BVI’s: Simply brill
Our World | On 28, Jun 2011
In our business, we are privileged to get to travel the world visiting some brilliant places, meeting brilliant people and having brilliant times. Having recently returned from a truly standout trip away, I thought I’d list down some of the keywords that would best sum it up for me , here goes then:
Fantastic, exclusive, different, Caribbean, memorable (actually, make that unforgettable), luxurious, nautical, fun, cocktails, music, beautiful, fun, cocktails.
Get the picture? Good – now, to reveal the object of my lyrical waxing… I give you (drum roll please)… The British Virgin Islands.
Or, to be more precise, being sailed around them on a half million dollar uber-luxury crewed catamaran (just writing the words makes me want to go and do it all again right now).
Admittedly, it’s a long way but they do say no pain, no gain. As the journey is long and the destination exclusive, you (thankfully in my opinion) avoid the mass-market hordes attracted these days to the “gateway” islands such Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia, to name but three.
I flew on BA from Gatwick to Antigua, where we changed onto a local LIAT airlines flight with one stop en route to Tortola, the main island of the BVIs. On the way home, there were two stops back to Antigua and a long wait there to boot. However, with aircraft of up to 50 seats, it makes sense to charter from LIAT for suitably sized groups, meaning you can do the journey nonstop (in about an hour) and fly at times to suit you.
Yes, it took us 15 hours plus from check-in at Gatwick to our arrival at the quaintly named Beef Island airport, but when your agenda thereafter is chilling out on the catamaran, snorkelling in crystal clear turquoise waters, enjoying fine food and drink on board and frequenting lively beach bars on the softest white sand beaches, working your way through their cocktail menus – well, I’m sorry but that’s not what I call a busy itinerary. And if you can’t recover from a long journey after a day or two of that, there’s really not a lot of hope for you…
The catamarans (which all appear brand new) are sensational. There were four air conditioned cabins on ours, with one used by the crew who, for obvious reasons, tend to be couples.
The general rule of thumb is the skipper sails the boat while the hostess works in the small but perfectly formed galley to produce meals that make you forget where you are. However, they do work very much as a team and share tasks between them. Our crew was South African, young, friendly, hospitable, experienced. There I go with those keywords again, sorry.
The cosy cabins feature genuine double beds, air con, en suite facilities, AC power and storage space, albeit limited. If you go, don’t take much luggage and hold-alls are best as they can be stored flat when emptied. Large rigid cases are totally unnecessary. After all, I guarantee you will wear t-shirts (maybe) and shorts or swimmers (hopefully) on board and that’s it. Oh, and plenty of high factor sun cream. The combination of intense sunshine, reflecting off the sea and boat, and a cooling breeze can catch out the unwary. Just ask my colleagues!
Most nights (minimum 3 for a charter really, best 4 or even 5 if the budget can stretch) you dine on board. The board basis is all inclusive so you want a beer, you have a beer. Or a G&T. Or a Daiquiri. And so on.
In most places where you overnight, normally attached to mooring buoys, there’s some sort of beach bar that you can get ferried to, and from, by your skipper. Excellent for getting larger groups together at least once per day.
One evening and overnight is normally spent at the superbly named Bitter End Yacht Club, and a pair of chinos and collared shirt really is as formal as you need to be. From there, you can glimpse a view of Sir Richard Branson’s Neckar Island. From starting a mail-order music business in a public phone box to that and a knighthood – not bad, the boy made good.
This is not your average incentive. But if you fancy a totally different, totally amazing barefoot experience and you’ve done, or don’t fancy, your average incentive, sailing the BVIs really could be for you.
Just one small favour, can I come too please?