Palm Island Resort

Newly owned and renovated

Palm Island, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
During the quarter century that late owner John Caldwell operated this private-island resort, it had its devotees: It was plain but cheap, and guests felt like family. Now that Rob Barrett, owner of the St. James's Club and Galley Bay on Antigua, has pumped $12 million into it, expanding the rooms from 24 to 40, and dressing up the decor, is it the exclusive all-inclusive he intends?

It could be, but right now there are serious weaknesses. The rooms are pleasant—floral-print fabrics, faux silk patterned bedspreads, fish paintings created by the island's doctor, and Indonesian furniture—but nothing special. They're also clustered together, so there's little privacy. (The best room: 19, at the far end of the beach.)

The food is just so-so.

In particular the kitchen has to learn to cook fish. I had dry local lobster, dry mahimahi, undercooked scallops. And due to the presence of "yachties," who come in to use the second restaurant and buy supplies in the shop, and a local tour group that comes in by catamaran, it's not strictly a private-island resort. (However, management has been working to curtail outside use of the property.)

If it does, and if a proposed nine-hole golf course and luxury villas are built, this resort will improve significantly. It does have its strong points: lovely staff, good facilities—a tennis court, a pool, two boats for sailing and snorkeling—and a fabulous setting: 135 acres with lush walking trails and several beaches facing its neighbors, Union Island and Petit St. Vincent. $670-$770. 800-345-0271; 784-458-8824; fax 784-458-8804.