Supervised kids’ club with mini-golf and bumper boats
All-inclusive rates include all meals, some alcohol, and kids' activities
Wi-Fi is free property-wide
Food receives mixed reviews
Pool area can be loud (a pro for some)
Steep property may be difficult for guests with mobility issues
Fairly rampant complaints about consistency and service issues
Once part of the Dreams resort chain, the all-inclusive Sugar Bay Resort & Spa offers plenty of resort features in a lovely beachfront setting overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Highlights of this upscale property include seven full restaurants, a two-pool complex with a waterfall, a soft sand beach, and a decent nightlife scene. The 294 rooms are bright and crisp, with tropical details plus free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and private balconies -- most have partial or full bay views. The shops, restaurants, and attractions of downtown Red Hook are less than five minutes away by car, but there isn't much going on in the immediate area. For a larger, four-pearl alternative with a more sophisticated vibe, check rates at the more affordable Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort.
Even with the departure of the Dreams brand name, everything about the property feels like a large, beachfront all-inclusive resort on the shores of the Caribbean. The towering, three-story lobby atrium is awash in a bold blue color scheme reminiscent of a cruise ship. Decor reaches for something like colonial -- with it's decorative railings and towering columns -- but the combination of rustic and contemporary seating plus vibrant tropical art all combine to create an indistinct, if pleasant, look. Guests are greeted with a free welcome drink as they check in, setting the tone for a stay here.
It's a bit less refined outside. The sundeck and two pools with a large central waterfall have a cheap theme park feel that’s distinctly out of place for an upscale hotel. By day, loud dance and party music play across the outdoor water complex and adjacent beach. This creates an atmosphere that’s boisterous, raucous, and perhaps too lively for some guests. After dark, the party moves indoors to a dedicated late-night sports bar and a second, more sophisticated lobby bar with live music and entertainment most nights of the week. In addition to the adult-centric social spots, a large kids’ club provides supervised activities like mini-golf and bumper boats. Overall, the property attracts an equal number of vacationing families and honeymooning couples, though there are some issues with it comes to consistency in everything from food to drinks, and service issues aren't infrequent.
North of Red Hook in a resort-heavy beachfront tourist district
The property is situated on the beach, northwest of downtown Red Hook on a resort-heavy beachfront road. There are no points of interest or attractions within walking distance, though the town’s tourist-friendly core is five minutes away by car. Once in downtown, there are plenty of restaurants and shops, as well as the main ferry terminal with service to St. John and the British Virgin Island. Coral World Ocean Park and some of the island’s best east end beaches are also less than a 10-minute drive from the hotel.
The resort offers affordable shuttle service to St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport (STT), located 40 minutes west. Private shuttle service is also ubiquitous throughout the island, and travelers should expect to haggle for the best rates. Taxis are another reasonably affordable option -- rates are comparable to those found in other Caribbean island destinations.
Bright, modern rooms with free Wi-Fi and private balconies, some with bay views
The decor in every room is crisp and modern, with a blend of bright and rustic tropical accents. Ash wood laminate floors, sea blue walls, and dark espresso furniture with clean lines all keep things decidedly in the now. Funkier accents include chunky, island-cottage beds with two-poster frames in some rooms, plus bold tropical wall art. The contemporary look is a nice step up from the frequently dated or kitschy rooms at many hotels in the area, even if some details -- like statement mirrors and metallic lamps -- look a little less island and a little more urban.
The hotel offers seven room categories. The first four non-suite categories have identical 475-square-foot (44-square-meter), one-room floor plans, but differ in the balcony views they offer. Entry-level Standard Guest Rooms provide views of the hotel’s garden and pathways. Partial Water View, Ocean View, and Premium Ocean View all offer increasingly better bay views. The latter provides panoramic views to St. John. Mid-level Ocean View Honeymoon Suites and Ocean View Double Family Suites offer identical 800-square-foot (88-square-meter) layouts with separate sleeping and living areas. The flagship Premium Ocean Honeymoon Suites provide 800 square feet (88 square meters) of living space with a king bed and the best water views on the property.
All rooms include modern amenities like minibars stocked with domestic beer, bottled water, and soft drinks, flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers. Wi-Fi service is also free and reliable throughout the property. The beds receive mixed reviews in all categories. Bathrooms are modern and classy, done in the same wood laminate floors as the main body of the rooms, with polished Silestone countertops and shower/tub combinations with benches. The hotel provides its own toiletries.
Seven restaurants, a soft sand beach, a full-service spa, and two pools with a waterfall
The resort has almost every amenity one might expect in a Caribbean beachfront all-inclusive. Among its most notable are seven restaurants and two, wide, clean beaches. Additional adult-centric amenities include a full-service spa and a great nightlife scene with three bars; while the full-featured kids’ club and two pools with a waterfall are likely to keep the children happy. Everything from kids activities to Wi-Fi and non-motorized water sports are included in the rates. Unfortunately, airport transfers and parking cost extra. Keep in mind that some features are subject to occupancy rates and availability can change.
Seven restaurants, plus a poolside snack shack and a sports bar
Seven full restaurants service the hotel, though food across the board receives mixed reviews for everything from inconsistent quality to service complaints. All meals are included in the rates, though the alcohol selection is limited. Manor House -- the main dining space -- offers buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a resort casual space. The selection at breakfast consists largely of Western-friendly foods like pancakes, pastries, fruit, coffee/tea service, and an omelet station for breakfast. Lunch and dinner are similarly inspired with baked meats, rice and beans, steamed vegetables, and a dessert station. The adjacent bar offers a full liquor menu of beer, wine, and cocktails. The entire space feels modern and upscale, though a little generic. Near the pool, Mangroves Restaurant serves a virtually identical buffet selection in a casual space with indoor and open-air seating. Three additional restaurants provide a la carte service. Most notable are Shima Bar -- a traditional Japanese eatery with teppanyaki and sushi -- and Chef’s Tables -- a fine dining space with a rotating menu of international fare. Unfortunately, most restaurants are prone to unexpected closure based on season and occupancy.
Small, soft sand beach with free water sports and regular island ferry service
The hotel’s soft sand beach is small for a nearly 300-room hotel, though it is clean and well-maintained. A hundred or so cushioned lounge chairs provide ample seating. However, the lack of adequate umbrellas exposes mosts guests to all-day sun. The hotel provides daily small-boat ferry excursions to St. John and some of the surrounding islands directly from the beach. At the far end, free water-sports equipment -- including kayaks and catamarans -- are provided. A small, roped-off area also provides a private stretch of beach for Premium-level guests.
Dated full-service spa plus a large fitness center with modern equipment
Compared to the crisp, modern aesthetic seen throughout the hotel, the spa feels dated. Salmon-colored flooring and dark '90s-era seating don't do much for the style. Each of the five treatment rooms features an equally dated, mismatched decor with a mishmash of tropical furniture and accents. Typical massages -- including hot stone, Swedish, and couples’ massage -- are available, plus a sauna and a private sundeck. The adjacent salon features a limited menu of makeup and nail services. Upstairs, the fitness center is large and has plenty of windows letting in natural light. It has a solid selection of modern cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights, plus a large yoga studio.
The spacious outdoor pool complex includes two pools, a hot tub, a swim-up bar, and a waterfall. Both pools are clean and spacious relative to the hotel’s capacity. A small, swim-up bar with a dozen stools serves a full liquor menu to the beach side pool. Opposite, the interior pool is situated near a sizable whirlpool hot tub. The entire sundeck is lined with lounge chairs and plenty of umbrellas. A wooden suspension bridge with a large waterfall feature runs atop both pools lending a “grotto” feel to the entire space that's a bit "amusement park" and not all that stylish. Nearby, a small snack shack serves finger foods and light fare. Turtle Rock Poolside Bar is also less than a hundred feet away with a full bar menu. The vibe throughout the entire outdoor complex is lively, particularly during the day when it might be a bit too rowdy for some guests.
Supervised kids' activities including mini-golf and bumper boats
The resort’s sizable Kids Klub provides half- and full-day programs with general supervised activities for children aged 4 to 12. Additional activities include mini-golf, bumper boats, and a wildlife pond and trail. Kids' activities are included in the hotel's rates.
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