Will the Caribbean Virgin Islands be Ready for Visitors?
It feels strange to say that the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands have not been open to visitors for the month of October. The area is still assessing the overall infrastructure as well as repairing the charter yachts & marinas. We’re happy to report that things are progressing, the photos of the regrowth of the landscape are astounding and the community island spirit is as strong as ever!
Photo Credit: Donna Romasco
While several Virgin Islands based airports are currently open, the date for the beginning of the season has been moved to November 1st. We as yacht charter vacation brokers will be among some of the first in the yachting sector to be welcomed at Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola, British Virgin Islands beginning November 5th. The BVI Charter Yacht Society Boat Show gives us, as professional CYBA yacht charter brokers, an opportunity to view the yachts that sail the beautiful turquoise waters as well as experience the level of service our guests enjoy while in the Virgin Islands.
Local writer Carol Bareuther commented this week, “The resilience of Caribbean’s crewed charter yacht industry is inherent in its nature. Yachts are self-contained, with their own crews, generators, air conditioning, gourmet cuisine, water toys and much more.”
With a largely intact charter fleet returning to the VI Professional Charter Association, based in St. Thomas, USVI will begin their showing of charter vacation yachts on November 11th.
In total, there will be over 70 yachts for us to view and new crews to meet over the course of 9 days in the BVI & USVI. We’ll share our perception of the recovery efforts on both sides of the Virgin Islands. Actually, we’re quite amazed at the number of new yachts arriving in time for the shows for the our niche in the travel industry to see!
As discussions with transportation partners continue, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism reports JetBlue Airways has resumed commercial service to the Territory. This service is in addition to American Airlines operations at both the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix, as well as Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines service to and from St. Thomas. Inter-island flights by Air Sunshine, Cape Air and Seaborne Airlines are also operational. Conditions are improving, airline schedules are normalizing.
"We are working closely with our airline partners to ensure there are commercial flight services to meet the needs of our residents, businesses, visitors and the numerous professionals who are supporting the hurricane recovery," said U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. "We will continue to advocate for expanded service as more of our hotel properties reopen and demand begins to grow in the marketplace," she said. Similarly, shops, restaurants and attractions are ready to welcome customers in St. Thomas. The downtown Charlotte Amalie shopping area, including businesses on Main Street and at Havensight Mall, is ready to open, with power and water already restored. On St. John, efforts are ongoing to clear debris, restore infrastructure and reopen the Virgin Islands National Park.
Sharon Flax Brutus, BVI Director of Tourism for the “Still beautiful British Virgin Islands - and Still Nature’s Little Secrets” recently commented, “We recognize that some of our islands will rebound faster than others. Anegada, the drowned island, was spared the brunt of the storms’ ravages and we anticipate that Anegada will be ready to receive guests at some of their properties beginning November 1, 2017. To this end we will host the Anegada Lobster Festival as scheduled on November 25th and 26th.
There was minimal damage to our cruise pier in Tortola, however there was damage to our new facility the Tortola Pier Park which houses many ethnic shops, jewelry stores, a vibrant food culture, an art gallery and even a cigar bar. We anticipate that our pier as well as the Tortola Pier Park will be ready to receive cruise passengers in November once the cruise industry conducts their inspections which are slated to begin late October. Our National Parks Trust is working assiduously on our parks namely The Baths in Virgin Gorda as well as Sage Mountain and the Botanical Gardens in Tortola to ensure that guests are greeted with natural attractions that meet their expectations.
Virgin Gorda, the crown jewel of BVI tourism and known for its luxury accommodations and vibrant culinary scene will focus on its small properties and restaurants and will be ready to receive guests also in November. Luxury properties such as Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Necker Island, Eustatia, Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock and other famed luxury villas sustained major damage which will require extensive work. As soon as reopening dates are available they will be shared. Jost Van Dyke, Home of the PainKiller and beautiful White Bay has started its rebuilding process with some of the establishments on White Bay already open for business.
Our private island resorts namely Peter Island Resort & Spa, Scrub Island Resort, Cooper Island and Guana Island are all rushing to complete assessments so they can begin the road back to a luxury vacation experience.
As we work to rebuild our beautiful British Virgin Islands, it remains a beautiful place. Our beaches and sunsets continue to be the ones that dreams are made of. We anticipate launching a new and exciting campaign in the months ahead, but before that, we will launch a new microsite on bvitourism.com to keep our guests and partners updated on our recovery efforts.
We remain grateful that the people of the BVI are a resilient and resourceful group and our tourism industry will rebound and will be rebuilt to exacting standards where we maintain our charm, our authenticity and our attention to a curated guest experience. Our government and by extension The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board is working with our stakeholders as well as other government agencies to fast track building permissions as well as Hotel Aid Applications. Special concessions have been granted on building materials as well as FFE (furniture, fixtures and equipment) to allow tourism partners to reinvigorate their products. A Small Business Loan Program has also been setup through The Trade Department to facilitate small businesses who were devastated by the storm. Additional concessions are being granted by our Labor Department to allow for skilled workers in the building trades as well as relief workers to assist in the rebuilding effort.
We are thankful and appreciative to friends of The BVI who have mobilized and sent aid to our islands. We urge them to continue their assistance. I also want to thank our fellow Caribbean people for their unwavering support during this time…We are stronger together. From ONE BVI to ONE Caribbean.
We remain energized that BVI tourism will rebound, and we will continue to offer an unparalleled experience - one that is personalized and continues to exceed expectations in terms of its product, natural beauty, and the luxurious experience that focuses on service, friendliness, authenticity and safety.”
Our clients here at Yacht Charters Guru have been absolutely wonderful! We’re doing our best to keep everyone informed of the updates. So much has been accomplished in the month after the hurricanes.
Think of this time period as being a throw back to the days of simpler island life. When we first met Foxy in Jost Van Dyke in 1990, his bar was a simple thatched roof over a concrete pad. He was sitting barefoot on his stool and singing his songs. And we had the time of our lives! Here we are a month later after a record setting hurricane season, and he is doing the same thing today.
Those simple, but well loved experiences in the Virgin Islands are what led us to sell everything we owned and buy a charter yacht in the Caribbean! We feel certain that this upcoming season will be a success filled with the smiling faces of the people of the Virgin Islands, welcoming you to their little piece of paradise! Capt. Randy & Shelly Tucker
We're former Owners & Captain of the Award-winning 72' yacht Three Moons for 18 years. With over 300 charters in our logbook, we currently represent privately crewed Caribbean sailing luxury yacht charters as professional CYBA yacht charter brokers. Recently, we interviewed over 120 catamarans, motor yachts, sailboats and professional crews. We're happy to promote these yachts offering modern conveniences & unlimited pleasure while sailing the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands.
What should you expect from a luxury crewed yacht charter in the Caribbean? It's "ALL about you, ALL the time" onboard a privately crewed charter boat! It's surprisingly affordable too! Far away from overcrowded cruise ships, all-inclusive charter yachts allow you to explore some of the Caribbean’s most exclusive areas and delight in the natural, unspoiled beauty of secluded islands, hidden coves and secret dive sites. Sail to a nearby island every day & snorkel around your own private beaches; enjoy your favorite cocktail while watching the sunset on your own private yacht; indulge yourself with 5-star gourmet cuisine that is prepared with Caribbean flair and served in the most beautiful surroundings you could ever imagine. We love matching the right crew & yacht with you!