Major expansion under way at Tortola's Prospect Reef

Senior editor Barbara J. Mays recently stayed at Prospect Reef Resort on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Here is her report:

ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands -- Prospect Reef Resort on Tortola, owned by Cyril Romney, is in the midst of a seven-year expansion project that began in November 1998.

The $65 million project also includes work on Romney's facilities on nearby Peter Island and Jost Van Dyke.

Already completed is Prospect Reef's new Thalasso Spa.

Still to come are 90 units, many of which will be part of the resort's Vacation Club time-share rental program operated by Interval International.

The Miami-based firm offers rental and exchange options for more than 1,800 properties in 20 countries.

Andre Neiderhauser, Prospect Reef's managing director, said 26 two-bedroom units will be completed by year's end and another 14 units will be done by December 2001.

Prospect Reef's glass-bottom boat shuttles resort guests to Peter Island and Jost Van Dyke for dining and water activities. Prospect Reef is planning a new meetings facility to complement its 5,000-square-foot Reef House, which can accommodate up to 200 people.

In addition, Reef House will be upgraded and relocated to the front of the resort, with a separate check-in area and catering services for convention guests. Completion is set for next summer.

Also on the drawing board is the conversion of a large fountain into an outdoor Jacuzzi.

Romney owns a parcel of land fronting Buttonwood Bay on tiny 1.7-square-mile Peter Island, five miles from Road Town across Sir Francis Drake Channel.

Prospect Reef guests can enjoy water sports and dining at Callaloo on the Beach restaurant there.

"This is a prime operation, and we want to make it even better by offering more of a full beach club," Romney said. "I plan to add at least 40 hillside bungalows for overnight accommodations."

Romney also plans to expand his operation on Jost Van Dyke, called Scuttlebutt on the Beach, by adding 40 units for overnight stays. Four-mile-long Jost Van Dyke, where resort guests also can dine, is a 30-minute boat ride from Prospect Reef.

Prospect Reef offers a variety of guest accommodations: garden and reef rooms; reef, harbor and admiral studios; one-bedroom suites, and villa units.

I found the two-bedroom duplex villa units quite appealing, especially for families or two couples.

The main level contained a bedroom, with a mesh-covered canopy bed, and a bathroom; a fully equipped kitchen, and a living room furnished with a couch, chairs, a large-screen television, a radio/CD player and a work desk with a phone and fax machine.

My favorite design element was a wall of doors in the living room that opened on to an oceanfront patio.

What also struck my fancy was the open-air atrium between the living room and the sleeping quarters, complete with a table, chairs and umbrella.

The villa's upper level had a second bedroom and a bath.

Prospect Reef does not have a beachfront for swimming, but it does offer a saltwater, walled-in shorefront area called Sea Pool.

Guests who want a beach for swimming or snorkeling are shuttled to Peter Island or Jost Van Dyke on the resort's glass-bottom boat.

Prospect Reef also offers a 65-foot catamaran, used for excursions to nearby attractions such as the Baths on Virgin Gorda.

Despite having much of its room inventory in a rental pool, Prospect Reef works with travel agents and recently launched a rewards program, effective through Dec. 21.

For every five bookings of a minimum four-night package, agents earn 10% commission plus a one-year membership in Interval International's Vacation Club.

Agents also receive a certificate for a seven-night stay in a two-bedroom villa at Prospect Reef or at one of Interval's affiliated Vacation Club properties, valid until Dec. 21, 2001.

Prospect Reef offers guests a full array of activities, such as six tennis courts with lights, aerobics classes, a gym, a Nautilus fitness center and use of kayaks.

Snuba, a water sport that combines snorkeling and scuba, will be introduced in the near future.

Package options range from inclusive to European plan and include special-interest programs for sport fishing, diving, sailing lessons, spa and honeymoons.

According to Neiderhauser, U.S. travelers account for more than 80% of resort guests.

Prospect Reef Resort
Phone: (800) 356-8937
Fax: (284) 494-5595
Web: www.prospectreef.com
E-mail: [email protected]

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