Guests can have it their way at St. Croix resort By Kaleel Sakakeeny / June 28, 2004 Share 1 -- CHRISTIANSTED, St. Croix -- The kids program at Chenay Bay Beach Resort here, like the rest of the resort, is unstructured, letting youngsters choose the activities in which they want to take part. That "independent" approach, where staff and kids plan the resort's Cruzan Kidz program together, seems to work just fine, according to owner Peter Locke."We know that if we hook the kids, we have the parents," he said, adding that more than 30% of his family clients are repeats.New York residents Elizabeth and David Crommet have been to the resort four times with their children, a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl."It's the kind of place for families who don't like a lot of structure and are independent-minded but who still want quality service and exciting things to do -- or not," said Elizabeth Crommet.Chenay Bay Beach Resort balances those needs nicely, she said.Independence begins with privacy. The resort's 30 acres lie in the middle of a protected nature reserve. Fifty wood-and-stucco cottages sit along gravel paths community-style, but borders of bright bougainvillea and other tropical plants provide a sense of privacy.The cottages combine a West Indies style with Plantation-house accents: mahogany furniture, pastel walls, Caribbean floral prints and spreads.Each cottage has a king-size bed or two doubles, a kitchenette, air conditioning, ceiling fans and a front porch that overlooks the bay, lending an additional sense of seclusion.Locke, who has owned Chenay since 1987, has big plans for the resort. "I really want to create a stronger sense of arrival," he said.By early summer, Locke said, the tired-looking pool and waterfront area I observed will be transformed into two oasis-like koi pools, accented by dramatic uplighting, a boardwalk, bridges over the pools and a gazebo.Because of the resort's proximity to Green Cay and other nature preserves, getting out and about is encouraged.Here are some sample activities Cruzan Kidz runs for children: Kayaking to Green Cay, home of endangered lizards and reptiles; an excursion to help protect newly laid turtle eggs at a nearby island; a trip to a bird refuge; and a visit to Christiansted, an attractive seaside town.What parents appreciate is that all of the equipment is complimentary.The Cruzan Kidz program operates Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open to children ages 4 to 12. It includes lunch, snacks and beverages for $19.95 for a half day (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and $ 29.95 for a full day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).Day trips are suitable for moms and dads, too.Chenay Bay Beach Resort offers a Family Travel Special through Dec. 20 in which guests who pay for five nights get the sixth and seventh nights free.Agents receive $40 for booking stays of three to six nights and $60 for stays of seven nights or more.The resort also offers travel agent incentives. Depending on availability, agents and their children can stay up to seven nights free.Kaleel Sakakeeny covers the family travel market for Travel Weekly and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.• • •Room key: Chenay Bay Beach Resort Address: Box 24600, Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. 00824Phone: (800) 548-4457E-mail:email@example.comWeb:www.chenaybay.comLocation: The northeastern side of St. CroixNo. of units: 50 cottagesRates: Cottages with connecting units from $260 for gardenview to $385 for luxury oceanfront, to Dec. 20. One-bedroom cottages available. All-inclusive meal option $49.95 per person, per night.Commission: 15%Noteworthy: Adjoining cottages are a big plus for families.Not worthy: Paths to cottages could be better lighted.