After losing more than 90 percent of its accommodations and attractions to hurricane damage last fall, the British Virgin Islands are making an impressive comeback just in time for 2019.
The island’s tourism board has just announced a sweeping slate of product enhancements, resort re-openings and expanded ferry and air service.
Among the noteworthy highlights, 75 percent of the territory’s marine berths and 37 percent of the land accommodation inventory will reopen by the end of 2018. That’s more than 1,000 rooms and 32,000 berths.
While hurricanes Irma and Maria were devastating for the British Virgin Islands, many properties and attractions used the aftermath of the storms as a chance to significantly upgrade their product, according to the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board & Film Commission.
In addition to the restoration of the marine berths, Tortola Pier Park has been renovated and is open for business. BVI is expecting more than 200 port calls and 400,000 passengers during the 2018-2019 season.
The islands have also regained full capacity in terms of airlift and ferry service, with some airlines expanding service between San Juan and Tortola.
“It’s been quite a year, but we are extremely pleased that so many of the British Virgin Islands’ premier resorts and hotels are now open for business,” said Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board & Film Commission.
“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. 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,” Flax-Brutus added.
Many resorts throughout the islands have reopened after comprehensive restorations. This includes Anegada Beach Club which launched brand new glamping accommodations earlier this year, Guana Island, which followed in August and recently reopened and expanded its organic farm with three more greenhouses, and Cooper Island Beach Club, which recently reopened for the season.
As for cruises, Disney Cruise Line made its return in early September and Norwegian Cruise Line followed in October.
Additional notable highlights include:
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina
Six spacious new villas are now available with three more to open in December. Although partial rooms and suites opened in early October, the entire inventory of 52 guestrooms and suites will be available at the end of December.
On October 19, Sir Richard Branson’s exclusive private island resort Necker Island reopened.
The ‘Great House’ has also expanded from nine rooms to eleven and the rebuilt ‘Bali High’ complex has an extended pool and outdoor lounge. Additionally, private plunge pools have been added to each individual house.
Oil Nut Bay
Starting in December, Oil Nut Bay began offering Bay Suites, stunning new one-bedroom accommodations with nightly availability, in addition to 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 guests the freedom to explore neighboring islands, embarking by boat or helicopter, with ease.
Just in time for holiday getaways, Eustatia Island is slated to reopen in December. The private island holds up to 16 guests and is famed for its water sports experiences, chef-prepared meals and natural wildlife.
Sugar Mill Hotel
The Tortola-based 24 room boutique hotel recently opened a brand-new beach restaurant and bar, Tramonti, at the end of their secluded beach.
Looking further into 2019, additional popular properties are slated to return to their former grandeur as well.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay, a luxury resort on Virgin Gorda, is set to reopen in late 2019. Additionally, Bitter End Yacht Club will open its marina in the spring of 2019, while its resort will come online in early 2020.
Celebrity Cruises is introducing a new ship this winter that will dock at Tortola on December 19 for its inaugural voyage.
The first in Celebrity Cruises’ new Edge Class of ships, Celebrity Edge was designed to leave the future behind. It has many unique features including a three-story venue called Eden that will feature an 18-foot wall of plants over a bar that uses ingredients from the plants in its drinks.
Airlift and Ferries
Located in Virgin Gorda, Taddy Bay Airport reopened for business November 2. Airlines including interCaribbean Airways have expanded service between San Juan and Tortola.
The Auguste George Airport located on Anegada is also open and anticipating expanded flights locally and internationally from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Island-to-island ferries are also back in full service. Through Anegada Express Ferry, visitors can now travel between Tortola and Anegada every day of the week.
Sensations Ferries and Water Taxi meanwhile, is a brand new ferry service operating between Road Town, Tortola and Virgin Gorda, with chartered water taxi service throughout the territory.
Not to be overlooked, New Horizon’s Ferry, which provides service between West End Tortola and Great Harbor Jost Van Dyke, has a brand new multi-deck, air-conditioned ferry with beach ramp access.
For those looking to offer their support to the BVI, the most vital way to help is by booking a trip and patronizing local hotels and businesses said the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board.
The board said it also intends to continue running its Seeds of Love program to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and other islands. Donations can be made here.
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