Question: How can a $40 million hotel
renovation be measured?
Answer: In the case of the Ritz-Carlton, St.
Thomas, there are many ways: 180 renovated guest rooms, a new
building accommodating suites in several sizes (all large), three
redesigned restaurants, a new infinity pool and eight new spa
treatment rooms. And that's just scratching the surface.
The resort also raised
the roofline on two existing buildings to accommodate 30 more
rooms, added two outdoor gazebos for seaside wedding ceremonies and
designed a meditation garden where newlyweds can plant a tree as a
symbol of their union.
"This hotel now has a
different character. We're celebrating its rebirth. It exudes a
sense of place and a theme of relaxation in luxury. That's what
we've got here," said Marc Langevin, general manager.
The new formula in
hotel construction calls for a mix of residential units and
traditional hotel guest rooms.
The cost of operating
hotels is lowered when residential elements are thrown into the
mix, according to Langevin.
At the Ritz, the new
residential units do not impede on the flavor of the property.
Residential guests, who have their own beach, have full use of all
the hotel's facilities, but during my stay, there was no sense of
crowding or crowds.
Even with the ambience
of luxury that pervades the property, flip-flops and shorts are OK
during the day. The lobby is open-air, not air-conditioned, there
is no doorman and off-site excursions are encouraged and
For guests for whom
luxury isn't about looking at the price tag, the new suites will
exceed expectations, Langevin said.
The four presidential
suites, for example, have separate rooms for exercise equipment,
including a stationary bike and treadmill.
There are telescopes on
the balconies, butler service, an office area with a computer and
connections in place, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a dining room
and enough seating space to host a party.
I wandered through the
rooms in my 3,000-square-foot suite and did not discover the powder
room until the last day of my stay nor did I turn on all the
flat-screen TVs or even work my way through the goodies left at
each evening's turndown service.
In fact, the suite was
so big that when the bellman knocked at the door, it took me a
couple of minutes to find it.
The hotel's Club Lounge
opens this month; it is available to guests staying in club level and higher categories of rooms.
A separate area within
the lounge is set aside for families and another specifically for
"We are addressing the
new generation of travelers," Langevin said. "Our business is to
create experiences, not just offer a nice room, although we do have
400-thread-count linens, Sealy Posturpedic Plus beds designed
exclusively for us, down-feather pillows, flat-screen TVs,
rain-shower showerheads and soaking tubs."
And that's just in the
The Lady Lynsey
catamaran, long a staple of the resort, and anchored invitingly
right off the beach, "is our best employee," Langevin said. The day
trips and sunset cruises consistently rank at the top of guest
The enlarged spa now
has 11 treatment rooms, a beachside cabana and a new menu of
therapies and services.
Couples can even book a
moonlight massage followed by dinner in the seaside
And beyond the resort,
there's St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
Langevin said that the
U.S. Virgin Islands as a destination "is in a good place now. It
has it all: It's exotic, it's tropical, it's part of the U.S. and
the current government here understands tourism and is taking it
"There's solid support
for the private sector, and there is room for all of us serving
different markets. The stars are now aligned," Langevin
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].