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Inside the British Virgin IslandsSeptember 23, 2011 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
|Up to 18 yachts, large and small, can now dock at Bitter End Yacht Club’s refitted Quarterdeck Marina.|
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is on a roll and plans to keep that momentum going. The destination has already reported a 3.5 percent increase in arrivals for January-May 2011 compared to the same period last year, and a number of new developments and improvements should help to enhance its standing with luxury travelers (including the yachting crowd), gourmets, oenophiles and repeat visitors.
In 2012, BVI will get some welcome exposure and an influx of travelers when it hosts the International Small Islands Studies Association’s “Islands of the World XII Conference,” a biennial global gathering. The event is a feather in the cap for the island group that has increasingly become a popular meetings venue for large companies as well as an incentive destination for their top producers.
Travel Agent looks at some of the other key developments in the BVI to help agents target-market it to key clients.
Marriott on Scrub Island
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina will join Marriott International’s Autograph Collection in early 2012. The luxury resort will be the first one in the Caribbean for this boutique brand, and Marriott’s first BVI property. Launched last year, the Autograph Collection is a group of unique independently operated hotels, each handpicked for its originality, character and uncommon details.
Scrub Island should fit right in with the Collection’s portfolio of resorts with its 67 guest rooms, suites and villas; a 60-slip marina; five restaurants and bars; three secluded white-sand beaches; a spa; and 7,000 square feet of meeting space, the largest in the BVI.
The new Quarterdeck Marina at Virgin Gorda’s Bitter End Yacht Club, the result of a major refit, can now accommodate up to 18 yachts, large and small, sail and power.
The new installation has wider slips, improved decking surfaces, enhanced skirting, upgraded power, and a better dockage layout. In addition to the new state-of-the-art marina facilities, shoreside amenities include several fine-dining establishments, extensive watersports options and a luxurious spa, all within the resort, which is one of the Caribbean’s top 10 destinations. The new marina facility was completed for a grand reopening on July 4.
Elite Island Resorts now pays a healthy 15 percent commission to travel agents for all stays booked at Long Bay Beach Resort & Villas. Bonus incentives include one free night for every seven nights booked and a $500 air credit for every 100 nights booked. Incentives are applicable to direct bookings for travel through December 20, 2012. There is a maximum seven free nights for group bookings of 10 rooms or more.
BVI VIP Club
The BVI VIP Club and VIP Airport Lounge are also excellent resources for visitors. The VIP Club was designed for the islands’ repeat visitors, who receive a membership card, an introductory booklet, a newsletter, and numerous discounts from BVI’s tourism partners and retailers throughout the islands, including numerous restaurants, hotels, airlines, car rental firms, sailing and diving schools, water suppliers and shops.
BVI VIP Club members also have access to the VIP Airport Lounge, which opened early last year at the Terrence B. Lettsome Airport on Beef Island. It boasts stylish furniture and elegant designs, and decorations depicting various aspects of the islands. Upon arrival, guests are treated to refreshments, while tourist board officials clear their luggage and expedite the immigration and customs procedure.
For Event Travelers
The BVI’s high culinary standards will be in evidence this November at the 4th annual Virgin Islands Winemakers Dinners, where the islands’ star chefs will team up with celebrity chefs from around the world, as well as with vintners from the best wine regions, to host a series of masterpiece dinners. At this weeklong event, award-winning winemakers share their favorite wines over five-course dinners, with each course prepared by a different chef. The dinners, held this year from November 16-20, are served at impressive restaurants and locations throughout the BVI. And, as if more reasons were needed to attend these extraordinary dinners, proceeds go to charitable organizations in the BVI that support local youth.
The 25th annual Pro-Am Regatta Week will take place from October 29-November 6. This famous regatta pits amateur sailors against world-class pros, from America’s Cup skippers to Olympic medalists and Around the World Race winners.
Neither previous sailing experience nor athleticism is necessary for the regatta, just a desire to learn and have fun. In addition to sailing, there is a non-sailing “lay day,” with a scheduled excursion to Anegada or Norman Island. Evenings offer cocktail parties, wine dinners, pub gatherings, Q&A sessions, functions and a gala awards banquet at the end of the week.
Bitter End Yacht Club also has a Pro-Am Vacation Package—a seven-night package for two starting at $3,273 that includes accommodations, three meals daily, a cocktail party, regatta party, snorkeling trips, sunset sails and a champagne cruise.
For the truly serious (and presumably well-heeled) yachting enthusiast, the second Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous will take place March 14–17, 2012 at the new Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) Marina in North Sound, Virgin Gorda.
|A master suite guest bedroom at Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina; the hotel is set to be Marriott International’s first BVI property.|