by Amanda Geronikos
Finding The Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Resort & Spa is like discovering hidden treasure. You’ll drive around hairpin turns, up and down windy hills, and past mouth-dropping views before spotting the red roofs of the buildings that define this oceanfront haven, seemingly located on an island of its own.
The only branded hotel in St. Croix, it’s also one of only four hotels owned by the Rockefeller Family (the others are in St. John, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands). Families can expect luxurious amenities, such as onsite dining, a dive center, organized events and excursions and rooms that accommodate families with sofa beds, fully equipped kitchenettes and best of all — screened-in porches where they can simply relax, the sound of waves crashing ashore and birds chirping in the distance.
Our Editor Loves
- Secluded, beachfront location
- Themed activities and buffets
- Complimentary guided hikes
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
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Our only complaint about the rooms (which are more like apartments) is the amount of noise you can hear from them. You'll enjoy the sounds of wildlife at night -- frogs, owls and more -- but you may also be awakened by the sound of people returning to their rooms or passing by your building. Otherwise, the rooms are flawless. Our favorite features include the screened-in porches with comfy sofas -- perfect for daytime siestas or even sleeping at night!
Note: Lift the door handle upward, not downward, to enter your room.
Although guestrooms vary just slightly in layout (there are two styles), they are basically all the same, with views as the only major difference. Guests may choose between the following categories: Island (garden views), Deluxe Island (views of rocky beach), Ocean View (partial beach views) and Beachfront.
All guestrooms can actually be considered suites and are very accommodating to families. They include one king bed and a sleeper sofa, each with their own separate space and TV (though no separating doors). You can add a rollaway bed or crib to sleep five, and there is no charge for either. Guestrooms feature fully equipped kitchenettes, with two-burner stoves, dishwashers (and detergent), coffeemakers, microwaves and full-size refrigerators, plus dishes and cutlery. A storage closet houses a safe, iron and ironing board, bathrobes, and plenty of space for suitcases and other belongings.
Bathrooms are also spacious, with a separate area for dual sinks, a toilet and a spacious stand-up shower. Guestrooms don't provide tubs so if traveling with little ones, be sure to pack an inflatable tub.
This resort has it all! Fine dining, casual food, RUM, amazing service, beach steps from your room, massages on the beach, beautiful decor, private balcony and terrace, full kitchen, and taxi service to anywhere your heart desires!
Amazing food! Serious rum drinks! First class service all of the way!
excellent cheeseburgers and island locals everywhere! That’s when you know the place is good. Good bar and congenial staff, fun open mike nights and even bingo nights! Great local place to soak up the island vibes and have a good meal! Full bar, handicap accessible
The hotel fronts a quiet, beautiful stretch of beach that's perfect for families -- especially those with little ones since the waves often form small tide pools. Chaise loungers are sprinkled across the sand.
The hotel pool is large in size and overlooks the ocean. It is located next to a hot tub and giant games of chess and Jenga. Other poolside fun includes dive-in movie nights and food service, the latter of which is available until 5 p.m. daily. The pool is open 24 hours.
Tennis and Volleyball Courts
Both tennis and volleyball courts are available by the beach; visit the front desk for equipment. The courts are open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Sweet Bottom Dive Center
Sweet Bottom Dive Center is a reputable name in diving on St. Croix, and lucky for hotel guests, there's a location right at the resort. Services include diving courses, kids' scuba programs and snorkeling. The dive center is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
R Life News
R Life News is the resort's daily newspaper that provides a list of scheduled activities, plus news, weather and water conditions and activity suggestions. Local activities might include guided hikes in the rainforest (complimentary), jet skiing and horseback riding.
Saman Restaurant & Terrace
Saman Restaurant & Terrace is the resort's fine dining option, featuring seafood and steak specialties and al fresco dining by the ocean. While it's romantic, it's equally family-friendly, with highchairs and children's menus available to little ones. The restaurant is open for dinner (5 to 10 p.m.) and breakfast only. Breakfast, served 7 to 11 a.m., includes both a buffet and a la carte options. Reservations are not required unless you plan to attend the Champagne Sunday Brunch Buffet, served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It includes a complimentary mimosa per person.
Flamboyant Beach Bar
Named for the red flowers that bloom on St. Croix, Flamboyant Beach Bar serves casual favorites, from burgers to salads, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Next to the bar is a fire pit surrounded by lounge chairs, a popular place to relax with cocktails. Kids are welcome.
Pirates Buffet & Moko Jumbies Show
Don't miss this unique event, hosted every Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. It's especially intriguing for kids, who get to meet the costumed "Moko Jumbies." They are spirits or guardians who ward off evil, according to local culture. Of course, the buffet takes the spotlight with a bountiful variety of local specialties. You can also expect appetizers, salads, a prime rib carving station, seafood and desserts -- including a chocolate fountain! Reservations are required for this event, which also includes live music and dancing.
In-room dining is available, with many of the same options offered at the onsite restaurants (kids' menu included).
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The hotel charges a resort fee that covers several amenities, including pool towels, access to the self-laundry facility (located in Building 9) and Wi-Fi. The resort fee is 10 percent of your nightly rate.
The resort fee also covers access to the fitness center, which offers universal exercise machines, cardio equipment and free weights. The fitness center is located next to the lobby and is open 24 hours; a key card is required to enter.
SOS Antiques and Gift Shop
Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the resort's gift shop sells toiletries, snacks, beverages and gifts.
Check-in is at 3 p.m. and check-out is at noon.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season in the U.S. Virgin Islands is December to April, and local hotels fill to capacity during this time. It never feels overly crowded at the Renaissance, however. Still, if you'd like to avoid high season, head to the resort in the summer or fall.
The airport in St. Croix (Henry E. Rohlson Airport) is located about 20 minutes from the Renaissance. You can rent a car to get to the resort, or take a taxi.
The resort provides shuttle service to Christiansted for $16 per person, round-trip (two-person minimum required). Shuttles operate Monday to Saturday, departing at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and returning at 1:15, 3:30 and 5:15 p.m. Reserve the shuttle 45 minutes prior to your planned departure.
If you want to explore other areas of St. Croix (and you should), you'll likely need a car to get around. Motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road.
For Mom and Dad
Head to Saman Terrace for a quiet dinner, followed by a peaceful walk along the beach. You might also consider a spa treatment at Carambola Spa, which offers four treatment rooms for traditional massages, facials and more.