British Virgin Islands Bounce Back for 2019

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British Virgin Islands, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, renovations, Caribbean
Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Photo Credit: Matt Briney/Unsplash

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are making a comeback this winter after losing more than 90 percent of their accommodations and attractions last fall to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

An estimated 75 percent of the territory’s marine berths (3,200) and 37 percent (1,000 rooms) of its land-accommodation inventory are scheduled to open by the end of this year. Both sectors saw the destruction from the storms as a chance to renovate and upgrade their product, according to BVI Tourism Board & Film Commission.

Case in point: Tortola Pier Park, the island of Tortola’s port of call, was renovated and is now open for business. Disney Cruise Line returned to the island in early September, followed by Norwegian Cruise Line in October. And Celebrity Cruises will have an inaugural voyage for its new Celebrity Edge ship out of Tortola later this month.

As a result, the BVI expects more than 200 port calls and 400,000 passengers for the 2018-2019 season. The island is also at full capacity in regard to airlift and ferry service, and some airlines are even expanding service between Tortola and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“It is exciting to see that owners took advantage of this time to rebuild, enhancing and expanding their products to exceed our new and loyal visitors’ every expectation,” says Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism, British Virgin Islands Tourism Board & Film Commission. “The resilience of the community has played a vital role in recovery, and we expect to see our tourism numbers bounce back in 2019 as even more accommodations relaunch.”

As for resorts, Anegada Beach Club launched new glamping accommodations earlier this year; Guana Island reopened in August and recently expanded its organic farm with three more greenhouses; and Cooper Island Beach Club recently reopened for the season. Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina also reopened partially; that includes six new villas, followed by three more to open any day now, and its entire inventory of 52 rooms and suites will be available by month’s end.

Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island reopened on Oct. 19, and the private island resort’s Great House expanded from nine rooms to 11. It also rebuilt its Bali High complex, which now features an extended pool and outdoor lounge. Plus, private plunge pools have been added to each individual house. The similar Eustatia Island—known for its water sports, chef-prepared meals and natural wildlife—reopened this month for exclusive groups of up to 16.

Starting this month, Oil Nut Bay will offer Bay Suites, which are new one-bedroom accommodations as well as a marina village offering 93 slips allowing yachts up to 131 feet. The resort’s helipad, which facilitates air arrivals along with the new facilities, will now give small groups the freedom to explore neighboring islands, embarking by boat or helicopter, with ease. Lastly, the 24-room Sugar Mill Hotel reopened earlier this month as well, featuring a brand-new beach restaurant and bar, Tramonti, located at the end of the property’s secluded beach.

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