Above: Water Island
By the Caribbean Journal staff
A long-dormant Caribbean island is getting a major development boost.
US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh has approved a lease agreement for the Water Island Development Company for the redevelopment of the former Water Island Hotel property as a boutique resort.
The move could be a development boon for the island, which is just under two square miles and has a population of less than 200 people.
The news came a week after plans were announced for the first new hotel in St Thomas in 20 years.
“Our interest in attracting a developer of a boutique resort was to achieve an economic activity on Water Island that would be consistent with the current community,” de Jongh said. “It would supplement the product diversification and re-branding that we are executing to broaden our tourism offerings while providing permanent jobs and creating business opportunities.”
The site of the planned hotel was first home to the Water Isle Hotel, built in 1953, followed by the Sea Cliff Hotel until it was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
“Since that time, there has been no meaningful and contributing economic activity on Water Island,” de Jongh said.
“Today’s high-end travelers are looking for more than just a lovely room to sleep in and nice food and b each to sit on,” said Steven Evans-Freke, managing partner at the Water Island Development Company. “They’re looking for engagement, they’re looking for an experience. They’re looking to have their intellectual curiosity stimulated — they’re looking for something different. And that’s what we have to do now in developing a resort again on Water Island. We have to have an intelligent resort concept that appeals to people looking for something different.”
Michael Graves is leading the design of the project.