the new westin st thomas resort
The Westin St Thomas.

The US Virgin Islands’ Biggest Resort Is Back and Better Than Ever

By: Bob Curley - March 11, 2024

The Frenchman’s Reef resort has been a landmark standing watch over St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie Harbor for more than 50 years, and its recent rebirth as the Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef may be its spiffiest incarnation yet.

Originally opened as a Holiday Inn in 1972, the iconic clifftop hotel, the biggest resort in the US Virgin Islands, was rebuilt after being destroyed by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995; in 2017, the property was again devastated, this time by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Six years and $350 million later, the 392-room hotel reopened last fall, trading its former Marriott branding for the Westin flag and presenting as a nearly new resort from top to bottom; sister property Morningstar Buoy House Beach Resort, which also was damaged by the storms, reopened a few months earlier.

the resort
It’s the biggest resort in the US Virgin Islands.

The basic layout of the property — a three-story hotel building atop a cliff, with pools and other amenities on terraces leading down to the beach — remains essentially unchanged. Views, whether from ocean-facing rooms or the terraces overlooking the harbor, are still incredible, day or night.

Guests can drink in the scenery from any of three swimming pools, including one with an infinity edge with a popular swim-up bar — the much photographed and aptly named Edge Bar, which also doubles as a daytime sports bar. The pools share terrace space with the resort’s prime eatery, Luna Mar, which enchants diners with outdoor seating and a Mediterranean-inspired menu.

westin st thomas lobby
The lobby.

Spending time on the terraces of Frenchman’s Reef is literally an elevated experience, but it’s hardly the only thing to do at this uniquely situated, 17-acre resort. Fresh off of its contemporary makeover, the Westin property boasts multiple dining options in addition to Luna Mar, including a coffee bar, buffet restaurant, and the Asian eatery Sugarfin, which has a surprisingly good rum selection. Westin guests are also welcomed to dine in the restaurants at the affiliated Morningstar Buoy Haus Resort, just down the beach.

Amenities are what you’d expect from a full-service resort, including a Heavenly Spa, fitness center, water sports, cabana rentals, and — new since the 2023 reopening — a pair of pickle ball courts.

pool with rain shower
One of the three pools.

Guest rooms at Marriott-branded properties often tend toward cookie-cutter, but the Westin renovation included a fresh, modern room and suite makeover that features mostly light wood flooring and furnishings, neutral linens, fabrics and wall treatments, and rugs in blue and sand tones that are reflective of the sea without being too overtly beach-y.

Cocktails with a view.

Frenchman’s Reef remains, in many ways, the queen of St. Thomas resorts with its unmissable location. But thanks to its many levels and expansive terraces, it’s the rare 400-odd room resort that manages to be both vibrant and uncrowded, with ample space to find your zen or stage a big event, like the weddings that take place here nearly every weekend of the year, year-round. If you’re looking for a big-resort experience close to the action in Charlotte Amalie that also delivers a degree of privacy, the Westin Frenchman’s Reef remains one of the premier vacation addresses on St. Thomas.

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