A March 2005 trip
to Virgin Gorda by GreenMermaid
Quote: The Bitter End Yacht Club is an all-inclusive resort desiged for active sailors who want to take advantage of all that the British Virgin Islands have to offer. The beautiful setting and gorgeous views from all rooms were ideal for relaxing at the end of an activity-packed day.
Taking advantage of all that the resort had to offer, we opted for the yacht-villa combo, which allowed us to try out both shoreside accommotions and charter a Freedom 30 sailboat.
We flew into St. Thomas after a connecting flight through Atlanta from West Palm Beach, and from there we took 1)a taxi to the ferry dock, 2)a ferry to Tortola, 3) another taxi to Beef Island airport, and 4) another ferry to Bitter End at Virgin Gorda. The return journey was worse, as it was a Sunday and we had to transfer to yet another ferry on Tortola, the "Bomba Charger" -- a converted fishing boat which had used airplane seats for inside seating. We rafted up to this ferry for the transfer, and they tossed luggage from one boat to be piled atop the other's bow. I thought, "Okay, whose suitcase is going overboard?" It is indeed an adventure traveling around the islands.
Probably best to avoid traveling on a Sunday, as fewer ferries are running.
We had the "honeymoon" package – just like the Admirals package, which is the same price and includes everything on the resort -- but additionally included a sunset photograph (which we enjoyed posing for and were not pressured to buy additional photos), as well as a fridge full of champagne, OJ, and soft drinks. It certainly made for a nice welcome on our first trip to the resort.
The next 2 nights were spent on the Freedom 30 sailboat, exploring the islands (see "Sailing" entry). After staying on a rolly boat for 2 nights, it was felt like absolute luxury to sleep in a bed and take a real shower.
Our last accommodation at the resort was one of the beachfront villas. This was by far our best, and the one I would highly recommend. We had one of the newly renovated units, painted with bright colors and filled with decorative and functional items. Nice patio furniture on the wraparound porch and a hammock enticed you to hang out outside to drink in the view, although you could see it from any point in the room. You could even look out at the ocean as you showered.
At night, dim lights just barely illuminated the stairs and walkways along the beach, creating a romantic ambience and not interfering with the curtain of stars overhead.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 11, 2005
Bitter End Yacht Club
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The meals in the main restaurant alternated between regular order-off-the-menu dinners inside and sumptuous buffets served outside on the adjoining Almond Walk by the beach lit with tiki torches. They must have known it was our honeymoon, because every night the staff seated us by or overlooking the water without our having to ask. The food was good, although the only dish that truly stood out was the grilled lobster (you have to pay a little extra, but it is so worth it). Being from Florida, we are used to Caribbean lobster, but I had never had a whole one (not just the tail) sliced in half and grilled. And it was huge! Note: Even if you get an all-inclusive package, you still get a check to sign after your dinner. This is not added onto your bill, so don’t fear looking at that amount that you’re "paying." You also do not have to add a gratuity, since you already paid it with your all-inclusive package.
One evening we had dinner at one restaurant on the resort that is only open once a week (odd, but whatever). Although the food was similar to what was served in the other restaurant, the setting and service seemed especially elegant. And the setting was different: rather than being at water level, directly by the beach, we were higher up the hill and overlooking the anchorage on the other side of the resort. It was also an open-air building, and we were seated directly on the edge, with the best view: big yachts that lit up as the night fell. Incredibly romantic!
Clubhouse, Almond Walk, and the Carvery
Attraction | "Sailing"
However, our 3-day trip on this 30-foot sailboat was by far the biggest part of our adventure. Since food is included as part of our on-land accommodations, so was provisioning for the sea portion of our trip. The resort staff gave us free reign in the marina store to get whatever provisions we wanted (of course, we snatched up four lobster tails in addition to brie, steaks, fresh veggies, and fruit).
We were a bit disappointed with the condition of the boat. Although all of the sails and rigging were in good shape and she sailed wonderfully, the creature comforts of the boat left something to be desired. The bimini was tenuously held on with hree crusty straps (and had to be put down to barbeque or when hoisting the main sail). The v-berth was too small for two people (hey, this was our honeymoon!) and the aft cabin smelled like diesel. All combined with the creaks and clangs that came with an older boat (and we realized that no anchorage was fully protected from some ocean swells) made for very uncomfortable sleeping. At least there were no bugs! Also, there was no navigational equipment: no depth finder, binoculars, GPS, or hand-held compass. And no cruising guides. We had to ask for a chart. If you sail, be sure to bring your own stuff!!
Sailing the 3 days was spectacular, and as long as we were able to find mooring buoys, it was easy and convenient to find a place for the night. And it was cool finding ourselves at secluded islands that also had a restaurant, bar, and boutique! Of course, we insisted on cooking our own dinners on the charcoal barbeque provided, but did go ashore in our dinghy for dessert. The dinghy with outboard came with the sailboat package, and was very handy and fun.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 11, 2005
Attraction | "Hobie Cat Tour"
Here was the advantage: anyone can take the free Hobie Cats within the restricted confines of North Sound, but with this tour, we were able to go through a break in Eustacia Reef and sail all around Necker Island. Our "tour guide," a young sailing instructor, drove a Boston Whaler and herded us like ducklings in the right direction, supplying us with whatever drinks we wanted (water, soda, beer, and champagne) along the way. We met up on Prickly Pear Island for lunch. It was fabulous getting outside the protection of islands and into the "open" ocean, yet with the security of our guide. It was definitely worth the extra money!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 11, 2005
It is not for the meek or out-of-shape. BRING A BOTTLE OF WATER AND A HAT. It is hot up there, and the exertion takes a lot out of you. Also, go early in the morning, before it is too hot. Bring your camera – there are incredible views of the small islands around and that amazing blue-green water.
Wear your bathing suit under your clothes -- the trail descends to the pool, a welcomed refreshment!
North Palm Beach, Florida