I read the trip advisor reviews before traveling and find them very helpful. As a result, I took notes on this 15 day trip to assist other like minded travelers. We arrived on August 1st via a trade of the newest Marriott property in Maui and we were not disappointed. A bit more on this later.
We rented a car and I will tell you, reserve early and call directly to the airport to make sure you actually have a car when you arrive. Whjile the Budget staff was polite, waited 40 minutes in line at Budget and then another 40 before our two jeeps were ready and the airport is not air conditioned. The Budget Jeep Wrangler rentals were fine, but be aware that they do not have windows - usually when you rent a Wrangler the zip out windows in the back are in the car for your use, not the case at Budget. Avis/Hertz both seemed to have cars in better shape but they cost a bit more - considering you drive on the left side of the street and the roads here are a bit tedious to drive on due to the very steep hills and hairpin turns, having a beat up car may not be a bad idea. As a side note, Budget also allows you to take your car on the ferry to St. John's. Warning on the ferry - the cost is $50.00 round-trip and it is CASH ONLY. There is a cash machine at the terminal where the people without cars take the Ferry next door. The ferry ride was nice, but make sure you get out of your car and go to the top where you can see the views of the island as soon as you park (do not wait) because it is very difficult to get past the cars once they are all loaded, they pack them in very very tight.
Back to the property. We checked into the hotel and it was very quick, we arrived around 5 PM. The staff was very polite and quickly responded when I asked for extra room keys. I will warn you though, if you stay for 2 weeks, they deactivate your keys after the first week - pretty frustrating to come back and not be able to get in your room. They have lemonade in the lobby and yummy oatmeal cookies, don't forget to grab some for the people you leave in the car outside in the heat during check in =)
Our first room was at my request, in the buildings above the main pool. I called in advance to request this after reading the reviews of the elevator rides. The problem is however, even after requesting a room on one of the higher floors 4th or 5th, the room was on the 2nd floor. I checked out the room and the views were of the roof of the buildings leading to the pool and the workout area. I immediately asked to be changed, who wants to stay in St Thomas without a view? They politely accommodated my requst and moved us up to the next set of buildings "St John" building 4. People who say that the newer buildings are nicer (4th or 5th) clearly have not seen the lower buildings, they all look exactly the same - same furniture, same carpeting, same set up. They are building a few new buildings which are not yet open, perhaps they will look a bit different, but we were not disappointed. The beds are big and soft, many pillows and nice fluffy comforters. 2 decks, a larger one off the master bedroom with a table and 4 chairs - nice for morning coffee and watching the cruise ships come in, and a smaller one off the 2nd bedroom (with 2 queen beds) and a separate bathroom, small table and 2 chairs. The kitchens have everything you would need, stainless steel appliances, microwave, toaster, blender, coffee maker and all sorts of cooking and baking materials. We did run out of coffee filters, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags and dishwashing detergent - but the good news is we called and they brought them right up, no questions asked. They also brought up extra pillows and blankets for the pull out bed in the livingroom, which was was surprisingly comfortable - not like the usual beds you experience. It gets cold in the rooms at night, so make sure you ask for blankets for anyone sleeping in the livingroom. Additionally, they have black out curtains in each room - which is great for sleeping in. Doing laundry in the room was terrific! You receive cleaning service (light cleaning) on Tuesdays (if you check in on Friday) - beds made, towels changed, dishes done and garbage removed - and if you stay two weeks, full cleaning the day your 2nd week starts. There are 3 flat screen TV's with the largest in the livingroom Lastly the rooms are quiet due to the concrete walls for hurricane protection - so you hear nothing but the people in your room. We had 8 people and we had no problem bumping into each other.
The pool at the hotel is OK, nothing special and the slide they advertise is very small, but the kids enjoyed it. There were daily activities for the kids at a small price and they enjoyed making necklaces, shirts and sand-art. Each day they had ice cream sundae's that you could make or shakes for $2.00 per scoop, all of this including the activities, like bingo had to be room charged. The only restaurant at the Cove was what you would expect price wise from a resort - between $10-$16 per person, but the burgers were huge and the fries were always hot and very good. I ordered the kids burger which was only slightly smaller than the main menu and was half the price and they had no issue with my ordering from the kids menu. The drinks were great (Arthur was the bartender and he was terrific) and at $9.00 per was about average for a resort like this. During happy hour the drinks are $2.00 less, which was nice - but be advised, happy hour is M-TH only and breakfast at the pool is only served Friday-Sunday (not during the week). We also spent some time on the beach, and yes it is rocky when you first walk in - but walk another 5 steps and you are standing on the sand. There are many chairs with umbrella's at the beach and while the beach is small - we enjoyed it. St Thomas is not like Hawaii - you can get pool chairs by the water until about 9 AM without issue, in Hawaii, we had to be there by 6 AM!!!
We wandered up to the Marriott Frenchman's Reef and I can't speak about the hotel rooms as I didn't see any, but the pool was bigger than the cove and very nice with cushioned chairs (unlike at the cove) and there is NO need to bring your towels, they have them at the pool (unlike at Cove where you have to bring them from your room). The drinks are $11.00 at the Reef due to it being a hotel property and the food is more expensive as well. The beach next to the Reef is really nice, the chairs and umbrella's are free for Marriott guests which is nice after paying for them at every public beach. There is also a pool above the beach for guests to use which is under partial shade and looked nice (we didn't use it). We did find all of the pools very warm, so be prepared - we quickly got use to it. There is a store, not owned by the hotel at the beach by CoCo Joe's - prices are reasonable there, very expensive at the Reef so it is worth the walk. We didn't eat at CoCo Joe's and everyone we talked to that did (they have a buffet most nights with lobster etc), said it was over priced at $50 per person and not that good.
We did eat out a number of times. Mimi's about 1/3 of the way toward Red Hook was in all the magazines - don't do it - the food was way over priced and while the view was beautiful and the staff was very nice, the food was not good. We got a bit of everything with the 8 of us, including the all you can eat shrimp on Thursday night and everything was over cooked at at an average of $35 per person (no free refills on drinks which is the standard in St Thomas) added a surprising amount to the bill. A much better recommendation for the price is Oceana - I can't say enough about this place, the food was fantastic, the views beautiful and the staff was outstanding. Get the sea bass, I questioned it based on the description that it was soaked in coconut milk (which sounded strange) but it had no coconut taste, they do this to remove any fish taste to it and it was truly memorable. This place is not easy to find, but the locals are all very sweet and willing to direct you - call for reservations and ask for a table overlooking the ocean.
We also took advantage of the Marriott discount for the ride to Paradise Pointe up the gondola. $5.00 on Wednesday's after 5 PM, just mention you are from Marriott. There was live music with a great band, great drinks and surprisingly good food with the average price at $10 per person, all included fries and while the service is "island slow", it was worth the wait. There is also some shopping up there - but everything is about 20% more than you would find if you just go into town.
Be aware shopping in town is scheduled around the cruise ships for he most part. The open market was fun and the faux purses were really fun to shop for. The kids found cheap jewlery and t-shirts to buy. In town the stores are very accommodating and most of the high end stores - especially if you are buying diamonds/camera/watches are negotiable. Be aware most of the stores close by 4 PM - so shop early. Parking is hard to find, so park in the pay lot $2.00 for 2 hours when you first come into town.
AVOID at all cost Pueblo grocery store - it was really not clean. There are other shopping options toward Red Hook or even at the Cost-U-Less warehouse grocery store which had surprisingly low prices and good selections. It is worth the cab ride as we shopped at Food Mart by Red Hook and spent $522 on one trip, similar purchase from Cost-U-Less the second week was $286.
Night life is found primarly in Red Hook, Duffy's was a popular hang out for the US based 18-30 something crowd. Wednesday night is ladies night with free drinks all night long. Fun place to go. It is a bit of a drive or a $10.00 cab ride. Make sure you only get in cab's that have TAXI on the plates - otherwise you are at risk. Everyone we met was polite and very helpful from people on the streets to people at the hotels. If you can set your mind to the fact things move slower on the islands you will do fine.
Couple last tips:
- Always say good morning, good afternoon or good evening - you will absolutely get better service
- Bring cash to the beaches, Megan's Bay, Trunk Bay, etc - everything has a price, admittance to government run beaches, chairs, snorkel equipment, umbrella's etc...but it is worth it, they are stunning.
- We went to Coral World, I would say not worth the price, but the kids enjoyed it. Avoid the guys trying to park your cars when you come in, there is parking for free right at Coral World if you simply drive a little further
- Airport does NOT need 2 hours advance arrival - do yourself a favor, it is hot and not air conditioned, get there no more than 1.5 hours in advance (it takes about 15-20 minutes to get there from hotel)
- Buy a cheap cooler at a grocery store or bring a collapsable one - drinks and water gets expensive
- Bring floaties (air matresses, etc) to the beaches if you have them, rental is about $8 per day for floating mattresses and you will wish you had one
- We went snorkeling on one of the sail boats that only had 6 people for $125 per person, it was nice - not sure worth the price but fun day
You will love it here!
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- Also Known As:
- Marriott`s Frenchman`s Cove Hotel Charlotte Amalie
- Marriotts Charlotte Amalie
- Marriotts Hotel Frenchmans Cove
- Marriott Charlotte Amalie
- Marriotts Frenchmans Cove
- Marriott's Frenchman's Cove St. Thomas/Charlotte Amalie