Why the Bitter End is so sweet
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
I really should be sailing.
After all, it’s my last day at Bitter End Yacht Club, a British Virgin Islands institution that’s been the Caribbean’s premier sailing resort for 40 years. Thousands of people have learned to master the sea here on a fleet of more than 100 watercraft, which includes everything from Hobie Waves to C420s and Boston Whalers. And it’s the perfect day for it, too, with sunny skies, calm waters, and a steady breeze sweeping in from the north.
I, however, am on the beach, mesmerized by the view of verdant Prickly Pear and Mosquito Island in the distance, and slowly being anesthetized by the potent rum punch in my hand. Meanwhile it’s all happening on the water, as motorboats skim the surface, a kite boarder shows off his prowess, and couples cast off on catamarans. I feel a pang of guilt; shouldn’t I be out there, too?
But the feeling passes as I take another swig of Bacchus’ Passion and reflect on the highlights of my stay. I’ve slept like a baby in my comfy treehouse-like cabin, waking each morning not to my iPhone’s alarm but to the sound of waves lapping the sand and sunlight filtered through a stand of beachfront coconut palms.
I’ve enjoyed the cheerful attention of resort staff (many of whom have been here for decades), who show me to my favorite waterfront table in the Clubhouse restaurant and graciously indulge my leisurely 90-minute-long breakfasts.
I’ve sampled chef Winston’s waist-widening-but-worth-it key lime pie and “the best pizza in the BVI” at resort’s pub, where the Tropical (topped with ham, pineapple and papaya) is a sweet-and-savory revelation.
I’ve made a daily commute along the resort’s sand-strewn “Main Street” from the petite water’s-edge pool on the south end, past the Crawl pub, where gregarious, beer-swigging yachties spill out onto the patio, to the north end of the property, where a postcard-perfect thatch-roofed gazebo begs to be immortalized on Instagram.
And just yesterday I actually motivated myself to leave the hotel, taking advantage of one of Bitter End’s five weekly complimentary island excursions to visit VG’s famously flat sister island of Anegada for fresh lobster (and yet more lounging) on the sands of Loblolly Bay. But as stimulating as the outing was, I’m happy to return to my carefree cloister, where my only concern is which cocktail to order at the Windward Mark bar.
Now, as I sink my toes deeper into the sand and observe the busy seascape, I feel a deep sense of contentment and decide at that moment to let go of my guilt. Yes, I could be sailing right now. Some might even say that I should be. But staying at Bitter End isn’t about what you should do but what you want to do, whether that’s riding the waves around the clock or perfecting the fine art of sloth on a perfectly placed Adirondack chair in the afternoon sun.
And it’s what makes a Bitter experience so undeniably sweet.