Scott Hart, a native of Bracebridge, Ontario Canada did not in his wildest dreams imagine that he would one day be the General Manager of a Five Star Resort in the Caribbean. In fact, Scott paid his way through school, managing bars and restaurants in the hopes of becoming a teacher, so much so that he spent a year as an educator.
During that year Scott quickly realized that teaching was not the right career for him and decided to make a life-changing career swap. “I realized I preferred hospitality over education, so I helped some friends open some restaurants and then I was meant to open my own in Toronto”.
As he set out on his new endeavor, he was faced with a unique situation in which he was given a year’s wait for the backing of his restaurant to be completed. During this process, he took the opportunity to visit the British Virgin Islands for what he called “a fun year”; this is where he met his wife, Paloma.
“She didn’t want to move to Toronto, so she convinced me to try and open a restaurant in the BVI, which wasn’t easy because my backers in Toronto didn’t want to invest in an offshore jurisdiction they had never heard of”.
Scott and his wife then took it upon themselves to start saving funds to open a restaurant in the BVI. They spent a considerable amount of time doing so and with the assistance of friends they made it possible. In 2002, they started the Dove Restaurant and Bar. It became so successful that in 2008 he was hand picked to manage the Frenchman’s Hotel on Frenchman’s Cay.
Scott and his wife recently sold The Dove and he is now the General Manager at Peter Island Resort & Spa. He mentioned that his new position came just a few days after signing on his terms of sale for the Dove Restaurant & Bar, relieving his fears of having to leave the BVI after the sale was completed.
“We found out that the job at Peter Island was available. I started the interview process and it was a real whirlwind and here I am now, it was very serendipitous!”
In his new position as General Manager at Peter Island Resort, Scott continues to practice the same ethos from his previous business: People First.
“It really is the backbone that both those businesses were built on; that philosophy is also how Peter Island is run”.
For Scott, great achievement comes with great responsibility and successfully maintaining a resort of this stature is not straightforward. One of the biggest challenges is airlift – getting people into the BVI.
When looking at comparable properties in the region, on Turks & Caicos, Antigua or the Cayman Islands, these destinations enjoy direct flights, pulling in 20-30% higher occupancy rates each year than that of Peter Island. Tourist transfers are also an issue the property faces, because of the difficulties in getting guests directly to the resort.
“We work really hard to get our guests here; news of the direct flight from Miami to the BVI is so amazing for all of us. It would definitely eliminate my biggest challenge”.
Concerning recent events regarding the temporary closing of Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort, Scott does expect that there will be increased bookings with transfers from the Rosewood property. “We’ve always had a great partnership, we all work together in a small niche and taking one of those key players out, significantly decreases the attention in the media”.
The idea of travel has constantly changed throughout the years and Scott sees the future of travel becoming focused on health centric holidays. Having seen an increase of guests actively engaged in morning runs and bike rides; he notes that people are becoming increasingly aware of their health. Scott’s vision for the resort combines healthy foods and exercise with a new Food & Beverage program.
“My vision is to try and marry the F&B program with the spa program, because I really see that the future for travel is not people sitting on the beach drinking Piña Coladas or expecting all you can eat buffets”.
With the Spa recently voted as Best Spa in the Caribbean for 2016 by Condé Nast Traveller, Scott is certainly ensuring that the vision is not undercut. New Executive Chef, Todd Howard, is also involved in the quiet construction of this new program and has brought with him a lot of modern skills to cooking. “He has this incredible knowledge combined with a fantastic work ethic”.
Todd has worked in some of the top Restaurants in the UK and Canada, including well-known Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Restaurant.
With 1,800 acres of land at Peter Island, Scott also plans on starting a garden center for the resort in his efforts to bring a fresher way of eating to guests. “We’ll be setting up two garden centers here on Peter Island, which will serve two purposes, one for the Chef’s garden and another for the nursery”.
This is just the first step of the project, after seeing their return on investment they will in turn reinvest their savings to expand the garden. They have also begun a beehive which Scott says produces “amazingly delicious” honey.
With their undisputed reputation and friendly staff, Peter Island Resort has seen many visitors from around the world. They have also seen a great change in their demographic as the majority of their visitors are now from the US, whereas 10 years ago 70% of visitors were from the UK.
Scott gave much credit for the success of the property to his hard-working staff, their commitment and dedication to service. “Our resort is built on two pillars, the staff and the location. They are amazing”.
The resort now features a new welcome pavilion, dive shop, a Captain's Lounge and Commissary and completely redesigned Ocean View Rooms; a new Administration building is now in progress
We asked Scott to describe Peter Island Resort & Spa and he simply put it in one word, “Paradise”. We firmly agree.