USVI gets a facelift with new openings and expansions
Nearly a quarter-billion dollars invested in new and expanded tourism facilities
PRESS RELEASE - 2007
St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (May 10, 2007) ? Long regarded as one of the most alluring and captivating destinations in the Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands continues to respond to the tourism industry¡¯s ever-expanding needs with expansion and development costs approaching $250 million. The islands of St Croix, St John and St Thomas are bustling with new and renovated marinas, hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and even new airline services that make all of it more accessible than ever, further strengthening the reputation of America¡¯s Caribbean as the region¡¯s premier luxury destination.
¡°Our three distinctive islands are undergoing the type of tourism development that only enhances the experiences of loyal visitors and first-time guests alike,¡± says Beverly Nicholson Doty, US Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism, referring to a host of enterprises, including the Yacht Haven Grande marina in St Thomas, cruise ship port renovation in St Croix and villa conversions at the Westin St John Resort. ¡°These projects support the significance of tourism, the leading industry of our islands, and help to secure the US Virgin Islands as a top destination choice for travellers.¡±
Among the developments are the following:
YACHT HAVEN GRANDE, ST THOMAS Since its debut in March 2007, 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 harbour 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 the 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 call (340) 774-5030.
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 of a 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 centre, 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.
THE RITZ-CARLTON, ST THOMAS Consistently ranked among the finest resorts in the Caribbean, The Ritz-Carlton, St Thomas, recently reopened following three months of 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 is being dramatically enhanced with significant improvements in areas ranging from spa and weddings to dining. The Ritz-Carlton Spa will double in size, adding eight treatment rooms, open-air cabanas, an outdoor relaxation terrace overlooking the ocean and separate oceanview exercise studios. Already a favourite 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 favourite with all-day open-air dining directly on the Caribbean Sea. For details and reservations call (800) 241-3333.
MARRIOTT FRENCHMAN¡¯S COVE, ST THOMAS Marriott Vacation Club International inaugurated phase one of the multi-million-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 centre. A health club and pool bar will follow this spring. 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.
WESTIN ST JOHN RESORT & VILLAS, ST JOHN The Westin St John Resort & Villas began 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 an expected occupancy in late 2007, and the second phase of 40 villas will begin shortly. The Westin St John Resort & Villas currently offers 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.
CARAMBOLA BEACH RESORT, ST CROIX Located on St Croix¡¯s north shore, the oceanfront Carambola Beach Resort announced that it will join the Renaissance Hotels & Resorts family in the summer of 2007. 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, lounges and public spaces. In addition, the resort¡¯s new, lavish 2,200 square foot Larimar Spa debuted last month. For more details call (888) 503-8760.
PARADISEGATE, ST THOMAS Recently opened on the West Indian Company cruise ship dock in St Thomas, ParadiseGate is an exciting multi-use recreational centre and club that includes a swimming pool, a full-service gym (offering both day passes and annual memberships) and a games room with pool tables, flat-screen televisions 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 centre and a Western Union office. ParadiseGate is open daily from 9am to 10pm. For further details call (340) 714-1400.
CONCORDIA ECOTENTS, ST JOHN Concordia Ecotents has unveiled it¡¯s new Pavilion, a 1,500 square foot covered open-aired multi-purpose facility for holding yoga and dance classes, as well as community events, meetings and seminars. The Pavilion was designed by Glenn Spears, a well-known St John-based architect who incorporated sustainable methods and materials into the design. Untreated lumber was used for the structure and excavated rocks from the site were used in the creation of the retaining walls. Decorative elements include recycled art such as glass blocks, clay sconces and tie-dyed sheets made at the Maho Bay Campgrounds art centre, and indigenous plants were used for landscaping. The new space includes the addition of a caf¨¦, full-service watersports and activities centre, an Internet centre and a general store and gift shop. For more information on Concordia Ecotents call (800) 392-9004.
AT HOME IN THE TROPICS BED AND BREAKFAST, ST THOMAS At Home in the Tropics, a delightful bed and breakfast in St Thomas, recently 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 honour bar and wake to a sumptuous breakfast each morning. For further details call (340) 777-9857.
NEW AIRLINE SERVICE Northwest Airlines now offers a non-stop weekly Saturday flight between the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) and Cyril E King Airport (STT) in St Thomas. Northwest¡¯s aircraft, an Airbus A-320, can hold up to 148 passengers and provides travellers from the Midwest with more options to visit the territory. For further information about flight schedules or to make reservations, call (800) 692-6955 (en Espa?ol, (800) 345-7411).
Delta Airlines recently introduced a new non-stop weekly flight on Saturdays from New York¡¯s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Cyril E King Airport (STT) in St Thomas. For more information about Delta Airlines or to make reservations, call (800) 225-4968.
As a United States Territory, the US Virgin Islands does not require proof of citizenship from US citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the US mainland. Entry requirements for non-US citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but US citizens.
For information about the United States Virgin Islands call the USVI Department of Tourism at 1-800-372-USVI.
For your FREE on-line USVI travel guide, visit www.caribbean.com.
For more information about the resorts featured above, you can also see their accommodation listings under USVI ? St Thomas, St Croix and St John at www.caribbean.com.