First of all, these are the condos formerly known as "Saphire Bay Condominiums West at Crystal Cove". It is a set of four, two-story buildings set in a semi-circle around a small lagoon facing the beach. It is next door to the "Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina", a newer (1980's) condo/hotel with much smaller apartments, slightly closer to the beach.
I have been visiting these late-1960s-built condo apartments for over 30 years. My parents owned one of these units (C-19) for three decades until they sold it last year. They just rented a different unit for six weeks (B-11) and I stayed there for a week in January 2008. There are several facts about these units you should know before deciding whether or not you will enjoy staying in them.
The units in the four buildings (A-D), all within 50 yards of a small sandy beach shaded by seagrape trees, are condos owned by someone else. Some owners live there year-round or during the winter; some rent them out privately or through Alice in the condo office (or some other agent). Norma is in charge of housekeeping services, which are optional during your stay. They are shotgun style apartments, with the living room in the "front" facing the beach, a galley kitchen, a bathroom, closets, another bathroom, and a master bedroom in the "back". Condos rented as "studios" have the rear bathroom and bedroom closed off, and the renter has access to the living area (with Murphy-style pull-down beds), kitchen, bathroom, and some closets. This is usually cheaper than renting the whole unit.
Many of the owners are somewhat older persons, which means you get less late-night partying and noise. You will meet some owner-residents, and quite a few renters, depending on what season you go there. The beach is small, and the previously mentioned condo/hotel adjoins the property, sharing the eastern end of the beach. The beach is small but extremely pleasant, sometimes quite windy, the water is lovely, and there is a small reef 100 yards away with nice snorkeling. Sea Turtles, clown fish, living coral and other interesting marine life can be observed. Beach chairs are free to residents and renters, and they are the expensive comfortable ones. The water is sparkling turquoise and you have great views of St. Johns (a 15 minute ferry ride away) and Tortola in the distance. There is plenty of shade if you burn easily.
Crystal Cove at Sapphire Beach has always been a place for me to completely unwind. The main activities are eating, sleeping, lounging on the beach, and chatting with other tenants. There is a salt-water swimming pool and tennis courts on the complex. There is a nice tiki bar next door, and a restaurant, which had fallen on some economic troubles, appears to be about to re-open. There used to be a fantastic boutique, which closed; now there is a seedy and expensive snack shop (avoid it). There is a small supermarket, a couple of restaurants and a few shops in Red Hook, a 2 minute drive. You can catch the frequent ferry to St John there. There are larger and cheaper supermarkets 10-15 minutes drive. You will want to cook most of your own meals. Many units have Weber grills available.
Understand that these condos units are all the same construction, but many have been updated, reburbished, or enhanced. My parents did very little to theirs over 30 years- it still had the original red tiled floor, tiny kitchen, etc. They did make a cut-out between the kitchen and living room, as did almost all the owners. However many of the condos have been made much more beautiful and comfortable, with white stone tile floors, expanded kitchen space and counters, leveling and
extending the patio or balcony into the unit to create a larger living space. Ask for photos before renting.
This is not a fancy, "modern" place. This is a spot to immerse yourself in relaxation. Your biggest worry should be what type of sandwich to have for lunch, and when to start your cocktail hour. Some people run their air-conditioning all the time, missing the point of being in the tropics in the winter. It's in the 80s during the day and around 70 at night, and the breeze is nearly constant. Why have A/C when you can breathe soothing salt-sea air and hang out in shorts 24 hours a day?
If you are looking for lots of activities, this is not the place. If you want all the modern conveniences of home, this ain't it. If you can't shift from Type A to Total Relaxation, you might not enjoy this place. It's a "manana" culture, and you have to go with the flow. Depending on which condo unit you rent, your surroundings may be very dated but comfortable, or modern and stylish. The main focus is the chance to wake up 50 yards (more or less from the beach, go to sleep with the sound of the surf in your ears, and wander around in a bathing suit all the time in mid winter. It's also pretty darn nice any time you go (fewer tourists in the off and shoulder seasons).
So think about it, investigate, talk to some owners, get photos, and go. You will probably never regret it, and the price is quite reasonable, considering the nature of the surroundings. Many people, my parents included, rented for two weeks, and then bought and stayed for several decades.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Crystal Cove Villas luxury resort will be your home away from home in the Caribbean. Escape to your own private retreat when you stay in one of our fully equipped condo villas with spectacular beach and ocean views. Whether you're relaxing by the pool or gazing upon a gorgeous sunset as you dine on fresh seafood, your experience here will leave you wanting more. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Crystal Cove Villas Hotel St. Thomas
- Crystal Cove Villas St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands