At these premium properties, couples can escape for private time or include the loved ones
A tandem stroll on a quiet beach, an intimate candlelight dinner overlooking the sea, private conversations on a moonlit terrace. These are the moments when romance blossoms. The trick is finding the appropriate combination of ambience and amenities that encourage passions to ignite or rekindle. One such place where these elements come together is on the island of St. John. Reached only by ferry or private boat from nearby St. Thomas, this smallest and quietest member of the U.S. Virgin Islands is far from the cruise ship crowds, yet easy to reach, and rich in scenic beauty. Though much of the island remains in a natural state as the Virgin Islands National Park, there is an idyllic harbor town graced with a collection of excellent restaurants, and a select number of upscale resorts that are perfect for couples seeking to celebrate new love or fuel an existing flame.
Caneel Bay Resort: Leave the World Behind
This north shore resort oozes with as much charm and grace as its founder, Laurance Rockefeller, who purchased the Caneel Bay Plantation in the 1950s with the goal of creating the perfect vacation spot. And if disconnecting from the technological tethers of modern life and digging your toes into the sands of seven gorgeous Caribbean beaches is your idea of a perfect vacation, it’s safe to say Rockefeller achieved his goal. Traditional island stonework, Danish modern furnishings and 1950s beach style come together in the guestrooms, which are devoid of telephones and TVs. Turn off your smartphones and you can suspend all reminders of the outside world as you watch deer and donkeys graze Caneel’s beautifully manicured grounds, where trim lawns span the distance between 18th century sugar plantation ruins. While each of the resort’s seven beaches is magnificent in its own right, one of the best spots for couples seeking solitude is at the far end of Scott Beach. There is a great snorkel spot nearby, and Caneel’s chefs can provide delicious picnic lunches to bring along. Later, you can celebrate a day of doing almost nothing with dinner at ZoZo’s Ristorante, where the weathered stone remains of a historic sugar mill have been transformed into the island’s finest dining experience, complete with enthralling sunset views of the Caribbean.
Westin St. John: New Beginnings and Romantic Returns
The beachside gazebo at the Westin St. John has certainly seen its share of nuptials, and for good reason. This premium Starwood property provides the full range of amenities and services needed to please not only the newlyweds, but also any family and friends they choose to invite, be they young or old. Happy couples take note: The same offerings that put the Westin high on many a bride’s wish list are equally suited to staging a romantic anniversary or family reunion. Brick pathways meander through impeccably landscaped grounds where 96 guestrooms are spread out in clusters. A recent renovation to both interior and exterior gives the property a fresh new feel. While the new couple may just want to retire to their room, other members of the wedding party can head to the resort’s massive pool, a full quarter acre in size, and framed by an equally expansive deck. A sugar-sand beach and the shimmering turquoise waters of Great Cruz Bay are just steps away, and the Westin’s water-sports staff can arrange all manner of aquatic adventures. Ashore, there are tennis courts and a fitness center for the ambitions, a full-service spa for the self-indulgent and a Kid’s Club that accommodates toddlers to 12, plus a teen program. Iguana feeding, a favored activity for youngsters staying at the Westin, has given rise to a healthy population of these prehistoric reptiles, which skitter along resort pathways and through the property’s mature trees. A trio of on-site restaurants are convenient for mealtime meetups, but it’s equally easy to slip away to one of the many fine restaurants in the nearby village of Cruz Bay.
Gallows Point Resort: Just You, and Rooms with a View
What could be more romantic than playing house in the Caribbean? Sharing a morning cup of coffee in your private sitting room as trade wind zephyrs filter through open French doors that frame an electric- blue sea just beyond. This scenario is best played out in living quarters a bit grander than your average hotel room, and one of the Caribbean’s best places to turn this fantasy into reality is at the Gallows Point Resort. Cloistered on the end of an elevated peninsula on the south side of Cruz Bay, at the mouth of the town’s harbor, this all-suite property encompasses a collection of one-bedroom residences. All include full kitchens and separate living areas, and some place the bedroom and an additional half bath in an open second-story loft. Reserve an ocean view room for the ultimate combination of stunning nightly sunsets and the gentle sound of waves lapping at the shore, or a harbor side room where you can keep tabs on the comings and goings of island ferries, and sometimes hear hints of music carried from town on the night winds. The resort pool and hot tub are positioned to take maximum advantage of water views, and while there is no sandy beach to speak of, water access is easy via steps that lead to fish-filled shallows and a floating dock. Gallows has the lushest and most intricate landscaping of any St. John resort, hands-down, plus two oceanfront gazebos complete with swings begging for a romantic interlude.
Grande Bay: A Getaway Close to the Action
Whether it’s just a couples’ thing or the little ones or loved ones are invited, Grande Bay’s in-town location provides an ideal base of operation for island-wide activities, as well as a luxurious retreat once the day is done. A relative newcomer to the St. John’s resort scene, the property offers an upscale and immaculately finished collection of studio to three-bedroom suites, all with private terraces overlooking the harbor at Cruz Bay. Rather than expand outward, resort amenities stack upwards, as the pool sits rooftop to provide sweeping island views, and the glass-walled fitness center takes in equally inspiring vistas. Kitchens, which are fitted with top-of-the-line appliances, may tempt you to stay in and cook dinner together. If not, many of the island’s best restaurants and most popular bars are just steps away. Cruz Beach is also just across the road, while a rental car is the best way to discover all the island’s beaches and scenic destinations. You’ll get your own parking spot at Grande Bay’s parking garage—the only one on island. For the ultimate in personal space, choose the one-bedroom Yemaya penthouse, which devotes nearly 2,000 square feet to private indoor and outdoor living space and delivers elevated and unobstructed views of Cruz Bay, Pillsbury Sound and St. Thomas, all for just the two of you.