Nostalgic St. Croix

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Renaissance CarambolaA group of 19 attendees from Texas met on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) for an incentive trip this past August just weeks before hurricanes Irma and Maria swept through.

Tami Beehner, senior account manager for Minneapolis-headquartered MotivAction LLC, a company that helps plan meeting and incentive programs, put together the event as an incentive award for a beverage manufacturer’s distribution sales managers and their customers.

Held at the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa, the client chose the destination because of a personal experience diving off the coast of St. Croix. In an effort to replicate that experience and immerse attendees in some of the island’s local flavor, Beehner says a detailed itinerary included everything from deep-sea fishing and snorkeling excursions to dinners and lunches at local hot spots.

“This was a reward trip that focused on relaxation, local food and beverage and local activities.”

The Inside Scoop

Working with local DMC, CSI U.S. Virgin Islands, Beehner was able to get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest activities for groups. That meant, of course, deep-sea fishing and snorkeling for adventurous attendees in search of migratory fish such as wahoo, mahi mahi and marlin. But it also included resort activities such as a day of golf at The Buccaneer Hotel’s golf course. Attendees also had the option to get spa treatments in the comfort of beach cabanas at the Renaissance.

Food and beverage was also a major focus. Attendees spent a day at Rhythms at Rainbow Beach, a popular bar and restaurant situated right on the water. Frozen drinks such as the “lime in the coconut” (of which this place claims to be the original creator) complemented floating, swimming and lounging. Live music on the Rhythms stage rounded out the daytime party atmosphere.

Dinner at The Waves at Cane Bay hotel consisted of fresh local fare with a view. Highlights on the menu were ahi nachos, mussels and seafood pasta filled with lump crab. The following evening took the group to Balter restaurant, known for locally sourced seafood and Caribbean flavors. (Think a traditional crab and mofongo dish or longaniza pork sausage to start.) That night was topped off with a local band playing hits from the ’70s and ’80s.

“As with all of our events, we put great effort into surveys to understand what worked and what was less than outstanding,” says Beehner. “St. Croix is a fantastic destination and the surveys showed that local activities were the hit of the experience. The local hospitality groups were so easy to work with and the group really enjoyed the destination, nightlife, being out on the water during the snorkel sail and hanging out at the
pool networking.”

Post-Hurricane USVI Updates

The Buccaneer on St. Croix welcomed guests back this past November, and the Renaissance will begin accepting reservations this spring. The Westin St. John Resort & Villas hopes to reopen next fall. Same goes for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, also located on St. Thomas, is currently closed and will not be accepting new business through 2018.

The cruise industry, however, has come back with full force. More than two dozen cruise ships called on St. Thomas this past November. Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas was first to return to the islands, while the Seabourn Odyssey’s return to Charlotte Amalie Harbor marked a significant milestone in the territory’s journey back to recovery.

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