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More sweet than bitter

Bitter End Yacht Club is ready to open its doors once again to the legion of guests who flocked here before the hurricanes. by Traci O’Dea

‘No storm of any category could extinguish the Bitter End spirit’

A phoenix rising from the destruction and devastation from hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as the global pandemic, Bitter End Yacht Club returns, much to the excitement of guests, whether they’re coming from across the world or across the Sound.

 

The original Bitter End Yacht Club was founded in the 1960s, purpose-built by sailors who wanted an outpost in the North Sound. In 1973, the resort was taken over by the Hokin family, who had initially just asked about the possibility of buying one acre for a seaside cottage, but ended up buying the whole place. They have privately owned and operated it since then. For 44 years, Bitter End prospered. The resort served as the ideal hub for kindred spirits to come together and chat about the sea. Olympic sailors, beer can racers, spectators, and celebrities have always been attracted to the resort for its unpretentious, welcoming vibe.

Hard times

In 2017, Bitter End Yacht Club was completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Kerri Jaffe, chief marketing officer at BEYC says: “We were a direct hit. Almost one hundred structures were destroyed within just a few hours.”

The destruction took over a year to clear, and then the family began rebuilding. “No storm of any category could extinguish the Bitter End spirit,” reports the BEYC website.

The attitude of “BVI stronger” has prevailed throughout the islands, and Bitter End is no exception. Photos and videos of Bitter End’s decimation were often used to show the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

“Seeing it come to life again, after the hurricanes and the pandemic, it’s a shining light after a time that’s been dark for people near and far. It’s rewarding for us and bolstering for the community,” Kerri comments.

Throughout the rebuild process, the resort retained several long-term crew members, often retraining them so that they could participate in the renovations.

“Our bartender Bacchus was trained to be an electrician for the rebuild, but he’ll be back behind the bar when we reopen,” Kerri mentions. Many former staff who did not stay on will be coming back to Bitter End.

“To many people, it is more than a job, it’s a second home,” Kerri says.

Community spirit

“We surveyed thousands of our guests, and the feedback we received was that it didn’t have to look the same, but it had to feel the same,” says Kerri.

Though it has the reputation as being the top water sports destination in the Caribbean, Bitter End never feels pretentious.

“It’s about the community,” Kerri says, “kindred spirits who come together locally and from all over the world.”

Whether you arrive by sea plane or dinghy, you will always be welcome at Bitter End, that is what makes the resort and marina one of the most popular in the world.

The new Bitter End is even better than before. The Nautical Village features a provisioning market with top-of-the-line products. The boutique showcases Bitter End’s own line of fashion and gear for sailing, swimming, surfing, or simply swanning around the resort.

Additionally, the new Bitter End now has five drinking and dining experiences to allow guests to have a variety of vibes–from fine dining to a salvaged boat beach bar. The Nautical Village will also have a kids’ club, outdoor movie theater, and of course, a world-class water sports facility for diving, paddle boarding, snorkeling, kite surfing, sailing, wind surfing, and more.

Water Lofts

The newest and most exciting additions to Bitter End Yacht Club are the over-water Marina Lofts. These gorgeous huts are truly designed for lovers of the sea.

“They’re magical,” Kerri says. “Two-storey lofts with stunning views over the water with two private decks–one which serves as a private dock–the Marina Lofts have been tailored for active adventurers who are called to the sea.”

The lofts are open to the sea breeze, and the two decks offer opportunities to relax and watch the sail boats come and go in the marina. Only two lofts are currently available, but there are plans to build three more. BVI residents who like a staycation at Bitter End need to book these lofts as soon as possible.

The Hokin family originally came to the BVI aboard a 72’ sailing trawler, and the importance of family vacations remains at the center of Bitter End.

Kerri says: “Bitter End has always been multigenerational. A place that family members pass on to their children and grandchildren. It’s a tradition that we want to continue for generations to come.”

Kerri tells me that many families met each other at Bitter End and now always vacation there together. These families are sure to be some of the first to reserve their vacations at the newly renovated resort.

The devastation of Hurricane Irma provided an opportunity for the family to reassess, rebuild, and reconnect with the community, and the Hokin family’s commitment to retaining the spirit of the resort has resulted in an even better Bitter End.

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