BVI News

Booting Willy T again necessary | Norman, Peter Island developments ‘too important’

Dr Hubert O’Neal

Underscoring the significance of the Norman Island development and the Peter Island resort to the territory, Junior Minister of Tourism Dr Hubert O’Neal said booting the William Thornton (Willy T) floating bar and restaurant for a second time was a necessary move.

The unique establishment was given an eviction notice from Great Harbour, Peter Island roughly five months after it was booted from The Bight off Norman Island.  They have to find a new place to operate by the end of this year.

“These are decisions that you have to make if you want to develop a tourism product. Right now, we are recovering and to develop it further we have to make certain hard decisions like this. It’s just the reality,” Dr O’Neal told BVI News in an invited comment this week.

In further explaining why operators of the two privately-owner outer islands have turned the Willy T away, the new Junior Tourism Minister said: “The developers don’t want that type of operation for the level of development that they are doing.”

He then noted that the islands of great benefit to the territory.

“I wouldn’t attach any significance but the level of benefit to the BVI — the employment opportunities and the spin-off benefits to the BVI and tourism — is enormous with those two operations; Norman Island and Peter Island.”

Several other spots in BVI, Salt Island available

O’Neal further pointed out that there are many areas the Willy T can comfortably operate.

“It is not like that (Peter Island) is the only spot in the BVI, there are several other spots,” he reasoned, stating that operators of the Willy T were presented with a number of viable options such as Salt Island.

“They haven’t gotten back to us to say whether they want that spot or not so we are simply waiting on what they have decided.”

He continued: “They have an operation that is appealing to young persons and what they offered is a form of entertainment that the young people gravitate to. So from that aspect, I think it was good. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen anywhere else. It just cannot happen where they were.”

O’Neal said he is open to discussions with the owners of Willy T on paving a way forward.

“I don’t know if they have made the decision to move out of the BVI, [but] it would be unfortunate because I still think they have something to offer,” he said.

The owners of the Willy T told our news centre weeks ago that they are considering all options including whether to leave the BVI for good.

When contacted for an update on their plans, the owners said they had ‘nothing to report’ yet.

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72 Comments

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  1. Gandalf says:

    Reading between the lines here (and maybe wrongfully) I am guessing that Peter Island and Norman Island will be off limits. Those that are deemed ‘desirables’ and only under conditions satisfactory to the owners of those two islands will anyone local be welcome.
    No boats to the beaches, arbitrary ‘swimming only’ areas put out so those that want to come to the beach have to anchor far out. This is not the product I see the BVI surviving on. Remember, our local people are always here, low season through high. I understand exclusivity but not to the exclusion of locals and the privatization of our seabed and beaches which are ours lawfully to use!
    As for you Hubert …. thank God you will only be in charge of our tourism product for 3 more months. Not that Archie knew what he was doing either!!!!!!!

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    • TaxMan says:

      Now that we have lost the finance industry and our elected officials seem to have a lack of focus on building our tourism sector where is our revenue going to come from?

      Next door in the USVI, property owners must pay annual property taxes equal to about 2% of the value of their property.

      Can we make up for the lost revenue by taxing the owner of Norman a fair amount? If they want to control the surroundings – let them pay for the rights. Right? For example, if Norman and Guana are worth $1B – the owner should be paying us about $20M a year in taxes – maybe more?

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      • Anonymous says:

        The only time you pay 2% of the value of the property in the USVI is when you are purchasing to pay the transfer stamp duty. Know what you’re saying please!

        Here in the USVI for residential homes the taxes are calculated using 0.00377 of the property value and land is 0.004946.

        • Sunrise says:

          Well you see we weren’t thought how to do adddition very well here in the BVI. So what you said is close enough. It’s 2% to the tax man.

    • opinion says:

      Two things might have happened:

      (1) Dr Hubert carefully looked at all the data and facts, analysed it and decided it was better not to have the Willie T where it was for the overall health of the tourism industry.

      (2) The billionaire owners of Peter Island called him up and told him to get rid of the Willie T because they didn’t like it, and he jumped up and said “yes sir”.

      I know which one I think is more likely to be true.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds to me like the d——- made a donation to Mr M——–s pockets to have Willy T removed. I think the m——— should be removed. Willy T is good for tourism. Some bullsh-t development that will fall flat on its face is not. The locals have no idea what tourism is all about. They only know the outlet malls in Orlando

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    • Stupes says:

      Willy T’s is a boat at anchorage in the water. First, what right does any land owner have to make a boat move that’s anchored. Does their property lines go out into the water? How about showing the public the development plans where a boat in the water is going to affect development on land. You Africans are really quite stupid. Your Territory is sinking rapidly into the sea and the few in charge are just looking to stuff their pockets before there is nothing left

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      • Political Intelligence says:

        I find your comment to be highly disrespectful. To call down on an entire race and call them stupid over the actions of a few? You’re the one who is clearly stupid for making such a stupid statement.

        This territory is not sinking, you know nothing about the success of this territory.

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        • Anonymous says:

          The actions of the few were put in power by the African belongers. Thus yes the masses are stupid. Next, by the number of thumbs up there is quite a bit of agreement with my statement. Last, the Territory IS sinking. The offshore corporation and banking will rapidly disappear as a result of the new legislation. Thus all that’s left is tourism because the people of the land are non productive. Thus, when the masses allow the few to further deteriorate what’s left of tourism only leads to a simple conclusion.

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          • Political Intelligence says:

            You are a grade A idiot. All around the World politicians can be elected and do actions that are either popular, give and take, or unpopular. The fact that you are probably living here among us Africans, speaks volume of how much you enjoy the success of this territory.

            The territory is growing. So do keep your stupidity to yourself. Or go back to your stupid minded community from which you came.

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    • Outside Observer says:

      I love to visit the BVI often BECAUSE of the undeveloped pristine islands, that have so much natural beauty. The hills of Norman Island look like they did 1000 years and more ago. Keep them that way for the benefit of future generations! In general, don’t allow your islands to become like any other overdeveloped crowded tourist destination (think Miami Beach, etc.). BVI’s pristine nature IS the attraction, for me, at least. Even though Norman Island is privately owned, the BVI Government would have to grant building permits for any kind of development, which they could easily deny, if they were willing look beyond the short-term.

  2. Hmmmm says:

    For an eye doctor you are devoid of vision for our country and our people. You’ve proven this now in the past, currently in the present, and alarmingly clearly for the future. You are NOT a person we want as one of our leaders taking our country in the future!

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  3. Not2Sure says:

    Short sighted. The Willie T is a big draw for the BVI’s chartering industry – our most successful tourism product. High end resorts might be nice for multimillionaires, but they do very little for the Territory’s broader tourism product.

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    • Dolly says:

      Did the owner of Norman give any payola to those ministers voting to approve his development plans?

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    • Greg says:

      I have been to the Willy T many times and people on mega yachts when in the anchorage enjoy.
      One time Michael Douglas and Zeta were there partying.
      It attracts people who enjoy partying.

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  4. fake news says:

    They need to stay right there if you ask me..Peter island does not belong to one person..It is also owned by the Romneys, Smiths, Normans and Durants..If i was willy t owner i would’ve merged with one of those land owners and see what happens then

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    • I AGREE but says:

      Like Norman Island, They gave Sea Bed Rights to Peter Island like they did Oil Nut etc. They put it under the fake name RESERVE or in their case SHARK RESERVE. So they sign away the Caves, Water Rights everything and now Peter Island. So if you have Land Owners and the ConMen call NDP Gave away Water Rights you cannot get access to your land. The Next Government should change all that.Peter was here for decades now all of a sudden they need water rights to build a hotel they have been making money on for years. S—- you and your Thieves need to be recalled urgently. Gus need to stop these things from going through. Clean all of them out and after if they found associated with the deals they sign, arrest and jail for those sad group of people.

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  5. ndp heckler says:

    Ayo see who the NDP looks out for now?

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  6. What? says:

    All Tourism related businesses are important! Do you not believe that some of the type of people visiting Norman or Peter have not enjoyed Willy T? And exactly what type of business is it? Tourism Minister disparaging Local tourism business……Not a good start!

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  7. strupes says:

    I WOULD OF NEVER MOVE, ESPECIALLY AFTER COUNCIL DISSOLVING SOON. THE OWNER OF THE WILLY T NEED TO CONSULT WITH THE GOVERNOR

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  8. well sah says:

    Chasing tourism attractions for tourism WOW!

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  9. . says:

    Why the government didn’t cut a deal or come to an agreement/decision to save Willy T? One of (if not only) recognizable tourist entertainment factors since Irma? You’re crying about money but you’re not even trying to save it either.

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  10. SMDH says:

    Guy doesn’t know his a$$ from his head…. Regardless as it may be sh-t comes out of both ends!!! He is just the next pansy just like Ar—e to be put to talk about The WILLIAM THORTON to the press. Let me say something…. Being someones that does charters its mostly middle-aged or those in their forties that frequent the establishment! yes the younger crowd comes through but ask your self this question JACK—… who exactly charters these mutlimillion vessels? Is it people in their 20/30’s ? NO!!! Next thing is this… Does any one of them know the history of William Thornton the BVIslander? Bet not. Bet they don’t even know who he was! And to answer Gandalf… You are right! They do stop you from going to the beach, have arbitrary swim only areas etc. Also they tell you “Oh this is for resort guests only”. PURE BS! This government only looks out for the super rich. Finally, The Willy T has been around for 30 years and has attracted is fair share of tourists and should be treated as a tourist attraction!!!

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  11. . says:

    Say goodbye to the Willy T. The USVI will be SO HAPPY to welcome it to their waters. Say goodbye to the tourist and sailor dollars. The BVI will be so nice and quiet-too quiet. No tourists, no money.

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  12. valley says:

    voters in the 9th will boot he out right now, not to worry willy t

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  13. Me again says:

    Inside Beef Island bluff is an IDEAL location
    No one to disturb there either
    Only if “OUR” guvernmen has already “ sold” the water rights there too

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  14. Understand says:

    I understand. No one ever said Willy T isn’t beneficial towards the BVI. It’s just that in this case Peter island and Norman island are seen as bigger assets as they attract more, generate jobs for locals etc. The decision isn’t an easy one and no matter which route you choose, some shall be unsatisfied. Unfortunately you cant always save it all. Something had to fold and the most you could do is look the bigger picture and pick the best one.

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  15. Very Unsure BVIslander says:

    The change in the British Virgin Islands and the Island Owners from the States.. is the same as the US Government…for those who kick back and have lots of money…Very sad for us all, it is not ours to enjoy anymore. Those of who live here and work here and help one an other and contribute to each and every lives.

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  16. Kindly Note says:

    Peter Island is not privately owned by one entity. It never was.

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  17. Concerned Professional says:

    Clearly they have not looked closely enough at other options. It’s very easy to identify physical spaces that the Willy T could go, but the ways in which their business and their customers safety would be affected have obviously not been considered.

    The business is highly dependent on day charters from the USVI under its current model. The government’s recent increase in taxes and fees has not helped this. Regardless, due to the cost of fuel, travel time, and economy to their customers, these day boats have an effective range of Cooper Island on the south side, or JVD on the North Side. While some go to the Baths or elsewhere, this does not leave sufficient time for additional stops, like the Willy T.

    When limited to this cruising area, the number of safe anchorages is few. A safe anchorage requires protected waters for visiting vessels, and the Willy T. When docked alongside, this means practically flat water in order to avoid damaging docked vessels (and subsequently losing your client base). Similarly, anchored vessels (mainly term charter boats) will need sufficient protected area to moor or anchor. Due to the predominant North Swell in the winter months and the chop generated by the easterly to south easterly trade winds, this eliminates most anchorages that do not have a degree of protection from the North through to the South East. Previously discussed anchorages such as Salt Island and Diamond Cay are simply too exposed. Ultimately, Norman Island was always the best choice. This is likely why it was chosen so many years ago. Peter Island was the obvious second choice, although not half as good as the original anchorage at Norman. I fear that there is simply not a good third choice when both the company’s current business model, the geography of the area, and the environmental factors are taken into consideration.
    Surely it will take years to develop Norman and Peter. Why would the Willy T not be allowed a stay of execution until then? It may give them a chance to adapt their business model.
    It would seem that there is more to this story than we are being told. Could this have anything to do with the Smiths wanting to turn the Mayflower into a floating restaurant and bar?

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  18. Islander says:

    I wonder who is getting pay off from those two companies to boot WillyT? Are we allowing two businesses to make decisions for these Virgin Islands? What role are our representitives playing in this.? Is not the owners of WillyT belongers, are the young people not our own? This is discrimination to its highest and our politicians are bought in to it. If the proprietors of Peter Island and Norman Island shut down and go, they will replaced by others and more kindly natured people.. Soon the fishermen will be told they cannot fish in those areas.. This is just the beginning under NDP government.

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  19. Slam says:

    Sometimes it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.

  20. NINTH DISTRICT VOTER says:

    I voted for this man but never again. He needs to just resigned.

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  21. Kenny says:

    Gotta make room for the Big Boy Developers, Willy T.

    Sad scene.

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  22. svg says:

    Take it to the grenadines

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  23. PleaseVoteOutNDP says:

    For the betterment of the BVI PLEASE VOTE OUT THE NDP AND DO NOT ALLOW ANY PERSONS FROM THE NDP TO GET BACK INTO OFFICE AS IT WILL ONLY RESULT IN THE SAME OUTCOME OF OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY BEING SOLD OUT TO THOSE WHO DONT HAVE THE DEAR LOCALS AND INTEGRITY OF THIS BLESSED LAND IN THEIR BEST INTEREST.. P.S I BET PICKERING & SMITH HAS PROPERTY AT OIL NUT BAY GIVEN THE FACT THEY GAVE THEM WATER RIGHTS..

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    • Correct says:

      You win your bet. Pickering and Smith do indeed have plots in Oil Nut Bay

      • Well says:

        If that’s the case it’s a conflict of interest. Next it may be illegal. Third it puts in jeopardy any agreements Oil Nut has made with the government. They should all be reviewed.

        • PleaseVoteOutNDP says:

          Conflict of interest it may be but that still hasnt prevented them from doin what they did, I solely remember every saturday when Biras Creek was still open & Oil Nut Bay was in the development stage around mid day the same said people would pop up with his cronies & they would have lunch & wait until they came & picked them up…

  24. BEEF ISLAND says:

    ANCHOR PLEASE AROUND BEEF ISLAND BEACH. LOCALS AND TOURIST WILL LOVE IT. PEOPLE WILL BE THERE DAY AND NIGHT EASIER TO GET 2.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Competition is necessary for businesses to grow.. For the economy to grow.. Our business culture is simply corrupted and this is why there is poor business here.. poor customer service no qualtiy control.. all because we keep doing favors.. are we goin to keep siping on this poison..

  26. SfS says:

    Hubert O’Neal is a s***t. VG can’t wait to get rid of that jack a**. The Willy T will be missed by locals as well as our regional and international visitors. Does that i—- even know the meaning of Tourism Product? Smfh.

  27. Busy Bee says:

    Why can’t we at least wait until the gazillionaire owners of Peter Island break ground. Until that happens, they are all talk and no substance. Do they have plans that have been drawn up?
    I cannot believe that silver has not crossed any palms on this eviction. Seriously.

  28. Eagle eye says:

    O’Neal and Alvera in loosing position so far

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  29. tola says:

    lets put it in Gun Creek.

  30. Rubber Duck says:

    The Willy T is an institution. Certainly in BVIs top ten best known attractions. Find a spot close to Tortola and run a ferry for non boating locals and visitors.

    Don’t give up.

  31. Geez says:

    Bertie NDP made a mistake by giving you a ministerial seat….

  32. Virgin Islander says:

    We don’t need the willy t. And we don’t need all these vendors all over the streets either. Its time to clean up this place. And we need a new design for the large garbage bins all over the place. You can’t expect people to spend millions of dollars and then have these types of businesses right next door. We are a small place;there is not enough physical space to accommodate everything. We must decide if we want tourism, period.

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  33. Clô says:

    NDP need to go…as for O’Neal he can say good-bye to the ppls.

  34. Lol says:

    I love the vote out NDP talk. Name a candidate or party that would go against peter island and normal island developments in favor of willy T.

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  35. The Visitor says:

    If you think about this situation there is on other concusion to arrive at than someone was paid off.
    1) Peter island is at least 2 years away from reopening.
    2) Peter Island Resort does not own any of the shoreline of Great Harbor
    3) Peter Island’s threat not to open is a bluff. They don’t ave that option. Are they really going to abandon a $100+ million asset just because the Willie T is a mile away from any of their facilities?

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    • Agreed says:

      None of this makes sense. As you say Peter is years off from opening. Norman is even further off from opening. I doubt they will have a marketable product for years based on infrastructure building alone, never mind cutting pads for construction and final build out. A LOT of things just do not add up or make sense here! But our Government in the Sunshine ain’t shedding light on nothing.

      • What says:

        Why all the secrecy? Why don’t they share the details with us?
        The feels like the BVI Airlines investment all over again. BTW, is the owner of Norman the push behind building the $300,500,000 runway extension which appears to only benifit BVI property owners appealing to people who have rented jets. If you own your own jet you can land it here now. The private charters require insurance and a slightly longer runway.

        Do our Premier wanted us to spend all that money before he even came up with a plan to fix our schools, our water supply, our roads, our unreliable power.

        • Phil McCracken says:

          ……………….. often use the private yet that belongs to the owner of Norman and Guana.

          Pop that in your pipe and smoke it.

  36. Sick ah dem! says:

    These are the people that say they have our best interest at heart! No wonder Wall *** has these people on his ticket! He can run circles around them and so can those who hold the big bucks!

    Yes O’Neal continue to sell out the BVI and watch your local people suffer… such a f**l! You’re not getting another term! Best believe that!!

    Willy T, please stay in the BVI, we understand your worth and we value your service!! And yes he is top ranking as part of our Tourism product!

    Why would anyone want to pay to see the same sh@t they have in their country? People come to see things that are different.., another five star hotel with 2% locals working for $4! Ohhhh how NDP loves us! Sickening!!!

  37. Diaspora says:

    The water belongs to the BVI and the people. However, it appears as if the owner(s) of Norman Island and Peter Island wants full riparian/water rights of the surrounding water (sea). The owner(s) of Norman Island and Peter Island should have reasonable use of the waters around and abutting their property. Reasonable use recognized, other residents should be able to also reasonably use the water. The use of the water should not be the province of the few at the expense of the many, the rich, the elites….etc.

    Willy T provides valuable entertainment to locals and visitors so why can’t it share the territory’s water around Norman and Peter. BVI needs external investment but that investment should be a win-win for both locals/territory and investors. However, the territory and its people should not be prisoner to investors.

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    • Hmmmm says:

      They already give Norman Island and Peter Island Water Rights.. The Caves on Norman is now Private. I guess the cheque they getting they sleeping good at nights.

  38. shocked says:

    “I wouldn’t attach any significance but the level of benefit to the BVI — the employment opportunities and the spin-off benefits to the BVI and tourism — is enormous with those two operations; Norman Island and Peter Island.”

    IS HE CRAZY!!!!!The level of benefit to the BVI and tourism from the William Thornton is huge….Peter and Norman are not the only places that draw tourists and visitors. Lose the WT and you’ll see your tourist income drop significantly. And he’s our Jr. Minister of Tourism. We’re in trouble!

  39. shocked says:

    Oh and Salt Island is not a viable or good spot at all Dr.O’eal

  40. Lose more than it will gain says:

    Even with the ridiculous fees the BVI is charging boats to come to the BVI, the Willy T was an attraction that people were willing to pay to go to. As the BVI government continues to sell off its assets to the highest bidder, the BVI will lose more than it will ever gain.

  41. rastarite says:

    The Wiilie T attracts visitors right across the spectrum form mega yacht guests to bareboaters. There is no need for them to move because it would not have a negative affect on any resort. Has O’Neale ever been to the Wille T? Probably not.

    Poor decision! I hope the Wille T finds a good spot just off Little Jost and gets permission in writing so they don’t get jerked around any further.

  42. Smdh says:

    We need attractions for the tourists and the Willy T, has been a highlight of BVI tourism product. Our Leaders are set of. Blind Mice. My God these damn genuises are doing their very best to destroy our beautiful Virgin Islands.

  43. Rainbow says:

    This is why Hubert wont be re-elected

  44. Alexis says:

    The Willy T was on Norman Island for years with nott any other places on the island until some rich p=ke (that the BVI loves) buys it and wants to make it some fancy rich ass resort billshit. Sure ONeal get them to go to Salt until some other rich p=ke buys out the government again and make them relocate again!!! 5 star resorts here and there for the rich fools is ok but don’t take over!!! The Willy T is a fun place!!!

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