News & Reviews Caribbean & Mexico British Virgin Islands Review: Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands – Rosewood backs-up the beauty

Much to my wife’s annoyance, I cram as much as possible into every trip.  We’ve already travelled thousands of miles to get here; we may as well add as many hotels as possible, right up until we need to head to the nearby food bank as we’ve run out of money.  It’s usually when I’m saying, “Well, we’re in Japan, may as well make the 9-hour flight to Fiji”, that I start to get in trouble.  But Park Hotel Vitznau was such a property – we just stuck it on to the end of the trip as we were already in Switzerland.  Two years later, we chose to get married there.  Rosewood’s Little Dix Bay would be a terrible place for me to get married because polygamy is illegal, but what it does share with Vitznau is the ability to have completely taken me by surprise – in a good way.

Look at this place!  It has both sky and land.  I am impressed.

Just a twenty-five-minute boat ride away from Tortola or barely five minutes from Virgin Gorda airport, Little Dix Bay is spread out across a half-mile of gorgeous beach within a stunning reef and calm waters.  The setting is the selling point, and they’ve rightfully taken full advantage of it.  Whilst the white sand will win all the plaudits, the grounds are also immaculate, with a lush green setting.  It is a postcard of beauty.  It’s small enough to walk around (but you can cycle or be picked up in a golf buggy) but has a substantial amount of facilities and things to do to make it push well above its boutique-status 81 rooms.

Once you stop giggling about the name, it’s worth reading on.

Intro

We arrived via Necker Island, where it quickly dawned on me that standards existed.  After being dropped at the dock, we were introduced to one of our two butlers – although I do think this sounds more impressive than it is.  Not because they didn’t do anything of use, just that they’re looking after so many rooms that it’s not a personalised experience you might be expecting with that title.  That’s marketing for ya.

Before arriving, I had excellent communication regarding the room setup, which set expectations of what was possible.  There’s still that teeny tiny bit of hope that they’ll exceed them, but I think once they gave us one welcome drink to share amongst us, I realised that wasn’t going to happen.  That is the challenge of coming from all-inclusive properties and adapting to everything having a bill attached to it.  It definitely makes me think twice – perhaps I no longer need to have a bath of Evian water from the minibar.  You have varying degrees of how far resorts will push that, with some wanting to find a way to charge for everything, whilst others being far more generous.  Little Dix initially appeared to be more on the Scrooge side of the scale.  I thought it was going to be one of those trips.

Room

Our Treetop Suite wasn’t doing much for me either.  If I say it was ok and leave it there, will that suffice?  Ohhhh, ok, then, let me expand.

Other than the unusually loud air conditioning, which was stuck to the wall and contained warnings about cancer on it (maybe the non-cancerous versions are quiet) and the lockless bathroom being so small and so close to the living room, you may as well just do your business in the middle of the room.  Other than those, the room is perfectly pleasant, without being memorable.  It’s simple but well-designed, which made me think of The Brando in that it manages to create a luxurious setting with minimal effort.

The Treetop Suites are, at most, twenty metres from the beach, with each room having an area on the beach with shaded loungers.  The suites sit on stilts that offer elevated views from your private deck.  Just a shame the balcony provides no shade, so it was unusable for this pasty white Brit.  There are a few deck chairs and seats, should you wish to look like a lobster.  The rooms are very private; the deck less so, as we would always see our neighbours on the way back to our suite.

You have to climb stairs to enter these suites, so give that some thought if you’re as lazy as I used to be.  You can tell it’s family-friendly, as you can enter via either the bedroom or living room (they’re also the first hotel I’ve seen to include an audio-only baby monitor).  The bedroom can be separated via sliding doors, making it a proper suite, not one of these so-called suites that Dictionary.com should take a lawsuit for abusing the English language.  There’s decent storage behind the bed, with large wardrobes and an area for open luggage.  Interestingly, there are no TVs, except for the Kids Club and a conference room.  The minibar is not free, which somehow always bothers me.

The biggest killer is that tiny bathroom, now mentioned twice in this review for emphasis.  The suite ended up growing on me, but for one of the top room categories, I was hoping for more.  There are only two higher suite categories for a one bedroom, the Pool Suite and Grand Pool Suite.  Yet as I later discovered on a show around, they’re substantial upgrades for a small amount of money.  Notably, they both have human-sized bathrooms.  In fact, the bathrooms are huge, and they even throw in a private deck and, as you might guess, a pool.

Forgive the pictures, they’re all of a Pool Suite because my children are like hyaenas and rip through our room, destroying it in seconds.

Simply the Best

Here’s a dilemma for you: which room is best?  This is where I don’t follow the logic of Little Dix Bay.  I don’t understand how the best villas are not by the beach.  Amanyara can command over $25k/n for a 4-bedroom beach villa, and the beach at Little Dix Bay is worthy of commanding a similar fee.  So riddle me confused when I tell you the villas are all up in the hills, so far from the beach that you need a buggy to get there.  I toured one of them, and I was not impressed by it.  There was no wow factor with the design; the simplicity looked cheap and it badly lacked natural light inside. It felt at odds with the rest of the property, which is modern and light.

It’s a similar problem with the suites because those with pools are not directly in front of the beach either.  To some extent, I get this because privacy would become an issue, and the Pool Suites are definitely more private due to their location.  Ultimately, I recommend taking the two-bedroom suite, as it has direct beach access and offers the most space, but it doesn’t have a pool.   I know my review isn’t likely to force Rosewood to demolish the entire property and put villas on the beach, but all I’m saying is don’t dismiss the idea, guys.  I would not pick any villas unless I had to be in a group.

Soft product

Little Dix Bay offers restaurants: Reef House, Sugar Mill and Pavillion.  First of all, what a delight it was to see a menu again after Necker Island.  A choice of what to eat!  Oh, the novelty.  Not so nice to see prices again, though.  Secondly, having a choice of restaurant!  Oh, the honour.  Reef House is right by the shore and uses a lot of local produce to create its Caribbean-themed menu.  They also change to a Mexican menu every Saturday because why not.  Sugar Mill is a tapas style, and Pavilion, whilst not described that way, had a very Indian feel.

Dinner was infinitely better than anything at Necker.  Breakfast was not an extensive buffet, but it was high quality, with the usual meats, cereals, pastries, and fruit, plus cooked food like sausages and eggs to order.  Overall, though, the food was a bit hit and miss, with a few excellent dishes in between “I think I’ll save the calories and leave it” style cuisine.  They also somehow made the worst banana milkshake I’ve ever had.  I asked two different restaurants and got the same god-awful taste each time, like the word “banana” means “Cthulhu’s excrement” in this part of the world.

I will, however, say that as much as it was us adapting to no longer having all-inclusive (which is the case at Jumby Bay, Moskito Island and Necker Island), there are some things I just really resent paying so much for like $8 per scoop of ice cream from the kid’s menu.  I always accept the extra cost of being on an island; it just annoys me when it’s so expensive for kids, knowing 90% of it is going on the floor anyway.  They offer free ice cream on the beach during certain hours, and someone was walking around offering passion fruit jelly, so you’ve just gotta time when your kids are hungry.

Or feed them in sand.  Kids love that.

Another privilege was seeing a manager again.  The service at Little Dix is far beyond anything I was pre-warned about in the Caribbean.  Some people really stood out; everyone was not only extremely friendly but extremely quick to bring anything and responsive.  There was never any doubt that any request would be taken care of, and there was no concern it would take ages to sort.   They were well aware of preferences and would just take care of it.  We didn’t rely on the butlers for much, but they did a good job when called upon, but it was everyone around the resort who really shined.

Facilities

The only place the service isn’t going to win any awards is the kids club.  Remember those useless babysitters I mentioned we hired at Necker and Moskito Island?  It turns out they work at Little Dix Bay.  After we essentially fired them, apparently, some people hold onto a grudge held onto that grudge.  It didn’t take long to see why we got rid of her because the TV was on most of the time we were there.  I’ve never seen the TV on in a kids club before- that kinda defeats the purpose of one.  The Kids Club isn’t one of the best I’ve seen, but it was new and spacious and kept our daughter entertained for a while.  It would have kept me entertained too, as they had some game consoles, but I figured I’d be the responsible one, so instead sat on my phone the entire time.

There’s a list of free activities available, such as snorkelling, children’s kayak races, and trips to discover nearby beaches.  Between their seven tennis courts, huge gym, massive gym with the latest TechnoGym equipment and even a petting zoo with tortoises, goats, guinea pigs, and rabbits, there’s a very active vibe here.  It offers plenty to keep you entertained, and this is mentioning all the possibilities once you leave the resort.

Two pools are beside each other, one very shallow, so ideal for children.  Aesthetically I don’t think they’re much to look at, but they’re heated, were never crowded, and were an ideal place to spend time, just meters from the beach and the Pavilion restaurant.  Not to be forgotten, there is also a boutique.  Never forget the boutique.

The spa is just three treatment rooms with an infinity pool, which we never got to experience, cos kids.

The Good

  • Facilities, including an excellent gym and seven tennis courts
  • Service
  • Very family friendly
  • Lots of activities

The Bad

  • The best accommodation not being in the best location

The Luxurious

  • Stunning beach and setting

Rating

Good

Conclusion

This was the conclusion of our Caribbean trip.  Surprisingly, Little Dix Bay was my favourite resort.  It’s not a perfect property, and it’s not somewhere that I’m going to insist you rush to go to above all else, but there’s a real charm to Little Dix Bay.

It’s not a private island, so outside guests are allowed, but it never felt crowded, even at full occupancy.  It’s very family-friendly but also feels very private.  There were a lot of families and mosquitos there – not that they’re related.  It offered the best service.  People cared, which was a familiar sight in the Caribbean, but they backed it up here with the training.  They remembered preferences and were quick to respond to anything we asked for.  The location is a dream, the beach is outstanding, and it’s easy to see it was recently refurbished/rebuilt.  The rooms are good enough, and the service is good.  There are enough activities on site, and with such proximity to the town, you can easily escape to keep yourself occupied, but it’s so relaxing that you needn’t worry about doing anything.

At Necker, everyone we spoke to mentioned they wouldn’t be returning; at Little Dix Bay, it was the opposite.  Everyone we talked to was either a repeat guest or planning to be one.  I, too, plan to join them again.

Room type: Treetop Suite When: March 2023 Rates: from $3,000/n

Pool Suite starts from $3,000 per night

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 1st May '23

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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