BVI: Beauty on the Water

This has been a banner year for the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which has won more than its fair share of accolades for what simply comes naturally for this jaw-dropping beautiful destination boasting 60 islands filled with pristine white sands and surrounded by clear waters.

In July, U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 Best Travel Rankings placed BVI among the “Most Relaxing Beaches” and one of the “Best Caribbean Vacations.” In June 2011, BVI ranked among the World’s Top 20 Honeymoon Destinations by Brides magazine as voted on by Signature Travel Network agents. On the food front, the BVI National Culinary Team won five gold medals, plus one silver and three bronze medals in the Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition that same month.

More accolades came this September, when BVI was ranked as the number 1 country for quality of life in the Caribbean and Central America by fDi Intelligence, a division of the Financial Times of London. It was also named among the top 10 “Caribbean & Central American Countries of the Future 2011/12” by the group. And its, “soul…delivered every day through friendly and welcoming people who know they live in paradise and enjoy sharing it with visitors,” is one of the many reasons Perla George, general manager, North America marketing & operations, The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, believes the destination has made it to our Editor’s Hot List issue.

John Glynn, v.p. of North American sales for the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda, agrees that it is “…the mixing of the environment with the people, both the local/indigenous population, and the visitors (both resort guest and boat visitor)” that makes BVI so special. “The local population is very friendly and warm,” he continues. “They have an honest and sincere way about them that puts all visitors at ease. But the very cool aspect is that everyone in the BVI shares a common love: a love of things ‘in, on, and around the water.’ It’s a love shared by billionaires on their 200+ ft. yachts, by young kiteboarders, by charter cruisers, by avid scuba-divers and snorkelers, and beachcombing enthusiasts.”

Glynn describes the 85-room Bitter End as a “toes in the sand” resort and the “ideal watersports playground.” This year saw the resort making investments in its marina to cater further to its yacht visitor crowd. All guests can enjoy the complimentary fleet of watercraft, an onsite sailing school, two restaurants, a full-service spa, pool, shops and three private beaches.

In 2012, the resort will introduce a new accommodation type to cater to its continued growth with multi-generational family groups and create a “family compound.” The new “accommodation caters to the needs of grand matriarchs/grand patriarchs who wish to have a private common area to host up to 20 of their off-spring for social gatherings,” says Glynn.

Colette Baruth, v.p., product strategy for GOGO Worldwide Vacations, says that the BVI’s popularity is linked to many factors including sailing and boating, but also its pristine beaches for sunbathers and scenery on-island and beneath the waters. Another big draw for GOGO customers is the world-class luxury products that are offered in Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Scrub Island and Peter Island, she adds.

wellness retreats In fact, on Virgin Gorda, GOGO’s top seller is Rosewood Little Dix Bay, which sits on a crescent-shaped beach. It has 100 guest accommodations set into the landscape of the property and just steps from the sand. Activities include diving, snorkeling, watersports, hiking, tennis and time at the beach. There are three restaurants, a spa and children’s center. This year the resort launched Wellness Retreats at Rosewood Little Dix Bay, which were so successful that the property will continue them in 2012.

Retreats in January and June will be with New York City-based instructor Johnny Anzalone and in April or November, it is New York City fitness professional, Frank Baptiste who will lead the way. The Wellness Retreats include four nights accommodation; two yoga or fitness classes per day; breakfast and dinner daily; roundtrip airport transfers from Tortola; and one massage pp. Guests also receive a welcome amenity and take home healthy recipes and fitness tips to continue their good work. Wellness Retreatrates start at $3,308 for two people.