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Anegada Beach Club

There are few places on earth that compare to the island of Anegada. When I originally heard of a development in Anegada, I couldn’t fathom that the sunken island that many visit and love could be subjected to the task. Meet Doug Riegels, entrepreneur and islander. For Doug the same sentiments of Anegada are shared, and with a passion for development with containment, he is beginning to realize a unique development in the truest sense of the word.

  Photos by Chris Osman

Keel Point has ten acres and 800 feet of waterfront. Beyond being just a measurement, the waterfront is white sand beach untouched and protected by berms and an outer reef. That’s 800 feet of privacy. I am a watersports enthusiast, so my read of the beach is an entirely selfish approach. I walk with Doug along a sandy path to the beach through the indigenous plants that he intends not to clear or touch. I see flat water, a safe snorkeling area and a side shore wind that travels out to breaking swells. I am in watersports heaven, and I am 40 minutes away from my home island by boat and 20 minutes from the nearest airstrip.

We walk up the beach where Doug talks to me of conservation and the need to protect the berms where if  protective grass is stripped from the dunes for aesthetic reasons; those properties could slowly sink into the sea. Consider Anegada island nature in its purist form. It’s windier, hotter and wilder, and the fish are bigger as are the iguanas, flamingos and cows that inhabit the island. Given the feel of the island, the project has not much to go but boundless experiences to enjoy.

Currently, the former Sands Hotel has 16 rooms that are about to be overhauled, refurbished and brought up to modern standards of comfort with a distinct consideration of the environment. This is Doug’s flavour. As a developer, he considers himself a steward of the land. As a landscape architect, he deems every inch of foliage an asset. As a BVIslander, he clearly maintains a sense of pride. In addition to the hotel and fresh-water poolside bar, raised two- to three-bedroom eco-villas are to be constructed on four-foot stilts to ensure minimal impact on the pristine surroundings.  “That’s about as high as we want to go out here,” Doug says and adds, “The biggest tree on Anegada is about fifteen feet, and we don’t want to tower over anything.”

On the sea approach from Tortola or North Sound on any craft, the islands disappear behind, and quietly Anegada appears as though a mirage at first. Every visit is a discovery. That is the experience the Anegada Beach Club offers. Plans are for a unique outdoor restaurant whereby island methods of cooking will be brought to guests savoring the local flavor, predominantly seafood from its surrounding reefs. Old techniques of cooking over lava rocks and using ground spices will be on offer.

As to the properties themselves, Doug explains how his original ideas and designs came about when he was finishing up work in Arizona and on his way back with his family to settle again in the British Virgin Islands. “We see and anticipate an opportunity here. That’s our business philosophy: to cater for everyone. That means if I employ ten people, I need to consider ten people whose lives need catering to. From education to housing, happy workers mean good service and happy guests. I wouldn’t want anyone to enjoy a place where the staff is not happy. We consider everything. We think outside the box, and we know every side of the box before we have started to go outside of it.”

When Doug bought the property from Watson White, legendary builder of the Anegada sloops, he also inherited a few items— one of them being the last sloop in progress, which is intended to be on display. We also looked at old spit-fire propellers, a ground out trunk used for grinding corn and some of the biggest sea grape trees I have ever seen. “There is a lot to do, but It is just management,” Doug says as we tour the property. “Everything we need to share the experience is already here. We consider ourselves very lucky and about to offer a unique experience.”

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I ask Doug about the name Anegada Beach Club. Sensing my direction, he reassures me this is not a place adorned with beach toys and staff running around with drink trays.  “This is a place that is not intended to be exclusive. It is everything we love about the islands, but here in its purest form. This is Anegada, and that is the backdrop. The synergy of comfort and modern luxury will give offer everyone from Tortola to Texas the assurance that doing nothing and soaking up the island energy is the vacation to unwind and re-energize.” As we speed away from Anegada, I already want to return as I always do, and as it fades into the background, I take one more look back, and it is gone as Virgin Gorda comes into view. Lights and buildings appear upon hillsides, and I plan my next trip back to the mirage of the wild island.

For more information on Anegada Beach Club, please contact Doug Riegels at Mosaka Ventures.

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