Many of the best beach resorts in the British Virgin Islands—renowned for their relaxed, laid-back ambiance, often paired with luxurious amenities—took a direct hit from 2017’s Hurricane Irma and one by one have been renovating and re-opening. Several are just now accepting guests for the winter 2020 season while others have yet to announce re-opening dates.
Ranging from legacy and eco-luxe resorts on Virgin Gorda to boutique hotels on Tortola to upscale private-island havens, these properties may vary in location and décor but are renowned for their welcoming, low-key ambience and beachfront restaurants overlooking some of the most postcard-perfect sand and sea in the Caribbean. These are the best resorts in the British Virgin Islands.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
Re-opening in January 2020, Rosewood Little Dix Bay is one of the BVI’s best-known and most-beloved resorts, built by conservationist/hotelier Laurance Rockefeller in 1964 and located on a splendid crescent beach on beautiful Virgin Gorda. Known for its refined yet barefoot luxury—generations of well-to-do families and honeymooners have made it their go-to hideaway for a tranquil and eco-friendly Caribbean escape—the resort sits on 500 acres and features 80 cottages, suites and villas.
True to their mid-century-beach-house style, the Ocean View (350 square feet) and Beach Front (570 square feet) cottages have stone walls, soaring exposed wood-beamed ceilings, and a shaded terrace—all now full updated in soothing neutral tones with crisp white linens. Suites range from 685 to 1,500 square feet, with some offering a private pool and others direct beach access. Of the three luxury villas, ranging from 1,743 to 3,000 square feet, two are situated on the beach and one on a hillside with expansive ocean views.
Three restaurants—Sugar Mill serving creative Caribbean cuisine, Pavilion offering wholesome comfort food, and Reef House for farm-to-table/fresh-catch menus—along with the Rum Room cocktail bar, Sense Spa and two pools round out this five-star resort’s amenities.
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina
Located just 1.5 miles off the coast of Tortola, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina is 230-acre private island oasis with its own marina and a mix of 52 guest rooms and suites and two-, three-, four- and six-bedroom villas—making it a great option for a wide array of vacationers, from honeymooners to multi-generational families and groups of friends.
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the property features king-bedded guest rooms (375 square feet) with high ceilings and traditional Caribbean décor, as well as one-bedroom suites (960 square feet) with a king-bedded master, a sofa bed in the living room and a fully equipped kitchen—plus a terrace with a choice of ocean or marina views. The 11 Villas can accommodate six to 16 guests.
Two restaurants offer fine dining (at Cardamom & Co) and fresh fish and local favorites (at Donovan’s Reef) and the One Shoe Beach Bar, located on North Beach, features tropical cocktails and its own pool. The main, multi-tiered pool offers easy access to Donovan’s beach and the lofty Ixora Spa is set on a hilltop and is named after a local tropical shrub.
Guests can also enjoy complimentary water sports and explore hiking trails on the island that offer panoramic views of the sea and neighboring Tortola.
Oil Nut Bay
Cliff Suites, Bay Suites, Beach Villas and Ridge Villas perched on or high above the sparking turquoise Caribbean make deciding where to sleep a tough choice for travelers seeking the relaxed and luxurious privacy of a resort-based villa rental. Located on the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda, Oil Nut Bay offers an array of one-to-six bedroom, light-filled contemporary accommodations (sleeping 2 to 12 people with most featuring private pools) set in six neighborhoods spread over 400 acres of dramatic landscape—and all come with an electric cart for easy transport to the resort’s onsite amenities.
Rental guests can enjoy the property’s Beach Club with its restaurant, three pools and pool bar, as well as the Marina (home to Nova restaurant), in-villa spa services (the Spa at Oil Nut Bay will be opening soon near the Beach Club), a fully-equipped Wellness Center and water sports ranging from snorkeling and paddle boarding to windsurfing and sailing.
Cooper Island Beach Club
Travelers looking to leave footprints in the BVI’s pristine white sand—but a low carbon footprint in Earth’s atmosphere—can rest easy at Cooper Island Beach Club. This eco-resort, located on Cooper Island’s Manchioneel Bay, features 10 luxuriously appointed fan-cooled beachfront guest rooms sustainably decorated with recycled teak furniture and gauzy white canopy beds.
The rooms can be booked individually or as a two-bedroom duplex suite with a connecting door on the balcony. There’s a lovely beach, an excellent on-site restaurant, a rum bar with the BVI’s largest collection of rums, and even a microbrewery and free Wi-Fi, but there’s no air conditioning, pool, spa or fitness center.v
Mango Bay Resort
Fresh from its re-opening in November 2019, Mango Bay Resort is a boutique property offering rentals in six private villas overlooking Mahoe Bay on Virgin Gorda. Two Beachfront villas—Beachfront Suite and Beachfront Villa—are just 30 feet from the sand and feature kitchens and shaded outdoor dining porches, while two Ocean View and two Garden View villas are similar in design yet surrounded by newly replanted tropical landscaping and still offer easy access to the beach. Most can be rented as three-bedroom villas or partially as one- or two-bedroom units.
Set on a tranquil beach lapped by clear aquamarine water, this low-key resort offers free Wi-Fi, non-motorized watersports such as kayaking and sailing and access to Virgin Gorda’s hiking trails and most famous sight, The Baths, as well as daytrips to Jost Van Dyke. In-villa spa treatments can be booked, but there’s no onsite restaurant (although several are nearby).
Sugar Mill Hotel
Now fully open and operational for the 2020 season after a Hurricane Irma-forced closure, the Sugar Mill Hotel on Tortola is a 24-room boutique resort with eight buildings set amid tropical gardens on the grounds of a 17th-century sugar mill. The property offers old-school ambience in inn-style rooms (Deluxe, Prestige, Signature and Poolside Mini Suites) that have been updated with modern amenities (flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and USB charging ports) while the Honeymoon Cottage is a stand-alone option that, as its name suggests, is ideal for romance.
The post-Irma renovation also rebuilt the Islands Beach Bar, Tramonti restaurant and swimming pool (with an adjacent spa and added extra space to the terrace of the Sugar Mill restaurant, which features a revised fine-dining menu. When booking, there’s an option to choose either a room-and-breakfast rate or an all-inclusive rate (for a full week or for fewer days by adding a daily all-inclusive fee to the room-and-breakfast rate).
Another cool touch: The hotel’s green Bentley sedan survived the storm and continues to transfer guests to and from the airport.
Quito’s Luxury Inn
Reggae fans can enjoy their favorite music morning, noon and night at Quito’s Luxury Inn a new property (opened in June 2019) located just steps from Tortola’s Cane Bay Beach and featuring 21 bright and cheery rooms, each named for a song by local reggae legend Quito Rymer (of Quito’s Gazebo fame).
Accommodations range from 400-square-foot Deluxe Suites, featuring a king, queen or two twin beds, to the 2,160-square-foot Cool Water Suite, featuring two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a wrap-around balcony and sleeping six. Décor is airy white and vivid blue with a contemporary Caribbean flair and the inn features a small spa and pool, along with nightly happy hours, sunset and music at the Gazebo.
Anegada Beach Club
To truly relax, unwind and leave the 24-hour work and news cycles behind, it’s tough to beat a few nights of “glamping” in a Beachfront Palapa Retreat at this unique resort on the 15-square-mile flat coral atoll of Anegada, which is famous for its lobster.
Anegada Beach Club has five Beachfront palapas—which are thatched-roof tents raised atop the dunes on stilts facing the beach and featuring king canopy beds, en suite bathrooms, Wi-Fi (but no TV) and a deck with a hammock (one deck even has side-by-side bathtubs)—along with two Ocean View palapas (set back from the beach) and a two-bedroom Surfside Palapa Retreat. There are also king- and twin-bedded rooms and an adjoining Family Suite, which have air conditioning and satellite TV. Dining-wise, guests enjoy a beachfront feet-in-the-sand restaurant with local lobster and conch always on the menu and a bar with a daily happy hour.
Snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding and kiteboarding are all popular on-property activities.
Bitter End Yacht Club
Leveled by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, five-decade-old, family-owned Bitter End Yacht Club is in the midst of rebuilding in what is being called Bitter End 2.0. First to open in the coming months will be a new marina and open-air marina village. Stay tuned for an update on the rebuilding and re-opening of dates for the 64-acre resort.
Exclusive Private Island All-Inclusive Resorts
For the ultimate getaway, the British Virgin Islands has long been known for its exclusive private-island resorts—including Necker Island, Guana Island and Peter Island Resort (which remains closed). All offer an all-inclusive vacation experience and rank among the best resorts in the BVIs. See our BVI private island guide for additional details.