Letter from the Virgin Islands
Ritzy Charters has just returned from the Virgin Islands where we attended the two November boat shows in the BVI and USVI.
As a broker, passionate about the Caribbean Islands it was an eye-opening, in part heart-wrenching yet in equal part heart-soaring experience. There is no doubt that the effects of two ferocious Category 5 hurricanes can be seen on these beautiful islands. You must be aware of this - however, it is very far from the sad scene of devastation and degeneration news reports has been promoting. Yes, there are parts I wouldn't want you to see on your vacation, but the crews know where these are now - there is no need to take you there but this does not mean you will be ‘missing’ from your trip. I am now 100% confident that we have a fabulous itinerary for you whether you are thinking of traveling this festive season or in 2018, more on this later...
The first thing that shocked me was the green of the islands when I landed in St Thomas, the view from the air astounded me. There is no denying it nature has bounced back with a vengeance. The hillsides are green, and the waters sparkle aquamarine, turquoise and blue again; island flowers are blossoming and reefs, for the most part, are abundant. The provisioning shops are stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, and the groceries we were all nervous may not be there are stacked high. The locals are brimming with positivity and hope, their island smiles are wider than ever-surprising after what they have gone through - but they know they can return even stronger, but they do need our help.
There is no doubt that the main hubs of central St Thomas and Tortola are not what they were last season, they will take time to rebuild, especially the bigger hotels. Good news is they are working quickly - I could not believe the pace of recovery displayed at the Yacht Haven Grande Marina in St Thomas - I had seen pictures just a week before the show of a rather battered place with badly destroyed docks and several yachts in bad shape - a week after these pictures I was strolling across the spic-and-span walkways where you could almost forget the hurricanes had passed – there were bars and restaurants open, Wi-Fi running and even cruise ships in the distance. It was back to business. The pace of recovery shown here was astounding.
However, my clients have never spent long on main Tortola or St Thomas - it's the smaller islands and charter waters that I was really interested in seeing - especially as I had heard positive rumors that it would be like the 'old style' Caribbean of 20 years ago - and you know what, they were right. I do want you to be aware that to travel to the many still pristine beaches, rum shacks and lobster BBQ's, you will inevitably pass evidence of the hurricane's fury - destroyed structures, damaged yachts, hurricane’s devastation. However, I honestly don’t think this will take away from your experience - it will change it, but I think it may enrich it. The spirit and color of the islands left me speechless. Don't forget you can even take a few hours to join in with the clean-up if you wish - we can speak to your crew and add a little 'voluntourism' into your charter. Totally optional of course...
Lastly, I want to talk about the crews and the yachts themselves. It is the crews that give me the confidence to write this letter, and I trust them explicitly after meeting with them for lectures, seminars, and of course one on one chats. I was amazed by the level of commitment to staying in the Virgin Islands (not relocating to other parts of the Caribbean), and confidence that they are going to give you not only a great charter but your BEST charter. Some crews I met told me their owners have invested a considerable sum into the onboard experience for guests as they know your experience onboard is key. Food was a highlight of the show, I had the pleasure of dining with many of the crews – I was astounded, even in November everything was provisioned on the islands. Do check out our Instagram for pictures
The most important thing to note is these crews are utmost professionals and all have been working together compiling reports from charters that have happened already this season and sharing the knowledge. The recovery of the islands and their main industry is a united effort - another positive outcome of the hurricanes, it has brought an already close industry even closer…
Please if you have any questions reach out – I am always happy to discuss what I saw in an honest and unbiased way - at the end of the day, we want our clients to have happy and unforgettable experiences. We understand after the varied and much-misguided news reports it is difficult to get a true picture, added to that things are changing at such a pace it is hard to keep track but I am in contact with many crews on a daily basis and can update you as and when on specific islands, bars, restaurants, snorkeling spots, etc... Our philosophy is always to keep communication flowing so you are excited about your vacation from the second you step on the plane, with only the very best of surprises when you step off.