Suffering from a serious case of social media fatigue, our digital editor Suzannah Ramsdale headed to the super chilled and totally charming Petit St Vincent for a digital detox.
When was the last time you went a whole day without looking at your phone?
Hell, when was the last time you went an hour without looking at your phone?
The need to be connected, to scroll endlessly through Instagram, to answer work emails at all hours of the day is addictive. And research proves it. According to a 2016 study millennials check their phones 150 times per day.
I realized I was one of those millennials a few months ago when I was trying to read a book (The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – it’s brilliant) and realized I couldn’t even make it through a chapter without checking Instagram or Whatsapp. Pathetic. Fortuitously, I had a trip to Petit St Vincent coming up and it turned out to be just the thing I needed to re-set, relax and re-discover what it's like to leave my phone behind.
Here’s what you need to know…
What is Petit St Vincent?
A 115-acre private Caribbean island in the middle of the Grenadines. With only 22 cottages, the focus is on seclusion and tranquility.
What’s the vibe?
Simplicity. It’s luxurious without being stuffy. Friendly without being in your face. If you wanted, you could spend your entire holiday in your cottage without seeing another soul. Using the island’s famous flagpole system (you raise the yellow flag if you want something and raise the red flag if you don’t want to be disturbed) you can order anything to your room. Breakfast, lunch, dinner can all be eaten in your cottage.
There are no locks on the doors (something that took me a while to get used to), no clocks, no televisions, no phones and no WIFI.
Do people go there for a digital detox?
Yes, but there’s so much more to it than that. Petit St Vincent has a following of loyal clients who return year after year. One English couple I spoke to had been going to PSV (as it’s locally known) every year for 25 years. And the overriding feeling, from the guests I spoke to, seemed to be that it’s a place where you can totally switch off. Where all there is to do is read a book in a hammock, or snorkel in the crystal water, or wait for a glass of rose to be brought to your own secluded stretch of beach. People love that it’s five star service without any of the bowing and scraping. That you can walk around barefoot, in your comfiest clothes and it feels like a very exotic extension of your own home.
Describe a typical day on PSV
My days on Petit St Vincent went something like this: breakfast on my private terrace, swimming and reading on my private beach, then a slow and short walk to the West End beach on the other side of the island for lunch at my own private palapa, followed by a nap in my hammock and more swimming and more reading. Dinner at the beach restaurant. Sleep. Repeat.
Try the treetop spa
If switching off doesn’t come easily to you, I’d suggest trying one of the treatments at the Treetop Spa. I had the signature Balinese massage and was practically drunk with relaxation when it ended. The assistant manager, Anie Ardiani, is from Bali so has hired the very best masseuses from her homeland.
What else is there to do on the island?
If the thought of only hammock-snoozing and beachside reading for days on end makes you feel a little stir crazy there are plenty of other ways you can while away the hours. The scuba diving around PSV is world class and the dive centre is owned and run by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. PSV also has its own 49-foot sailing sloop called Beauty, which guests can use for a day snorkeling trip to the Tobago Cays (a great place to swim with green turtles) or just to take a sail around the surrounding islands.
Is there a gym?
PSV doesn't do fancy mod cons like gyms, but it does have a fitness trail in the shaded area behind the delightful West End beach. If a hike is more your thing, a steep winding path up to the island’s highest point, Marni Hill, gives exceptional views of the island and will work up a mega sweat. There are also tennis courts and two open air yoga pavilions overlooking the ocean.
And what of the food?
Oh, it’s good. If you wanted you could have lobster for every single meal. I very nearly did. There are two restaurants: the beach bar where you can eat barefoot on the sand after a rum sundowner at nearby Goatie’s Bar. Or there’s the slightly more formal main restaurant (formal, as in, you have to wear something on your feet) where you can choose from the a la carte menu. For breakfast, which you’ll probably have delivered to your private terrace, I’d suggest the eggs. PSV has over 200 free range chickens on the island meaning the eggs don’t come much fresher.
A little word about environmentally conscious tourism…
Sustainability is increasingly important when it comes to deciding where to go on holiday and PSV is doing its part. The island produces its own fresh water thanks to a clever machine which process ocean water into safe drinking water; a generator produces the island’s electricity; and PSV is involved in a number of marine protection initiatives including planting coral gardens to help replenish the reefs and working with local fisherman on a no fishing scheme.
How do I get there?
Seven nights at Petit St. Vincent starts from £3,759 per person based on two adults sharing a one bedroom cottage on a full board basis, including return economy class flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick and inter-island flights and transfers. This price includes a ‘two nights free’ offer which is valid for stays completed between 1st April and 19th December 2018. Book with Inspiring Travel Company (01244 355527, www.inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk)
For further information on Petit St. Vincent please visit www.petitstvincent.com | +1 (954) 963-7401.