Compared to other Caribbean islands, St. John has very few hotels and resorts — which is a big part of the appeal. Since almost two-thirds of the island is National Park, development is limited, which is precisely why most travelers return here again and again.
Most of the St. John Virgin Island Resorts are expensive, and exclusive. You’ll never have trouble finding a lounge by the pool or getting service at the bar.
The oldest and best-known Virgin Island resorts is Caneel Bay. Laurance Rockefeller opened it in 1956, and it was the first eco-resort. Some of the green practices it uses are still innovative today.
The resort is located on one of the most beautiful bays in St. John – which is saying something. And there are seven beaches to choose from on the 170-acre property. Accommodations are scattered around the grounds, and to be honest — some could use a renovation.
But the relaxed ambience is what keeps guests coming back. With no telephones or TVs in the rooms, it’s a great place to get away from it all. And the restaurants are excellent, albeit expensive. There’s a dress code in the evenings.
Caneel Bay has an outdoor pool, a health club, and tennis courts. It’s about a ten-minute drive — or a harrowing cab ride — from Cruz Bay.
Those who want a more conventional Caribbean resort with amenities like whirlpool baths, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies may prefer the Westin St. John Resort & Villas. Located on the southwest side of the island, the 34-acre resort has 21 buildings, housing a variety of accommodations.
The Westin has a good beach, one of the largest pools in the Virgin Islands, four restaurants, tennis, and water sports equipment rentals. The villas have kitchenettes, which helps keep the cost down. Prime serves some of the best steaks on the island.
Gallows Point Resort is within walking distance of Cruz Bay, which is great if you like to try lots of different restaurants and bars. The resort sits on a peninsula that looks back toward St. Thomas. The views are beautiful day and night, when the twinkling lights of the East End compete with the stars.
Fifteen island-style buildings are spread across the lovely grounds. Each contains four one-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens and balconies or terraces.
The beach here is pretty rocky, but there’s a pool. And Zozo’s restaurant is your best bet for Italian on St. John. The views from the upstairs bar are smashing.
On our recent visit, we stayed at the Grande Bay Resort and loved it. It’s between Gallows Point and Cruz Bay, so you can walk to everything. We stayed in a one-bedroom penthouse and had beautiful views of Cruz Bay. Two- and three-bedroom units are also available.
The complex has a pretty outdoor pool overlooking the beach, an exercise room, and a concierge who can arrange excursions or activities. It’s walking distance to the Cruz Bay ferry dock.