Throughout this book, we provide detailed descriptions of the lodging properties so that you get an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that many of the more high-end island resorts charge a daily resort fee of between $35 and $50.
Resorts and hotels in the Virgin Islands offer money-saving package deals galore, and you can find land-air (and land-air-rental-car) packages on almost all of the online travel agencies (Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, VacMart.com, CheapCaribbean.com). Be sure to check the hotel’s own websites: Many hotels offer terrific online-only multi-stay or theme deals (especially in the off season).
Like most Caribbean islands, the Virgins have high and low seasons, and properties are priced accordingly. The most exorbitant rates are charged during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. If you have flexibility in your travel times, keep in mind that during the off season (mid-Apr to mid-Dec), most hotels offer tremendous deals, often slashing 25 to 50 percent off their regular-season prices.
Renting Your Own Villa or Vacation Home
Another popular lodging alternative, and a smart money-saving option if you’re traveling with a large party of family or friends, is renting a villa, condo, apartment, or cottage for your Virgin Islands vacation. Having your own self-catering facilities can be a big money-saver—dining out is chillingly pricey in the Virgin Islands. Note: If you’re planning your trip for the high season, reservations should be made at least 5 to 6 months in advance.
Dozens of agencies throughout the United States and Canada offer rentals in the Virgin Islands. Villas of Distinction (tel 800/289-0900; www.villasofdistinction.com) offers “complete vacations,” including car rental and domestic help. Its private luxury villas have one to seven-plus bedrooms, and many have swimming pools. Rates run from $500 a night and up.
Vacation St. Croix, 4000 La Grande Princesse, Christiansted (tel 877/788-0361 or 340/718-0361; www.vacationstcroix.com), offers some of the best properties on St. Croix, specializing in villas, condos, and private homes, many of which are on the beach. Two- to seven-bedroom units are available, with prices from $1,000 to $15,000 per week.
Best of BVI (tel 1252-674878 from the U.K. and 011/44-1252-674878 from the U.S; www.bestofbvi.com) handles properties you won’t find anywhere else, including a one-bedroom cottage on Little Thatch Island, a privately owned island minutes from Soper’s Hole; Best of BVI also has a hugely informative trip-planning website, with an up-to-date ferry schedule). Jewels of the BVI (tel 866/468-6284; www.jewelsofthebvi.com) represents only BVI Islander–owned properties, including villas, condos, and resorts.
At Home Abroad (tel 212/421-9165; www.athomeabroadinc.com) has a roster of private luxury homes, villas, and condos for rent in St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda; maid service is included in the price. In the U.K., browse the options offered through Holiday Rentals (tel 020/8846-3441; www.holiday-rentals.co.uk).
You can also find excellent deals on popular owner-rented vacation lodging websites, including VRBO (www.vrbo.com) and HomeAway (www.homeaway.com); both websites list numerous attractive villas and condos throughout the Virgins. What you will not get with these rentals is service (unless advertised) or even guarantees that the rental is what is appears to be. Both VRBO and HomeAway sell rental guarantee insurance ($39 and up) that guarantees your money back under certain circumstances (the property has been double-booked or grossly misrepresented, for example)—so you may want to weigh that extra fee against the low rental rates.