12-minute drive to Charlotte Amalie restaurants, shopping, and ferry terminal
Clean, soft sand beach with calm, swimmable water
Three pools overlooking the Caribbean Sea, plus a spa pool
Four ocean-view or oceanfront restaurants
Pleasant, island-style rooms with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and private balconies
Lovely, full-service spa/salon with steam rooms and plunge pools
Modern 24-hour fitness center plus tennis courts
Water-sports rentals are available
Ferries to town and excursions can be arranged
All-inclusive rates are available
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Free self-parking in a secure garage
Pricey a la carte dining with mediocre food (Frenchman’s wing)
Beach can become overcrowded with cruise ship passengers
Expensive daily resort fee is mandatory
Hills and stairs can be a challenge for some guests
Situated on a dramatic, rocky peninsula overlooking Morningstar Bay, Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort has some of the most stunning sea views in St. Thomas. The four-pearl resort includes four restaurants, four bars, a modern spa, and two hilltop infinity pools with excellent bay views. The 453 island-style rooms are pleasant, and feature large, flat-screen HDTVs, free Wi-Fi, and private balconies -- most also offer water views. The pricey, mediocre food, exorbitant, mandatory resort fee -- and fact that the beach is open to paying cruise ship passengers -- are all disappointing. However, guests likely won’t find much else to fault the property for. For something more intimate in the east end of St. Thomas, it's worth considering Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, though rates will be higher.
Upscale seaside hotel puts a tropical twist on standard Marriott style
This Marriott outpost has taken pains to make sure that guests feel like they are in the Caribbean, and mostly succeeds. The look is immediately island-colonial, and most buildings have bright exteriors, Juliet balconies, and other classic ornamentation that feel miles away from Marriott's frequently cookie-cutter properties. There's an impressive amount of landscaping, with palm trees and green lawns in every direction, and handsome fountains and stone work come together nicely. Interiors continue the colonial plantation aesthetic, with red clay tile flooring, a grand staircase, and arched doorways with decorative iron gates. Tasteful tropical touches -- including a thatched, exposed beam ceiling and river stone behind the reception area -- complete the look.
Make no mistake, though, this is a Marriott in scale, and it's one of the biggest resorts in the area. As such, there's a lively, social vibe here, and it can feel busy from time to time. The wide, soft sand beach features a beachfront bar and several restaurants where guests congregate day and night. But the resort’s main social scene is on the large sundeck that includes two infinity pools, two bars, and a restaurant. All provide stunning views of Morningstar Bay, especially at sunset. While the property lacks many kid-centric amenities, guests will find equal numbers of honeymooning couples and vacationing families on-site.
On a dramatic, rocky hilltop less than 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte Amalie
The property’s location -- on a rocky peninsula overlooking Morningstar Bay -- may be the most dramatic of any hotel on St. Thomas. However, there are no points of interest within walking distance. The shops, restaurants, and ferry terminal (with service to St. John and the British Virgin Islands) in downtown Charlotte Amalie are 15 minutes away by car. The area’s most popular tourist attractions -- including 99 Steps, Magen’s Bay, and Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge -- are all within a 20-minute drive.
The island’s international airport -- Cyril E. King Airport (STT) -- is reachable in 25 minutes. Like most St. Thomas hotels, no free shuttle service is provided. Taxi and shuttle buses are easy to arrange at the airport, and travelers should expect to haggle for the latter. Car rental service is also available in the airport terminal from a number of brand-name providers.
Pleasant island-style rooms with flat-screen TVs and private balconies, many with water views
While they aren't cutting edge when it comes to design, decor in the guest rooms is pleasant, with a definitive island style. Sea blue walls, boat-inspired accessories, and the decorative blankets at the foot of each bed are distinctly nautical. Additional tropical touches include woven, bamboo-pattern area rugs and teak headboards. Tile floors are set with a mix of wicker and hardwood furniture, creating an overall look that has more local charm than most Marriotts.
The resort features two distinct guest wings: Frenchman’s Reef and Morningstar. The two entry-level room categories -- Island View and Water View -- are in Frenchman's Wing and offer identical one-room floor plans with 400 square feet (37 square meters) of living space. The wing’s Harbour Suites offer substantially larger 800-square-foot (74-square-meter) floor plans with separate living and sleeping areas. Flagship Royal Suites at Frenchman’s Reef afford 710-square-foot (66-square-foot), bi-level layouts with or without a water view. The single king bed is located on a loft overlooking the living quarters. The Morningstar Wing offers only two room categories -- Garden View and Beachfront -- with identical 400-square-foot (37-square-meter) floor plans. Both are available with either a king-size bed or two double beds.
All rooms feature flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, air-conditioning, and bottled water (limited). The large, in-room safes are capable of accommodating a full-size laptop. Wi-Fi is technically “free,” but the fee is just included in the hotel’s daily resort fee. Beds are reviewed as very firm in all categories.
Bathrooms look dated, but typical for the brand. The ones we saw were small, and done with tile floors and light granite vanities. The standard shower/tub combination in most rooms features large beige wall tiles. Bathrooms in all Royal Suites include a walk-in shower stall and a soaking tub. Small hairdryers and Thann and Bath & Body Works brand shower amenities are also standard.
Four full restaurants, three, stunning water-view pools, and a wide, soft sand beach
As a four-pearl property, guests will find almost every conceivable resort amenity on-site. Four full restaurants and 24-hour room service (fee) provide all-day dining opportunities. The three pools -- including two infinity pools with some of the best water views on the island -- and a soft sand beach provide plenty of water-centric relaxation space. The full-service spa and salon also offers a long list of treatments and beauty services, plus an exclusive pool for spa guests. The hotel's resort fee includes things like parking and Wi-Fi, though it's steep.
Four full restaurants, including a chic, beachfront Latin American restaurant
The hotel is serviced by four full restaurants. In the Frenchman’s Wing, Aqua Terra Oceanfront Grill provides breakfast and dinner in a casual, slightly upscale space. A mix of dark wood furnishings, nautical colors, and tasteful tropical accents adorn the room which offers large, floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Morningstar Bay. The a la carte and buffet menus consist of typical, Western-friendly fare. Situated on the main sundeck on the Frenchman’s side, Sunset Grill offers lunch and dinner service on a large, open-air terrace. The menu likewise offers Western-friendly selections, along with seafood-centric Caribbean dishes (baked lobster and calamari). Unfortunately, the food at the above restaurants receives mixed reviews for its mediocre quality and sky-high prices.
The Morningstar Wing has two additional full restaurants and a swanky tropical bar. Coco Joe’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual, open-air, beachfront space. Live music and entertainment are offered nightly. The chic Havana Blue offers fine dining in a beautiful, open-air space that feels more like a swanky downtown lounge. Billowing sheer curtains line the minimal, blue-tinted, candlelit interior, providing a dark, intimate aesthetic. Local seafood -- including Mahi Mahi, blackened tuna, and lobster tails -- dominates the menu. The adjoining SandBar serves fancy tropical cocktails and light fare including tacos, tortas, and pizza. The food and drinks at Havana Blue and SandBar are pricey but solid.
Two on-site markets -- Presto Market at Frenchman's Reef and Star Market at Morning Star Beach Club -- sell souvenirs and basic sundries, including deli sandwiches, beer, wine, and a coffee bar. Guests looking to save on the pricey a la carte food should visit either. It's worth noting that all-inclusive rates are available.
Three water-view pools, plus a hot tub and a swim-up bar
At the rear of the property in the Frenchman’s Wing, a grand stone staircase leads down from the lobby to an expansive sundeck. The space includes two infinity pools with stunning, panoramic bay views. At the center, the moderately sized main pool provides the centerpiece for most guests’ water-centric activities. The atmosphere is reasonably lively here, though never raucous. A few steps away lies a smaller, adults-only pool with a hot tub on its own quiet terrace.
By the Morningstar rooms, a third pool overlooks the beach from a quiet, secluded, garden-style terrace. Rows of tall palm trees provide ample shade throughout the day. Standard plastic lounge chairs and dining tables provide adequate seating beside all three pools. There is no poolside drink service anywhere on the property. However, the small, swim-up Azur Pool bar provides beer, wine, and cocktails to the main pool.
Wide, soft sand beach is lovely but open to paying cruise ship passengers
The hotel’s wide soft sand beach is reachable via a long series of steps leading down from the main Frenchman’s Reef building. A handful of wooden picnic tables and long rows of basic lounge chairs provide a modest amount of seating. However, the lack of adequate umbrellas makes shaded space hard to find. While there is no dedicated beachfront drink service, Coco Joe’s nearby offers light lunch fare and a full-service bar. A cabana at the far east end of the beach provides access to free non-motorized and paid, motorized water sports equipment. The beach is large enough to accommodate the hotel’s size, but unfortunately it’s also open to cruise ship passengers with a day pass who can easily overwhelm the space.
Modern spa and salon with steam rooms and a private pool
The hotel’s LAZULE spa is moderately sized, but it feels small relative to the scale of the property. The decor is crisp and modern, with soft, creamy marble surfaces, dark brown wood furnishings, exposed natural rock walls, and subtle, tropical-inspired Zen accents. The spa has an extensive list of treatments, including massages (couples massage and private poolside cabana massages are available), body wraps, body scrubs, and facials. The adjacent salon provides a full menu of beauty services for nails, hair, waxing, and makeup. Steam rooms, private plunge pools, and a full-size pool exclusively for spa guests round out the list of amenities.
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