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“Not a five star experience, but read on for good tips…I'd go again!”

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Sapphire Village Resort at Sapphire Beach
Reviewed 2 May 2014

I booked this trip very last minute (three days out from leaving) and made my decision on where to stay in St. Thomas based on a mix of two criteria: Cost & Tripadvisor user comments. They were very helpful, but I think I can help clear up some of the confusion/reservation I felt when I decided to "take a chance" on Sapphire Beach Village Resorts.

First, it's important to note, this is NOT full service resort. It' is two separate condo complexes, both with amazing views and location to the beach, however, that's where the similarities end. This review is for the Village, which is located UPHILL from the beach (OK walk if you take your time). There are some reviews for the Village that I think belong to the Beach resort, which, according to locals and those that work there, is in the midst of a major homeowner association brawl. That equates to poor management, run down or closed facilities and units that are in need of some serious TLC. You can't beat the location (the water "kisses" your veranda during high tide), and I had the opportunity to move to one of these units the day after my check-in and I didn't.

So, here are some VERY useful tips (I hope) in making your experience at Sapphire a great one!

The village is uphill, but our unit (St. Maarten #204 was about 25 downhill steps to the tiki bar & pool, which has live music ever night (there is not tiki bar on the beach). If you want to go a beautiful and completely uncrowded beach (I counted twenty five on the beach at noon one day), with AMAZING onsite snorkeling (lots of reefs, turtles etc), you just need to walk five minutes downhill and you're there. Just prepare for an exhausting hike back to your unit uphill. They don't have a gym, so this was a free alternative to working out on a machine…

GETTING THERE ONCE YOU LAND
I traveled with my Mom and frankly, we got ripped off taking a private cab over to Sapphire from the airport. We wanted to stop get necessities: rum, food, rum :) etc. We paid $90, but that was high. You can take a van pool for much less (between $10-$12 pp). Sapphire is on the east end of the island, which is the furthest point from Charlotte Amalie (which they call the city)


CHECKING IN
This was a bit of a fiasco, but I expected it because I read others reviews. For those of you who are going to book this, your cab driver WILL PROBABLY NOT know how to get you to check in. So…here is it (there are NO signs what-so-ever). You check in down the hill at the Beach resort (NOT the villas, even tho there is an office there too). It is a unit converted into an office. It is located on the end left unit by the "taxi wait area". Go up the stairs and enter the very last door to the left to check in. WARNING: if you have a late flight and didn't book a unit directly through the owner of the condo, I would get someone on the phone in that office before hand to be sure you know how to get your keys. They could be hairy if you arrive after typical working hours. The number they gave me was 340-775-2600. ( I didn't find that number ANYWHERE else during my booking or receipt of paperwork).

THE BEACH
There are charters and jet ski rentals signs on property and the marina is right there. You might struggle with how to book these however. The office staff may be helpful, some signs have numbers to call, but don't expect a hut or booth whereas someone is "waiting" to take your reservation.

I found, after speaking with some people, that snorkel equipment may or may not be in your unit. You can't rent it anywhere. I brought my own (who wants to stick someone else's snorkel on your mouth?). I recommend you do the same for sure. Buying one and fins is expensive on island

There is a small awning set up between the beach buildings that serves breakfast and lunch (grill food) and they have a small bar. They close around 2p I believe, so if you want cocktails on the beach after 2p, check your unit for a cooler (ours had one) to bring with you. Good luck getting ice however. I had to ask the bar tender at the uphill tiki bar for a bag and she was very gracious (Thanks Amber!). Lunch and Dinner is served at the tiki bar until 9p.

Beach chairs are in rough shape and you will have to unstack your own (if they are actually stacked from the day before). They were free. The sand is nice, so laying on a beach towel is comfortable as well.

Which brings me to beach towels. I experienced the same issue as many others. No beach towels upon check in and I never got one my whole trip. I didn't even see a housekeeper that I could ask (and our unit was not cleaned during the 4 nights we were there). Bring one with you.

GETTING AROUND
If you don't rent a car (I heard from a couple of travelers they spent in excess of $800 with taxes and insurance for a week), you will need to take a taxi to get around. You have a few choices:
There is a "safari" taxi that will stop and pick you up pretty much anywhere you stand on the road when you hail them. this does a complete island loop (LONG RIDE) for $2, or you can pay $1 each time you hop on and off. Sapphire is a short distance from Redhook and the St. John Ferry, however, I wouldn't walk it. There are no sidewalks or shoulders and it would be fairly unsafe in my opinion. Getting back from Redhook is a little more difficult. The safari runs in one direction ,so you either hop on for a buck or two and wait until they loop back around, or you take a private taxi, which will run about $5-$7 each. It adds up quickly.

Airport from Sapphire was $30 for the two of us…..haggle the large fairs with the drivers if you're comfortable.

FOOD
There are many restaurant options on the island, but not the resort. I am a foodie, so I always ask the locals where to go that aren't "tourist traps":
Fish Tails in Redhook by the Ferry terminal was OK. Great service at the bar, very friendly!
Gladys' down by the cruise ship docks (it's tucked away down an alley, so ask a local), it was GREAT!
Sapphire Bar & Grill is the tiki bar at the Village Resort up the hill. Food is a little pricey but the staff are uber friendly and the food is edible. They did a decent burger.
"Off the Grid" food/BBQ truck at the entrance of Sapphire Resorts. They have a great all you can eat and bottomless caribbean mimosa's on Sunday for Brunch! they are there every day until they run out of food (which happens!)
Buy food. We made sandwiches in our unit to save $$. There is a grocery on Smith Bay Road before and after you pass Sapphire. Ask your cab driver to bring you to do some quick shopping.

WHAT TO DO
Tip: Sunday is a sacred day on island and you won't find much open in the "city" for shopping/food etc. Plan on Sunday as your day of rest as well!

There are a number of excursions you can book. Keep in mind the cruise ships also book these, so do it early to ensure your spot (especially scuba/snuba diving on St. John). I've been to Trunk Bay on St. John a number of times as it is rated the most beautiful beach in the world by National Geographic. Bring your laptop to research or pick up brochures when you see them, you won't find ANY tourist information on site at Sapphire (unless you ask a bartender). I did zip lining, which was worth it (see Tree Limin' Extreme). I was told by multiple locals that Lindquist beach (right near Sapphire) is BEAUTIFUL and not as touristy. Coki beach is a MAD HOUSE, i'd stay away.

Happy hour is pretty much 24/7. Look for great little bars with great views and just explore!

TECHNOLOGY/COMMUNICATION
Ask the bartender for the WIFI password if you weren't told at check in. that's how we got it. The WIFI is VERY SPOTTY however. Oh, who cares….you're on vacation, get off the computer already!!!! That's why I have a data plan on my phone.
Not all carriers work in St. Thomas or they don't consider it "domestic calling". CHECK if you aren't sure ,it could end up costing you a fortune!
Our room didn't have a phone, so be prepared for that.

I have pointed out things that are not intended to sway you away from this resort…just the opposite. I had to work through these things and hope that it helps the next traveller in getting settled in without any stress much easier.

All in all, I'd go again. I would not consider the beach resort until they do some MAJOR overhauls there. The price couldn't be beat, so I didn't expect the Ritz Carlton. The staff at the Tiki bar were great (Again, Amber & Fallon, you do a great job!). The rooms all have a balcony and great view! It was clean upon checkin also. We met a lot of nice long term renters and travelers, so be sure you put on your island friendly face and make new friends!

The surroundings are so beautiful, that as long as your "mind" is in the right place, you'd be hard pressed not to just relax and enjoy the island life for a while! The rating I gave is for the overall experience, but if I had to rate the facilities, the beach resort would get barely a 2 and the Village up the hill would get a 3.

Good luck and happy booking!

One last note: I have been to many caribbean islands, and the one thing I have to say about St. Thomas, is that the locals are NOT that friendly. They act much more annoyed in their interactions with you then I was used to. (Again, excluding Amber & Fallon).

Room Tip: Don't book the beach resort. Ask for a room close to the pool/tiki bar at the Village. Check i...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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47  Thank MisLis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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40 - 46 of 57 reviews

Reviewed 12 March 2014

If you want to use the pool you will need to run it past a resident's swim lesson schedule first. Even though she isn't supposed to be using the pool for lessons, she does. Three times this past week we couldn't use the pool and all day today. Then when she isn't using the pool, the family with the screaming kids invite all their friends to the pool on the weekends, when the manager isn't around, and they allow their kids to scream and splash everyone in the pool and deck area until you can't stand it any longer and you just give up and sit in your unit or pack everything up and walk to the beach. Because we were here for several months, we know this is a daily problem that we have had to deal with after committing ourselves to this trip. Our unit was lovely and reasonably priced, the beach and the incredibly wonderful weather are worth the trip, and both the owners and agent were great people with which to work. Unfortunately some of the full time residents obviously don't want vacationers, and treat them very poorly. FYI these issues were brought to the management office not once, but twice and nothing was done. Over time we have spoken to other residents and vacationers alike, and they also feel the same way about the pool usage and the screaming kids. Unfortunately a good deal of these residents are single and afraid to say anything; which is just sad and wrong on many levels. If you are staying for a short term rental, you could probably get away without too many problems. If you plan a longer trip, or like us, don't like to spend your hard earned money to not be able to use all amenities and are past an age when you need to pay to hear other peoples kids scream while parents do nothing, then I would consider sapphire beach condos. They have rules as the village does, but the beach actually enforces them and ensures a pleasant trip for your money.

Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
8  Thank jane m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 February 2014

Love, Love, Sapphire Beach with its sweeping views, clear crystal water and large white sand beaches. My husband and I stayed at one of the condos there in January. The unit we stayed in was quite clean and modern and comfortable. I booked this on VRBO and dealt directly with the owner so there was no confusion about checking in, keys, etc. I didn’t realize St. Thomas was so mountainous, so I chose this condo, not realizing that it was at one of the highest buildings in the complex. We had great views that overlooked the on -site marina, and we could see other Caribbean islands, from our balcony, like St. John, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke. So from that perspective, it was wonderful. There are many iguanas, some quite large, living right on the property, mostly near the marina, which could surprise you as you walk around the complex. There were also roosters and ducks making their home there as well. Since our condo was so high up, it was a hike to get to the beach, which was not a big deal for us because we are physically fit and fairly young. However, this property is very hilly, and I would not recommend it for the elderly or young children unless you stay much closer to the beach. So just be aware of that when researching this property. We did not rent a car, and used the taxi system to get around. We had no problem getting into Red Hook, the small town near the complex, for about a $1 each. They pick up at the top of the hill at the complex, but it seemed like getting back was more expensive, we paid about $5 a person. We could never quite figure out the taxi system there. For eating, there is the Sapphire Beach Bar & Grille on the property. They were open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the food was good. This is casual dining, and by no means fancy, which was fine for us. We were exhausted by the end of the day with kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, so having a restaurant on the property was convenient. We were there a week, and during that time they had live entertainment 2 nights. There is also a small hut on the property, near the beach, that has breakfast and lunch items. There is also a great food truck at the top of the hill, at the entrance of the complex, called “Off the Grid” that serves, delicious pulled pork, chicken, sides, all the fixings. Buy early though, I am told they sell out quickly. We bought these meals one day about 11:30 AM, refrigerated them, and ate dinner on the balcony after a day of snorkeling and kayaking. I would go back to this resort again, but choose a different condo closer to the beach.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Susan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 January 2014

Perhaps it's because our last Caribbean vacation was at a 4-star all-inclusive in Jamaica that the Sapphire Village Resort felt like it had seen better days.

The most important advice I can give you is to be clear about your check-in: where are you supposed to get your keys. The neighbouring units at the Sapphire Beach Resort (have a different management company and cannot help you, even though they are nice folks. Our travel agent booked us through Paradise Properties and their office is a few minutes down the road. This is inconsequential if you're walking but if your gruff and hurried taxi driver ($20/pp from STT) is asking where to drop you off, it's good to know the story.

During our stay, every time we went to the Paradise Property's office, no one was there, and we left phone messages which they did get, but it didn't really feel like there was anyone to help. There's also an onsite office in the Village side but they do not help holiday renters with towels etc. The Paradise office was closed mid-morning when we checked out and they don't even have a drop-box for keys. Remember it's a bit of a hike from the units to the office so this was a total waste of time when we were rushing to leave to catch the ferry.

This is not a full service hotel. It's a condo rental.

Our unit for 4 came with 3 towels total. They are supposed to supply beach towels too but it was like pulling teeth to get them. It was supplied with 2 rolls of TP.

Our unit had telephones, but no indication of what the phone number was. I asked and it took awhile to find this out.

There is wifi but it didn't reach our unit (at the end of the Barbados building) and was offline for 3 days.

The unit itself was a good size with beachy decor, comfortable beds, quiet AC, 2 TV's, bathroom with a shower (no bath), iPhone dock, really well equipped kitchen and a closet full of beach chairs. I think each unit could be different. The bathroom had soap and large shampoo bottles but I'm not sure that other units would have shampoo. The owner of our nice unit should know how crummy Paradise Properties is; how indifferent they are.

There is no signage or notes re: how to find the beach, the laundry, etc.

We paid $210/night for a bedroom + large living room wide sofa bed. The posted rate is less. We were also hit with a mandatory 20% local tax.

From our building which was lowest on the hill and next to the marina, (nice view) the walk to the beach was about 3 min. The beach is fantastic. You are not supposed to use the lounge chairs and we were fine on our towels. There's great snorkelling right there. You can rent snorkel equipment and gear from a concession on the beach. The beach is in a nice bay and you can walk along it for say 10 minutes.

There are washrooms at the beach and a "seen better days" service area where you can book excursions, and a Budget car rental desk. We like to walk and you can do the 10 minute walk to Red Hook. About half of it is on a no-shoulder road so be careful but it's do-able. You can purchase groceries at a marketplace in Red Hook but it's not on a bus route. The Red Hook convenience store has high prices.

We took the public "safari" buses to Tutu to get to a big grocery store and Kmart. You can take a bus back from there. It's $1 each way. There's a bus stop at the top of the Sapphire driveway.

There is one restaurant at the Sapphire Village pool. Apparently there used to be one at the Beach Resort but it's now closed. There's a great food truck at the beach and one at the top of the hill by the road.

The exterior of buildings need a paint job and some updates as the whole place looks dated. If you can get beyond that, it's in a great location for the beach, close to Red Hook, and on the safari bus route. Don't expect any hospitality.

Room Tip: Confirm where to check-in to get your keys. It's not obvious.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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6  Thank WugMother
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 December 2013

Our condo was extremely outdated. From the decor, I would suspect the owners are in their 80's and haven't updated anything in the last 40 years. There was lots of brown/yellow floral tile which would look very appropriate in the Brady Bunch house. I suspect the bed was probably 30 years old, which really gave me the creeps. I start thinking of all the dust mites that must be living in that thing and have trouble sleeping. Even when the housekeepers do a good job, things just never seem clean when its that outdated. The view from the condo was amazing and it was quiet at night except for the lovely sound of the ocean. We loved walking around the resort, hanging out at the pools, hitting happy hour at the bar. I know the resort can't control what the inside of the condos look like, but I suppose it is just an uncertainty when you are renting a condo rather than a hotel room. It seems like luck of the draw. Good luck to you!

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank melk103
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 July 2013

This complex is perfectly landscaped and clean! This property offers two very nice pools, which I rarely used due to the beautiful Sapphire beach just a short walk away. The condo I rented was in the St. Marteen building room number 208. This condo was absolutely a great one to rent. Very nice décor inside, and all with a perfect view of the marina and beach. At the top of the road leading into this facility Sapphire Village had a security guard shack which was nice for security purposes. I will definitely stay at this facility again when I return to beautiful St. Thomas!

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank David P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 May 2013

We reuturn to St Thomas and stayed again at this wonderful condo complex. It offers two pools, a nice restaurant/bar, and everything at your fingertips. The condo we stayed was super clean and will furnished unit # 241 Barbados. The reviews were all positive. We loved the view and the closness to the marina and beach. We took a boat ecurson from the Marina to the BVIs which was a fun day. We loved the convenience of being able to walk to the boat from our unit! You are only a short walk probably only a 1/2 mile from Red Hook. The restaurants, bars, shopping is all there , as well as the ferry if you want to go over to St John. The ferry is only $12 RT and is worth it!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank FullMoonVacation
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sapphire Village Resort at Sapphire Beach

Address: 00840, St. Thomas
Region: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. Thomas > East End
Amenities:
Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Speciality Lodging in East End
Price Range: £132 - £227 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Sapphire Village Resort at Sapphire Beach 2.5*
Number of rooms: 5
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Also Known As:
Sapphire Village Resort At Sapphire Beach St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

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