Perfect timing: At the U.S.V.I. Symposium in late June, a guide told me the National Park System had finished restoring Fort Christian (b. 1670s) in Charlotte Amalie just in time for the U.S. Virgin Islands’ 100th Transfer Day. I wondered, What more could go so right? Plenty, especially in the hotel sector:
- Sugar Bay Beach Resort & Spa on St. Thomas has returned from limbo with a refreshed purple/blue-and-white lobby and new restaurants, chefs, landscaping, and soft furnishings in the 294 guestrooms. However, when I privately asked (the unfailingly cheerful and helpful) hotel workers what was the biggest improvement at the resort, every one of them named general manager Ronald Maidens (since 2016) and hotel manager George Garcia, who have dramatically increased everyone’s professionalism. For more information, visit sugarbayresortandspa.com, or click here for the travel agents portal.
- The Westin St. John Resort Villas is on the final stretch of a $35 million renovation that has, among other things, turned all accommodations into “villas” — that is, studio, one-, two-, or three-bedroom units with fully equipped kitchenettes or stainless steel kitchens. I was most impressed by the units near the water, such as #1413, with its polished barn door in the bedroom, grey taupe hues, and peaceful garden view. For more information, visit westinresortstjohn.com or click here for the travel agents site.
- Caneel Bay, with 166 rooms on 170 acres (do the math!), upgraded 23 rooms on Scott and Paradise beaches in late 2016—they look as if they were completed yesterday—and the restaurants’ offerings. Now the cottages have new interiors, art, and bath fixtures, yet the resort and the service still evoke the low-key graciousness of the Rockefeller era. For more information, visit caneelbay.com.
- Caravelle Hotel & Casino in Christiansted, St. Croix, completed a renovation in 2016 that was so thorough, it even included new walls, wiring, and plumbing. As you read this the hotel is adding an elevator, too, and it’s just launched a 3-night Alexander Hamilton package. Remember: It was on St. Croix that the world first noticed young Hamilton’s genius. For more information, visit hotelcaravelle.com.
- The Buccaneer, a former plantation and a member of Historic Hotels of America, recently renovated its tennis, golf, and fitness facilities. There’s more to come, too, including a new bar for the Mermaid beachfront restaurant and the transformation of the cluster of rooms near the tennis facility into 2-bedroom suites. Look for more on The Buccaneer in the September Recommend. For more information, visit thebuccaneer.com.
- Sand Castle on the Beach, on an idyllic beach at the edge of Bohemian Frederiksted, has new owners who serve guests Crucian continental breakfasts and are remodeling the beachfront area. This friendly, 21-key boutique is ideal for buyouts (a 6-unit enclave with pool across the quiet road) and for people who want kitchen facilities (in three of the room categories). For more information, visit sandcastleonthebeach.com.
- The Fred, opening in December, will be a cosmopolitan, high-design, 23-room collection of historic and new buildings right on the beach in Frederiksted. There’s nothing quite like it on St. Croix or, arguably, in the entire Caribbean. Its restaurant, bar, and boardwalk seem poised to be THE destination for hip travelers. For more information, visit sleepwithfred.com.