Surrounded by green mountains dotted with the red-roofed buildings of St. Thomas, Yacht Haven Grande sits in a natural deep-water harbor and provides a homeport for megayacht owners and guests to restock, relax, and escape. With high-end and local retailers, private residences, and four restaurants, it might even tempt yachtsmen to drop anchor for good.
Unlike many marinas aimed at the upper end of the yacht market that are being built in never-before-developed locations, Yacht Haven Grande is on the site of an existing marina. Elie Finegold, president of Island Global Yachting, which owns the marina, says the expanding facility is more of a restoration than a new-construction project. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 battered the property, and it's being redeveloped to help St. Thomas reclaim its share of the megayacht market. In addition, "It was architecturally designed to blend with the [surrounding] French-English-Dutch colonial," he says. Architects cataloged local window, door, and railing details to ensure the building would match the rest of the region.
The first phase of Yacht Haven Grande containing 50 slips targeted to the 125-foot-plus market is open, but Finegold says the facility can accommodate any size yacht that currently exists in side-to berths. In fact, the marina was visited by the 452-foot Rising Sun and the 192-foot Linda Lou in late 2006 and at presstime had reservations from the 174-foot Independence, the 172-foot Gallant Lady, and the 177-foot Fortunate Sun.
Once ashore, you and your guests can expect the same level of service you receive aboard your yachts. A full-time concierge can help plan excursions to golf courses and across the island to Megan's Bay.
For a permanent off-yacht escape, 12 residences are available. Each three-bedroom condo overlooks the harbor from a 375-square-foot balcony and can be equipped with everything from furniture to gourmet food before your arrival. Owners also receive membership to a private fitness center and the yacht club, which opens this year.
The best of local and international retailers are available in Yacht Haven Grande. High-end shops such as Louis Vuitton are featured next to local ones such as Virgin Islands Brewing.
Finegold says Yacht Haven Grande will be both elegant and fun and hopes it will become the "center of yachting culture in the Caribbean."
Yacht Haven Grande
At a Glance | Yacht Haven Grande
Geographic coordinates:1820'153"N, 6455'180" W
Customs and immigration: on site; while St. Thomas is a U.S. territory, it has a $1,600 duty-free exemption for U.S. citizens
Slips: approximately 50 aimed at yachts 125 feet and longer; side-to berths for yachts up to the 450-foot-plus range
Amenities: 24-hour security, three-phase power, in-slip fueling, black-water pumpout, and waste-oil removal
Extras: executive chef Brian Katz oversees the menus at the three restaurants (one more is planned), from the fine-dining Three60, which offers 360-degree views of the harbor, to the fun and casual Wikkid and Fat Turtle, with relaxed atmospheres and tropical drinks topped with umbrellas. There’s also a full-time concierge service, a provisions store stocked with everything from food to flowers, shopping, and private residences for sale.
Don’t Miss Hassel Island: One of the islands that create the natural harbor, Hassel Island is 135 acres of history. It was originally used as a military base by the Danish and later the British to defend Charlotte Amalie. Now the former military bases are part of the 122 acres of national park (the other 13 acres are occupied by a few private residences and government property). You can hike through the British Forts Willoughby and Shipley as well as the remains of the first steam-powered marine railways, Creque Marine Railway. Despite it being a national park, however, few preservation efforts have been made to maintain the historical sites and paths.
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This article originally appeared in the March 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.