Weekend In Review: St. Thomas USVI
Hey there, travel buds!
A few weeks ago, I traveled down to St. Thomas to enjoy a weekend getaway. To my surprise my room was booked at the Ritz Carlton. I traveled alone to meet a group of unsuspecting locals for a photo shoot among the views and sand of impeccable quality. From the minute the plane landed I was overwhelmed by beautiful views from every angle.
My ride to the Hotel was none the less breath taking and this Islands beauty seemed to never end. As I approached the resort style hotel I immediately knew this place was keen on service oriented staff who took pride in their jobs. I was served the Lemongrass Tea, signature drink for Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas. Upon arrival you are also given a chilled towel soaked in yet another lemon grass signature recipe. During check in I peered out the many open windows to see this resort over looked Great Bay and the island of St. John. Crystal clear turquoise water and the sound of wind rustling through palm tree leaves that I now know are fronds. Seems I had already fallen in love with every beautiful inch of this island.
My arduous flight afforded me the luxury of spending the day in the Airport of Puerto Rico. I experience an earthquake, and got a makeover by M.A.C all in the same day. Warning! The coffee here should be served with a signature motto ‘only the strong survive’.
You will soon come accustomed to my local dive hopping, but I am most interested in cuisine native to the island. I had been told that the food here was horrible. Go figure. I was taken by a local to several places that had dishes that were to die for but definitely not indigenous to the island. I rather enjoyed their take on enchiladas but the Brussels Salad turned out to be an unexpected treat. So be sure to stop by Agave.
Time to ask some questions, Right? Here is what I found: Food in St. Thomas is EXPENSIVE for the most part as it is imported and very little, if anything is grown locally. The island has only been up and running for about a year now after suffering devastating hurricanes.
Local food is very hard to find as most restaurants serve food that you find in most metropolitan cities.
Ooops! Forgot to take a picture of the Food Center. My, My, My, it must have taken years to come up with that name. Food Center is the local market or our equivalent to a supermarket/grocery store.
I hear nothing beats the
local food and here is where you can find it. It’s less expensive if you are
feeling adventurous. I was busy living my best life and being spoiled to
venture out on this trip. Maybe, next time.
Follow these directions closely….
– As you head from the airport and take 30 to Charlotte Amalie, on your right side you will see a Pueblo supermarket. Across the street from the supermarket, we found a van selling empanadas with varieties such as beef, chicken, shellfish, shrimp and conch. For a total of 9.50, you can eat some tasty local treats.
– During the weekends in Charlotte Amalie, next to the stores there is a flea market. If you walk one block past the flea market, and if you are lucky, you will see food stands as a local school is selling food to raise money for their schools. Go for the Johnny Cakes, chicken with rice and beans and saltfish. All under 5 dollars.
– Free-range is a real thing here. The roosters and chickens are everywhere and you can definitely taste the difference between St. Thomas chicken and those from your local grocer.
Maho Beach, St. John Island
Ranked as one of the top 10 beaches by some publications and when you get there, you see why. No entry fee, free concert, quiet beach with snorkeling opportunities, concessions and boat anchoring.
I caught a ferry to the island and rode the Saffari for the experience. Both rides continued to impress and by this time I was catching myself exhaling from trying to keep a natural breathing pattern. Breath taking is an understatement. While waiting on a trip up the hilly terrain I got a history lesson from one of the locals selling merch in the very spot our ancestors were sold. The islands are rich in culture and history. However, I did notice they are still quite segregated. St. John is a protected National Park, most of the island can still be found in its natural state. If you are a hiker this is the spot for you. This National Park offers 20 trail options.
Don’t expect the bathroom to look like much more than a crap house. Period
St. John Island is where I chose to test out my Sapphire (sapphirego.com). Personal Hotspot that works in over 130 countries and is ready to go out of the box they boast. Well the excitement was short lived. Ready to go actually means hook it to WiFi first then it’s ready to go!!
Speaking of options: If you have the opportunity visit Extra Virgin. Reserve a spot early. Here you will receive impeccable service, great drinks and amazingly delicious food. I tried several things on the menu from scallops to pasta and ended with a steak that was seared to perfection. I almost couldn’t make the ferry ride home. Be careful of this as the ferry stops running at a certain time and you will be trapped on the island until morning. Yikes
Did I say the bathroom on the beach was a crap house. Period
If you are looking for a beach side destination for your upcoming nuptials you may want to rethink this as your location. It is very windy here this time of year and the rains can get relentless at the spur of a moment. Indoor functions would be a safer bet.
It was so lovely waking up early, walking out on to my balcony and just taking in the view. The hotel is currently under construction and the workers gave me a little entertainment as the rains insisted upon ruining their day. They stayed diligent and insistent on getting the job done. Morning coffee from the Nespresso wasn’t bad and I could never get tired of waking up like this. Off to brunch I go.
Fisherman’s Market offers Sunday brunch. The selection was lacking and the mimosas were of poor champagne quality. Some rather loud guests next to my table forced me to look out to the beautiful sea yet again. The service reminded me to slow down and be patient, and enjoy. The smoked salmon benedict looked wonderful but lacked in flavor.
Ritz Carlton offers a breakfast spread in the club lounge to those who opt in to club access. All of the staff members were extremely kind and accommodating, always going above and beyond to make sure my stay was carefree and easy. They even transported you on call. Although St. Thomas has countless famous beaches and restaurants to check out, I would have been happy staying put. The Ritz had everything I needed for a weekend getaway … relaxation, beautiful beaches, sun, accommodating service and a beautiful pool area. Photos opportunities are a must. Massages are available through the Spa.
The Rum Hut and Sapphire Night club were fun additions to this trip and cannot go unmentioned. The swings, flowing drinks and thump of hip hop music keep you in a great mood . The Sapphire offers a beach side party.
Not going to make it 2 hours early to the airport. No problem. When you arrive you will soon realize just like on the rest of the island no one is in a rush and all that awaits you is a magazine stand and one eatery. Oh and no worries about finding your gate. You will get this later.
Shorts-Tees-Flowy Dress-Sandals and Bikinis