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U.S. Virgin Islands, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Earn ‘Best Of’ Awards In The Caribbean

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — In a year in which the tourism industry was repeatedly dealt blows, the U.S. Virgin Islands can see a glimmer of a silver lining among the pandemic-driven storm clouds.

The territory was recently named “Destination of the Year” by the online publication Caribbean Journal and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, was named “Caribbean Hotel of the Year” by the online travel publication.

The resort, which reopened only shortly before the onset of the pandemic following a $100 million post-hurricane redesign and renovation, was recognized for its continued high level of service. And, it isn’t just the “sea-inspired luxury,” rooms, restaurants, high-thread-count sheets and new pools — one featuring a water slide for the kids — that are gaining attention from travel writers and editors.

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, reopened its doors on November 23, complete with a $100 million renovation and a desire to jump-start the territory’s still-recovering hotel sector. (Photo courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas.)

The Caribbean Journal’s editors note the resort sets “a new standard for health, safety and Caribbean hospitality.”

“The tropical escape devised a slew of COVID-era offerings,” according to a recent write-up in Forbes, “including a three-bedroom penthouse for travel pods and digital workers, a Seaside Spa Cabana for those who prefer alfresco massages and the clever Club Lounge on the Beach, where Club Level guests have their own area on the sand with a complimentary non-alcoholic drink service.”

In making their decision for Destination of the Year, the Journal’s editors note the Virgin Islands was the first destination in the region to reopen to tourism and said that with a “region-leading travel portal, the USVI has been a model for tourism reopenings around the region.”

“These accolades from Caribbean Journal validate the passionate efforts of our entire team as we continue to work around the clock to promote safe travel and to welcome visitors to our islands,” V.I. Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte said in a prepared statement. “As we continue to carefully navigate the pandemic, we are very hopeful to see a full rebound of our bread-and-butter tourism industry in 2021 and beyond.”

As for Boschulte, while he missed out on the honor for tourism minister of the year — that honor went to Charles Fernandez of Antigua and Barbuda — the magazine called his leadership of “an increasingly hot tri-island destination” “impressive.”

Other resorts taking honors this year include small hotel, Eden Rock on St. Barth; new hotel, Eclipse at Half Moon in Jamaica; all-inclusive, Curtain Bluff on Antigua; new all-inclusive, Dreams Macao Beach Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; and small all-inlcusive, Hammock Cove on Antigua.

Other top destinations were innovative destination, The Bahamas; luxury destination, Grenada; yachting destination, St. Kitts and Nevis; and culinary destination, St. Barth.

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