BVI Plans Environmentally Themed Resort for Norman Island

BVI Premier Orlando Smith and Audubon Holdings owner Dr. Henry Jarecki announce development plans for Norman Island on Nov. 22. (BVI Government photo by Ronnielle Frazer)
BVI Premier Orlando Smith and Audubon Holdings owner Dr. Henry Jarecki announce development plans for Norman Island on Nov. 22. (BVI Government photo by Ronnielle Frazer)

The British Virgin Islands government has entered into a development agreement with Audubon Holdings to develop Norman Island as an environmentally conscious, luxury residential and tourist destination.

Audubon Holdings is owned by Dr. Henry Jarecki, the scion of a family shipping empire, a psychiatrist and investor. Norman Island has several bars and restaurants but no residential or resort development.

“This agreement marks an exciting time for the BVI and its resurgence in the tourism industry. As we continue to re-introduce and re-invent our tourism products and services, it is imperative that we take the necessary steps to ensure that we create products that are environmentally sustainable and attractive to our residents and visitors alike,” BVI Premier Orlando Smith said in a statement from the BVI government.

“This project offers an exciting opportunity to create hundreds of business opportunities and good jobs and establish a model for environmentally sustainable development. We are committed to making sure this project benefits all the people of the BVI,” Jarecki said in the same statement.

The plan for the private island, developed in association with Atlanta-based Bullock Mannelly Partners, anticipates leaving more than half of Norman Island as green space. The release speaks of maintaining the island’s “long-standing reputation as one of the BVI’s premier tourist destinations,” with features such as the iconic 132-acre Bight protected harbor and picturesque caves on the sea.

“We see exciting synergies between the roles of the Norman Island team and BMP. By combining each party’s relationships and experiences, we will create the most environmentally friendly and attractive destination in the region, if not the entire world. Bringing this type of world-class development to the BVI as part of the community’s recovery process is a privilege for all involved,” Alan Bullock of BMP said.

The project calls for the construction of another restaurant, a floating pool, a beach bar, and a water sports center. The plan includes sites for three potential 20-30 room hotels, boat slips for day visitors and residents, a spa, and an observatory. It also provides ownership opportunities for 75 to 100 residences discreetly nestled within the island’s 610 acres.

Home sites of various sizes will be scattered throughout the 13 miles of shoreline and along the four-and-a-half mile ridge line. Buyers will design their own holiday-oriented residences with the help of local architects and builders.

The Bight, a natural anchorage, will continue to provide overnight moorings for boaters, while day visitors will have access to the expanded tourism facilities through the island’s existing ferry service and day dockage, according to the BVI.

Developers hope to start the first phase of the project sometime in 2019, if environmental approvals are given and work proceeds according to plan.

Jarecki has had a BVI residence for more than 45 years and is known for his ownership of Guana Island. According to the BVI government, Guana Island is particularly recognized for its commitment to environmental sciences and agro-ecotourism and for the preservation of Caribbean culture. He is also known in the BVI community for his philanthropic activities, ranging from the Youth Empowerment Project in Tortola´s East End/Long Look, to his service as a governor on the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College Board. YEP has provided community-based extracurricular activities to more than 3,000 BVI students and teenagers since 2005.

Bullock Mannelly Partners has been around for more than three decades and emphasizes its its work on Bakers Bay in the Bahamas.