Authentically American and uniquely Caribbean, USVI is a tropical playground of soft sands and disappearing waves. Radio stations play American oldies and Caribbean calypso, holidays are toasted with a shot of guava berry rum and a Chili Cook Off is as popular as a Caribbean Food Fair.
On the south shore of St. Thomas, the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and adjacent Morning Star Beach Resort ooze romance around every turn. With 302 rooms and suites, the iconic resort is a stunning showpiece of architectural splendour with sweeping vistas of Charlotte Amalie, one of the Caribbean’s most majestic yacht harbors. Next door, the beachfront Morning Star impresses with wedding ceremony locales galore and sea views to beat the band.
“For the last forty years,” said Rob Steigerwald, chief operating officer, southern regional Americas, Marriott International, “the resort has been the place to be, the place to go and where friends and families gather for a meal, a wedding or a vacation.”
Brand-reliable and fresh from a US$48 million facelift, Frenchman’s Reef sits pretty on a hilltop overlooking sandy strands and aquamarine waters. The largest property in St. Thomas is making quite a splash with refined Caribbean décor in island colors of sand beige, sunset sage and ocean blue, gourmet eateries, funky bars, expansive spa and the Marriott trademarked and oh-so-comfy Revive brand bedding and fluffer pillows. “My recommendation for the most romantic room is #5124,” said Jose Gonzalez, general manager, “the view from the balcony is spectacular and at night, the waves are a lovely romantic lullaby.”
Both properties share restaurant and sports facilities and with shuttle service between the two, the complex is a one-stop-shopping vacation. Ferries make the five-minute run across the harbor to downtown Charlotte Amalie for meandering, bargain hunting and dining.
Whet Your Appetite
Wake up with the sun at the Aqua Terra Oceanfront Grill and an all-American breakfast buffet with an omelette station, creamy grits and delectable waffles along with healthy choices like fresh fruit and platters of smoked salmon. For a quick bite, snag one of three open-air tables and enjoy a freshly brewed espresso at the Presto Market where the view from the high back chairs are the perfect perch to watch the boats gracefully glide in the harbor as the winds breeze through the top of the stately coconut palms. For a nightcap with your sweetie, the Rum Bar showcases fine spirits and picturesque views and for 24/7 balcony dining, room service delivers a wide array of treats from apple cinnamon French toast for breakfast to grilled snapper for dinner with a glass of a superb Italian Pinot Grigio. At Coco Joe’s, dinner is a spirited affair with steel drum bands, nachos with grilled jalapenos and if it’s Saturday night, it must be the weekly seafood buffet chockablock with lobster, shrimp, oysters and a host of sides.
The culinary piece de resistance, Havana Blue is a divine medley of upscale Latin-fusion in an open air restaurant with billowy blue curtains. Described by the owners as ‘experiential dining’, creative cocktails like the Dirty Chica cocktail that mixes vodka with jalapeno-soaked onions and hot pepper-infused olives and a black cherry mojito are sassy, sweet and sublime. Appetizers from crispy wonton shells stuffed with lobster and roasted corn salsa or Cuban sliders with pulled pork and blueberry-flavored mustard set the stage for a fabulous dinner. Sexy sides like creamed spinach with hot peppers add zing to a perfectly prepared steak with cilantro mash.
Medley of Massages
From manicures and massages to pedicures and paraffin wax treatments, Lazule Sea Spa is a guilty pleasure that delivers. With eleven treatment rooms, sauna and spa pool with cabanas, relaxation never had it this good. Showstoppers include a Sea Mud massage for tired muscles, Caribbean Sea Scrub for silky smooth skin and an Island Detox Body Wrap to fix everything else that needs fixing. “Couples can choose their own treatment and we’ll tailor it to a side-by-side experience,” said Garth Hudson, spa director.
Saying I Do
Five thousand couples over four decades have said “I Do” at the resort and so far in 2011, five hundred couples have taken the plunge. “We can do eight weddings a day on the beach but only two at sunset, “smiles Jessica Klein, wedding coordinator, “the most popular venues are our sea cliff gazebo and barefoot on the beach although we’re happy to accommodate any whim a couple may have.”
A sign of the changing times, an increase in ‘second time around’ and’ third time lucky’ weddings. “We arrange every detail, all couples have to do is pick up their registration papers and say ‘I Do’ as the sun sets,” adds Jessica Klein.