Oyster reporters headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to explore the destination’s top hotels. When we visit properties around the world, we evaluate how every feature stacks up against the competition, from the rooms to the pools to the restaurants to make sure you get the most for your money. Here’s a list of our favorite value hotels.
With only four rooms, Bellavista Bed & Breakfast is a relaxing and upscale hilltop retreat with personalized service from the owners, who live right next door. The property is charming and quaint, and the pool area, sundeck, and two of the rooms have gorgeous harbor views. The island-style decor is whimsical and fun, yet tasteful, and quirky touches such as a cactus garden give the property character and personality. Breakfast is one of the best parts of the stay – it’s two courses and feels decadent but still healthy. It’s hard to find fault in this small, quaint property.
Opened in 2006, At Home In the Tropics Bed and Breakfast Inn is a small, four-room property in a historic part of town. Steps from Blackbeard’s Castle, the Government House, and downtown Charlotte Amalie, At Home In the Tropics has a convenient and central location. The four guest rooms are charming, bright, and well-appointed with safes, flat-screen TVs, high-end toiletries, and private bathrooms. There are plenty of common spaces and the views around the property are stunning. It is not located directly on the beach, but the beach is never far away on St. Thomas.
Villa Marbella Suites is located on Frenchman’s Bay on the south coast of the island. It's a tiny hilltop property with only four rooms, giving it a relaxed, intimate atmosphere, and every unit offers gorgeous views of the bay, Charlotte-Amalie, and the surrounding area. The rooms are stylish yet homey and all have fridges, microwaves, and coffeemakers as well as beach towels, coolers, and bags. Property features include a pool with terrific bay views and a gas grill, but no restaurant or beachfront -- and there's not much within walking distance. The property feels like a bed-and-breakfast, minus the breakfast, and as rates are cheaper than at most inns in the area, it's a great value.
Crystal Cove Beach Resort on Sapphire Beach has distinctive pros and cons. Situated on gorgeous Sapphire Beach, this stretch of sand is one of the best in the Virgin Islands -- clear, turquoise, and calm, with great snorkeling and lots of sea life. The property also has a large pool and tennis courts and offers condo-style living at an affordable price. However, this is an older property and many of the units are dated with cheesy wicker tropical furnishings, floral bedspreads, and old kitchens.
The upper-middle-range Point Pleasant Resort is a large, spacious hillside property on the East End of the island, a convenient, scenic location close to Red Hook's restaurants and shopping. Features include three pools, an on-site restaurant, and a spa. The villas are privately owned and managed, with varying decor, but each unit is spacious with a large living room and fully equipped kitchen. There is a small but rocky beach in front of the property that doesn’t have much room for lounging, but guests are free to use the beach next door at Sugar Bay Resort. The kitchen-equipped condos at the mid-range Paradise Cove are cheaper, but the property has only one small pool and is not on the beach.
Paradise Cove is a small 21-room property on the East End of the island. Around the corner from Red Hook on a quiet side street, the property is serene and peaceful. There are stunning views of Nazareth Bay throughout the resort and a distinctive tearoom is both convenient and delicious. While the rooms in the Escape building are nicely updated (and pricier), the other rooms are dated and in need of a facelift. However, the resort is still a good mid-range option for those looking to save some money in the pricey Red Hook area.
Secret Harbor Beach Resort is an upscale boutique property located on Nazareth Bay on the East End of St. Thomas. The resort’s beach is truly a tropical paradise, with palm trees, hammocks, loungers, white sand, and turquoise water. The resort has two on-site restaurants and a lively beach bar. Guests have a choice of Studios or One- or Two-Bedroom Condos, and each has updated decor (except for some bedspreads) and fully equipped kitchens. All units are beachfront and offer great views. The pool is slightly off-site, a two-minute walk to another property, but with this beach, you won’t miss it.
The Water Island Campgrounds is located a quick ferry ride away from St. Thomas. The campground is natural and lush, in keeping with the environment and vibe of this small island. The property provides an elevated camping experience, or “glamping,” as the staff calls it. There are six tented, screened cottages with queen-size beds as well as an indoor suite with a private living room, kitchen, and bedroom with a king bed. There are shared toilets, shower, and cooking facilities for the cottages. It’s not for everybody (it is a campground, after all), but the property, and Water Island, is a special place for those who enjoy laid-back, quiet nature.
At 900 feet above sea level, the Mafolie Hotel is known for its incredible island and sea views. Mafolie is a landmark hotel in St. Thomas and has been in operation since the 1940s, with many people’s grandparents having fond memories of vacationing here. A gorgeous pool area with a bar, cabanas, and loungers, as well as a popular restaurant are the highlights of the hotel. The rooms are clean and island-style but not contemporary, and you have to drive to get to any off-site dining. However, the hotel is a great value for the scenery, atmosphere, and amenities.
Family-owned and run since 1974, Bolongo is a laid-back resort with an excellent beach, great food, and a warm, helpful staff that keeps guests coming back year after year, despite the small pool and scarce features. Just avoid the "Value Rooms," which have old, sagging mattresses.