Ocean Spa BVI: a floating spa built from the wreckage of Hurricane Irma

Ocean Spa BVI

Ocean Spa BVI, the only floating spa in the British Virgin Islands, was built out of lumber from the wreckage of Hurricane Irma.

Ocean Spa BVI is a floating spa, anchored off the coast of the island of Jost Van Dyke in White Bay, in the British Virgin Islands. Rocking gently on the serene, salty waters, it is the only floating spa in the BVI and one of the only floating spas in all of the Caribbean. 

The 550 square-foot structure was created by Dale Mapp, a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry. It took 10 years for Mapp to realize his dream of opening a spa, and Ocean Spa BVI is his third try. The first attempt was vandalized, and the second was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, which swept through the open Atlantic region in September, 2017. 

The most powerful hurricane on record in the area at the time, Irma caused catastrophic damage and killed more than 130 people. The British Virgin Islands were hit hard. The island of Tortola bore the brunt of the core, suffering damage to structures and seeing residential areas left in ruins. And almost all of the homes and businesses on Jost Van Dyke, the smallest of the BVI’s four main islands, were destroyed. The restoration of electricity alone took five months. 

“I had no choice but to rebuild”

“After the hurricane struck, I felt I had no choice but to rebuild and not give up, so I continued,” Mapp told Spa Executive. He rebuilt the spa, this time with lumber salvaged from Irma’s wreckage, sourcing materials from the dump — “wooden gates, storage boxes, closet doors, and bits of people’s roofs.” He and one other person built the spa over four months, and it now sits on the water on a pontoon, supported by aluminum, and boasting a five-star rating on TripAdvisor. 

Windows beneath the massage tables allow guests to gaze into the water below

Access to the spa is by water. Mapp provides a complimentary dinghy taxi to and from, but more adventurous guests choose to boat, paddle board, kayak, or swim their way there. There are four treatment rooms, where guests can enjoy spa treatments and, as Mapp told Spa Executive, “the feeling of floating on the Ocean with the gentle sway, reminiscent of being rocked in a cradle while inhaling the most revitalizing sea air.” Rectangular windows under the massage tables, inspired by glass bottomed boats, allow people to gaze into the water and watch the colorful fish swimming around below.

“A dolphin even swam under once while I was giving a massage,” said Mapp.

 

Ocean Spa BVI offers a simple menu, consisting of seven massage options, provided by Mapp and one other employee. These include a 75-minute Sunset Couples Massage with two glasses of sparkling wine, a 60-minute Ocean Bliss Aromatherapy Massage, and a 30-minute Ocean Head Massage.

Mapp said of his finally realized dream, “It feels as if it has a soul. Pieces of BVI homes and lives created this memorable and unique floating spa.”

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