CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas -- Its Web site
describes Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina here as an "ultimate
Caribbean island vacation made for romance."
All too familiar with glowing Caribbean destination
descriptions, I zeroed in on another descriptive phrase that
proclaimed Sapphire to be "ideal for families."
"Kids stay free up to age 17 and eat free up to age 12," it
Now I was curious. How can the resort successfully market and
serve two distinctly different markets -- couples and kids?
"The honeymooning couple doesn't necessarily want to spend their
time next to a family of four," said Louri Lynn Throgmorton, the
resort's director of sales and marketing. "We believe both markets
have something to offer each other, and Sapphire can and wants to
accommodate both," she added.
The resort's 30 acres sit on the east end of St. Thomas, about
six miles from the island's capital, Charlotte Amalie, and less
than a mile from Red Hook, which offers ferry access to neighboring
St. John and views of the British Virgin Islands.
Sapphire's six buildings are arranged in clusters, draped by
bougainvillaea and curving along a crescent-shaped half-mile beach,
perfect for family fun, water sports -- and romantic walks.
Each of the buildings houses 16 suites and eight villas. The
villas are more spacious and more expensive, but each offers either
a beachfront or a harbor view.
Sapphire set aside three of its villas and suites specifically
for families and created a Kids Klub with themed events.
The designated family units have the same upscale amenities and
views as in the couples' units because, as John Moorhead, general
manager, said, "Family travel is so important to Sapphire and the
travel industry that we are constantly looking for ways to improve
the family experience for our clients."
This policy works for Fiona Taylor, Caribbean marketing director
for Gogo Worldwide Vacations. She said that Gogo sends many clients
to Sapphire, most of whom are families.
"The resort realizes how important families are to its business,
and families appreciate the space in the units and the Kids Klub,"
She pointed out that the family packages, which offer
complimentary accommodations for kids, a meal program and
activities, "are a terrific family value."
The beachfront suites are spacious, about 640 square feet, with
a 150-square-foot deck or balcony, and can accommodate four guests
comfortably; the harborview units overlook the resort's 67-slip
The decor of both is similar, with wicker or bamboo furniture; a
full kitchen with a microwave, four-burner stove, standard-size
refrigerator and coffeemaker; a bath with tub, shower and double
sinks; one king or two twin beds plus a queen-size pullout sofa
bed; direct-dial phone, ceiling fans and individual central air
conditioning. Also included are a satellite television, an iron and
an ironing board.
The two-level villas, which can accommodate six, feature a
sitting area with satellite television and a queen-size sofa bed, a
full kitchen, a bath with shower and double sinks on the ground
floor, and a bedroom, full bath, balcony and TV on the top
Sapphire's family plan offers complimentary accommodations for
kids up to age 17. Rollaways are $20; cribs cost $10 per night.
Kids up to age 12 eat free from the kids' menu when accompanied by
an adult, although they can order from the regular menu at a 50%
Kid-friendly menu items include banana-rolled pancakes, ham and
cheese egg rolls or fix-your-own mini-hamburgers and bagel pizzas.
All nonmotorized sports are complimentary and include snorkeling,
windsurfing, kayaking and sunfish sailing.
Throgmorton said that families "appreciate being able to snorkel
right off our beach."
The two-tiered freshwater pool (with views across Pillsbury
Sound to St. John) also is a favorite with parents and their
children. The shallow, upper-level pool is for youngsters, while
the lower level pool, with its swim-up bar, is for adults.
The resort has taken one of its suites and morphed it into a
vividly colored play area, although most of the supervised,
complimentary activities for kids ages 4 to 12 take place
These include treasure hunts, campouts, volleyball, arts and
crafts, sand-castle building and beach time.
Themed events like Iguana Day, Fishing Day and Crab Racing Day
integrate the environment with activities that involve children and
their parents. Older kids can kayak and take windsurfing
Sapphire also has a Nite Klub from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. that
features movies, music, crafts and dinner for $15 per child, per
day. The Kids Klub includes lunch and snacks. Baby-sitters from a
bonded vendor can be arranged in advance, at $10 an hour for a
minimum of three hours for two kids.
Room key: Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina
Address: Box 8088, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00801
Phone: (800) 524-2090
Commission: 10% on rooms and packages.
• Tropical Treat Getaway: Five-night minimum stay.
Includes continental breakfast for parents, two excursions, taxes
and surcharges, from $1,888.75 for family of four, Dec. 24 to April
• Kids Caribbean: Five nights, four excursions,
three-day car rental and four milk shakes, from $3,245 for family
of four Jan. 5 to April 12.
Agent discount: 50% off rack rates. During Travel
Agent Month in August, agents receive three complimentary
• Coral World Marine Park, $18, www.coralworldvi.com.
• Paradise Point Tramway, $15, www.paradisepointtramway.com.
• Virgin Islands Ecotours, $50, 2 1/2-hour guided kayak and
snorkeling tour, www.viecotours.com.
• Atlantis Submarine, $72, www.goatlantis.com/stthomas.
To contact reporter Kaleel Sakakeeny, send e-mail to [email protected] .