Beachfront luxury in the Caribbean
While St. Thomas’ hilly island is built on ups and downs, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas’ high perch gives it a sense of stability. From rum-punch-accompanied check-ins and nighttime snorkel tours to the emotional goodbye drink at the bar, everything about the 180-room island treasure hums along with fluidity.
So, even though this property sits on a hill overlooking Turquoise Bay, a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas is a smooth, worry-free vacation swathed in luxuriousness.
Instead of overwhelming the senses with clichéd colors of the Caribbean, rooms here are done in muted blues, grays and whites. They’re breezy without being boisterous.
Renovated in 2014, the units, ranging from 450-square-foot Club Resort View rooms to the 1,850-square-foot Presidential Suite, are pleasantly equipped with 42-inch flat-screen TVs and Italian-linen-covered featherbeds.
Still, the star here is the bathroom. The sanctuaries have raised sinks, marble flooring and enormous showers — not that you’ll spend much time in there, what with a private terrace overlooking glorious waters (or resort lushness) that’s always pulling you outside for a picture.
As much as the smell of roti and yellowtail snapper tempt from the U.S. Virgin Islands’ capital city Charlotte Amalie’s downtown area, there’s really no reason to ever leave the property for a meal. With so many tasty options at the St. Thomas hotel, it doesn’t much matter if you’re in the mood for a green pineapple smoothie (Zest), grilled lobster tail (Coconut Cove) or a generous cut of beef filet (Bleuwater), this resort is cooking what you’re craving.
At the delightful Sails, you’ll find a fun, interactive program called Sea to Sails every Saturday where you can see the day’s catch come in off the boat. Snap a picture of the wahoo before chefs prepare it to your liking for dinner.
That sense of service is also present at Essenza, the Italian-influenced restaurant under the guidance of chef Norm McPherson. A Jamaica native who spent years sharpening his culinary chops in Europe, chef McPherson brings an island sway to caramelized pear and spinach fiocchi and beef carpaccio that never confuses the tongue. He and his team will show just how serious they are in the kitchen when a new menu focusing on five specific Italian regions debuts in late 2015.
Limoncello, handmade by exuberant Essenza bartender Gib, is the go-to digestivo. Though don’t overlook the other libations — it’s almost obligatory to have Bert Belot, creator of the rum- and Kahlua-packed Bushwacker, make you a drink — concocted at the luxury hotel.
With the imbibing and dining, it’s a good thing that The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas offers so many ways to get rid of the carbs, too. The 24-hour fitness center has all of the requisite workout equipment plus, as a bonus, provides a full class schedule that includes yoga and aquarobics.
Head to the pristine Great Bay beach for windsurfing, kayaking and other water activities. The beachfront hotel’s own 53-foot Lady Lynsey catamaran goes on excursions as far as Jost Van Dyke and St. John.
And then there’s The Ritz-Carlton Spa, a calming center where you can not only have a watermelon, cucumber and aloe wrap but find the Éminence products necessary to replicate the suppleness back home.