Windward Passage HotelSt. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
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No right-minded vacationers would find themselves here -- strictly for the layover and convention crowd.
This Holiday Inn is far from the beach, so tourist traffic is at a minimum. Airline employees, flight delays, local business conventions, and the occasional Oyster reporter keeps the hotel in business. Vacationers will likely find a better hotel anywhere else on the island.
It is, however, two blocks from the congested, duty-free shopping hub at Charlotte Amalie. Thousands of cruise ship passengers bombard the discount jewelry, perfume, and antique shops five days a week from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After this time, the area is desolate and fairly dangerous (keep valuables hidden when walking at night, and probably during the day as well).
The hotel itself looks like a strip mall, just off St. Thomas' high-traffic artery. Past the lobby is an interior, open-air courtyard that has a restaurant, outdoor bar, fitness room, and slot-machine casino. During my stay, some local hair salons, a few boarded-up storefronts, a cell phone sales office, and a fairly reputable dive shop were also on-site. But given the slim business, I don't suspect any of these shops will be around very long.
Near the port, the airport, and prime shopping -- just be sure you're back before dark
Next to the cruise ship port and 10 minutes from the airport in Charlotte Amalie, the Holiday Inn is a convenient location for travelers in transition.
- Five-minute walk to the extensive discount jewelry shopping district, where thousands of cruise ship passengers barter over the price of rare gems, couture perfume, and shipwreck antiques. But the walk to get there is along some dark, empty streets with homeless hecklers and boarded-up storefronts.
- Nightlife doesn't exist. Once the cruise ships leave the port, the town dries up and can become fairly dangerous -- dark alleyways and hostile locals.
- "Hooker alley," as it is affectionately known, is one block from the hotel.
- Next door is a local baseball diamond and music venue, which can make a lot of noise at night.
Reasonably clean and functional
Like at any Holiday Inn, there's little effort to keep rooms looking pristine -- warped green carpet, Xeroxed notices in the hallways, paint splatters on the chairs, slight rust stains, and mildew in the bathrooms. However, the rooms had undergone a slight renovation -- meaning they upgraded the beds and installed some new flat-screen TVs. On the whole, the rooms were kept reasonably clean and comfortable.
- Standard guest rooms might look out onto a seedy alleyway, some chicken coops (with roosters in the morning), and a Little League baseball field.
- Balconies are about six inches wide -- hardly useful.
- Flat-screen LG TV with seven HBO channels and perfect reception.
- Bathroom was cramped, with a narrow tub and a great adjustable showerhead. However, the bathroom lacks an exhaust fan, so a steamy shower can cloud the mirrors for quite a while.
- Taped to the AC unit were strict orders: "Please do not set AC lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit."
- Free, but unreliable Wi-Fi (few guests ever get a signal)
- Small pool that overlooks other hotel rooms; nothing else
- The casino is just a small space packed with slot machines.
- Strangely, the hotel also has a flat putting green near the pool, coated in Astroturf. There are not, however, putters or golf balls available on-site.
- The fitness center is a small, dimly lit room outside the courtyard. It has a few low-grade machines and a tiny TV mounted to the wall (too far to watch while working out).
Fairly clean for the price, with no shocking lapses
The rooms are far from manicured but tolerably clean. My room had some slight mildew in the shower, some chipped paint, and some bubbles in the carpet -- collectively giving the room a fairly worn and dingy feel. However, the bed was clean and fresh. The toilet was obviously scrubbed. There were no offensive odors and nothing crawling down the walls. In the Caribbean, that's a feat unto itself.
Limited menu and zero décor, but fairly tasty
The only restaurant on-site serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the open-air courtyard, beneath some umbrellas. The space feels like the food court in a shopping mall, surrounded by storefronts. Inside, the restaurant was entirely empty.
For dinner, I ate the "snapper tropical," which was basically just butterfish. But the fish was fresh, well cooked, and certainly tasty (though maybe not $28 tasty). For kids, the hotel offers half-size portions for half the price.
Nearby food, especially for breakfast, is scarce. The front desk's only recommendation (outside the Holiday Inn) was to walk to the ferry port to the British Virgin Islands and eat at the upstairs bar. The food there was terrible at best, and far from cheap ($10 for scrambled eggs that came out bitter, and somehow sticky).
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Things You Should Know About Windward Passage Hotel
AddressVeterans Drive, Waterfront, Charlotte Amalie 00804, Caribbean
Also Known As
- Charlotte Amalie Holiday Inn
- Holiday Inn Charlotte Amalie
- Holiday Inn St. Thomas
- Ocean View Room
- Ocean View Suite
- Room Selected at Check-in
- Standard Room
- Standard Suite