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Scrub Island Resort and Marina Opens

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Sailors and visitors will now have a new place to call home in the British Virgin Islands with the recent opening of Scrub Island Resort and Marina, a $100-million project headed by Mainsail Development International and the Scrub Island Development Group that has been more than 10 years in the making.

In February, the five-star resort held its soft opening, marking completion of phase one, which includes the marina and resort. Resort Host Manager Jan Critchley said "Construction is still ongoing and some facilities are still not available," including the spa and a beach bar/restaurant on the north side of the island which should be completed this spring.

In March, ongoing work was evident with contractors putting the finishing touches on the resort while guests relaxed in lawn chairs poolside. While some areas still needed a little attention, other facilities were fully functional. Power had been approved for the docks and "everything was up and running," according to Critchley who added that water was also available at each dock. "As we are now, we are a fully functional marina," she said.

The 50-slip marina consists of three piers and can accommodate boats up to 150 feet. The biggest boat so far has been a 120 foot yacht, according to Critchley. The resort plans to host an annual boat show, a regatta and a sport fishing event.

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The marina has a provisioning store, a deli, a boutique and a dive shop. It also offers a unique amenity: if a boater wants to watch something on television like a sports event, the marina staff can put a large, flat-screen television on their vessel.

"We are really excited about the marina, because there is nothing like it in the territory," Resort General Manager Bill Lee said. "There are so many boaters in the territory and it is a challenge to find a place to tie up. We fit that need."

He added that docking fees are "very reasonable" and comparable to other marinas in the territory at $2.50 per foot.

The resort and marina staff were preparing for Easter weekend in late March. Ms. Critchley said Puerto Rico visitors had already fully booked up the marina and resort.

"That is going to be a good test for us," Ms. Critchley said. "I think it is going to be great for us to have a full marina. There are some logistics to be sorted out, but we are there."

On an average, the marina has had two or three boats per day since its soft opening. Lee said the opening doesn't come at season's peak but they are still trying to capture some of the potential business. However, they are moving ahead cautiously by not over-hiring staff. "We have come in very small and are waiting to see what the demand is and will continue to hire from there," Lee said.

Outside of the marina, the reception area is located on the lower level of the pavilion. Adjacent are two swimming pools and a Jacuzzi. The infinity pool on the upper level cascades into another pool, which has a swim-up bar and a waterslide. The swim-up bar was not operational in March, but Mr. Lee said the waterslide has been getting plenty of use.

"I think more adults have gone down that thing than kids," Lee said.

The pavilion has two restaurants including Tierra-Tierra, a casual poolside restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Caravela that Lee describes as "more high-end dining." A large, curved bar is made from petrified wood, which cost about $85,000, and has an expansive ocean view.

"We have beautiful restrooms facilities where someone can come in and get a hot shower and pull out the slacks from the duffel bag and come up here and have a nice meal," Lee said.

Just above the pavilion complex sits an unfinished villa. Now that phase one is completed, phase two will continue – the villas. The initial plan was to build everything up at the same time, but the economic turndown changed the development strategy.

"Midstream of the development, the whole financial world changed and it had its ripple effect. Everyone had to stop and reassess the development plan. There was a six-month work stoppage out here," Lee said. The villas were pushed back, and an emphasis then was placed on completing the pools, the frontage and marina. Lee said the completion of phase two will not affect the services that the resort currently has to offer.

Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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