Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
No-frills condo-hotel on an excellent beach
The resort feels more like a private condo property than a resort (and in some ways, it is). There is no fitness center, spa, business center, room service, or pool/ beachside drink service. Since the condos have full kitchens and large living areas, most guests spend their time in their units at night. There is no nightlife, especially since the one food stand on the beach closes in the evening.
The units are individually owned and decorated, and some are managed and maintained through rental companies. Guests have the option of renting directly from an owner or going through a rental company. The downside of this is that the rooms differ greatly in quality -- especially in furnishings and upkeep.
Made up of five buildings spread along the beach, the resort has white facades, wooden walkways, and red-roof overhangs. The resort doesn’t have a lobby. Rather, a unit in building A is used as a front desk, and it is not well marked.
On the East End of St. Thomas, about a five-minute drive from the quaint town of Red Hook
The Sapphire Beach Resort is located on the East End of the island, known for its beaches and snorkeling. The resort is a five-minute drive from Red Hook, a small, quaint town with great restaurants and good shopping. The hotel is a 25- to 30-minute drive from the airport and Charlotte-Amalie, depending on traffic.
Like most hotels in St. Thomas, there is not much within walking distance, and it’s an understatement to say that the narrow, winding mountain roads are not pedestrian-friendly. There are usually taxi drivers right at the entrance of the hotel to cart guests around, although cabs charge per person and can get expensive. A car rental is recommended.
Varying room quality, but great beach views
The best thing about the rooms at Sapphire are the beautiful beach views. All rooms face the water and have their own spacious patios or balconies. The beach is gorgeous with trees, shade, and turquoise water. The rooms are also all suites or villas and are fairly spacious with a large living area, fully stocked kitchens (with pots, pans, utensils, plates, and glassware), and good-size bathrooms. But the similarities end there. Since all the units are individually owned and many are managed through different rental companies, the quality of the rooms varies. While some guests have suites that are updated and modern with contemporary furnishings, light beachy decor, and well-maintained infrastructure, other rooms are not as polished.
Some of the rooms looked dark and dated -- one had old wicker furnishings and worn couches, an old dining table with old, hard foam cushions in a garish tropical pattern, and a thin, old bedspread. There were also maintenance problems in the unit, such as exposed outlets, mold on the bathroom ceiling, and a noisy bathroom fan. Another beachfront suite was more updated and included a tile bathroom with chic blue lighting, leather headboard, and a cherry- wood dining table. It had a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and an attractive backsplash. But the unit was quite dark and dreary, and was missing that light, tropical feel. The villa, located on the top level of the building, was more luxurious. With two levels and more open space, it did not feel as dark and drab as the other suites. It was decorated in light greens and blues and had more contemporary furnishings.
While the nicer rooms provide a good value for the money, especially considering the units’ beachfront locations, the older units are dated, dark, and drab, and not worth the price. The rooms at the Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort are much nicer, and you are still on the beach. While not particularly luxurious, the rooms at Sugar Bay Resort and Spa are comfortable, clean, and decorated with light, tropical decor.
Come for the beach, snorkeling, and views
Sapphire Beach, like the even more popular Magens Beach, is one of the best in the Virgin Islands. To some, Sapphire is the better beach, since it draws a somewhat smaller crowd of cruise-ship passengers. The beach is the highlight of the resort, and guests spend most of their time here. The beach directly in the front of the resort is scenic and beautiful, but not great for swimming. Trees run along the waterfront providing minimal entry into the water, and there are rocks and coral. There is a large stretch of sand to the left side of the resort (a two-minute walk from most rooms) that is better for swimming. The water here is clear and turquoise blue, and is famous for its snorkeling. The beach also provides stunning views of St. John and other smaller islands.
However, this stretch of sand is a popular beach and can get crowded. The beach sits in front of Crystal Cove, the resort next door, and is open to the public as well. While there are plenty of loungers, you may be sitting close to your neighbor. There is an on-site water sports provider.
The pool is located on the other end of the property. It has two tiers with a waterfall in between. The area is nicely landscaped with stone patios and palm trees, including a little gazebo hut and garden in the middle of the pool. The pool area also has a walk-out dirt path that stretches out into the bay. It is lined with palm trees and provides some beautiful scenery of the water and surrounding islands.
There are not a lot of food options on-site and guests will find themselves driving or taking a cab to Red Hook for food quite often. There is a food stand and bar by the beach that is open until early evening as well as a bar and grill near the property that has live entertainment some nights. After that, food options are limited.
The beach is Sapphire Beach Resort’s main draw. It's on one of the best stretches of sand on the island, and the water is clear, turquoise, and calm; the view from the beach is stunning -- St. John and other satellite islands are visible in the distance. The resort is conveniently located one mile up the hill from Red Hook, where there are shops and restaurants. There aren’t, however, many property amenities -- there is a fee for Wi-Fi, not many places to eat on the property, and no fitness center, business center, or spa. The units at the resort are individually owned and managed by different companies, so the quality of the rooms varies greatly.