Virgin Islands, U.S. Travel Guide
Dreams Resort recently opened its first property in the U.S. Virgin Islands on December 21 with Dreams Sugar Bay on the east end of St. Thomas. But some visitors are already finding this Dream to be a bit of a nightmare.
Formerly the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort, Dreams has rebranded the property and a segment of guests tell Trip Advisor it’s not up to snuff for the Dreams brand quite yet.
To wit, here are some recent reviews:
· "Guantanamo Bay, not Sugar Bay. "Dreams Sugar Bay, where Dreams turn into nightmares."
· "We felt somewhat 'tricked.' "
· "For what you pay to come here, this is a complete Rip Off!!!"
· "This is tantamount to FRAUD. The hotel is not ready for guests."
· "The spa is just a sick mess.
· "I have to say this was the worst vacation of my life."
· "We immediately left the property.
· "Do not stay here!!!!! DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT stay in this establishment."
Well, you get the gist.
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Who says beer-drinking beach bums can't be productive? Jimmy Buffett continues to turn his passion into a profitable career, one that looks like it will outlast his singing voice (love the guy, but man, he's really going on reputation now, don't you think?).
Buffett announced on his website last week that he has teamed up with Wyndham to open a 262-unit timeshare resort on the USVI island of St. Thomas, at the former location of the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort in Smith Bay. While Buffett has two other properties - the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola and one coming in Louisiana - this will be his first in an area that has been the bread and butter of his image: The Caribbean.
And it makes sense, essentially since Buffett specifically said that it was all about appealing to his fan base, aka his "Parrot Heads." "We sell escapism," he told the Virgin Island Daily News. "(Fans have) been escaping through our music for so long, this is a real place on the beach, Margaritaville. It's about appealing to the people who've been fans for so long."
For reasons we can't fully explain, we've decided to tune into the completely staged reality dating show that is "The Bachelor" on ABC. And we're obsessed. From the first rose ceremony shenanigans to the tense two-on-one dates and awkward make-out sessions, we love it all. We'll even watch it live, with commercials. But the show also has another important element we love--hotels. The Bachelor, Sean, is taking his hot body and so-so personality around the world as he tries to find a wife. Each Tuesday, we'll be recapping the hotels Sean and the ladies stay at and the drama that ensues. We'll do our best not to make it all about Tierra.
After last week's four-hour, two-day "The Bachelor" viewing extravaganza, which took place at the Fairmont Lake Louise in Banff, Canada, we were so relieved to hear that Sean has finally decided that the six remaining ladies were the "six for him." But lest this turn into a show about sister wives,
the producers Sean has decided to whisk the girls off to the island of St. Croix to further determine who is the one he is going to spend the rest of his life with. Or at least the next few months trying to score trashy tabloid covers.
After arriving on the island by seaplane, Sean takes his harem to The Buccaneer Resort, a beachfront pink palace that is one of the island's longest-running resorts.
Since a lot of the scenes were shot in the hotel rooms, we're pretty sure the girls we're shacked up in the Ficus and the Frigate suites. Those specialty rooms, which are way more modern than the basic room categories, start at around $1,100 a night. But even if you don't stay in these rooms, you can still live it up "Bachelor"-style during your trip as the resort has put together their own "Bachelor" package.
Picture this. You're on vacation at the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas in the Caribbean enjoying some food and drinks at the hotel's Iggies Beach Bar. What could be better? Having Stevie Wonder randomly show up and perform two songs with the local band, that's what.
Guests who were vacationing at the hotel last Sunday were the lucky ones treated to Stevie's special performance which also included jamming with Dave Mason, a rock and roll hall of famer who was also chillin' at the resort.
Now that you know the Bolongo Bay is a fave of rockers and musicians, what does it cost to stay there? The intimate resort has just 62 rooms, all of which are beachfront, offers an all-inclusive plan that currently starts at around $550 a night for their "value rooms" which are the older rooms. Rooms that open out onto the sand start at $680 a night but next week, we found those rooms for well over a $1,000 as it's still high season.
While the Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott is busy getting itself pretty, another hotel in St. Thomas is celebrating its birthday. The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas turns the big 1-5 this year, and is running a range of Crystal Anniversary promotions throughout the year to celebrate.
As for us, we just popped over to scout out the hotel's views ...
On Friday, we told you about the friendly service we encountered at the Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort. But, as we all know, personality is not everything. Looks are what we notice first.
And while Frenchman's Reef looks pretty on the outside, especially in the late afternoon light, the interior could need some work. The hotel knows it, and has just closed part of its property for a $48 million-dollar renovation.
Even better, you can still stay at the resort during the work and not be bothered by construction noise, since the beachfront boutique part of the property--the Morning Star Beach Club--along with the already-renovated Sea Cliff Tower of the main building will stay open.
Rooms in the Sea Cliff tower have great views of the ocean, and the rooms at Morning Star are right on the beach, where you can hear the waves crashing from bed, even if you close your shutters.
Here's a look at the nip/tucks taking place at Frenchman's Reef, and a sneak peek of what you can expect when the rooms re-open on October 1.
Hotel notepads: we're big fans. Sometimes we even take them. But last week we encountered something new on the notepad by our hotel bed--a note from our housekeeper. And it was sweet, to boot!
This is the note we found when we returned to our room late in the day after our first night at the Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now, there's lots to love here, so let's break it down...
In a celebration of the first-ever United States quarter for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USVI Department of Tourism has offered 25 cent rates at participating hotels. Yes, a quarter a night.
The promotion will also including a $25 per person dining credit, $25 per person activities credit and a commemorative quarter Scotiabank coin set. To book go to Bookit.com. You have from today until November 2, 2009 (25 days only) to book. You must travel between the days of October 9 and November 15, so put in your vacation notice at work and get packing.
Turns out Caneel Resort shared the spotlight with Marisa Miller on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2008 Swimsuit Issue, released today. Fashion photographer Raphael Mazzucco shot the cover back in October of 2007 when he and a bevvy of swimsuit models shacked up in Cottage #7 -- the original quarters of founder Laurence Rockefeller and still the resort's most requested accommodation -- for a twelve day shoot.
The St. John, U.S.V.I., which already boasts seven white-sand beaches, and Rockefeller roots, can now claim to be a SI cover resort.
Over on Jaunted, they have details on all the 2008 SI swimsuit shoot locations, mapped of course.
Close your eyes and think luxury. Think private white sand beaches, lapping blue waves, cocktails. Think scuba diving, think sun and sunsets, think hot loving.
It's the ultimate in beachside luxury on a grand scale. One hundred and eighty rooms the size of a good-sized city apartment or larger, four restaurants/bars (one serving bucket-sized cocktails by the pool), two huge pools and an outdoor jacuzzi all within a 30-acre estate.
First comes love, then comes marriage. In between, could there be a destination engagement in the offing for some high-spirited couples? An increasing number of hotels and resorts are, yuck, yuck, proposing just that.
Several weeks ago, we described the engagement package at The James Hotel Chicago. Today, as we carouse into one of the coolest wedding dates in recent memory (07-07-07; advance congrats to Eva Longoria and Tony Parker and all the other million couples who decided to get married on this day), we bring you an engagement package from Frenchman's Reef and Morning Start Marriott Beach Resort.
A while back, some marketing folk introduced the Conception Moon, aimed at getting couples who were trying for a baby to do it at a hotel instead of their bedroom. And to probably dupe the couples into thinking that your chances of conceiving a child were greater in a king-sized hotel bed.
Surely, this silly type of hotel promotion wouldn't last, afterall conception moon doesn't quite roll off your tongue like honeymoon, babymoon or romance package.
The idea for this conception moon started when the hotel's housekeepers were praising the fertility benefits of a pumpkin soup which sparked an idea in the mind of a Starwood exec. He said:
"We're simply enhancing the baby-making process by offering island remedies that have been passed down for generations."
So now the hotel's three-day procreation vacation includes all the pumpkin soup you can eat (for the ladies at least) and unlimited drinks of the sea-moss elixir (for men, it's "the island version of Viagra").
Also thrown in is a couples massage, an in-suite dinner and a romantic dinner at the restaurant. But be prepared to shell out the dough as the packages costs $3,427, plus the daily $25 resort fee. Yet we guess that's chump change next to fertility treatments.
· Hotels' romantic intentions: to help guests make babies [USA Today]
· Westin St. John reviews [TripAdvisor]