Openings, Renovations And Expansions Bring Out The Best In The Usvi

More than $500 million dollars invested in new and expanded tourism projects

As one of the most scenic and romantic destinations in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to react to the tourism industry‘s impressive growth with responsible expansion and development investments totaling more than $500 million. The breathtaking islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas boast new and refurbished marinas, restaurants, hotels and resorts, further solidifying the reputation of America‘s Caribbean as the region‘s top choice for travelers seeking a luxury vacation.

“Our three glorious islands are constantly benefiting from positive development projects that give our repeat guests and first-time visitors the best experiences possible,” says Beverly Nicholson-Doty, U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism, referring to endeavors including the Yacht Haven Grande marina in St. Thomas, airfare credits to St. Croix and villa conversions at the Westin St. John Resort. “These ventures underscore how important the tourism industry is to our islands, and help to assure that America‘s Caribbean remains a top destination pick for sophisticated travelers from all over the world.”

Among the exciting developments are the following:

Wyndham® St. Croix Golf Resort and Casino

The Wyndham Hotels and Resorts announced it will enter a new Caribbean market with the development of the luxury 400-room Wyndham® St. Croix Golf Resort and Casino, which will become the keystone of a $250 million complex that includes a new 43,000-square foot conference center on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The 294-acre property broke ground this spring and will open its doors in 2010, featuring a 25,000 square-foot casino; 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course; 17,000 square-foot world-class spa and fitness center; four restaurants; lounges; retail stores; and kid’s club. The property will be located on the south shore of St. Croix, near downtown Christiansted and 15 minutes from Henry E. Rohlsen International Airport. The conference center will share the resort’s amenities and services including entertainment and food and beverage facilities. Additional information is available at www.wyndhamworldwide.com. Contact info for this project is Paul Golden, paulgolden@goldenresorts.net

At Home in the Tropics Bed and Breakfast, St. Thomas

At Home in the Tropics, a delightful bed and breakfast in St. Thomas, opened on Blackbeard‘s Hill overlooking Charlotte Amalie Harbor. A gracious former home built in 1803, this intimate B&B features four sunny and spacious guest rooms—all with private baths and picturesque ocean views. Guests can relax on one of three decks, swim in the deep-water pool, help themselves to the honor bar and wake to a sumptuous breakfast each morning. For further details, call (340) 777-9857 or visit athomeinthetropics.com.

Pond Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Pond Bay, a 15-acre development consisting of 50 exquisitely furnished three-bedroom cottages and villas, on one of the last beachfront properties is in development on the island of St. John. Pond Bay is the sister property to St. Barth‘s highly acclaimed Isle de France Club and feature recreational facilities such as a large beachfront pool with gazebo bar and beach club. The heart of the Pond Bay project—both socially and geographically—will be the Pond Bay House, which will be home to an elegant yet comfortable 100-seat restaurant adjacent to the 16,000-square-foot destination spa designed by the internationally acclaimed E’SPA group and a gym featuring a wide array of cardiovascular activities. In addition, Pond Bay is aggressively taking steps not only to protect the environment but also to enhance it. The Pond will remain untouched to maintain the natural migration of birds and other animals while planting additional mangroves to improve drainage. A Turtle Monitoring Program has been implemented to provide better beach nesting areas. Pond Bay is monitoring water quality both in the bay and the pond to enhance the health of the critical coral formations and sea grasses. For more information, contact Daphna Barzilay at (212) 683-2442.

Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas

Since its debut, the $150 million Yacht Haven Grande has claimed its rightful place as the Caribbean‘s most comprehensive and well-appointed marina. Specifically designed for mega-yachts and catering to those who own or operate them, Yacht Haven Grande is a mixed-use luxury lifestyle destination overlooking the largest natural harbor in the Caribbean. This world-class complex features a Yacht Club, extensive retail and office space, four restaurants and 12 three-bedroom condominiums with balconies facing the sparkling waters. From its Long Bay Harbor location, yachtsmen may dock vessels up to 450 feet in length, refuel in-slip and have in-slip access to high-speed communications connections. Gourmet provisions, catering, laundry and florist services are among Yacht Haven Grande other thoughtful amenities. Yacht Haven Grande is a project of Island Capital Group, LLC, a New York-based real estate merchant-banking firm. For more information, visit yachthavengrande.com.

Upscale Cottage Campground Opens On Water Island, St. Thomas

Visitors who yearn to feel close to nature without giving up the comforts of home will love the newly opened Virgin Islands Campground on residential, 500-acre Water Island, just a ten-minute ferry ride from Crown Bay, St. Thomas. Its eco-sensitive wood-frame-and-canvas cottages are nestled among lush foliage and have private terraces that overlook the sea. In order to maintain a minimal environmental footprint, cottages are equipped with wind-powered electricity, comfortable beds, linens and towels, lounge chairs and a cooler. Guests can sunbathe next to the solar-heated hot tub or take a five-minute walk down to beautiful Honeymoon Beach. They can also grill and eat meals at the nearby Pavilion (gas grill, cooking utensils and dishware provided) and wash up at the clean and spacious communal Bathhouse—with solar-heated collected rainwater used for the sinks and showers. For those who prefer their own space, the campground rents one efficiency apartment with a king-size bed, kitchenette, private bath and an ocean view. The campground offers bicycle and snorkel rentals and a communications room with Internet access and satellite TV. Cottage rates start at $75 per night, double occupancy. For further information, call (877) 502-7225 or visit virginislandscampground.com.

Marriott Frenchman‘s Cove, St. Thomas

Marriott Vacation Club International is constructing the multimillion-dollar Marriott Frenchman‘s Cove—its first timeshare resort on St. Thomas. Adjacent to the 504-room Frenchman‘s Reef Marriott Beach Resort and spread over 13 waterfront acres overlooking Pacquereau Bay, the timeshare resort‘s first phase features 28 Danish colonial-inspired villas with balconies, an Infinity pool and a fitness center. A health club and pool bar will follow soon. When completed, the property will comprise 220 two- and three-level vacation homes within seven buildings for owners and renters. For further details, call (800) 527-1787 or visit marriott-timeshare.com.

NEW AND UPDATED HOTEL RENOVATION PROJECTS

Jumeirah Botany Bay Resort , St. Thomas

Located in a dramatic setting where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Jumeirah Botany Bay Resort, formerly known as The Preserve at Botany Bay, will be located 15 minutes away from the Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas, with regular flights connecting the tropical island to the United States. Guests of the world-class luxury resort will enjoy several beaches, secluded coves, a pristine coral reef and a nature conservancy, fine dining restaurants and a beach club as well as a Talise Wellness spa.

Jumeirah will manage the five-star boutique hotel of 84 rooms, spread over nine graceful buildings in an intimate and secluded setting. Scheduled to open in 2011, the 400-acre resort will also include 30 fractional residences, 30 whole ownership villas and up to 20 grand estates. These serviced residences will be managed by Jumeirah Living, combining the luxury of a prestige hotel with all the privacy and comforts of home. The island of St. Thomas has been inhabited for over 2500 years and the area features extensive pre-Colombian artifacts; the developers worked with a team of scientists to preserve the most sensitive aspects of the site and perform significant archaeological work. In addition, the resort will respect responsible construction principles, with the use of solar power, protection of reef and coastal areas, a desalinisation plant and planted roofs, among other initiatives. Jumeirah Botany Bay Resort will also contribute to the economic development of the island by creating jobs for the local population.

 

Carambola Beach Resort, St. Croix

Located on St. Croix‘s north shore, the oceanfront Carambola Beach Resort has announced that it will join the Renaissance Hotels & Resorts family. In conjunction with this important news, the 151-room resort will undergo a transformation thanks to a $20 million renovation and expansion of its accommodations, meeting spaces, restaurants and lounges and public spaces. In addition, the resort‘s lavish new 2,200 square-foot Larimar Spa has recently opened. For more details, call (888) 503-8760 or visit carambolabeach.com.

$25 Million Renovation Complete At Frenchman‘s Reef And Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas

Summer of 2007 welcomed the completion of the hotly anticipated, two-year, $25 million overhaul, which has enhanced every public space in the 479-room Frenchman‘s Reef. Guests will enjoy Revive bedding, mahogany and granite furniture, new window treatments and new bathroom amenities in both the main hotel and the more intimate 96-unit beachfront Morning Star Resort. All 28 suites at Frenchman‘s Reef have been refreshed, with $100,000 spent on each of the four bi-level Grand Suites. The lobbies in both buildings have been renewed with brightly hued, contemporary Caribbean furniture. Morning Star Resort now boasts a more relaxed check-in area, while the attractive pod seating in the lobby of Frenchman‘s Reef is conducive to socializing and conducting business. And Windows on the Harbour, one of the resort‘s five restaurants, features new carpeting and booths as well as a revised menu, which includes a “Fit for you” section offering low-cholesterol, carb-conscious and low-fat meals. For further details and reservations, call (800) 524-2000 or visit frenchmansreefmarriott.com.

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomasv

Consistently ranked among the finest resorts in the Caribbean, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, has completed extensive renovations and enhancements to its 30-acre beachfront property. The $40 million project includes the addition of 55 guest rooms, 16 executive suites, four presidential suites and two beautifully designed villas. The guest experience has been dramatically enhanced, with significant improvements in areas ranging from spa and weddings to dining. The Ritz-Carlton Spa has doubled in size, adding eight treatment rooms, open-air cabanas, an outdoor relaxation terrace overlooking the ocean and separate ocean-view exercise studios. Already a favorite setting for small weddings, the resort will add two outdoor gazebos for seaside ceremonies, as well as a meditation garden where brides can choose tropical flowers for their bridal bouquet and couples can plant a tree as an enduring symbol of their love. Culinary upgrades include reconfigured and enlarged restaurants, featuring Ocean‘s, the resort‘s eclectic seafood restaurant serving the island‘s freshest catch, and Sails, an oceanfront favorite with all-day open-air dining directly on the Caribbean. For details and reservations, call (800) 241-3333 or visit ritzcarlton.com.

The Buccaneer, St. Croix

The Buccaneer resort is undergoing a $4 million property renovation, which includes an overhaul of the lobby, Terrace restaurant and bar, room improvements, golf course re-design and more. The Buccaneer was founded in the 17th century and has been family-run for generations. The Caribbean‘s and U.S. Virgin Island‘s longest running resort, The Buccaneer blends old world charm with warm hospitality and the amenities expected by today‘s most sophisticated travelers. For more details, call (800) 255-3881 or visit thebuccaneer.com.

Westin St. John Resort & Villas, St. Johnv

The Westin St. John Resort & Villas is converting 186 existing hotel rooms in seven buildings located within the resort‘s hillside section into 94 two- and three-bedroom villas for sale overlooking Great Cruz Bay. Construction of the first 54 villas began in July 2006 with the second phase of 40 villas which began shortly thereafter. The Westin St. John Resort & Villas currently has a total of 92 studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas. Owners and guests will enjoy full access to all amenities at The Westin St. John, including the pools, spa, fitness facility, beachside water activities, tennis, Westin Kids Club and hotel restaurants. For more information, call (866) 4-STAR-PR or visit westinresortstjohn.com.

NEW/UPDATED CRUISE FACILITIES

Frederiksted Revitalization, St. Croix

The Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility—the main cruise ship port for St. Croix—and the Frederiksted pier area have undergone a comprehensive transformation. Visitors and residents will now enjoy a lush park, fountains and cobbled pedestrian paths stretching one-quarter mile along the town‘s waterfront. The pier was upgraded to accommodate two eagle-class vessels and two mini-cruise vessels and now serves as a gateway to St. Croix. A shopping area with permanent vendors‘ booths is located within walking distance of the pier—with space for additional booths on days when cruise ships dock. Taxis and tour buses regularly depart from the pier, taking visitors to Christiansted, the island‘s other main town, and to beaches, shopping and attractions throughout the island. Along the waterfront, an elevated stage provides the perfect setting for Frederiksted‘s monthly Sunset Jazz Festivals, where residents and visitors enjoy music from locally and internationally acclaimed jazz artists against the backdrop of a spectacular Caribbean sunset.

Crown Bay Center, St. Thomas

Having recently opened on St. Thomas, the $28 million Crown Bay Center provides visitors and residents with an unsurpassed range of products and services. This upscale, waterfront retail shopping and commercial center, located on the southwest side of the island at the Crown Bay cruise ship pier, offers a range of new dining options, nightly entertainment, specialty retail and tourist-oriented retail outlets. For more information, call (340) 774-1629.

NEW ATTRACTIONS

New Visitor Center Opens On St. Thomas

The Lucky Iguana Visitor Center recently opened its doors for business. Located at the corner of Main Street and the historic Rothschild Francis Market Square in the heart of Charlotte Amalie‘s downtown shopping district on St. Thomas, the Visitor Center provides information and concierge services on attractions, restaurants, shopping, nightlife and the arts; maps; special event schedules; detailed information about hotels & public transportation; the Wifi Hot Spot Café & Ice Cream Corner with Internet & email services; a boutique souvenir shop; a Western Union Money Transfer booth; same-day luggage storage; phones and phone cards; an ATM; and video lottery games. The Visitor Center will be open Monday though Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call The Lucky Iguana Visitor Center at (340) 774-0450.

ParadiseGate, St. Thomas

Recently opened on the West Indian Company cruise ship dock in St. Thomas, ParadiseGate is an exciting multi-use recreational center and club that includes a swimming pool, a full-service gym (offering both day passes and annual memberships) and a game room with pool tables, flat-screen TVs and an arcade. Guests will also find an espresso bar and two full-service restaurants, one of which specializes in local dishes. In addition, web-savvy guests can take advantage of a 30-station Internet kiosk, as well as a wireless phone center and a Western Union office. ParadiseGate is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For further details, call (340) 714-1400 or visit paradisegate.net.

Butterfly Farm Opens At Havensight Mall, St. Thomas

After much anticipation, the Butterfly Farm has opened on the Cruise Ship Dock at Havensight Mall in St. Thomas. Visitors walk through a 10,000 square-foot atrium, which contains beautiful tropical landscaped gardens, exotic flowers and pools as well as 30 unique species of butterflies from all over the world that fly freely around the space. A twenty-five minute guided tour provides information on the evolutionary cycle of the butterflies from microscopic eggs to exotic caterpillars. The Butterfly Farm is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (the last tour is at 4:30 p.m.). Admission is $9 for children and $15 for adults. Admission is free for children under 3. For more information, call (340) 715 3366 or visit thebutterflyfarm.com.

Green Innovations, New Pavilion And Café At Estate Concordia Preserve, St. John

Estate Concordia Preserve‘s latest addition includes a store, a café with alfresco dining and an event pavilion with a large open space boasting a 280-degree panoramic view. The Concordia Pavilion and Café features a 1,500-square-foot greenhouse-covered roof deck and an open-air restaurant overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Offering a stunning setting, the wheelchair-accessible pavilion can easily accommodate parties of 50 or more for meetings, retreats, workshops, weddings, receptions and yoga. St. John architect Glenn Speer used green building techniques throughout: The Pavilion deck was built entirely of rock-filled gabion baskets excavated from the site, which were then planted with native vines and hanging plants to blend into the natural landscape. Water is collected from the roof and made potable onsite. Glass blocks invite natural light and fixtures were crafted at Maho Bay Camps recycled arts center. Estate Concordia Preserve, on the less traveled southeast corner of St. John, abuts the Virgin Islands National Park‘s Salt Pond area. Salt Pond Bay‘s white sand and calm water are an easy 15-minute walk from Concordia along a scenic trail. Each of Concordia‘s 25 eco-tents is solar-powered (shower, lights, refrigerators, electric fans) and includes a sleeping loft in addition to a first-floor bedroom area. For further details and reservations, call (800) 392-9004 or visit maho.org.

Sea Lions Splash Down At Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas

Coral World welcomed four male South American sea lions to its facility at Coki Point. Romeo, Remo, Omar and Franco arrived from the International Sea Lion Search and Rescue facility in Koh Samui, Thailand, where they have lived for the last two years. Coral World has begun to invite small groups of visitors to interact with the sea lions. During an educational briefing, participants will learn about various topics including sea lion habitat, feeding habits, predation, reproductive biology, threats to longevity, and conservation. Following the orientation, participants will have an opportunity to see a demonstration of behaviors by the sea lions and then swim with them. For more information about Coral World Ocean Park, visit coralworldvi.com.

TRAVEL PACKAGES

America‘s Caribbean Welcomes U.S. Troops with Special Package

In an effort to show support for U.S. Armed Forces active-duty service members, reservists, veterans, retirees and their families, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department is Tourism is pleased to introduce the Mission: USVI Vacation package, a travel offer encouraging military to take advantage of all the U.S. Virgin Islands have to offer singles, couples and families. Along with the rich culture, breathtaking beaches, tempting duty-free shopping and endless entertainment found on St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas, military personnel who book the Mission: USVI Vacation package will receive coupons for $100 dinner specials, a $50 shopping certificate, a $50 resort credit towards accommodations, $50 towards various activities throughout the islands, plus children under the age of 12 stay for free. Participating hotels include Carambola Beach Resort, Club St. Croix Beach Resort, Colony Cove Beach Resort, Divi Carina Bay, The Buccaneer and The Hotel Caravelle in St. Croix, The Westin St. John Resort and Villas in St. John, as well as Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, Frenchman‘s Reef Marriott, Holiday Inn Windward Passage, Point Pleasant Resort, Sapphire Beach Resort, Sapphire Village, Secret Harbour Beach Resort, The Anchorage Beach Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa in St. Thomas. The Mission: USVI Vacation package must be booked between February 15, 2008 and September 30, 2008 for travel between April 1, 2008 and October 31, 2008. To make reservations for the Mission: USVI Vacation package, visit hotels.com.

The USVI Winter Escape Promotion

Travelers looking to warm up their winter travel plans find hot savings in the U.S. Virgin Islands with the Department of Tourism‘s “Winter Escape” promotion. Consumers who book the package between September 1 and October 31, 2008 for travel between January 1 and March 31, 2009, will receive a complimentary 5th night based on a five-night minimum stay at participating hotels, plus $300 in travelers checks, and a coupon book with savings on activities and attractions.

Participating hotels include: The Palms at Pelican Cove, Chenay Bay Beach Resort, Carambola Beach Resort & Spa, Divi Carina Bay Resort, Hibiscus Beach Resort, Sand Castle on the Beach, The Buccaneer, Holger Danske Hotel, Club St. Croix (Antilles Resorts), Colony Cove (Antilles Resorts), and Hotel Caravelle on St. Croix; The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, Best Western Carib Beach, Best Western Emerald Beach, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Windward Passage, Frenchman‘s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, Sapphire Beach Resort (Antilles Resorts), Point Pleasant (Antilles Resorts), Sapphire Village (Antilles Resorts) and the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa on St. Thomas; and the Estate Concordia Campground on St. John.

The Winter Escape promotion applies to new bookings only. Reservations can be made through a number of tour operators, including American Airlines Vacations, American Express Vacations, Book It.Com, Cheap Caribbean, Delta Vacations, Expedia/Hotels.com, Funjet Vacations, Liberty Travel, Island Resort Tours, Orbitz, Pleasant Holidays, Spirit Vacations, TNT Vacations, Travelocity, United Vacations, and US Airways Vacations.

The U.S.V.I. Six to Six Promotion

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has launched a new “USVI Six to Six” promotion, aiming to convert cruise ship passengers visiting the destination for six hours to land-based vacationers who will stay at least six nights. Encouraging longer visits with a complimentary sixth night, the vacation package also includes a free bottle of Cruzan Rum, a sixth-day free car rental, $60 gift card and a coupon book valued at up to $626. Along with dining and shopping coupons, the coupon book will include discounted entry into places where cruise visitors ordinarily may not have been exposed to on short port visits. Those booking the package become eligible to win one of six return trips to America‘s Caribbean. The USVI Six to Six promotion will be offered through December 31, 2009 and can be booked directly with participating hotels. Participating hotels on St. Thomas include: Anchorage Beach Resort, Best Western Emerald Beach Hotel, Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas, Crystal Cove Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Windward Passage, Frenchman;s Reef Marriott, Island Beachcomber Hotel, Pavilions and Pools, Point Pleasant Resort, Sapphire Beach Resort, Sapphire Village Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa. On St. Croix, The Buccaneer, Carambola Beach Resort, Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino, Hibiscus Beach Resort, Holger Dankse Hotel, The Hotel Caravelle, The Palms at Pelican Cove, Sand Castle on the Beach and Sugar Beach Resort are participating. On St. John, the Maho Bay Campground is participating. Black out dates may apply. Please be sure to request the package by name – USVI Six to Six or use booking code 626CP.

For information about the United States Virgin Islands, visit usvitourism.vi. When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel – including on-line check-in – making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.