For many, a trip to this remote and beautiful location is a chance to get away from the hullabaloo of their daily lives – kick back and relax and spend time honing a tawny bronze. I gave up on tanning a long time ago. Instead, I was there to see what was new at Biras Creek – and there's a lot.
David Johnson, a Michigan real estate developer, purchased Biras Creek in 2008, shortly after his acquisition of 400 acres on neighboring Oil Nut Bay. Biras Creek, which had been built in 1974 by the owners of a Swedish shipping company, was one of a small and exclusive number of luxury resorts built in the BVI at that time. Along with Little Dix Bay Hotel in Virgin Gorda's Valley and the Peter Island Resort, Biras Creek helped launch the territory's fledgling tourism economy and bolster its image as a high end tourist destination.
As I stepped off the boat with the other passengers, the hotel's manager Rick Blyth handed us a complimentary rum punch; this is just the first clue to the pampering that guests receive at the hotel. The two-room suites are airy, painted a crisp white and have a bedroom, sitting area, private outdoor showers and patios, which either border the sea to the property's south, or nestle into the gardens at the back. There is wifi and iHome docking stations for those who crave to stay connected. There are telephones, but no televisions, which I found a blessing. It was so nice to instead listen to the sounds of the waves outside the window and watch the stars from the patio in the evening. The Grand Suites and the two bedroom, two bath Premier Suite amp up the amenities with four poster beds, their own plunge pools, oversized soaking tubs with an ocean view, and here there are televisions with DVD players.
In all, the hotel has 31 suites, virtually the same number it had when it opened its doors over three decades ago. A full service spa and a lounge area where guests can watch DVDs or enjoy afternoon tea make a stay here most civilized and for those who crave activity there is a long list of sailing trips, walking trails, diving excursions and visits to nearby beaches. The restaurant is located in The Clubhouse and is known for its fine menu, but a lunch of barbecue fish, meat and salads is also served at the hotel's beach pavilion several times a week. The ten-minute walk to the beach is down a sandy tree-lined path and for those who want to cruise there faster, there are bikes parked outside each of the rooms.
Five paso fino horses are one of the hotel's newest feature. Rescue horses from Puerto Rico, they are currently being rehabilitated and trained by Torey Knoll, in the hotel's paddock located just off the beach. Eventually the hotel hopes to offer trail rides, but in the meantime, these gentle equines are fun to visit, and as I discovered, appreciate an affectionate pat on the head.
At 61, David Johnson has an unlimited fount of energy which he has poured into two other projects on Virgin Gorda: Oil Nut Bay and Yacht Club Smeralda. The aptly named "Vision Center" is the sales and info office for these projects and here the curious can browse through the development's prospectus or speak to the company's young sales and marketing coordinator, Jen Jenkins. Sales rep Jessica Estrada is the one, though, who will whisk clients over to have a look at the projects aboard the company's frisky powerboat. "It's one of the world's best commutes," she says of the 15 minute trip to Oil Nut Bay from Biras Creek. The 400-acre development of private villas and resort facilities is currently under construction on a stunning peninsula to the east of Biras Creek.
On your way to Oil Nut Bay you will first pass the Yacht Club Smeralda, located on a craggy stretch of waterfront between Biras Creek and Gun Creek. This state of the art marina offers 38 slips for yachts up to 328 feet and a draft up to 20 feet. The day I was there, David Johnson's 130 ft foot yacht Resolute was at the end of the newly completed dock, and in the background construction crews were feverishly constructing the clubhouse building. When fully completed in December of this year, the clubhouse will house a reception area, clubroom, dining room and an outside bar overlooking the swimming pool.
The Yacht Club Smeralda, whose exclusive yacht club in Sardinia is frequented by the some of the world's top motor and sailing yachts, will add to North Sound's cachet as a growing international playground.
The first event slated for the marina was the Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous from March 16 to 20th. Other international sailing events are also expected here this year including the Transatlantic Superyacht Regatta that begins in Tenerife in November and will finish in the BVI in early December. As it turns out, there is a lot more to explore at Biras Creek than I had realized. The tan will have to wait for later.