When Bill Giles, 60, an advertising executive from Lexington, Ky., wants a vacation, he doesn't look for a resort with a long list of daytime activities and a hopping nightlife. He simply wants sun, surf, and sand — and he does not want to share them.
With that in mind, he and his wife head to Guana Island, a private resort in the British Virgin Islands. Here, no more than 30 guests at a time paying between $700-$3,000 a night share 850 exclusive acres.
"We don't need a lot to take a vacation," says Giles. "By the second or third day, you can feel a change in your central nervous system."
Want to vacation like Giles, as far away as possible from the hustle and bustle of the workaday world? Many people find no better escape than the exclusivity of the most luxurious — and private — beach resorts.
"Those who are living high pressure lives and have to interact with people all day sometimes just want to get away alone with someone special," says Mike Thiel, president of Hideaways Aficionado Club, a club that specializes in luxury travel. Tens of thousands of members have joined since he founded the club in 1979.
In search of places similar to Guana Island, we asked a panel of travel experts to come up with a list of 10 of the world's best private beaches. Each, they say, promises to help those with busy lives find peace and tranquility.
Kamalame Cay, on Andros Island in the Bahamas, is one elite beach getaway on the list. Julie Besser, 60, a kindergarten teacher from north of Boston, and her husband Don, 62, a hedge fund manager, visited Kamalame Cay in 2004. "It's very hard to find a place that's truly isolated," says Besser. "Kamalame is one of those." Accessible only by private ferry or seaplane, around $800 to $3,500 a night, Kamalame Cay has 20 guest villas and access to its own mile of beach.
In the search for privacy, there are sacrifices. "The more exclusive beaches almost by their very nature tend to be small, covy-type places as opposed to big expansive beaches," says Thiel.
At Soneva Fushi in the Maldives (about $600-$3,000 a night), each guest has only a small patch of beach, but it is truly private, with dense vegetation between residences. The half-mile beach of Little Dix Bay ($300-$3,600 a night), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, is reserved for the resort's guests. And guests staying in one of the 12 villas at Le Taha'a (about $900-$2,500 a night), Society Islands Archipelago, get a patch of beach entirely concealed by rock walls.
Want even more seclusion? Richard Branson's Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands, is a 74-acre paradise that can be rented for about $46,000 a night. The entire Guana Island can also be rented for around $19,000-$26,000 a night.
That pays for more than quiet. "Private resorts are very exclusive and usually offer the best in amenities and service," explains another of the expert panelists, Jody Bear who founded Bear & Bear Travel 15 years ago in New York City and has visited every one of the Caribbean islands.
Solitude and sun in the lap of luxury — it's all part of the private beach resort vacation.