The Ritz Carlton went through a tough period this spring, when service slipped and the reviews on Trip Advisor were frightful! I almost decided to stay elsewhere, but first I wrote to Ritz General Manager Bernd Kuhlen and he promised the problems were fixed, so I took a shot and booked a four night stay. I am so glad I did!
The RITZ is Ritzier than ever! The property is in immaculate condition. The service staff is friendly and attentive. The views from almost every window are awe inspiring. If you can afford the very best, you will find it at The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas.
We checked in at the open air lobby and somehow front of the house manager Katrin Cymontkowski greeted us by name, even before I told her who I was. She arranged a rapid check-in and a bellman drove us in a golf cart to our room on the club level. Katrin, not only greeted me by name every time she saw me, she memorized my room number. Once when the bellmen were all busy, she grabbed a golf cart and drove us somewhere, herself, so we wouldn't have to wait! The incredible attention to detail makes guests feel special. Another front of house manager, Timothy Williams, learned we had brought supplies to donate to a local children's home. He volunteered to drive the supplies for us on his day off! This is Ritz service at its best.
This resort is built into the side of the mountain, so you will climb stairs and walk up and down hills to get to the pool, restaurants, spa, etc.. But don't worry, if you don't want to walk, just call for a golf cart. A bellman will cheerfully drive you everywhere. It's all part of that pricey $65 daily resort fee you pay. Take advantage of it.
The rooms in the Club Level were large, well air-conditioned, and overlooked the most spectacular azure blue bay in the Caribbean. I spent the first ten minutes just looking at the incredible vistas.
The bed was comfortable and the sheets were soft. Large screen TV, an espresso machine and a mini fridge provided most of the comforts of home. Lots of drawer and closet space too.
The bathrooms feature separate tub and shower, private toilet and double sinks. The towels are not as fluffy as I've had at other Ritz properties, but they are large and did the job! The Ritz also did not spare the Asprey of London toiletry products. They were replenished twice a day. The maids kept the room and bathroom spotless!
The infinity pool is wonderful. It seems like the pool blends right into the bay. There are rafts to float on (again no charge. It's covered in the $65 resort fee). The lounge chairs were nice and there were plenty to go around. Pool attendants gladly moved chairs, tables and umbrellas for us to make us as comfortable as possible. Waitresses offered poolside beverages. A pina colada cost $12. An Absolut and tonic was $10 to give you an idea of pricing. Viola was a great server who brought us water without us even asking for it!
Take advantage of the kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding and snorkeling. All included in the resort fee. The snorkeling, by the way, is excellent! If you use all this stuff, that $65 a day fee doesn't seem like much. But you have to use it! OH -- if you love swinging in a hammock beneath a shady tree, that's available as well.
RESTAURANTS: We ate at Bleuwater and Essenza on two evenings. In both cases the food was fantastic. Great steaks and fresh fish in Bleuwater. The service was not very good. We got a waiter who just didn't seem like he understood the Ritz concept of service. Essenza was a completely different story. The service was great. They gladly split dishes for us and the sous chef visited our table twice to check on us. Yummy calamari, fish, lasagna, and chicken dishes. They even gave us complimentary house made lemoncello with dessert.
SPA: Ritz prices and Ritz service! I pre-booked a massage for my wife in the cabana overlooking the ocean. When she arrived she learned the booker did not put her in the open air cabana, but rather a room in the spa. The massage was very good (and expensive - $180 with tip) but not the open air massage overlooking the beautiful blue sea. The manager apologized to my wife and comped her a second massage two days later in the seaside cabana. The masseuse even refused to accept a tip, saying the entire massage had to be complimentary.
RITZ CLUB: If you can afford the luxury (Our price was $800/night) I highly recommend the Ritz Club. Complimentary food and beverages served by cheerful attendants from 7:00 am to 10:00pm. One night, we arrived at 9:50 for dessert and drinks. They stayed open until 10:20 for us, so we would not feel rushed. The service was impeccable and it all starts with Club Lounge Manager Anna Maltseva. I cannot begin to tell you how many times she went out of her way to make guests happy. She even bumped into us at a restaurant off property and checked to make sure our meals were ok! What a wonderful woman she is! She will be a general manager of a hotel herself one day and a damned good one.
BOTTOM LINE: You can find problems at any place in the world to complain about (like the towels and the service at one restaurant here at the Ritz). BUT this resort is nothing short of spectacular. If you can afford the very best. . . The RITZ ST. THOMAS is the very best!