Overall the resort is very small. A great thing in my book.
A million dollar view defined. From the deck of your cottage the panorama is framed by Tortola on the left, St. John on the right, Norman and Peter Islands in the distance and Sir Francis Drake Channel laid out in front of you in a deep blue. The Cruzan rum in your hand simply serves as a reason to linger a little longer.
Frenchman’s Cay Resort is one of those rare treats that represents the bonus at the end of a year of hard work. Known more simply as Frenchman’s by the locals living on the West End of Tortola, BVI the resort has been around for more than 20 years and had various owners. Recently renovated, the current Frenchman’s reopened less than a year ago. Thanks to Patrice, Chris and the entire staff, you will want for nothing during your stay.
When I travel, I like to get out and meet people, see the sites and truly experience my destination. I get leery with the idea of a resort or hotel that is so nice that I don’t want to leave. I can do that at home. If I want a fancy hotel I can spend a weekend in Miami and save on the airfare to the islands. However, with what I was reading about Frenchman’s online I decided a mid-trip break would be welcome. A chance to take a deep breath between my other, more energetic destinations. Loosing myself in a cold room, on a soft bed, with a good book (and woman) with views of the islands outside my window sounded like heaven. And it was.
You know you made a good decision as soon as you book. Immediately I began to receive e-mails asking about my needs and arrival times. Chris picked us up at the ferry, a welcome and complimentary service. He took us right to our two-room villa, Lime, and checked us in there. No need for a front desk. Very nice. A bottle of white wine and cold water greeted us in the fridge of our kitchen. Each villa has a kitchen, sitting room and either one or two bedrooms. Only the bedrooms are air-conditioned. All have decks overlooking the water. The furniture has a Balinese simplicity using natural sources and textures. It is all very inviting and comforting.
Frenchman’s overall is small, a good thing in my book. There are only eight cottages spread around a twelve acre tract on the eastern tip of Frenchman’s Cay. The cottages are built into the hillside and overlook a tennis court, beach, swimming pool and restaurant. Some of the best snorkeling in Tortola is just off the private beach. The location delivers on the promise of exclusive and private.
The resort is well located near the West End. You can easily walk from your room directly down to Soper’s Hole for some light shopping and perhaps a Pusser’s Painkiller. A small grocery store provides for a nice place to pick up some groceries so you can use the kitchen back in your room.
As nice as Frenchman’s was, I did strike out into Tortola to enjoy some local color. Patrice lined up a car rental giving me a little longer to lounge on the overstuffed couch strategically placed on the rocky bluffs on the tip of land. My first stop was The Bomba Shack, just over the mountain in Cappoons Bay. I’d say this is a can’t miss stop and a topic for another article. Just up the road and over the next hill is Cane Garden Bay, probably one of the most picturesque bays in all the Virgin Islands. If you come to Tortola both are a must.
Let’s talk food. The restaurant at Frenchman’s will please most epicures. Breakfast is included and always fresh and delicious. Happy hour includes Mojito’s and $2 fish and beef tacos. One could make a meal of this alone. Save room. The menu is a combination of local flavors and ingredients prepared with a well practiced Continental flare. Examples include Conch Pasta Carbonera and Pina Colada Drunken Duckling. I particularly loved the house Smoked Salmon. The restaurant is a round building with a bar built in the center. As you dine, the prevailing trade winds blow in off Sir Francis Drake Channel and keep the entire place cool and smelling so very fresh. The sound of breaking waves just a few yards away compliment the entire setting.
The cost to stay at Frenchman’s is more than most but the once you weigh value for money it price is spot on. Small touches, like free Wifi in every cottage are worth a lot in the islands. More interestingly, the cost of the great meal at Frenchman’s was on par with the cost of a beach bar menu in town. Perhaps that explains why many of the locals living on the West End come by to dine. The night I was there almost half the dinner and drink crowd lived on Tortola. Very telling.
There is a plethora of accommodation choices in the Virgin Islands. If Tortola is on your list of islands to spend a few days and you want to treat yourself, you will do well to look into Frenchmans. Their website is well laid out (frenchmansbvi.com) and an e-mail or phone call can answer any other question you may have. When you stay there, be sure to tell them Carl said hello.
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