The beachfront suites are among the various accommodations and are outfitted with double DUX mattresses and Elemis bath products.
People do it all the time: They leave their life behind to chase a dream they didn’t know they had. This can be said of Bengt Mortstedt, the owner of Bequia Beach Hotel that sits on its namesake island, the second largest in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines—across from the intrigue of Mustique. There’s some debate on whether you pronounce it Beckwee or Beckway, but, either way, Mortstedt happened upon Bequia while cruising the islands in the early 1990s. Fast-forward to 2008, and he opened the lovingly restored destination. Today, the 57-room hotel, the largest on the island, is frequented by Europeans, celebs, American moguls and those who favor laid-back luxury—a chance to retreat to a halcyon hideaway.
The hotel is on the Atlantic side of Bequia and has a premier position on Friendship Beach, with its calm aquamarine sea perfect for swimming and watersports.
Bequia comes alive the minute we land at the tiny airport. A short trip to the hotel (the island spans 7 miles) on an open-back truck takes us through hillsides dotted with colorful houses—the smell of ripe fruit perfuming the air. Beyond, we get a glimpse of Friendship Bay, our home for the next few days.
The main pool at Bequia Beach Hotel is steps from the ocean and has chaise lounges, cabanas and cozy seating areas for guests who spend their days tanning, reading or splashing in the water.
We’re greeted in the reception lounge with the rum punch, which we sip while taking in the surrounds. BBH is Colonial Caribbean meets retro 1950s—as if you’ve stepped on a movie set depicting yesteryear. Much of the furnishings are modern, by Tommy Bahama. The seafoam lampposts, however, come from Sheffield, England, and punctuate the paths of the 9-acre property. There’s an orchard; two pools, including one with three cabanas; and myriad accommodations, such as an Estate Villa with a private infinity pool that can be rented out weekly for up to eight, as well as beachfront suites.
The sunset view of Princess Margaret Beach from Jack’s Beach Bar is peaceful.
We stay in the latter. Ours is outfitted with a four-poster bed with mosquito net, a living area, art by vintage realist Kerne Erickson (our room boasts a Santa Cruz postcard-inspired piece, but you’ll find his work throughout the resort), and sliding glass doors that open to a private balcony and the sand. The waves, the wind in the palms and the faint laughter of folks at The Beach Bar allure. Stopping at the bar is a nightly occurrence, with guests mingling with one another or Mortstedt, who is often on property and will gladly share the story of his adopted home. He and the team also host weekly VIP receptions before dinner.
Chef Nils-Bertil Hansson leads the kitchen at Bagatelle, which dishes out theme nights, live music and a menu with entrees like lobster tail.
There are three dining experiences. The oceanfront all-day Bagatelle dishes out fresh seafood and focuses on the island’s flavors, like the aromatic callaloo soup. There are themed dinners too—lobster night presented the largest crustaceans I’ve seen with plump, sweet and smoky grilled meat. For a different vibe, Blue Tropic is a quaint Italian restaurant and piano bar, where Uncle Louis, who also plays on Mustique, tickles the ivories on Friday nights. The other is Jack’s Beach Bar. It’s accessible via a drive from the hotel or a hike from Port Elizabeth, the hub of Bequia, on Belmont Walkway, which was restored by Action Bequia (BBH was a benefactor). The path snakes along the water and is flanked by rum joints, eateries and the harbor before opening to Jack’s on Princess Margaret Beach, so-named for the bold royal who took an unforgettable swim here in 1960. Chaise lounges can be rented, allowing you to move from restaurant to shore and back to the bar.
There are other places to dine on the island, like Sugar Reef, where we enjoy a light lunch of watermelon feta salad and addictive baked coconut crisps in its Beach House—the doorways opening to let the breeze flow in. The setting is boho-chic, with a chandelier made of driftwood and shells. It caps our island tour, during which we see sweeping panoramas from the second highest point on the island and learn the history of Hamilton Fort, an 18th century outpost on Admiralty Bay.
Yet BBH draws us back. It’s hard to leave—particularly when you can sun yourself beachside, snorkel or rent stand-up paddleboards. For more R&R, the spa has three treatment rooms and a menu complete with massages (Lolita worked a knot from my shoulder that’s been there for years). You can also charter Mortstedt’s 115-foot Star of the Sea, a Benetti yacht that, much like BBH, bears the feel of the ’50s, with teak floors, six staterooms and a Jacuzzi, as well as a staff that could include stewardess Melody—who will sing jazz on command. How apropos.
But that’s not all that’s up Mortstedt’s sleeve. He’s completing Friendship Bay Estate: two expansive residences with infinity pools, solar panels, coral and stone imported from the Dominican Republic—and a view to behold, trained right toward the treasured BBH.
Because that’s what it is. After all, Bequia means “island in the clouds,” and it will forever be a place I remember in my dreams. Beachfront suites from $430 per night, Estate Villa from $1,143 through December
Photography by: Bequia Beach Hotel