Meet in the US Virgin Islands
Is the Caribbean calling? Now is a great time to visit USVI with its ideal year round climate and constant trade winds
Is the Caribbean calling your next event? The USVI has easy access, ideal year round climate and constant trade winds
St. Thomas is an island only 32 square miles in size, but filled with a million miles worth of things to do: shopping, sailing, snorkeling, sightseeing, nightlife, history, underwater submarine tours, catamaran excursions, zip line tours. For the bold, there are ‘Jetriders’ tours via the Adventure Center (adventurecenters.net), while golfers can challenge themselves on Mahogany Run (mahoganyrungolf.com), one of the world’s top rated courses designed by golf course architects George and Tom Fazio.
Of course, beach lovers can relax on Magens Bay – ranked by National Geographic as one of the best on the globe – and it’s just the start of a seemingly endless string of stunning beaches where you can sit back, relax and get lost in the clear turquoise blue waters.
The beauty of the island is, everything is within reach. Since tourism is the chief industry, the ability to plan and do almost anything on the island is right at hand. St. Thomas has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. A solid infrastructure is in place
including quality roads, vehicles, hospitals and health services. That being said, arriving at a few of the more adventurous sites, especially the first platform of the Tree Limin’ Extreme zipline tour, was quite the white-knuckle experience. Still, once you climbed the slope, the views of Megans Bay were simply breathtaking. This is when you first realize getting to the destination on this mountainous island is part of the adventure.
For US citizens, the US Virgin Islands is a domestic destination, which makes getting there easier. The US Virgin Islands has daily, nonstop flights from New York, Newark, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. Connecting flights are available to and from Los Angeles, Dallas, NewYork, Miami and Atlanta via the San Juan hub.
Many resorts have recently finished or are currently going through renovations. The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort finished a $48 million upgrade in 2011. The Ritz Carlton is modernizing the rooms and color palate to create a more relaxing environment. The Westin on St. John’s is undergoing a $12 million refurbishment of existing hotel space scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2014.
With 60 percent of its land area comprising a pristine national park, St. John is as far away as you can get from civilization, allowing hiking and water adventures to dominate your days. But still you’re just a short distance from upscale jewelry stores and boutiques. A visit to St. John is a must for those seeking true escape.
For those of you who want to escape the cosmopolitan world, St. John’s may be the island for you.
The Westin St. John Resort & Villas
When we arrived at The Westin in St. John the staff greeted us on the dock with a round of applause and welcome cheers – an experience one will always remember.
This stunning facility takes advantage of its tropical location on Great Cruz Bay. Tucked into the hibiscus and bougainvillea, the resort’s 47 acres offers 175 guest rooms and 146 villas and 6 meeting spaces. The resort’s $12 million renovation is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014, which will enhance the already exquisite location. The excellent sales teams are creative with their approach to meetings and incorporating your organization’s needs. It’s a true tropical retreat without the slower pace of the Caribbean.
Caneel Bay provides a different experience for the fast paced modern world – no television in pristine surroundings and low-key luxury. The beach vacation resort, nestled within the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, remains faithful to the vision of founder Laurance Rockefeller and his reverence for the environment. Seven secluded beaches border 170 lush Caribbean acres where rooms have been built to blend into the landscape. The resort remains purposefully absent of modern glitz and digital distractions. The resort rooms are in need of some modernization; however, if you want to unplug this is a great place to go.
If you aren’t interested in the “unplugged” experience, take the opportunity to enjoy a meal at Caneel Bay. The resort’s executive chef has created dishes that introduce restaurant guests to the herbs, spices and natural resources native to St. John and the Virgin Islands. The Sugar Mill restaurant features delicacies of the Caribbean for dinner. Even in a rainstorm, the open-air restaurant is a blissful experience.
Note that Caneel Bay closes seasonally, this year between Aug. 26 and Nov. 1. During this period, there are no facilities available for guest use.
The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas
This 30-acre waterfront estate along the stunning Great Bay boasts 180 luxurious guest rooms including 55 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms. The Ritz does it right. Their goal is to provide impeccable service, a unique location and luxury accommodations. The pools, spa, fitness
facilities and restaurants are what you expect when you stay at a Ritz property. A walk around the property can provide a great workout in a magnificent setting. Paddle boats, snorkels, Hobie Cats, Windsurfers are all available at the beach for outings in the crystalline Great Bay. There are two coral reefs in the bay that provide easy access to many species of fish and coral, which is a living organism that grows with time. St. Thomas is the fourth Ritz property to team with JeanMichel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program to introduce quests – children, adults and groups – to the natural wonders and rich cultural traditions of St. Thomas.
With 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor conference and event space, the staff at this location are equipped to attend to your meeting needs. Great-Bay Ballroom with 2,500-square-feet can accommodate 200 guests and has breathtaking views of Great Bay and St. John. A 53-foot luxury catamaran, Lady Lynsey is available for custom events.
Personally, I found even a rainy day at this resort to be a charming experience.
The room renovations scheduled for completion in November 2013, with a new organic color palate and contemporary feel will take this resort to the next level.
Note the Club Level Lounge will be closed Aug. 19 through Nov. 18.
Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
When you enter the Frenchman’s Reef open air lobby you feel the Caribbean envelop you. The view of Charlotte Amalie Harbor is dazzling and the breeze is delightful. The resort offers 478 rooms and 28 suites for its guests. Beachfront Morning Star locations are ideal for those who want a quieter beach experience.
This property offers by far the largest group meeting space in St. Thomas, providing 19 meeting rooms with a total of 60,000 square feet. With six restaurants and three bars there’s no shortage of food and beverage options at the resort. The Aqua Terra Oceanfront Grill takes advantage of its beautiful location and climate; it was completely redesigned in 2011 and boasts a awe-inspiring view of Charlotte Amalie Harbor. Serving classic American fare and offering a daily breakfast buffet, Sunday brunch and dinner, it offers choices for every palate.