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What It's Like Traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands Right Now
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas
Itching to travel after a year of quarantine and possessing Jet Blue vouchers about to expire, we planned a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for my “big” birthday. We had thought about other destinations on the mainland, but with much of the U.S. still under restrictions in January, so we decided to get out of Dodge (Orlando).
Before we left, we were required to take COVID-19 tests within five days of departure and upload our negative test results on the U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Screening Portal. Every traveler above the age of five is required to do this in order to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands right now.
Our final destination? The island of St. Thomas. Once we landed, we knew we had found paradise. The bright sun and 80-degree weather were absolutely perfect. At the airport, staff checked our temperatures and gave out goody bags filled with masks and hand sanitizer, and expressed appreciation coming to their island—a sentiment shared by others, from airport staff to the rent-a-car team.
Like many Caribbean destinations driven by tourism, because of COVID-19, the cruise ship business to the U.S. Virgin Islands has come to a grinding halt, which is a major source of the island’s income. However, being a U.S. territory and seeing an uptick in airlift has helped the destination weather the pandemic thus far.
We stayed at the Point Pleasant Resort overlooking the spectacular Water Bay where we watched boats setting sail for jaunts to St. Croix or St. John each morning over coffee.
[Related: 5 Nature Escapes in Puerto Rico]
Property Tour of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas
While in St. Thomas, I also had the opportunity to tour and have a delightful dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas to see firsthand the $100 million of renovations and enhancements recently made at this luxury property, including fully redesigned public spaces, rooms and suites, event and meeting space and dining venues.
The 180-room hotel, situated on 30 acres of well-manicured grounds, features a bright and airy design surrounded by the natural beauty of the island. All rooms face the Great Bay to offer guests spectacular views.
Four restaurants on property offer a range of cuisines including Sails Restaurant and Coconut Cove serving American-Caribbean cuisine; Bleuwater Restaurant serving casual fare like steak-and-seafood; and the new Alloro with Sicilian dishes like house-made Tagliatelli, Orecchiette, Rigatoni and artisanal pizzas.
Onsite F&B programs include a local rum-tasting experience and “Catch and Cook” open-fire barbeque on the resort’s beachfront.
Group Business Outlook
Thankfully for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, occupancy rates are coming back—and in the MICE industry, too. In fact, while we were visiting, there was a pharmaceutical incentive group in house.
We watched from shore as two catamarans took off with the group for a sunset sail, safely socially distant, of course. The resort’s Lady Lynsey II, a 60-foot vessel, can accommodate up to 75 guests and offers snorkeling tours and island-hopping excursions.
Recently, the hotel rolled out “Own Your Way” a program that will allow groups to reserve a section or the entire property.
Groups can enjoy the entire hotel by booking 60% of the property’s accommodations or they can have exclusive use of a section of the hotel with a minimum of 20 rooms per night.
St. Thomas is truly a magical island—I hope I don’t have to wait for my next big birthday to return.
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