ST CROIX AND ST THOMAS: USVI

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St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands at 22.7 miles long and 8 miles at its widest point, has a surprisingly diverse landscape with a tranquil tropical feel with rolling hillsides, downtown shopping, wonderful local dining and ocean fronts that tell the story of an island rich in culture and history.  Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Knights of Malta, Denmark and the United States all played a role in its past and brought their influence to the native Arawak and Carib peoples.

Visitors to St. Croix will see traces of St. Croix’s rich cultural diversity in the island’s distinctive arts, crafts, music and festivals. “Mocko Jumbies” (traditional stilt dancers thought to chase away evil spirits), reggae and calypso, steel pan bands and pulsating salsa are among the captivating sights and sounds that add to the island’s cultural mix.

It is an island that is often overlooked due to the tainted media the island received in the 1990’s. St Croix has done much to change that reputation and certainly deserves consideration as a Caribbean destination.

While St Croix is a step out of my norm of visiting newly discovered destinations and resorts, my decision to check out an oldie but goodie was a good one and is well suited for a certain clientele.

It is certainly worth a visit for its outdoor activities in and out of the water though has a different air than the more polished Four Seasons or Ritz type resorts with all the bells and whistles. With that being said, it is a great destination for those who love things simplified which has merits all its own.

The Buccaneer Hotel, where I had the pleasure of spending three nights, is one of the oldest hotels in the Caribbean.  Located just east of Christiansted and family owned by the Armstrong family (http://www.thebuccaneer.com), it is the best option on the island. It has just finished a lovely renovation and has recently won accolades by top magazines as a top family destination.

For those seeking a smiling and willing staff along with great snorkeling and diving at Buck Island Reef National Monument, deep sea fishing and fun “on” island excursions, then The Buccaneer Hotel is a sure fit — and no passport needed for US citizens!

The accommodations at the Buccaneer vary in size, location and décor. In my mind, the best secret in the USVI is the Buccaneer’s newly acquired and drop dead fabulous Beach Villa. It is perched up high on a quiet peak overlooking the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea below.  For those looking for a fun gathering with another family and a steal on the weekly rate please contact me for photos and full details.

The best local dining, hands down, is found at Savant, located on the outskirts of Christiansted.  It offers fresh local fish, lobster, grilled baby octopus or their famous stuffed filet. The food is not only delicious but the whole setting has a fun vibe with a young attractive wait staff. I suggest dining in the open-air courtyard where the owner’s wife has created an art gallery.   The nightly specials are mouth watering and the hardest part is trying to decide!

I said goodbye bright and early on Sunday to St Croix via a 20 minute Sea Plane transfer back to St Thomas.  I spent the morning at the Ritz St Thomas where I enjoyed a sprawling breakfast with the wonderful sales manager, Stacy, who so graciously showed me all over the resort.  The staff was full of fun loving personalities and this resort is for any type of traveler, from families to honeymooners.

The Ritz also has undergone some wonderful refurbishments that will continue over the next few months. This 4 diamond resort may soon be on it’s way to it’s 5th once all is said and done! Each room in the resort has an ocean view with a balcony but the best option of all is to stay in one of the Club Level rooms and indulge in all that it has to offer in way of food and drinks! WOW… I have never seen such a set up.

I am realizing what an easy and great option this is for a quick fun-in-the-sun getaway. In fact, I quickly texted my husband to see if we could surprise our girls soon and do just that!! 🙂

It is a property that has all one could wish for, including flags on your beach chair to rise to the beach attendants when you need another Cruzan Rum Punch! Now you’re talking…

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