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Your Own Private Caribbean

Petit St. Vincent Resort, The Grenadines Her name was Geneviève, and she bumped along in her tiny launch from neighboring Palm Island for an hour just to see me. She had a lovely gamine quality. We spoke French. She told me of her childhood on the oyster beds of Brittany. How could I not love her?

In less time than it takes to light a cigarette, Geneviève set up her massage table on the vast terrace of my cottage on a spectacular bluff 75 feet above the sea. There is nothing more boring than a description of someone having his flesh kneaded, so I'll spare you the details, except to say that her brand of tugging, dragging, and pinching is a powerful cocktail of one part Swedish massage to two parts shiatsu. Geneviève knows something the others don't.

An hour may seem like a huge amount of time to ask someone to travel for just one massage, but that's the way things are done on Petit St. Vincent (hereafter, P.S.V.). You want it, you got it has been the resort's M.O. since opening in 1968. Though it's costing you, of course, everyone's willingness to please is a great boost to the ego. I keep a list of things I must do before I die. After my stay on P.S.V. I was able to check off eating grilled lobster in a rope hammock hung in the shade of a palapa six feet from the sea; splashing in the Caribbean with seven golden Labs (they belong to the expat owners); and summoning service, yes, by hoisting a flag. In the absence of telephones, each of P.S.V.'s 22 guest cottages has a bamboo pole planted near its entrance. You want to order room service or catch a ride in a golf cart, you fly the yellow flag. For "do not disturb," you choose red. Every 20 minutes, at least, staffers make the rounds and do a color check. (Don't misread their deadpan demeanor; beneath it, they're extraordinarily sweet.) As a test, I wanted to see what would happen if I ordered lunch, and then immediately put up the red flag. It must have been a difficult decision, but the kitchen honored the system and canceled my meal.

My cottage's perch made me woozy with exhilaration, but I talked to other guests who were just as dedicated to their waterfront digs. (The only ones not to consider are the two-in-one units.) Built of purpleheart hardwood from Guyana and rough bluebitch stone quarried on the island, all accommodations come with two queen beds, two daybeds in the living room, terra-cotta floor tiles, and handsome, crunchy straw mats from St. Vincent. They're scattered along P.S.V.'s two-mile perimeter, which encloses 113 gently hilly acres traversed by concrete paths. Like tidiness?You'll love P.S.V.: the carefully tended plant life is greener than the Meridian Club's, though less luxurious and interesting than Peter Island's. And more so than its competition, P.S.V. has the hushed, protective feel of a sanctuary.

It's a feeling well-earned, considering the effort it takes to arrive. The closest you can get to the resort when flying from the States is Barbados. From there, it's a 50-minute flight to Union Island. From there, it's 30 minutes in a motor yacht to P.S.V.

You arrive wrung out, then call Geneviève.
800/654-9326; www.psvresort.com; doubles from $585, including meals.


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