La Isla de Vieques is like nowhere else in the Caribbean. Most of its land remains undeveloped due to the U.S. Navy using 60 percent of the island as a training site for sixty years.
Today the Navy land is under Fish and Wildlife Administration, making the island the largest national refuge in the Caribbean. Wild horses roam around freely; the beaches are pristine and undeveloped, surrounded by native flora instead of concrete. There are no McDonald’s, no kitschy souvenir stands. Vieques was voted the best Caribbean island by Travel + Leisure, and made Conde Nast Traveler’s 2011 Hot List.
To stay in style on Vieques, check out the relatively new W Retreat & Spa. This is absolutely my favorite hotel anywhere in Puerto Rico, and one of the top handful in the Caribbean.
The W has a comfortable island vibe, with the luxury and exquisite food that you’ve come to expect from W — and some of the most spectacular sunsets it’s possible to witness in the Caribbean. You can have a serene sanctuary stay, or a vibrant adventure — either way, it's R&R W Hotels style.
More than a dozen pristine beaches where white sands unfurl into forever. The dazzling Caribbean Sea that laps under softly swaying palm trees. Pretty fishing villages lightly abuzz with the rhythm of an afternoon salsa. Vieques Island is Puerto Rico's best-kept secret where unspoiled shorelines and laid-back living have come to get away from it all. Where W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island nestles on two private, secluded beaches, welcome to where getting away from the everyday means stepping back into when time stood still, so you can catch up on life's most perfect pleasures.
Beyond the beaches, choose your own island adventure from horseback riding in the mountains and mangrove tours through the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to exploring local towns. Isabel Segunda is the largest town with the most bustle, but give up a few moments of serenity for the best variety of authentic cuisine, from burgers and fresh seafood to tapas and brunch. Or slip away into Esperanza, a tiny hamlet where you can swap surfing stories and fishing feats with local villagers over rounds of rum in an open-air bar by the sea.
Rooms at the W are stylish, of course — my favorite things were the curtains that surrounded the bed, my own private patio with a spectacular view of the pool and Caribbean Sea beyond, and the fabulous clawfoot bathtub. The second I saw it, I was planning my soak for that evening.
Your introduction from the W Retreat & Spa website:
"You know you've arrived when you set foot into our secluded sanctuary where modern architecture blends with natural aesthetics—sophisticated and luxurious resort-style living, as only W knows how. Inside, take in the eye candy sights in explosions of color and innovations of local design by groundbreaking designer Patricia Urquiola, combining Caribbean sensibilities with urban style. From lush tropical gardens and breathtaking ocean views, feast your eyes on untouched Caribbean landscapes from the privacy of luxury villas, then let your inner gourmet explore the epicurean stylings of Alain Ducasse in our world-class restaurants."
Other features and amenities include:
- Poolside scene at WET®, featuring an oceanfront infinity pool—stay on your deckchair, we'll take care of the towels, locker room facilities and other services.
- Zen out at the AWAY® Spa where you can rejuvenate and revitalize in private indoor treatment rooms overlooking the ocean or outside amid lush surroundings.
- Work it at our state-of-the-art SWEAT® Fitness Center, where yoga on the sun terrace beckons, or hit it on our Har-Tru tennis courts.
- Let your inner swashbuckler loose with an adventurous assortment of activities, including excursions by land and boat, kayaking, scuba diving and eco-tours thorugh the Bioluminescent Bay and undiscovered mangroves.
- Forgot something? Pick it up at W Café.
- With a complete WIRED® Business Center, P.A.W. – Pets Are Welcome™ and Whatever/Whenever® at your service, all the comforts of home and more are here in a scintillating swirl of art, music and culture.
To get to Vieques, take the Vieques Air Link; there is also a ferry, but it sometimes runs erratically and at $30 per person, flying doesn’t cost a whole lot more. While you're here, don't miss a Bio-Bay tour of the luminescent Mosquito Bay!
W Retreat & Spa: Vieques Island
State Road 200,KM 3.2 - HC-1 Box 9368
Vieques Island, Puerto Rico 00765
Phone: (787) 741-4100
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Shelley SealeShelley Seale is a freelance writer and author based out of Austin, Texas, but can often be found traipsing all over the world. Shelley has written for National Geographic, USA Today, CNN, AOL, Globe Pequot Press, Outdoors NW, The Seattle Times and Andrew Harper Traveler, among others. She is also the author or a contributing author of six books. Her mantra is "travel with a purpose."
Located: Austin USA
Likes: cultural, immersion, sustainable, learning, experiential, voluntourism