Mr. Mapp is the owner of the new Ocean Spa BVI, a floating spa in White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. The following are his words, condensed and edited by Claire Shefchik.
This is actually my third [spa]. My first one was in Barbados and it didn’t quite work out there: We had some structural issues, and then I moved to the BVI a few years ago. Barbados has a straight coastline and it has tides. Here, I thought, the water is really calm, so I built it. It was actually completed before Irma, but I had no choice but to rebuild and not give up, so I continued.
Because I had enough money to do it, I decided to source the materials from the dump. It’s made from salvaged materials after Irma, with bits of people’s roofs on it and stuff like that: wooden gates, storage boxes, closet doors and things. That was the help of the builder. He said, “I’ll just go and get it,” and that’s what I did. It took four months to complete.
We opened October 21. It was completed before the hurricane season came, and it was just very nerve-wrack- ing. Not sure if we could get a hurricane again and it would be over before I got started. I wanted it to be on one of the most beautiful beaches in the BVI. It’s high traffic but it’s also quiet down at the far end, away from Soggy Dollar, more by White Bay Villas and Ivan’s.
My background is in hospitality. I was working managing restaurants and as the operations manager for a casino, but I got tired of the traditional industry. I wanted to come up with some other way to continue working in it and make a contribution, and I rolled around a few thoughts in my head, things I love and things I don’t love, and spas were something I really took a liking to. It just evolved from there. I looked for someplace to rent. I remember guests telling me to have a spa treatment, I have to cross the shore, across the sand across to the lobby, and then make it back to the beach. I needed a place more accessible. Some [guests] dinghy, kayak, paddleboard, pull up in the boats.
It’s myself and one other employee. It’s a 10-year dream. When I was about to start it in Barbados, I did courses. It really was necessary. I knew it was a business I wanted to get involved in. To me, I want to work as if I’m on vacation. It allows me flexibility. I have had an interest in health and wellness for years.I’m fascinated with the ocean, its healing properties. Really and truly that’s how I want to spend the rest of my life — surrounded by ocean water and breathing clear air — and I want to expose other people to the health and benefits of it. We take the ocean for granted when we really shouldn’t. Imagine people’s problems being improved by soaking in the ocean. The qualities of the ocean water are the same as cells in our body. It’s a similar makeup.
It adds depth to someone’s vacation. The bars and every- thing, that’s fun, but how you really sustain the tourism industry is how you involve the people. Someone may have been here 30 years ago and drinking 30 painkillers at the bar, but their life has changed. What can we offer them besides bars and excessive drinking? They went to the bars when they were single and now they have their family and still want to enjoy their vacation. What is there for them? We have to be creative and come up with ideas for people to enjoy that we would enjoy ourselves.
It hasn’t really been done in this region that I’m aware of, something as gentle as a sway of the spa, the sound of the ocean, the smell of the salt air, the sun coming through the window, just cleaning up your body a bit.When you combine all these things, Mother Nature has done more than half the job for me.