When you’re invited to spend a long weekend on a private island, the only decision worth grappling over is what to pack. To get to Royal Island, luxury villa- and chalet-curator Cuvée Escape’s exclusive-use 430-acre Bahamian paradise, guests arrive via charter plane or private jet from Florida, so the less luggage you’re toting around, the better. (Honestly: bathing suit, sunglasses, cover-up, reef-friendly sunscreen – what more do you need?) With just five intimate bungalows, plus a two-person a Spa Suite and a kid-accommodating Bunk House, the island can cater to both family vacations (the maximum guest capacity is 16) and cozy couple’s retreats. Here, five things I loved about my recent visit.
The Right Kind of Welcome Committee
Upon arriving at North Eleuthera Island’s private White Crown airport, I meet my driver Ray, with his blue fedora perched just-so. From here, it’s a 10-minute car transfer to Royal Island’s boat launch. I step onto the Royal Treatment, relax, and crack open a cold Kalik – a bright, lager-style beer popular in the Bahamas. Royal Island is located just four miles (about a 15-minute boat ride) west of Eleuthera. Once I get there, it feels a world away from everything. Gracious staff wait to greet me on the dock with a coconut cocktail in-hand – on a typical stay, guests can expect a team of around 17 people working to create this getaway experience.
Luxury and A Little Analog Fun
Think of everything you’d want in a private-island villa: oceanfront status and a wraparound terrace? Here, it’s a given. A king-size bed, a porcelain claw-foot tub, and a stocked bar? Naturally. Your very own CP200 Motorola walkie-talkie – wait, what? Travelers come to Royal Island to relax and unplug (recent guests include Kevin Hart and his family), so to really disconnect, ditch the WiFi and only communicate with your group through this old-school throwback instead. It’s way more fun exploring the island’s nineteenth-century British colonial estate ruins – complete with a crumbling outdoor cocktail bar – with a walkie-talkie in hand than it is an iPhone. (If you’re not already convinced, you can also use the walkie-talkie to order snacks and cocktails.)
Jet Ski Joyrides
In a tiny sheltered cove just steps away from the 67-foot-long oval swimming pool (complete with Instagram-ready giant water floaties), three Jet Skis bob in the water. They’re one of several complimentary water sports options, including kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, available for guests. Looking out from the beach, I’m surrounded by a stretch of blue water so calm and clear it feels like it could go on forever, with no boats, waves, or city skylines to interrupt it. The only whitecaps you need to watch for here are the ripples of your own wake. Challenge accepted: I release my inner speed demon and push the accelerator to 60 mph.
Gourmet Dining On Demand
At the island’s Harbour House Bar and Restaurant, Chef Sergio Castro – who also oversees the dining program at Cuvée Escape’s collection of Baja-chic private villas in Los Cabos, Mexico – tailors the menu to guests’ whims. After a day of water sports, my sunburn and I retire to the patio for sustainably grown, local “spiny” lobster and risotto with white truffles. Pro tip: Be sure to request some of the homemade mango sorbet.
Outdoor Movie Nights(!)
A totally unexpected, inner-child satisfying surprise was an outdoor movie night on the beach, arranged by the island’s staff. After a day exploring – including an early-morning yoga session and a cruise on the island’s Hobie Cat Catamaran sailboat – there was no better pleasure than curling up with a blanket and carton of popcorn in front of the big screen as Pirates of the Caribbean began to play. Turns out, sometimes the best luxury experiences are the ones that make you feel like a kid again.
Virtuoso travelers receive a stocked bar and pantry, chef-prepared hors d’oeuvres and cocktails upon arrival, and Cuvée Destination Concierge dedicated services.
Top photo: Royal Island (Chad Chisholm)