So, I am still here in the BVI. I arrived on 1/20/13 with my wife (4 months pregnant) and our 2yr 3mo old daughter, and we do not leave until 1/26.
We flew in to St. Thomas because we could get a direct flight from IAD, and because flying to Beef Island would have cost us twice as much. I would probably do it again the same way considering cost, but it was a heck of a trip. The flight was easy enough- 4 hours direct. We then took a short taxi ride to downtown to catch the ferry. The ferry was okay, but after waking up at 5:30am, and being the one responsible for lugging the luggage I was not in the mood for waiting for it. Then the ride itself was fine. Beautiful scenery, but it's a big loud boat. 90 minutes later and you arrive in Road Town. Go through customs (you've just made the smallest trans-Atlantic trip from the US to UK possible). Catch another short cab ride to Trellis Bay.
Trellis Bay was actually a welcome site even though we were not yet at Scrub Island, mainly because you know you are close, but also because there are some nice little bars there on the water where you can start to unwind with a beer while waiting for the Scrub Island ferry. When the ferry arrived it was dark. The crew loaded all our baggage, and helped us aboard. We never touched another bag we didn't want to again. Within 15 minutes we were welcomed at the dock at Scrub Island with 2 cocktails (should have told them the wife was pregnant) plus a delicious juice for our daughter. We went to check in, were escorted to the room, shown around, and while we were there our bags arrived. Finally, we could relax.
The Resort Itself
So, I gave this 5 stars, but I was bordering on 4. It's a toss-up really. By no means is this place perfect. However, it was still probably the best vacation we've had including going to Hawaii and Kauai for our honeymoon. Part of the reason I gave this place 5 stars was due to the fact we got a deal on our room too, so we paid only $660/night for a 1 bedroom suite. I think normally it is closer to $1000.
Generally speaking, everyone here is nice and helpful. The problem, I think for some of the reviewers I read here in TA, is that initially they don't seem to be. What I mean is that most people sort of come off as somewhat laid back and maybe even a little indifferent. If you talk to them for more than a few seconds though, you get the impression that everyone is very friendly and wants to help. It just seems to be the way people are around here, and you will not find the sort of chipper, in-your-face-here-to-help attitude you'd expect at a US resort.
Also, generally speaking the resort is very well maintained. Service for your room is good, and there are little niceties everywhere- like you can take a kayak out from the beach for free. However, there were a few lights in the pool area that were in disrepair, and it was hard to notice actually, but the bottom hinge on the fridge in our room was rusty. That didn't cause any mechanical problem or anything, but something I noticed. And it's sort of hard to mark points off when it's a Sub Zero you're talking about. (The range was a Wolf, BTW.) However, I say this mainly to point out that if you are thinking you are going to see a 110% immaculate facility from top to bottom, you'll be disappointed. I really didn't have a problem with anything because nothing that was not in tip-top shape caused any real issues for us. It was more of aesthetic issues that I noticed.
One other important point- the Virgin Islands all seem to essentially be craggly rocks jutting out of the water. Keep this in mind if you are travelling with the elderly, young, or handicapped. This place has a lot of steep hills and steps. Our daughter was fine, but many people may not be. And unlike a big hotel, you do not have elevators to get you to the top floors. It was not an issue for us, but it could be for some, and it's worth mentioning.
So, the location is unbelievable. It is beautiful, quiet, and peaceful here. You are out in the ocean, but there is gorgeous land all around with all of the neighboring islands and cays. Scrub Island itself also has a good amount for you to do. The resort has 2 pools which you can see in the pictures on their site. They look small, and that's about right. However, the entire time we've been here we have basically had our pic of pool chairs, and had the lower pool to ourselves. I think that even if the resort is full, people tend to do a lot of excursions so they are out on boats all day. The beach in front of the resort is also small, but again, more than ample when you are sharing it with either no one or 3 other people. The water is crystal clear.
If you want to get a change of pace, head over to North Beach. It's either a 15 minute walk or get one of the drivers to run you over there. There, they have a little bar, a small pool, and a very secluded beach with lounge chairs. The beach is expansive, but it is all coral for about 100 yards out. Do not go out barefoot because there is a lot of sea life making for good snorkeling, but you're likely to get a serious foot injury if barefoot due to there being about a million sea urchins out there. Once you get past the shallow part where the waves break, you can see some pretty incredible coral formations and the snorkeling is great. I think Hawaii *might* have had more interesting fish, but I don't think the water was as clear.
Other than that, you can get plenty of excursions out to snorkel, visit other islands, or just to sail/boat around. We really wanted to go out on a day-sailing trip, but unless you are splitting it with someone or a group, then it is expensive. The pre-packaged excursions are more reasonable on price, but obviously less flexible.
We debated about whether to bring our daughter, but we're glad we did. She loves it here, and made the trip with no problem. She may actually be relaxing even more than my wife and I even though she has no "cares" at home that she had to leave behind. There's really nothing requiring you to leave the kids (even toddlers) at home, but of course that might be the goal.
Okay, the food is average. At the resort it's average and pricey. Even at places not at the resort, food was not great. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't great. We did eat at the Last Resort which everyone said is a must, and it was good, but again, we were not blown away or anything. For a good change of pace and some cheaper fare, try some of the places over at the docks at Trellis Bay like the Cyber Cafe. We ate there a couple times and the jerk chicken was really good. I would still go to the Last Resort as well. I'm not knocking it. I'm just trying to point out that if you want a gastronomic dream vacation, then go to San Francisco and north to wine country or NYC. Do not come here expecting Le Bernardin anywhere.
Service was mixed. Like I said above, I found most people to really be friendly and helpful. However, service is still a mixed bag. If you go to North Beach, there is usually one guy working there whether there are 2 people or 10. So, lunch with that many people can get a bit hectic especially considering that your cook and waiter is also your bartender. The one day it was busy there we did see another guy show up and stay to help, but he got a ride over in the taxi so Kern was slammed by the time help arrived.
Similar things happened even at the lower pool bar. They are very polite, they will bring your food to your chair with a smile, etc no matter what. However, one extra staff member on hand could make a big difference when suddenly the only 4 people at that pool want food and drinks in a 5 minute span.
Also, to really illustrate the mixture of service, our toilet broke one day. We called and within 5 minutes there was someone in the room to fix it. He was quiet and resolved the issue fully. I have been at super-fancy resorts where they still seem to manage to get lost on their way to your room for something like this.
Then again, one day we had to put out a Do Not Disturb sign in the afternoon while our daughter napped, and the cleaning service had not come yet. We called later to ask that they just take out the trash, which they did while we were at dinner. However, they only took the one trash can in the kitchen, not the full ones from both bathrooms.
And to completely flip it around- when they cleaned our room, they did whatever dishes were in the sink every single day!
Towels. I saw other people mentioned this before we left and I agree. This is just stupid. I realize that since they have boats coming in and out constantly, they do need to maintain some sort of tracking so that 400 towels per day do not embark on ships. However, it's still annoying as hell to leave the pool area wondering if all your towels were checked back in properly. It just keeps you from reaching a 100% commitment to relaxation and losing your cares. It's always in the back of your mind.
This is sort of a future gripe, but there is also an expansion planned for the Beef Island airport. As it stands, you will currently get a handful of very small proprellor or tiny jets going overhead every day. They are generally nothing more than background noise. However, the airport expansion is designed to bring in large commercial jets to Beef Island, and will require a large expansion of the runway. A huge fill will be required to add a few thousand feet of land into Trellis Bay, and will end much closer out to Scrub.
Sooooooooo first and foremost, you will face a massive noise problem at this resort in particular. I hope the owner is lobbying hard against it, because honestly if I had to listen to even a few large jetliners that close overhead each day I would likely not come back. The ferry ride to get here from St Thomas, even with a 2 yr old, now would not deter me, but that would.
Second, the extension will almost entirely enclose Trellis Bay. You can expect that the Last Resort, and all of the small bars and restaurants on the beach there will go extinct unless people enjoy dining under a veil of jet fumes and (literally) deafening noise just a few hundred yard from the runway. Maybe in NYC or DC I might not care, but I sure as hell am not paying a lot of money to go to Tortola for that experience. So, then you'd have no option, but to eat at the resort, and you will get tired of that very quickly. Even if the quality and price of the food is not terrible, there is minimal variety.
I'm not an environmental expert so it's hard to comment on the environmental impact of the expansion. However, I'm not an idiot either. It's clear to see that the extension will require a massive fill, and would have a significant impact on the sea life. Now that might not be felt at North Beach, but it certainly would in Trellis Bay and I'd have a hard time believing there would not be *some* impact at Long Bay, Conch Bay, and probably also over on the south sides of Little and Great Camanoe.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina is a luxury private island resort located one mile offshore from Tortola's Beef Island Airport. The resort features 50 guest rooms, one and two bedroom suites, 2 restaurants, 3 bars, 2 swimming pools, resort spa, 55 slip marina, gourmet market & cafe, boutique, onsite dive shop and 3 pristine beaches. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Scrub Island Resort, Spa And Marina
- Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina Hotel Tortola
- Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection Tortola, British Virgin Islands