Much has been made of the many Caribbean resorts that are using the destructive 2017 hurricane season as an opportunity to come back better. Scrub Island Resort & Spa in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is one of them.
The private-island resort, reachable via a quick, private ferry from Tortola, was mostly closed until this past December due to damage from Hurricane Irma. However, the island was luckier than most of the territory: It sustained minimal structural damage and was one of the first major resorts to reopen. BVI-wide, only 40% of accommodations are back online.
Much of the Autograph Collection property feels brand new. As general manager Scott McArdle said, "We tried to improve it and make it better."
I was hosted at Scrub in late December. Along with my husband and son, we were the first guests to stay in our room since Irma. Everything was new, from the high-end kitchen appliances to the convertible sofa and sheets — some items still had tags on them.
One of Scrub Island’s 10 villas; the resort is opening three more this year. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill
The resort also revamped its dining options, adding two restaurant concepts, both of which opened Jan. 1: the casual, open-air Donovan's Reef Marina Bar & Grill and the dinner-only, upscale Cardamom & Co.
Although neither was open during my stay, I can speak to the good food and friendly staff at the restaurant that was open while we were there. There were some expected glitches as Scrub ramped up to a full house after such a long closure. While waits could be long, the staff was always smiling and went out of their way to accommodate our 5-year-old. It only took one meal for them to remember his favorite breakfast.
Over the holidays, Scrub was full of families, and it was quickly apparent why. One reason is Scrub's accommodation options. Of the resort's 52 suites, 26 are one- or two-bedrooms with full kitchens.
Our one-bedroom suite was modern. The large master bath had a full-size tub and large, glass-enclosed shower. We loved the covered veranda accessible from both the living room and the bedroom. It's a wonderful place to watch the sun set against the marina. Having one and a half baths is a plus for families, and for guests staying longer than the three nights we were there, the washer and dryer is key. The pullout sofa was perfect for our son to sleep on.
Anyone traveling with kids knows the value of a kitchen for warming leftovers from the restaurant or bringing in food from the marina's market, especially when a long day means a nice meal at a restaurant isn't the best option. And because Scrub's marina caters to people on long yachting holidays, the Gourmet Market & Cafe is well stocked and has a full, newly renovated wine room to boot. McArdle said that as part of the post-Irma renovation, the Market improved its offerings. Its deli menu has made-to-order sandwiches, fruit salad and pizzas. Provisions include baked goods, cheeses and snacks.
Another example of the excellent service at Scrub: When we returned from Tortola one night and would have arrived after the Market closed, the ferry captain offered to call and have a pizza made and delivered to our room so it would be waiting when we arrived.
The pool at the resort’s North Beach, a 1,000-foot strand that Irma made larger and sandier. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill
Scrub also has 10 villas spread out on the island that families and groups may prefer, with another three opening by the end of year. At 3,000 to 6,000 square feet each, they range from two to six bedrooms and can accommodate up to 10 guests. Each has a private pool.
There is also plenty for families to do at Scrub, from the multitiered pool with a waterslide to "island safaris," daytrips visiting the various islands in the area by boat. Post-renovation, Scrub offers many more activities than it used to. McArdle said that in part due to the BVI still recovering from the hurricane, the resort decided to add more on-site activities for guests.
"People that come here are adventurous," he said. "They want to do things."
Golf carts take people to North Beach, a 1,000-foot strand that Irma made larger and sandier when it washed away mangroves. Scrub added a beach pool, and the One Shoe Beach Bar means you don't have to leave for lunch or painkillers, the BVI's national cocktail. Donovan's Beach, a smaller beach right off the marina, has plenty for families to do, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling and a water trampoline.
Scrub offers daytrips and excursions with Offshore Sailing School and Dive BVI, which also do certification classes. New this year is a partnership with Island Time, which offers guests inflatable motorboat rentals to do their own BVI "island safaris," at a cost of $200 for four hours.