In our marriage, I am by far the more impulsive of the two of us. I will plan a trip, make a decision, start a project on a whim while Zach takes more time to weigh the pros, cons (and budget). So imagine my surprise when we were laying in bed on a Saturday morning, discussing plans for the summer and he suggested that we just go ahead and take our family vacation the coming week. It was music to my ears and so fun to be spontaneous and book a trip on a whim. I typically take a few days getting everyone ready for a family trip and making sure all my work is taken care of, but I really enjoyed not being able to over-think things. We researched where we could travel and not have to test to get back home and landed on St. Thomas. I had been once years before and Zach had never been but the Caribbean is undoubtedly his favorite place to travel to. A quick conversation, about an hour of playing travel agent, and a full day in the office to prepare to be gone and we were off for 4 nights in the sunny Virgin Islands.
Where We Stayed
I typically do a good amount of research on properties, but for this trip I took the word of a close friend who had stayed at The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas and absolutely loved it! One of my girlfriends stayed at The Ritz a few years ago and always talks about how much she loved it. It was a short 30-40 minute drive from the airport and located on a beautiful private bay. The St. Thomas property is divided into the Ritz Club Residences and the Resort with restaurants at each. The staff was incredibly friendly and the valet was wonderful. If you stay in the club area they transport you back and forth via golf cart which was really fun for the girls.
We booked The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas through American Express Travel. This particular hotel is part of American Express’s Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection meaning you get $100 a day food & beverage credit, a free upgrade upon arrival based on availability, guaranteed late checkout, and more. We booked the club level which was absolutely worth the per-day upgrade fee for our family of four. They had a full breakfast and lunch daily, an impressive happy hour spread, and an open bar, coffee, water, soft drinks, etc all day long. We ate there every morning for breakfast, most days for lunch, and for an afternoon snack, and went up there for all of our beverages.
We chose a King room because it came with a chaise lounge that one kid could sleep on and they brought in a rollaway sofa for another twin bed option. The bathrooms were brand new with a walk-in shower and soaking tub and they had excellent AC, wifi, TV channels and a fan in the room (which is of utmost importance to Zach). The room had a balcony that opened up with a beautiful view of the bay.
The property is beautiful and very well maintained. Crews are up every am cleaning up the seaweed on the beauty and while the beach is rocky in spots, there are plenty of chairs to sit in & a lot of room for kids to play. I like that the pool is right up on the beach because while I love a beach adventure, I would much rather sit by the pool all day. The large pool is adults only but there were several kids playing it in and nobody seemed to mind. There is also a hot tube, a smaller family pool, a splash pad and a water slide which was the BEST. The girls played on it non-stop and had the best time. To me the only downside of the pool was that the hot tub was very small and the service was not great. I have come to expect over the last year for the service to be slow and places to be short-staffed so it wasn’t terrible.
We didn’t try out the spa, fitness facilities and the kids club wasn’t open but I’m sure they are all wonderful. The food didn’t blow me away but we did enjoy our meal at Alloro. All in all I think it’s a wonderful spot for a quick trip to the Caribbean, especially for families with the ease of travel and I would definitely go back!
St. Thomas Restaurants
We had reservations at Prime on our last night but canceled them to hang out on the beach for as long as possible. We did however venture into town to eat at The Easterly and it was really good! I had tuna, Zach had snapper and the apps and drinks were delicious!
Day Trip to St. John
The thing people told me over and over and over was that we HAVE to go to St. John. I think if we return to the USVIs soon, we would look into staying on St. John because it was, in short, amazing. We rented a boat for the day and the captain and first mate were so nice and knowledgeable. We stopped at Maho Bay and Trunk Bay to swim and snorkel, and stopped for lunch at Lovango. We heard that Line Out is a ton of fun but we didn’t want to take the girls as some days it can be more of a party scene so we opted instead for lunch at Lovango. The restaurant was incredible and the service was next level. If we would have planned better, I would have made an afternoon at their infinity pool. They have lifesized chess, cabanas, a few really cute shops and are in the process of making a vibrant underwater reef for snorkeling. Our waitress at The Easterly actually recommended it and we are so glad we went! It’s owned by a family that also has a resort in Nantucket and while the resort overall is very much under construction, I anticipate it being the place to stay in the coming years.
What I Packed
The goal of this trip was no stress, all fun, and I didn’t put too much thought into packing as I normally do. A few bathing suits, some sun dresses, and PJs and that was that. Here is a list of what I did take and a few of the pieces that I packed for the girls. I’m also including some of what Zach took for those of you that also do the shopping for your men.
01. Heels // 02. Fringe Tote // 03. Black Swimsuit // 04. White Coverup // 05. Tote // 06. YSL Wallet Chain // 07. Sunglasses // 08. Sun Hat // 09. Sandal // 10. Denim Shorts // 11. Blue Coverup // 12. Tanks // 13. White Dress // 14. Boho Dress // 15. Headband
The reason we chose St. Thomas is that they are currently accepting antibody, rapid antigen or PCR tests for entry and do not make you test to return to the states. (This requirement is for everyone, regardless of if you have received a COVID-19 vaccine.) We uploaded our PDFs to their website and received instant approval. We planned this trip in a day if that doesn’t tell you how easy the process was! One quick connection from Atlanta and we were on our way! I booked a car service through the hotel to get us to the resort but you could also do a private taxi transfer. I will say that on the return you need to allow extra time to get through security and customs and make sure you eat before because the options at the airport are not great. And by options, I mean there is one small cafeteria style restaurant.
You guys always have the best travel recommendations! Here is what everyone had to say about their favorite activities, restaurants and adventures in St. Thomas & St. John.
- If you have passports, charter a boat to Jost Van Dyke & drink at Soggy Dollar Bar
- Take a ferry to St. John
- Take a tennis lesson with the tennis pro that comes to the Ritz
- Kitchen Tour at Old Stone Farmhouse
- Go to Magen’s Bay
- Lime Out Snorkel with Taco Bar
- Brewers Bay for snorkeling with sting rays and sea turtles
- Coki Beach for Snorkeling
- IslandBuddy does tours of the island
- Shopping at Mongoose Junction in St. John
- Go to Red Hook
- Shopping near Charlotte Amalie
- Morning Star Sailing
- Oh Be Joyful Sailing St. John
- Frenchman’s Reef St. Thomas
- Lion in Da Sun Charters St. Thomas
- Love City Excursions St. John
- Island Buddy Jeep Tour St. Thomas