The joys of staycation
- June 25th, 2021
- in Lifestyle
There are so many wonderful places for stay-at-home holidays in the BVI. Guavaberry Spring Bay vacation homes is one of them, as April Glasgow explains.
‘I think it’s quite magical. It’s going back to nature, tucked in amongst the trees and boulders, it’s an enchanting experience that allows you to rewind’ Tina Goschler.
#HealthyAtHome and #StayHome were two popular campaign hashtags during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. And many people did just that. So, it’s no surprise that the global tourism industry took a major hit. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic: its impacting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities across the world.
On the bright side, the pandemic caused new global travel trends to emerge, like the staycation, as confirmed by a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council which states: “Traveller preferences and behaviour has shifted toward the familiar, predictable, and trusted. Domestic and regional vacations and the outdoors will reign in the short-term, with tourism businesses and destinations already adapting.”
BVI, like all other destinations, is seeing its industry stakeholders come up with creative ways to encourage residents to staycation … or take a vacation at home.
Even before COVID-19, in 2004, the BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) launched “Experience Your BVI”, a staycation programme to generate business for industry partners during the slower summer months. This initiative was later rebranded the “BVI Staycation Programme” in 2009, and has since gained momentum since April 2020, when many were forced to cancel vacations abroad and explore their own “backyards”.
“Many residents are still a bit reluctant to travel and prefer to vacation in their own backyard and are staying close to home for now,” observes BVITB regional marketing manager RaeNisia Scatliffe, who now leads the programme.
Director of tourism Clive McCoy remarked: “Staycations are an excellent opportunity for residents to see the BVI through the lens of a tourist and to explore your home and support our tourism industry. It also provides an opportunity for people to become our most valuable marketing tool because the expectation is that they will be able to promote their experience with anyone.”
Scatliffe says the staycation programme has become embedded in the industry.
“It is here to stay. It’s embedded. Staycations are trendy. Many residents began taking them last summer and are planning to take staycations again this summer and at Christmas time.”
The marketing manager explains that the partners who signed up with the programme are offering value-added offers. The current staycation partners, totalling 70 businesses, include small properties, hotels, resorts, charter companies, shops, restaurants, spas and car rentals, in addition to outdoors themed businesses that provide services like picnics and water sports.
In addition to affordable rates, Scatliffe says staycations are less stressful when it comes to planning, they support the local economy, and they provide opportunities for residents to learn about what BVI has to offer and in turn become brand ambassadors.
To be included in the staycation programme, industry stakeholders are asked to share their packages and rates with the BVITB, which the agency then promotes with the wider BVI public.
One such partner, Guavaberry Spring Spring Bay vacation homes, have been a staycation partner for a number of years.
Guavaberry Spring Bay vacation homes is a 20-acre garden estate and beach retreat located on Virgin Gorda. Lush, beautiful gardens complement the property’s 20 circular-shaped guest houses, built to encourage the flow of the cool tropical breezes. It’s a charming, inviting property, quite opposite to the “busyness” that is sometimes attached to a resort stay.
Guavaberry Spring Bay exudes down-to-earth splendour and home-away-from-home comfort. Paired with stunning views in a unique location, you simply do not get properties like Guavaberry Spring Bay anymore.
Each of the immaculate and spacious houses on the estate are named after local fruits and flowers, like guavaberry and allamanda, which are also planted on the property. Virgin Gorda is known for its boulders and some of the homes even have decks which incorporate them into their structures. In addition to their own homes, Guavaberry Spring Bay manages a number of unique deluxe villas nearby. Ranging from one to five bedrooms, some boast beach access or their own pools.
Guests can enjoy relaxation at any of the homes; it’s your choice whether you take a quick walk to Spring Bay beach or take in the spectacular views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel from the deck of your house. The sunsets from either are breathtaking.
Guests are treated like family, made to feel at home and at peace. Some guests have been returning for decades and could regale you with stories of Virgin Gorda from as far back as 1969 when Guavaberry opened. Originally started by Charles and Betty Roy, it is now run by their daughter Tina Goschler and the third generation—granddaughter Michelle and grandson Ian.
Visitors looking for a private getaway will enjoy Guavaberry Spring Bay’s amenities like WiFi, laundry service, housekeeping and on-site commissary, run on an honour system where guests pick what they like, write it down, and pay upon departure. Because guests are treated like family.
Personalised guest services have expanded over the years to include bookings for personal chefs and decor for a romantic couple’s stay or small private event. Each house comes with full kitchens and outdoor grills, which all the guests take full advantage of, says Goschler.
For those wishing to take a break from cooking, there are plenty of excellent restaurants close by.
While rates vary depending on the desired house and season, local staycationers are encouraged to take advantage of packages as low as $175 per night.
Families, couples, nature lovers, adventurers
Michelle says she can customise getaways for guests’ specific needs. Families can request cribs, high-chairs, toys, books, board games or even patio rails to safeguard young children. Need a night out? Guavaberry can help with everything from booking the dinner reservations and babysitter, to making sure you have a taxi to take you safely to and from your special evening. Couples who wish to stay in can take advantage of meal delivery … or even an in-room masseuse.
For the nature lovers, snorkel gear can be rented from the property to explore Spring Bay, or The Baths nearby. Many guests find they are the only ones there some days, and relish in the fact they had their very own “private beach” for a day. Guests can also tour the serene gardens while they take their morning walk.
Adventurers may enjoy bouldering, which involves climbing the large boulders of the property. Crash pads can be found at the front desk alongside a copy of Guide to Bouldering and Traveling in the Virgin Islands by Rich Crowder, a former guest.
Many staycationers will also become reacquainted with Virgin Gorda and discover things they might not have paid attention to before, says Goschler. She mentions that visitors from Tortola, in particular, have the advantage of bringing their own cars over via the barge to explore the island in the comfort of a familiar vehicle.
The photographer’s (or selfie lover’s) dream
While the entire property is beautifully designed and meticulously maintained, there are specific areas where guests are inspired to take photographs. The lush lawns of the Guavaberry Ghut (located at the upper end of the property) are ideal for shots of the family and children at play. One particular plant, the night-blooming cereus, is not much to look at during the day, but at night has large, perfumed white flowers that can bloom as large as nine inches in diameter, and would be most interesting for the experienced nature photographer’s lens. Stay in April and May to see these in all their glory.
The boulders make for a dramatic backdrop for any model, be it grandpa or a young couple. Spring Bay beach itself has a number of “selfie spaces”, including under the tamarind tree, laying in the white sand, or while bathing in the crystal blue sea (with a waterproof phone or camera of course). Don’t forget to catch the sunset from your deck.
Why book a stay at Guavaberry Spring Bay?
Says Goschler: “The rates are good, we’re close to the village, close to the beaches, service is great —you get us!”
Michelle adds, with a smile:
“Plus you’re in the most beautiful, natural setting and it’s unique.”
“I think it’s quite magical. It’s going back to nature, tucked in amongst the trees and boulders, it’s an enchanting experience that allows you to rewind a bit, while staying at a ‘home away from home’. You really do come over to Guavaberry Spring Bay to decompress, to step away from it all.”
Goschler also encourages staycationers to come visit Virgin Gorda while things are not as busy, and guests can enjoy some privacy and really enjoy the beaches.
The images and descriptions will help guests decide which house or villa is ideal for them, however, as Goschler puts it: “You really can’t describe Guavaberry Spring Bay, it’s a place you really have to experience.”