Hidden away in a pretty bay in the southwestern corner of Tortola, Long Bay Beach Resort is like a secret waiting to be discovered: the hotel sits near the very edge of the British Virgin Islands, in a place where you almost wouldn’t expect to find another tropical hideaway. It’s just what makes this upscale resort with a boho-feel so utterly charming.
If ever you’ve wondered how much Caribbean bliss one could possibly fit into a 52-acre estate, a stay at Long Bay Beach Resort would come highly recommended. Located right between a picture-perfect beach and overgrown hills that bathe in a megawatt sun from am to pm, the hotel is home to an extensive pool, beach cabanas, thatched roof buildings, swaying palms, a former sugar mill turned restaurant and a very solid amount of rum-based cocktails. But it’s not like you’ll be overwhelmed with all the holiday fabulousness upon checking in: when we arrived, a quiet but warm welcome with a drink from a small beachside shack, and a quick tour of our lodgings set the tone for a relaxing stay – exactly what we needed.
There’s been a tropical retreat in this very spot in one form or another since the late 1960s, and the adjacent, mile-long stretch of sand most definitely has something to do with it (it’s not private, but that comes with the benefit that you can walk off property and along the shore while keeping your feet in the sand for another fifteen to twenty minutes before you reach the end). During our stay, we could immediately tell that recent investments have made the property more attractive to modern-day luxury travellers. From eco-friendly hydration stations and an outdoor cinema with a surprisingly big screen and couch-like recliners in the sand, to newly opened tennis and pickeball courts alongside a brand-new pool featuring a swim-up bar, the latest additions to its offering have made Long Bay Beach Resort more appealing to pleasure-seeking tourists with an appetite for all things fun in the sun.
Of its 37 accommodation options, six are generously sized Beach Villas while one, the Beach House, sleeps four guests across 170 sqm/1,820 sqft of space that blends into a private plunge pool and the sea beyond. We stayed in a 52 sqm/560 sqft Ocean View Suite with a beach-view pergola and a vaulted ceiling with white beams, a king-size bed, a designer kettle and cafetière for that first sip of coffee in the morning, twin stone sinks, Byredo amenities and a rain shower with views towards the beach – when we wanted privacy, we could frost our large bathroom window at the touch of a button. Overall, our suite felt breezy and barefoot in all the right ways, with natural materials from wool to wicker creating an earthy contrast to white curtains and the warm light of the BVI. We found the space amazingly comfortable, although its sound insulation was rather poor, and we could hear our neighbours playing music while whatever material our rooftop had been made from only seemed to amplify the sound of rain at night… to extremes.
There were other, minor design flaws that we thought Long Bay Beach Resort would do well and improving on, from a less than scenic parking lot on full view as we stepped out of our suite and a somewhat neglected garden patch where herbs used in the hotel’s restaurants are grown. The grounds don’t feel quite as lush as you might expect from a tropical resort, though in fairness, we did notice that a hedge and flowers have been planted to help shield infrastructural elements like the road running through the property from view. Once grown in, these plants won’t just be easy on the eyes, but rather help create the illusion of a decidedly more untouched island paradise that won’t just appeal to Miamians on an extended weekend trip, but to visitors from much further afield, who upon having traversed an ocean to spend a two-week holiday in the British Virgin Islands, would likely want to experience a slice of true castaway feel.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
We hear visitors looking for a good party would be well advised to sail over to nearby Jost Van Dyke, an island where rum punches are served strong and lively bars dot the beach. Wanting to stay away from the scene (and out of trouble!), we quite happily stuck around the resort, however, deciding to spend our days paddle-boarding and ordering one coconut after another. The choice is yours!
Several dining outlets across the resort would arguably interfere with a castaway theme, but we certainly didn’t mind. There’s a brand-new poolside cafe for leisurely lunches, a beachside coffee shop for takeaway sandwiches and freshly made smoothies (an idea which we loved!), Johnny’s Beach Bar, where cocktails are served with a smile, and the hotel’s main restaurant, 1748. Located in a former sugar mill built right on the shore in – you guessed it – 1748, the stylish eatery features plenty of outdoor seating, which meant our ears were treated to the heavenly sound of waves mixed in with the occasional musical performer in charge of turning a regular meal into a memorable dining experience. We thought 1748 offered exactly the kind of atmosphere we’re looking for in a destination like this: lively and warm, with lightbulbs swinging from trees and a welcoming, barefoot vibe that feels wonderfully Caribbean.
We had a bit of a hard time ordering on our first night, as our waiter wasn’t quite clued into what actually constitutes a vegan diet, which led to a fair share of confusion. This changed dramatically when the hotel’s chef Michael came out to let us know that he personally would be looking after us for the duration of our stay at Long Bay Beach Resort. This is something we really appreciated: so often, chefs roll their eyes at guests with dietary requirements (especially vegans), and their unbothered attitude seeps right into the unoriginal recipes they resort to. But that wasn’t the case here. Instead, Michael surprised us each day with a different breakfast, from the freshest açai bowls to a breakfast burrito with plant-based cheese and guacamole. During other meal times, we enjoyed vegan meat balls on quinoa, Indian vegetable curries, grilled courgettes stuffed with chickpeas and rich tomato sauce; the list goes on. Michael went above and beyond to make our tastebuds tingle… and we hope some of the dishes he came up with will find their way onto the 1748’s menu, too.
Full as a tick and with cabanas conveniently placed beneath palm trees on the beach, we didn’t really get up to a lot while on property. A gym and a day spa are available if you’re looking to get in a workout or a massage, but our days were filled with a heaven-sent amount of doing just about nothing. Although we did get our steps in, walking back and forth from the beach to our suite, where each time we entered, we stepped into our sea-view shower to wash the sand off our skin, only to get it back on half an hour later (try resisting that mile-long stretch of sand!). Long Bay Beach Resort might not be the ultra-chic and luxurious hideaway you might naturally consider for your next trip to the BVI, but its boho-feel, beautifully prepared meals and attentive yet no-fuss service make it an easy-to-love property – and perhaps the most charming on Tortola.