’s center decorated with transportive murals where kids can engage in a variety of half- and full-day activities, from landscape painting and jewelry making to nature walks, sandcastle contests, and more under the guidance of experienced counselors. Babysitting and nanny services can also be arranged.

Accessibility and Sustainability

Although the room I stayed in wasn’t accessible — the tree house suites are perched on stilts — several rooms at the property are ADA compliant, and your butler will gladly ferry you back and forth to dinner or the spa on a golf cart if desired.

An eco-friendly resort since its debut in 1964, Little Dix Bay exemplifies the principles of Rosewood Sustains by investing in the surrounding landscape in order to protect and maintain it for future generations. During my visit, I spent an unforgettable afternoon attempting a “turtle rodeo” with volunteers from the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK), a marine conservation organization that monitors hatchlings and tags turtles to track their location and ensure their safety. This was, to be clear, absolutely my first turtle rodeo. I spent an hour spotting their dark silhouettes from a small boat, watching wide-eyed as the volunteers leapt off the bow in an attempt to catch and tag the turtles with care. I couldn’t believe how fast they were — the turtles, that is. “They can go up to 35 miles per hour,” the boat’s captain told me, shaking his head as the dark shadow of one sped away toward the coral reef.

<p>Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure</p>

Sophie Dodd/Travel + Leisure


The resort is just a five-minute drive from the charmingly retro Virgin Gorda Airport — a dirt strip fringing the island that I touched down on with Tradewind Aviation, a semi-private jet company with a new scheduled service route from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Virgin Gorda. The flight took 30 minutes — during which I got to ogle the islands from above and enjoy a top-notch selection of potato chips.

Rosewood also organizes 20-minute catamaran cruises directly from the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Tortola, a hub for travelers coming from the U.S. or nearby islands of St. Thomas, St. Martin, or Anguilla. The Baths National Park, Virgin Gorda’s famous natural wonder of saltwater grottos, is a 10-minute drive from the property, and your butler will be happy to arrange a visit for you. To explore Spanish Town’s shops and restaurants, you can coordinate private transportation by car or boat with your butler as well.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

Rooms at Rosewood Little Dix Bay are certainly an indulgence, starting at $1,020 a night. But every room, suite, and villa includes daily breakfast at Pavilion. Those opting for one of the newly renovated suites or villas will enjoy a 35 percent discount when booking at least three consecutive nights. Rosewood also offers a complimentary bonus night if you book a four- or six-night stay.

While Rosewood does not have a loyalty program, the resort is part of American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts, so those booking with an Amex platinum card are privy to early check-in, late checkout, room upgrades based on availability, daily breakfast, and a $100 food and beverage credit.

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