The 478-room Marriott Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort commands attention atop a spectacular promontory at the entrance to Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas, USVI. We’re here for the official unveiling of the new $48 million makeover, and the place looks spectacular.
Few other resorts in the Caribbean offer such an impressive setting and powerful combination of attributes for meeting planners. The panoramic views of the harbor and sea, the many private lawns and wide terraces, and the thick lush landscaping are on par with the most exclusive hotels in the region. For group events, there is more than 60,000 sf of indoor/outdoor meeting space, including 31 meeting rooms. And you can quickly access nearby islands for an almost unlimited array of tropical land and sea activities.
The hotel is really two hotels: Frenchman’s Reef high atop the bluff, and the more exclusive Morning Star Beach Resort down below fronting one of the most underrated beaches in the islands. While the remote setting feels private, attendees can transfer quickly to the capital city of Charlotte Amalie via a 5-minute water taxi ride direct from the hotel’s new and enlarged dock. The transfer from Charlotte Amalie to the airport is 20 minutes.
“We always try to focus on quality instead of quantity but don’t get me wrong, we do over 200 events a year,” says Joyce Griffin, director of sales. “That’s the good thing about having so much space. You can have three or four events going on at the same time and they won’t interfere with one another.”
Battery Point is a preserved site on the resort grounds that sits out by the edge of the water below the serene infinity pool.
“Battery Park is historic and we didn’t want to destroy it so instead we make good use of it,” Griffin says. The area holds groups up to 100 pax for dreamy cocktail receptions.
It is a beautiful clear and sunny day as I dance to the beat of the calypso music in the hallway on my way to one of the Reef Tower rooms. Once inside, the calm blue and green hues of my room’s linens and décor are a reflection of the crystalline turquoise waters right outside my balcony. From my fully wired work desk, I can look straight out across the Caribbean Sea.
For dinner, our group meets with GM Jose Gonzalez at the Aqua Terra Oceanfront Grill. This is Gonzalez’s first time dining with a group since the reopening, and he seems like a proud father bragging about his newborn child.
“I feel like the experience wasn’t really there before,” Gonzalez says. “We felt we had to expand. Now the experience takes you both outside and inside so it’s definitely something new.”
Try the pan-seared sea bass with tropical fruit salsa and lemon cilantro risotto and caramelized banana/rum raisin ice cream.
The fine dining Havana Blue is also a must with oceanfront seating, flowing drapes and hip minimalist decor. Our Latin-inspired fusion dishes include tacos with sofrito marinated filet mignon, roasted poblano crema, manchego cheese, salsa and homemade cilantro tortillas. Havana Blue seats 160 pax.
ADVENTURE CENTER TOURS
Onsite at Morning Star, the full service Adventure Center Tours offers every imaginable group excursion throughout the USVI and neighboring British Virgins. We try their nighttime Clear Ocean Kayaking with transparent kayaks rimmed with LED lights that illuminate the colorful coral reefs, sea urchins and ballyhoo. We even race a couple of friendly sea turtles.
Adventure Center also packages together a fun variety of offsite dinners and cocktail receptions. We especially recommend private group dinners at the Estate St. Peter Greathouse, an elegant colonial plantation built in the 1800s. It’s perched 1,000 feet above sea level with breathtaking views of the neighboring islands, bubbling waterfalls and botanical gardens.