CHRISTIANSTED, St. Croix -- At night, the lights from St. Croix's
newest hotel stand out like beacons on the island's deserted east
end. I could see the lights' reflections well before I saw the
The new Divi Carina Bay (carina means "pretty" in Italian) was
several years in planning and construction before its opening last
The site itself had resembled a ghost town since 1989, when
Hurricane Hugo effectively shut down what once was Divi Grapetree
Beach Hotel, a successful, 80-plus-room beachfront resort that had
been there since the 1960s.
In place of the old Divi is a thoroughly modern, airy property
that has the potential for making the east end a destination in its
I visited in mid-December, as staff and employees readied for
their first winter season by repairing the damage from hurricanes
Jose and Lenny just weeks earlier.
As Alan Mallory, general manager, put it, "The storms challenged
our property and operation with winds, rain, debris and island
infrastructure delays. We opened, closed and reopened two or three
Although not all 126 guest rooms were open at that time, they
were expected to be by mid-February, as were the four hillside
villas, each of which contains several one-, two- and three-bedroom
Divi's color scheme of blues and whites carries from the
open-air lobby to the guest rooms and public areas.
The block-style, two-story architecture seems surprisingly
dated, but the interior design and colors have just the opposite
effect. Guest rooms are comfortably furnished in wicker and
Divi's blue-dolphin logo pops up in hand soap, on the labels of
moisturizers and gels and on towels and bathrobes.
As for the cuisine, I wined in the intimate Starlite Bar, tucked
in a corner of the lobby, and dined in the Starlite Grille, the
resort's dramatic signature restaurant, with its soaring ceiling. I
highly recommend the grilled wahoo with papaya and teriyaki.
Divi's Dockside Deli, serving all three meals, overlooks the
beach. The minimarket at the rear of the deli is stocked with
snacks, munchies and neon-hued plasticware and sunglasses.
Kayaks and sailboats are available for rent. Big Al's Beach Bar
(named after the owner's 5-year-old son) and Caroline's Playhouse
(for the kiddies) are now open.
Although the resort seems geared to the general leisure market
in terms of facilities, amenities and design, Mallory is banking
heavily on the casino market once that facility opens.
The 10,000-square-foot casino, located across the road from the
hotel, took a blow from the autumn storms, which delayed the
December opening date. The target date for the casino's debut is
"The original promotional focus and emphasis was the leisure
tour and travel market, but I see the casino market eventually
driving this hotel," Mallory said.
He ought to know. He was with Treasure Bay Casino Resort in
Mississippi for the past two years.
Prior to that, Mallory held a variety of posts at resorts in the
U.S. and the Caribbean.