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Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Winter 2021 Reopening Following Ground-Up Rebuild

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 22 October 2021 | 0 Comments

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22 October 2021
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Iconic Caribbean Resort Rises from Hurricane Destruction in 2017

Following a four-year closure and a complete rebuild inspired by its sense of place and storied history, Bitter End Yacht Club, a 64-acre island outpost located on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, is set to reopen its doors, docks, and nautical village!  For over 50 years, Bitter End has catered to seafarers and watersports enthusiasts from around the globe. This winter, Bitter End will once again claim its rightful place as the world’s premiere place to play in, on, and around the water.

Founded in 1969 and built by sailors for sailors, Bitter End has been privately owned and operated by the Hokin family since 1973. Set along a mile of pristine shoreline, Bitter End has garnered a well-earned reputation as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean. In fact, Bitter End’s location has been highly regarded among sailors since the days when Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins convened battle armadas there in the late 1500s (it was the very last landfall for both noted seafarers). 

Over the years, Bitter End evolved from a quirky island outpost (built originally with a helping hand from Robin Lee Graham of Dove fame) into a world class destination and watersports mecca.  Throughout its evolution, it was always known for its elegant, laidback and communal style, equally as welcoming to celebrities as it was to liveaboards. World-class sailors and resort guests alike were always comfortable mingling at what was hailed by The New York Times as a “rollicking nautical village.”  

Then the hurricane season of 2017 came calling. In her 50 years, Bitter End had weathered countless significant hurricanes: Klaus, Hugo, Marilyn, Luis, and Bertha, to name a handful. However, no 10 storms combined would have amounted to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma, which was then closely followed by Hurricane Maria. Of the property’s nearly 100 structures, none were left unscathed. Rebuilding from scratch was the only option. 

Devastated by the loss but undeterred by the circumstances, the Hokin family hunkered down to reimagine a property full of history that would be bolstered by a battalion of loyal guests. The mandate was clear: to recreate a property for like-minded adventurers who appreciate the wonder, character, and passion of the retreat the Hokins originally built for their own family. To this day, the family and their crew remain passionate stewards of the original Bitter End experience, and they are staunchly committed to protecting the exquisite stage Mother Nature has built for it.

To that end, Bitter End 2.0, as the Hokin Family likes to call it, has been taking shape with an eye toward a December opening. Returning guests will see a new nautical village, anchored by buildings that, while built to the highest standards of modern construction, recall past landmarks, including the Clubhouse Restaurant, the Quarterdeck Marina, the WatersportsCenter, and the Reeftique Boutique. “We have taken everything that we’ve learned over five decades and incorporated it into the redesign to purposefully pay homage to our history. At the same time, we are elevating Bitter End’s amenities and hospitality offerings to create a world-class experience that will delight travelers for generations to come," explained Richard Hokin, patriarch of the family. 

The waterfront plaza, connecting all the key village buildings and fronting the North Sound anchorage, is sure to become the central feature where guests will congregate. “The village is an incarnation of Bitter End’s roots as a yachting destination and sailor’s hangout. Its beach, seawall, and plaza are dotted with seating areas designed for settling down with a cold drink and conversation, a favorite book, or simply taking in the beautiful expanse of North Sound,” shared family member Lauren Hokin. 

Upon reopening, Bitter End will return to its roots by catering primarily to the robust Virgin Island’s charter and private yacht industries, as well as the local B.V.I. villa communities. Over 70 mooring balls and 25 marina slips will once again greet visiting sailors. Plus, the all-new Quarterdeck Marina, a two-story, open-air venue featuring an upstairs lounge and wraparound terrace, waterfront views, and enhanced amenities like marina-wide WIFI and upgraded bathing facilities⏤ creature comforts that will make even the most sea-worn sailor feel right at home.

For those looking to satisfy a sailor’s appetite or quench a captain’s thirst, The Bitter End Village will offer several distinct dining experiences including a new twist on the iconic Clubhouse, and a reinterpretation of the B.V.I.’s original waterfront bar.  The village will be rounded out with a few new offerings, including an open-kitchen pizza and wine concept, and a sunken vessel turned into the coolest beach bar in the Caribbean. The culinary offerings at each of these eateries will be supported by Bitter End Farms, an on-property producer of fruits, vegetables, herbs and other produce. A “farm-and-sea-to-table” culinary philosophy will celebrate local fisherman, farmers and flavors of the Caribbean. 

For yachts heading to points North, South, East, or West, the all-new Bitter End Market will stock everything they need to provision the galley for a day, a week, or an extended offshore voyage. “Thoughtful provisioning is key to a happy crew and successful voyage,” said Lauren. “We’re excited to introduce garden-grown produce, fresh-caught seafood, and an array of prepared dishes, topped off by Chef Winston’s world-famous key lime pie and fresh baked goods, made daily in Bitter End’s kitchens.” 

The rebirth of Bitter End would not be complete without a premiere watersports facility and watersports fleet. Bitter End sits at the confluence of North and Eustatia Sounds, two natural watersports playgrounds. As the location is perfect for sailing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, diving and so much more, it is only natural that Bitter End will once again feature a fleet commensurate with the desires of visitors wanting to try their hands at those activities. 

Remaining true to Bitter End’s legacy, Bitter End’s quarters are spot-on for those called to the ocean. Cantilevered over the Caribbean Sea, the all-new Marina Lofts are built for those who desire to sleep at the water’s edge. Inspired by vintage sail lofts—Bitter End will boast the only over-the-water bungalows in the BVI. For guests who are interested in being the first to stay at Bitter End 2.0, be sure to get in line as there will only be a pair of lofts at the start. 

With just a few months until reopening, the vision is nearing completion. Stories of the rebuild and never-before-seen renderings of Bitter End 2.0 can now be found on Bitter End Yacht Club’s website. “We are excited to welcome back our legacy guests and global watersports community to the reimagined Bitter End Yacht Club,” said Richard. “Over the last four years, the Bitter End Crew, alongside a team of architects and designers, engineers, highly-skilled craftspeople, and a set of salty spirits have collaborated to honor Bitter End’s legacy while launching an exciting new chapter in Bitter End’s story.” Fresh back from a recent site visit, Lauren added, “While a lot has changed, we are still unmistakably Bitter End.” 

Noteworthy: 

The Bitter End Foundation: 

While Bitter End has been closed since September of 2017, the Hokins and their crew have continuously supported the B.V.I. community through numerous philanthropic projects. Much of their work has focused on building the Bitter End Foundation, the non-profit affiliate of the Bitter End family of companies, originally launched as the Bitter End Irma Relief Fund in response to the catastrophic economic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. With an outpouring of generosity from the Bitter End community, the foundation has raised over $1 million dollars to date to support the unique needs and wellbeing of seaside communities, protecting sea life and encouraging conservation efforts. The foundation ensures a long-term commitment to caring for the Caribbean community and the world’s oceans, and the Hokins are keen to continue these efforts well beyond the reopening of Bitter End. 

Bitter End Provisions:

Bitter End also stayed connected with its global community during the closure via a newly launched lifestyle brand, Bitter End Provisions. It is not unusual to see the spirit of Bitter End at airports, yacht clubs, and marinas around the world in the form of seaworthy gear, accessories and apparel. Moreover, the “Provisions for Good” program donates $1 from every purchase to the Bitter End Foundation.  “Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Bitter End guests, family, and friends, our philanthropic activities have helped enable programs that will support a stronger, healthier, and more sustainable future for the people of the B.V.I.,” Richard concluded. 

About Bitter End Yacht Club:

Bitter End Yacht Club is a family-owned, island outpost known for its nautical charm. It is accessible only by sea, a distinction that has attracted travelers and yachting enthusiasts from around the globe for over 50 years. Located on the protected waters of North Sound on the perennially top-ranked Caribbean Island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, the unmatched destination is a sailing and watersports mecca, thanks to its near perfect year-round sailing conditions, eternal sunshine, and crystal-blue waters. Known for its casual, communal atmosphere and robust schedule of activities, Bitter End is a favorite vacation spot for adventurers, couples, families, and groups, many of whom return year after year. Laid low in 2017’s Hurricane Irma, the iconic resort is poised for a historic reopening in the winter of 2021. 

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