The Hokin Family and Bitter End Yacht Club
In the summer of 1964, the Hokins, Myron, Bernice and their sons Richard and William, visited Little Dix Bay and brought their 24' sportfisherman, REM, to explore the British Virgin Island's angling opportunities. They spent many days in North Sound, Virgin Gorda, finding the Sound remote and quiet, much as they imagined it had been three centuries before, when English freebooters Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins anchored in its shelter, planning daring raids. Captivated by the Sound’s natural beauty, the Hokins returned many times in the sixties, either in the chartered ketch Tontine, or in their own ketch, Alianora.
Discovering Bitter End
While sailing the BVI in the early 70s, the Hokins came upon Bitter End, a shorefront pub with five cottages that clung to the unlandscaped hillside. Basil Symonette, owner and pioneer Virgin Island yachtsman, had built the place for charter captains and adventurous sailors. Accommodations were rustic. Beds were made with paper sheets, and only cold water ran in the bathrooms. An old diesel generator provided evening lights, and water was collected on the roofs and stored in cisterns that doubled as cottage foundations. If visiting yachtsmen came for dinner, they were required to approach a long wooden pier and sound their boat's air horn. If Basil, the eccentric son of the last colonial governor of the Bahamas, felt sociable, he would respond by megaphone and the visitor would be allowed to come ashore and buy a meal. The evening would last until Basil would abruptly decide it was time for lights out and shut down the generator.
Several years’ earlier, teenage circumnavigator and author of Dove, Robin Lee Graham, had sailed into North Sound and found the tiny resort under construction. "Some people here at a place called The Bitter End are building a resort. They have found a really lovely spot and they've hauled in all the material they need,” he wrote. Graham’s stay turned from days to months as he helped with construction. Walls, windows and tiles he installed can still be seen in the resort's five original cottages.
An Offer They Couldn’t Refuse
Myron and Bernice frequently visited Bitter End and enjoyed many lively conversations with Basil. Bernice suggested that it would be nice to have a place to go ashore for a day or two. With that, Myron offered to buy or lease an acre from Basil to build a cottage for himself and Bernice. Symonette needed time to consider the proposition and promised an answer when the Hokins next called at Bitter End. A few weeks later, Myron and Bernice returned to find that Basil had decided against their proposal. Instead, he offered to sell them the entire place. Realizing that Bitter End would make a perfect family retreat, the Hokins bought the resort in 1973. Don Neal, charter captain of their sportfisherman Reef Sampler, became its major domo.
A Family of Explorers
While none of them had any experience running a hotel, the Hokin family had plenty of enthusiasm. With grandchildren and picnic basket in hand, they explored the islands from Anegada to the Dogs. They found that surrounding reefs offered spectacular snorkeling and diving. Neighboring islands and cays had beautiful deserted beaches for shelling. The flats, reefs and offshore waters offered abundant populations of bonefish and other game fish. The area was ideal for sailing, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and beachcombing. As their interest and familiarity with the islands grew, so did their desire to share their experiences.
Sharing the Incomparable Bitter End Experience
British Virgin Islanders were just as excited as the Hokins to share their love for the islands and sea. With their help, the family created a special and welcoming place for many to enjoy. Architect Peter Brill, who gave up the world of city skyscrapers for a sunnier life sailing the Caribbean, worked with Myron to design Bitter End's breezy buildings and cottages. It was their intention that the resort be organic, comfortable and beautiful. Sustainable then and now, Bitter End generates its own electricity, collects and distills its own water, utilizes solar power and uses treated grey waste shower water to irrigate the hillside gardens.
Today Bitter End has become the world's finest watersports resort, enjoying a worldwide reputation and a loyal coterie of families, friends, and couples who love its watersports and incomparable way of life. The resort’s Club Fleet includes top of the line sailboats, skiffs, windsurfers, roomy excursion boats, and more. Exciting day trips, inspired by those early family outings, have been added over the years.
As Bitter End has evolved, its course has remained constant: families remain at its core. Hokin family members are all dedicated to the resort’s longevity and take great satisfaction in providing each guest with an enjoyable, one-of-a-kind Bitter End vacation.