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St. Thomas' Sparkling Jewel

Going overseas without going international

Beside the brilliant blue waters that give Turquoise Bay its name, the grounds of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas rise dramatically from the sandy beach to the high ridges and hills the Virgin Islands are known for. The pristine resort takes advantage of the elevation with guest rooms and restaurants perched high above the swaying palm trees and lush tropical gardens. The overall feel of the resort is that of a pristine private estate with striking views of the sea and neighboring islands.

Hurricane Irma devastated the island four years ago and sadly some of the catastrophic damage is still visible around the island. The resort underwent a comprehensive $100M renovation and reopened with several alluring amenities. Updated guest rooms, a redesigned infinity pool, a kid-friendly pool with a waterslide and attractive restaurant options combine to make the resort the perfect Caribbean retreat.

People are ready to start traveling again but the reality of evolving restrictions make pandemic planning complicated. As an overseas US territory, international travel restrictions don’t apply to the USVI. This reduces your chance of being stranded, although being stuck in St. Thomas wouldn't be too bad. Passports are not required for the island and several major carriers have already added new regular flights.

For those looking to travel with a group, the resort offers larger accommodations that can fit up to 8 people. The three bedroom presidential suites come with personal concierge service, a private oceanfront cabana and even daily laundry service. Guests also get access to the Club Lounge on the beach, which includes a private space on the beach and dedicated beverage service. This option is filling up fast with plenty of reservations already on the books for early next year.

The resort is great for kids. Not only is there an expansive Infinity pool, but there is also a shallow wading pool for the little ones. Children can play on a cascading waterfall and enjoy the waterslide, careening down twists and turns to crash into the splash pool.

If you’ve spent any time at all at a Caribbean resort, odds are good you’ve experienced a catamaran cruise. I’ve been on my fair share, but I have to say my experience on the lovely Lady Lynsey II was the most memorable I’ve ever had. The sunset cruise was breathtaking, with the 60-foot vessel gliding across the waves and the sun setting over the dramatic green islands dotting the horizon.

The waters of the resort are some of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen and ideal for scuba and snorkeling. The abundant coral reefs are visible from the shore, contrasting with the brilliant blue water. The steady trade winds fill the sails of Hobie-Cats you can take from the beach or hop in a kayak and explore the bay's coves and inlets. If you’re interested in exercise, the resort provides a well-equipped gym as well as organized aerobics and professionally lead morning beach workouts.

Of course the spa is gorgeous, but for a more memorable experience you can pamper yourself in the seaside spa cabana. Perfect for those who are interested in enjoying a massage but reluctant to spend too much time indoors, the private open space sits on a ledge overlooking the sea. You can listen to the waves while you relax and let the breeze caress your skin.

A key part of any resort experience is of course the food. Relaxing by the pool, Sails restaurant is a reliable option that manages to turn out an excellent burger, fresh ceviche and fish tacos with an interesting Caribbean twist. Bleuwater offers surf and turf options with local seafood and some of the spice and seasoning you can only find in the islands. For authentic Italian cuisine, Alloro offers dishes faithful to Sicilian tradition with house made pasta and fire-grilled seafood alongside an expansive variety of fine Italian wines.

Finally, what really makes the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas special is the staff. Experiencing a higher-than-normal amount of seaweed, the staff was up with the sun clearing the beach of it and ensuring guests could enjoy the soft powdery sand. They’re happy to whisk you around the resort on their many golf carts, always smiling and welcome and ready to help. If you’re lounging by the pool, a friendly attendant will offer sunscreen or aloe to those who need it and shots of rum for those who want it.

The natural beauty of the resort coupled with the remarkable amenities make this an excellent option for your next Caribbean trip.

For more information visit: https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/caribbean/st-thomas

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