One-on-One: Big Plans for USVI's Water Island (VIDEO)

Travel Agent's Joe Pike (left) recently interviewed Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK -- Travel Agent sat down Wednesday with Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), and chatted about everything from plans for the first hotel on Water Island to the impact that Cuba travel could have on USVI tourism.

It was around this time last year that Nicholson-Doty first told us that the destination's little known Water Island is looking to fully open up to tourism by adding its first hotel since 1989.

She has also said there have been several meetings with the roughly 200 residents of Water Island to make sure the community has a say in the future of their island. Doty says one of the main requests from residents is that the hotel be environmentally friendly and that is something she says the government is also looking at as a top priority. All of the proposed plans of interest are for hotels between 150-200 rooms, Nicholson-Doty has said.

"There is nothing new to report just yet as the newly-elected governor is currently reviewing all of the plans," says Nicholson-Doty. "But this is definitely a project he is very much excited about, so we plan on moving forward with it soon."


Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands, tells Travel Agent's Joe Pike about the destination's latest developments.

The first hotel on Water Island, The Water Island Hotel, opened up in 1953 and later became the Sea Cliff Resort before it was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Water Island is actually the fourth official and most recently acquired island in the USVI. The other three main islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.

Nicholson-Doty also told Travel Agent she doesn't expect the recent lifting of travel restrictions to Cuba to have a major impact on U.S. Virgin Islands tourism. In fact, the commissioner thinks it may attract more people to the Caribbean as a whole in the long run.

"It's still going to be some time before Cuba is really ready to handle tourism, but I also think the opening of Cuba has given so much positive attention to the Caribbean as a region," says Nicholson-Doty. 

And as far as emerging U.S. markets for USVI for tourism goes?

"We've been seeing an increase in arrivals from Texas and from the West as well," says Nicholson-Doty. "I think maybe they are looking for something new. Perhaps they've been to Hawaii too many times and are looking to the Caribbean for something different."

More Recent USVI Developments

Nonstop Delta Service to St. Croix Takes Flight

Delta's new nonstop weekly service from Atlanta to St. Croix started on December 20. The service will run through at least August 15. Running between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, the service is operating on an MD-88 aircraft with 149 seats.

Coral World Offers Underwater Weddings

Coral World Ocean Park is now offering underwater weddings for those looking to take the plunge, both literally and figuratively. Soon-to-be newlyweds will use the park's popular Snuba equipment to get hitched. Coral World's package includes two dives, a minister, dive gear, Snuba guide, champagne and cake.

New Restaurant 40 Strand Opens on St. Croix

A new cozy, urban restaurant called 40 Strand has opened in Christiansted. Chefs Todd Manley and Brat Pell bring visitors a menu that features signature house-crafted cocktails, a stellar wine list and unique dining offerings, such as the Danish Smorrebrod, a traditional Danish open-face sandwich. The restaurant offers vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.

VI Ecotours Adds New Tour Offerings

Popular St. Thomas-based outfitter Virgin Islands Ecotours has announced the addition of a variety of new tours. New excursions include a sunset birding kayak tour of the St. Thomas mangrove lagoon, a pirate and ghost night kayak tour in downtown Charlotte Amalie and private tours of the St. Thomas mangrove lagoon and Caneel Bay on St. John.

Visit and keep visiting for your latest Caribbean news. Follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike.