CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas -- Small hotels in the U.S. Virgin
Islands will get a boost next month with the launch of USVirgInns,
a branding program dedicated to marketing, promoting and selling
properties of 50 rooms or fewer on St. Croix, St. John and St.
The commissionable program is administered by New York-based
tour operator Island Resort Tours and is a joint effort of the
hotel associations and the U.S.V.I. Department of Tourism.
Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John
Hotel & Tourism Association, said that an agent-friendly Web
site at www.usvirginns.com will direct consumers to book
The site is expected to be operational by May 15 as is the
toll-free number at (888) US VIRGINS. In addition, the
destination's Web site at www.usvitourism.vi will link to the small
"There are 17 properties that already have applied for the
program, and we expect to meet our initial target of 20 for the
first phase," Nicholson said. "In the long term, we are hopeful
that all of our small properties will participate because they make
up the bulk of our accommodations in the territory."
For example, of the 63 resorts, hotels and inns on St. John and
St. Thomas, 51 have fewer than 50 rooms each.
Nicholson said that participating properties must meet a set of
criteria that includes quality-assurance ratings similar to those
in place at the National Associations of Bed and Breakfasts and
The Caribbean Hotel Association is expected to help with
certification criteria as well.
"The criteria form a common denominator by which each property
will be rated," she said. "Getting the hotels certified is
important because it is a creditable means of assuring guests of a
level of service."
Funding for the program will come from the hotels themselves,
the hotel associations and the Department of Tourism.
After a property qualifies by meeting the ratings and standards
set for participants, each hotel will pay a one-time fee of $1,000.
On June 1, the hotel associations will implement a $1 per room, per
night charge to fund ongoing marketing and promotional costs.
"This is the first time the territory has had a program
specifically targeted at our smaller properties," Nicholson said.
"These represent an important market that, until now, has not had
the resources to take advantage of a tour operator's packages and
The ability to pool resources "will open up a lot more
opportunities for these small properties," according to