Imagine a pristine paradise where your vacation choices range from checking out some of the world’s finest beaches to experiencing the best sport fishing and most incredible diving amongst wild and diverse marine ecosystems.
If you think this can only come at the expense of complicated travel schedules, time-consuming Covid 19 testing protocols and complex foreign customs and immigration rules, then think again.
The US Virgin Islands is fast becoming the destination of our times, with Yacht Haven Grande, St Thomas offering superyacht owners and charterers flexibility, ease and smooth service as well as the luxury of enjoying some of the globe’s most idyllic cruising grounds.
A territory of the USA since 1917, this exotic group of islands is situated in the Caribbean Sea, 1,100 miles from Miami, and comprises three main hubs: St Croix, St Thomas and St John, as well as 50 smaller islands, cays and inlets.
Known as America’s paradise due to its celebrated white sand beaches and balmy turquoise waters, it’s a year round destination with no ‘low’ season and an average winter temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Those factors aside, what exactly is it that makes YHG-St Thomas, operated by IGY, stand out from the crowd? A state of the art 45-berth superyacht marina, which can accommodate yachts of up to 600 feet, is just one aspect of its appeal.
"We are trying to break habits on traditional cruising grounds after Covid 19," explains Bert Fowles, IGY’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "It’s fair to say the traditional ways of cruising have been changed.
"The USVI offers US boats and the international community an idyllic cruising destination because of the infrastructure of our facility at Yacht Haven Grande, which is one of the largest, if not the largest, marina investment in the Caribbean.
"It was specifically and purposely built to cater for superyachts and it continues to advance the superyacht agenda for the entire region. The infrastructure alone allows it to admit vessels up to almost any size and it is unmatched anywhere else in the Caribbean."
With an on-site Covid 19 testing facility designed to give peace of mind to clients, guests and crew who are looking to enjoy a vacation while also being mindful of minimising risk, the marina offers a high level of security and safety measures.
"We have a beautiful campus designed to pull all the levers which make a superyacht destination unique while also offering unparalleled security, and Covid testing is an important part of that," adds Bert.
In these pandemic times, with travel bans gradually beginning to ease, the ability to fly in and out of a US destination by private jet with none of the time-consuming customs and immigration paperwork which foreign travel inevitably involves, is another important consideration for US based charterers and owners.
"As a US destination, the USVI allows ease of entry for US citizens,’ adds Bert. ‘At a time when travel is still challenging with testing and virus controls, to be able to come and go more easily will be paramount.
"We’re seeing our customers really enjoy the fact that as a US destination, it allows safety protocols in alignment with US regulations.
"We are observing almost unprecedented numbers of reservations that reflect changing habits; superyachts and charter brokers are realising that this is an opportunity that is right in their backyard."
Finally, efficient provisioning, fuelling, itinerary planning and scheduling alongside creature comforts including an open air fitness centre, tennis and beach volleyball courts and a stunning resort style swimming pool seal Yacht Haven Grande as the obvious choice.
"This is a hub of charter activity," adds Bert. "We have airfare and airdrop support which help to make this a dynamic destination for superyachts.
"It also allows for the business of commercial activity to really support guests in terms of provisioning, fuelling and waste disposal. It’s a true destination experience for the client which we are continuing to build on."
The inaugural Caribbean Charter Yacht Show, which will take place in St Thomas in December this year, will serve to increase awareness of the USVI as the ultimate choice for a discerning superyacht clientele.
"The USVI is becoming the starter hub of the Caribbean because of its central location and the new show will highlight all these benefits," says Bert. "Together with its infrastructure and ease of exit and entry, it remains unparalleled," says Bert.
With St Thomas a jumping off point for an endless choice of other paradise isles and cays, including spectacular Trunk Bay, the myriad inlets of Coral Bay, scenic Frances Bay anchorage, Lovango Cay and Congo Cay, it has never been easier to go off the radar and off the beaten track, dropping anchor at remote beauty spots that are more reminiscent of French Polynesia.
The benefits of remote adventuring in an island setting with easy access to high end service and provisioning makes the region an unbeatable option.
"You have so many advantages, from the buzz and nightlife of Miami through to the solitude of some of the world’s most remote places, and all with the ability to provision and fuel your yacht as well as fly in and out on your private jet," Bert says.
"There are stunning cruising grounds for jet skis, there’s the world’s best sport fishing, the most amazing diving. Quite simply, it ticks all the boxes. Of course, when you’re trying to change a habit, you have to accept that people are used to doing the standard runs but this is an experiential destination which will continue to grow and grow in appeal."