If you like a full-service American-style resort with plenty of onsite entertainment and dining options—and a fetching sweep of white-sand beach—this resort should fit the bill. As the only major resort in close proximity to Charlotte Amalie (it’s just 3 miles east), it’s a beehive of activity and, some say, the heartbeat of the island’s south shore. If you’re looking for better-quality rooms and a more luxurious ambience, head to the Ritz-Carlton. But if you want to be where the action is in Charlotte Amalie, this is the spot.
This is the largest hotel in the U.S. Virgin Islands, made up of two separate parts, Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star, that were joined into one mega-resort in 2005 in an excellent location on a bluff overlooking both the harbor and the Caribbean. Around the corner is Frenchman’s Cove, the 220-room timeshare section of the resort, with luxury two- and three-bedroom villas. (And yes, you may be asked to learn more about the timeshares during your stay: In the Marriott lobby, a booth offers rum punches and other enticements to get people to attend timeshare promotions. Don’t be shy about saying “no” if you’re not interested and they’ll let you be.)
The rooms at Frenchman’s Reef are traditionally furnished and comfortable (with the Marriott’s signature silky linens and bedding), if uninspired. Those at the Morning Star are more spacious, some opening up right onto the beach with dreamy water views from patios or balconies (non-sea-view balconies have views of the green hills opposite). Note that the resorts are a half-mile apart, and getting from one to another is a bit of a hike (nearly 100 steps uphill from Morning Star to Frenchman’s Reef); a shuttle runs guests between the two sections as well.
The in-house dining is exceptional, and you won’t go wrong with dinner at the excellent Havana Blue, a Miami-style beachfront boîte at Morning Star with a truly inspired menu. The Marriott also has a well-respected in-house tour operator, Adventure Center (www.adventurecenters.net), which offers snorkeling, sailing, and kayak excursions (the latter in clear see-through kayaks).
Note that daily water-taxi service in a gondola-style boat is available straight from the Marriott dock to the shopping hub in Charlotte Amalie. The boat leaves the resort every 30 minutes between 8:30am and 5pm (one-way: $7 adults, $4 children 3–12).