Jewels of the BVI, which comprises 41 of the most charming hotels, inns, apartments, guest houses and villas in the British Virgin Islands, has launched an extensive marketing campaign targeting Caribbean visitors.The association, under the leadership of President Lisa Hodge-Smith, hosted a cocktail reception at Maria’s By The Sea hotel on Saturday for 13 journalists from the region, who were on a familiarization trip to the BVI.
The May 17th-21st trip was hosted by the BVI Tourist Board in conjunction with several of its partners, including Caribbean Star, American Airlines/Eagle, Long Bay Beach Resort, Virgin Traders, the Bitter End Resort, Little Dix Bay Resort, and BVI Land and Sea Adventures.
The event saw the regional media staying at luxury resorts and Jewels of the BVI properties, sailing from Tortola to Virgin Gorda to Jost Van Dyke, and visiting various attractions such as The Callwood Distillery, Sky World and The Baths. They were also hosted to a welcome reception by Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith and his wife Lorna Smith.
“The Jewels of the BVI properties are unique, as they are all locally owned and for the most part managed by the owners themselves, thus ensuring a high level of interest in their visitors’ satisfaction,” said Mrs. Hodge-Smith in her presentation. “Like natural gems, the Jewels of the BVI can be found in varied sizes, locations and price ranges for the budget conscious traveler to those with unlimited resources.”
She said combined, they make up the most number of beds in the BVI, with properties ranging in size from one-bedroom cottages to 40-room hotels. Some have historical backgrounds - e.g. one was once Cane Garden Bay’s first Post Office and a speaking platform for political, civic and religious gatherings. Another was a look-out point for pirates and still has cannons ‘guarding’ the channel. A few are built on or near what were sugar plantations in Brewer’s Bay, Green Bank and Cane Garden Bay.
The Jewels President said the properties stand ready to accept visitors coming to the British Virgin Islands for any event, including the annual August emancipation celebration. She said Jewels properties, whose owners and managers were on hand to present press kits to the Caribbean journalists, also boast some of the finest culinary delights to be offered in the territory.
Johnson Johnrose, Communications Officer with the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), shared some of his experiences while here in the BVI. He spoke of the excellent customer service received when he went for breakfast at the 4-star Bitter End Resort on Virgin Gorda to the personal attention of his host when he needed transportation at a Jewels property - the Castle Maria Hotel on Tortola.
He said he was pleased to be on this trip, having assisted with its planning. “It was the right thing to do, because we are the Caribbean and we need to know each other better and to get our Caribbean media involved,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do because the research has shown that Caribbean people on average spend more money that anybody else when they come.”
Jamaica Gleaner newspaper reporter Janet Silvera congratulated the Jewels of the BVI properties for their role in helping to develop the tourism industry in the British Virgin Islands. She said she heard about Jewels at a conference in Puerto Rico where the properties were marketed by the Chief Minister and the Tourist Board.
“Now tonight, I have seen a united front, which to me means that you are doing something that is right, and so, I want to congratulate you for that,” Ms. Silvera stated. “I have been here for four days and you cannot imagine how impressed I am with this country, the people and the professionalism that we received from the BVI Tourist Board, who worked us hard, but showed us everything that makes you proud to be a BVIslander. I am telling you that what you have here is a blessing. You have one of the most beautiful islands that any person could live in.”
Comments from other journalists:
Nikisha Smith of the Antigua Sun newspaper said: “It was a wonderful experience. The BVI opened up to me in a way that I never expected. Thanks.”