Best Resorts in U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Thomas Offers Resorts A-Plenty

There's a surprisingly wide choice of resorts on St. Thomas, from the glittery five-star, to the basic but comfortable. Which one you choose ultimately depends on your budget and individual tastes, but all the resorts on St. Thomas combine excellent service, value, and atmosphere. Top-tier options include The Ritz-Carlton, the Marriott Frenchman's Reef, and the Sugar Bay Resort. If you're looking for a moderately priced, less fancy option but with lots of amenities and, consider the Sapphire Beach Resort or the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. Both have a laid-back atmosphere with pools, beaches and tennis courts, and many family-friendly options. On the lower end are resorts like the Best Western Emerald Beach, which has less character but offers good value for money and a beautiful beach setting. And for something totally unique, try Pavilions and Pools, where each unit comes with an outdoor pool and high walls for the ultimate in relaxation and privacy.


Emerald Beach Resort
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt

This is one of three hotels located in the western part of the island, next to the airport. Though this may not sound appealing at first, the flip side is that the hotel opens onto the lovely Lindbergh Bay (named after the famous aviator). Only about a dozen flights a day take off and land at the airport anyway, so there's not a constant barrage of noise. All of the rooms face the sand, and each room opens onto its own patio or oceanfront balcony. The hotel is more functional than stylish, and caters to families and business people who find the East End properties too far away. There is a restaurant and a small fitness center.

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This private, unique condo-villa resort is located on a verdant hillside preserve adjacent to Water Bay, on the island's northeast shore. The 15-acre grounds include flowering shrubbery, century plants, frangipani trees, secluded nature trails, old rock formations, and lookout points. Guests can choose from two beaches: adjacent Pineapple Beach, or secluded Sugar Beach at the end of the nature trail. Amenities include water sports rentals, tennis courts, and Jack's Wings, a casual restaurant. Complimentary snorkel gear, kayaks, introductory scuba lessons, and shuttle service are available too.

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Honeymooners and couples love this resort because each self-contained villa is completely private (high walls separate each one from neighboring units) and has its own private patio with pool. Each unit also has a kitchen, bathroom, living room and separate bedroom. The 25-villa resort is surrounded by lush jungle foliage and has a great view of the ocean. The resort does not have its own beach, but two are within walking distance. The in-house restaurant, Twisted Taco, serves tasty Mexican dinners and cocktails. A low-cost shuttle can take you to the shops of Charlotte Amalie or to other beaches. Continental breakfast, snorkel gear and beach towels are provided free of charge.

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Bolongo Bay Beach Resort
Photo courtesy of Bolongo Bay Beach Resort

Bolongo Bay Beach Resort is a small, casual beach resort of 65 rooms with all the amenities of a larger resort. The cute pinkish buildings are located right on the resort's own 1000 foot-long beach. Rooms are simple and functional, with each unit having its own balcony or patio, a refrigerator, and one king-size or two double beds. Some of the units on the beach come with kitchenettes, and the apartment-style condos, in a three-story building, have full kitchens. The resort features two open-air restaurants (Lobster Grille and Iggie's), a sports bar and karaoke lounge, a freshwater pool with swim-up bar, and a complete watersports center with sailboats, kayaks, windsurfers, aqua tricycles, snorkel gear, and scuba lessons. The resort also has a cardio fitness room, tennis, beach volleyball, and basketball courts.

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Sapphire Beach Condo Resort & Marina by Antilles Resorts
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

Sapphire hits all the marks as far as tropical beach resorts go. The location on a wide white-sand beach with views toward St. John and the British Virgin Islands is the key selling point, but the well-appointed, affordable rooms and resort amenities also keep guests coming back every year. Each fully-furnished condo comes equipped with a small kitchen and a private balcony. Most rooms are just steps from the beach, and a quick walk to swimming pools, volleyball courts, watersports activities, and an array of restaurants and beach bars. The shopping and dining of Red Hook is only five minutes away, and the town of Charlotte Amalie is 20 minutes away.

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This all-suite resort is tucked into a stunning white-sand beach at Nazareth Bay in St. Thomas's quiet east end. Rooms are just steps from the sand, and the cove is known for its great snorkeling and stunning sunsets. There are three types of rooms: studio apartments, one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom suites. Children 12 and under stay free in their parent's room. Secret Harbour was recently renovated, and the celebrated open-air Blue Moon Cafe has now given way to the equally-delicious Sunset Grille. An onsite watersports shop rents snorkel equipment and paddleboards, and can arrange SCUBA excursions.

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Sugar Bay Resort and Spa
Photo courtesy of Sugar Bay Resort

Formerly operated by Wyndham, Sugar Bay Resort and Spa is now independent of the mega-chain but still as good as ever. Located on a bluff overlooking St. John and the British Virgin Islands, the towering monolith is not the most stylish hotel you'll ever see, but rooms are functional and modern, with Asian-themed furnishings, electronics, wall treatments, and state-of-the-art plumbing. Sugar Bay is hugely popular with families with kids because of the hotel's three pools, private beach, kids club, bumper boats, and mini-golf course. Adults love the casino (slot machines only), tennis courts, and Journeys spa, the largest full-service spa in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several restaurants, gift shops, and wedding-planning service round out the experience. Both all-inclusive and a la carte options are available.

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Frenchmans Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort Saint Thomas
Photo courtesy of Marriott Frenchman's Reef

The Marriott is the island's largest and busiest resort, offering a full array of activities and services from a stunning bluffside location. The rooms are modern and spacious, having undergone a renovation in 2011. All units have private balconies with sea views. To keep busy you can play tennis, go to Morningstar Beach, rent watersports equipment, swim in the outdoor pool, visit the health club, or lounge in the jacuzzi. The full-service spa offers various body treatments, and the salon offers and array of grooming services. Complimentary wireless Internet is available throughout the public areas. Don't forget to try out the various restaurants (including the superb Havana Blue), or shop in the well-stocked gift shop. You can even get married here, as the hotel offers wedding planning services and several picturesque spots to tie the knot. If you want to head into nearby Charlotte Amalie, a frequent ferry service connects the hotel and town.

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The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Saint Thomas
Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton St. Thomas

The Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas's east end is without a doubt the plushest resort on the island, with its palazzo-style marble-floored lobby, bubbling fountains, hidden courtyards, and elegantly-appointed rooms. Guests can take advantage of the resort's private white-sand beach, extensive spa, and Ritz Kids program, which features snorkeling and scuba diving. The 30-acre property also has its own scuba diving school and private yacht. The restaurants are outstanding, and include Bleuwater, an award-winning favorite.

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Meet Karen Elowitt

Karen worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor before becoming a travel writer. She worked for renowned  travel expert Peter Greenberg before going freelance, and now...  More About Karen