Guana’s Rich History

The original private island hideaway

Accepting our first guests nearly a century ago, Guana has been a welcoming retreat for families and couples, writers, actors and musicians, and global leaders in business and politics. Over the decades, it has provided the locations for notable productions from the 1958 classic film Virgin Island starring Sidney Poitier and John Cassavetes, to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The “Queen’s Terrace,” named in honor of the Queen Mother for her visit to Guana in March 19, 1964, is where guests still gather to wait for the elusive “green flash.”

1700s

In the 18th century, two Quaker families came to Guana as part of what was called the Quaker Experiment which lasted for about forty-five years in the BVI.

1930s

Louis Bigelow painted many watercolors which decorate the walls of the Club— reminders that this magical place is essentially unchanged in spirit from its early days.

Beth and Louis Bigelow of Massachusetts searched the world and found Guana. They spent their first year living in a tent, rowing themselves and their supplies to and from Road Town.

With the help of local men, they built six stone cottages and developed a reputation as creative pioneers. Their guests — professionals, intellectuals and world travelers — came for months at a time, attracted to the simple but rich life on this special island. One guest had said, “there was no electricity and no hot water, but we all dressed for dinner.”

“Louie and I met in the Soviet Union in the early thirties. We came to believe that there was no form of government we wanted to live under. After we married, we decided to find our own Utopia, for ourselves and our friends. We traveled the world looking for it — and we found Guana.”
—Beth Bigelow, Guana Island 1976

1940s

The Bigelows and their friends built new structures
on Guana and perfected their Island paradise.

1950s

The 1958 classic film Virgin Island,
starring John Cassavetes, Sidney Poitier,
and Virginia Maskell was filmed on Guana.

1960s

The Queen Mother’s
visit to the Island in 1964.

1970s

Like the Bigelows before them, Henry and Gloria Jarecki searched for their perfect island paradise. In December 1974 they and their young sons arrived on Guana for their first visit. At that time the Bigelows called it the Guana Island Club and could host up to 24 guests.

Since the Jareckis bought the Island in 1975, they have consistently improved its accommodations and facilities, without sacrificing its historic style and ambience.

1980s

The Jareckis’ interest in conservation led them to establish a long-term program to protect Guana’s unique flora and fauna, and bring back species that once flourished in the BVI. Renowned Chinese naturalist Liao Wei Ping created the Orchard, which he saw as the spiritual center of the Island, inspiring his poetry and music.

Present

Today, Guana’s mission is to provide an authentic and private Caribbean vacation, in a uniquely unspoiled setting, balancing our guests’ passion for adventure with their desire for peace and serenity. As it has for nearly a century, Guana remains the original private island hideaway.

Guana Then & Now