NEW YORK CITY, New York -- Travel Agent chatted with Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Tourism, and learned that the destination's little known Water Island is looking to fully open up to tourism by adding its first hotel since 1989.
Doty expects groundbreaking of the hotel to be at least two years away since a developer still needs to be selected. Doty says since the property is owned by the government, it would have to be a lease agreement by the new developer. Of the applicants, Doty says there are three proposals that are currently of interest. All of the proposed plans of interest are for hotels between 150-200 rooms.
"The idea is that this becomes kind of the new hip, young place for people to come to in the USVI," says Doty.
She also says there has 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.
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.
Travel Agent had the opportunity to spend a day on Water Island in 2009. It is only roughly 500 acres. Although there are no hotels, there is a campground called Virgin Islands Campground, Inc. Now, it’s not a campground as we know it with tents and creeks and “Beware of the Bears” signs. This is more of an eco-friendly spot with seven cabins, all of which can sleep four people.
There isn’t exactly much to do on Water Island, but that’s the point. Clients come here to get away from the sometimes annoying tourist scene on St. Thomas and escape to nothing. Well, not entirely nothing. There’s the beautiful Honeymoon Beach where Brad Pitt visited to film the hurricane scene in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill is the hip, little beach hangout where you can grab a cold drink or a bite to eat. Now, if you really want to break a sweat and actually, physically do something, there is a cool bike tour offered by Water Island Adventures.
Getting there is a piece of cake, too. It’s just a $4 water tax ride from St. Thomas.