It's taken me a while to write this review, but only because I've been on Island Time since our stay at Carambola. Given this brutal winter, we booked a spontaneous New Years trip and decided on the US Virgin Islands as my passport recently expired (shame on me, I know). It also looked like the best options were a Flight & Hotel package I found for either Carambola or the Buccaneer. I'm glad we chose the Renaissance, though, as it lives up to the Marriott standards. We really just wanted a beach, palm trees, a little adventure, and a lot of sunshine...well, we got all of these and more on our fabulous 4-day stay!
From the moment we arrived, we felt at ease and more than welcome. We were greeted by Jackie at the front desk with a smile and rum punch, and check-in was very smooth. My luggage got stuck in St. Thomas as we had to take a Cape Air connection and rather than waste time going back to the airport, the receptionist was kind enough to send a car to retrieve my bag. This was an "above and beyond" gesture to me, and my bag was waiting in our room when we returned after a walk on the beach/dinner at the hotel bar. I had a zesty shrimp salad and my boyfriend had a burger (a cheeseburger in paradise is mandatory). There were two local cats running around the outdoor tables and some people were rolling their eyes or shooing them away, but we thought they were really sweet. It felt like we were in someone's home.
In terms of accommodations, we had a lower level suite on the right wing of the resort if you're facing the water (room 44, maybe?) and my absolute favorite feature was the screened-in porch with cozy patio couches overlooking the palm trees and Caribbean sea just a stone's throw from our door. As other reviewers have noted, you can literally hear the waves crashing and feel the cool Caribbean breeze at night. You could also hear the Coqui frogs - aptly named for their high pitched "coqui" mating call - and that is probably the only negative note of our entire stay as they would croak for HOURS at night, between 2 and 6am. Aside from this, we slept very well and could solve the problem by just closing the inner doors to the porch. Our room had all of the usual appliances, i.e. coffee area, fridge, plates, etc. My boyfriend was very excited about the two large flatscreens in the room to follow the NCAA bowl games, but in the end we really only watched TV one night. Also, the bathrooms are HUGE and gorgeous with granite, clean tub and tile, and a separate walk-in closet area to store our things.
To celebrate the new year and just being in the islands, we found ourselves at the hotel bar quite a bit, whether grabbing a bucket of Caribe beers for the beach or sipping a pina colada while the reggae band played at night. We only noticed one person taking drink orders on the beach one day, but since this isn't an all-inclusive, commercial type place, we didn't expect that. I have to thank the super sweet hostess, Kishuana, for going out of her way to check on us several times/share some tips on the history and culture of St. Croix. We ran into her at the Pirate Buffet, too - highly recommend booking the buffet as this weekly event is a blast and totally worth it! We met another fun couple staying at Carambola and did the buffet together, which wound up being a fabulous party. The seafood paella was delicious, but I think the music/dancing/men on stilts were my favorite memories of the night on the Saman Room patio. The patio was also a great spot for breakfast, overlooking that spectacular view.
A few additional tips:
1) Definitely recommend renting a car since this end of the island is a bit remote. We rented a Wrangler and went "off-roading" one day through the rainforest on Scenic Rd. (I do not recommend this drive unless you have a Wrangler or an ATV). It was actually really fun, but dangerous as we had no cell service and the roads are really dicey.
2) Part of the hike to the tidal pools is a steep incline, so just wear sneakers...and socks as you may encounter rainforest ants along the way. It's really lovely once you get to the rocky beach on the other end. We brought water, snacks, sunblock, and bug spray, which came in handy!
3) Check out Big Beard's Snorkel tours in Christiansted. The full day outing is $100/pp and the crew takes you to snorkel in an underwater National Park (Buck Island Reef) as well as an island for lunch where they grill burgers, dogs, and fish - bottomless rum punch and water, too!
4) Favorite off-resort restaurants were Off the Wall at Cane Bay for lunch and Rhythms at Rainbow Beach for sunset dinner. I also wanted to try Waves and EAT at Cane Bay - next time!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover a tropical oasis at Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa. Our resort in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands offers a one-of-a-kind luxury setting within the foothills of a lush tropical rainforest. We sit only steps away from the pristine sands of Estate Davis Bay and our oceanfront resort offers easy access to many exhilarating outdoor activities in St. Croix. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort And Spa
- Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Hotel St. Croix
- Carambola Beach Hotel
- Carambola Beach Resort
- Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa U.S. Virgin Islands