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@Work: Bellavista Bed and Breakfast

July 27, 2005 — Taking advantage of St. Thomas’ historic charm and beauty, Wendy Snodgrass, proprietor of Bellavista Bed and Breakfast, offers her guests the kind of lifestyle that most Virgin Islanders have forgotten—and most visitors to the island have yet to experience.
From a relaxing day lounging on a cool veranda, to day trips down to Virgin Gorda, Snodgrass does it all—pampering tourists and locals alike with a smooth blend of stateside living and V.I. flair.
"We are modeled after bed and breakfasts in the states, and we cater to that group of people who actively seek out the real bed and breakfast experience," Snodgrass said. "But staying here is also unique because visitors get to experience the Caribbean and what it’s like to live here."
The Bellavista was established in 2001, and Snodgrass said that the bed and breakfast started out as a joke between her and her business partner. "We had been vacationing to St. Thomas for years, about a decade, and one day, we joked about how much fun it would be just to stay here, open a place like this, and not have to return to the 'real world.'" Snodgrass added that she hoped to bring something different to the island, as similar bed and breakfast accommodations were not really offered to visitors.
A former market research manager from Pittsburgh, Pa., Snodgrass says her dream came true when she moved to the island in 1998 to take a job at the Ritz Carlton.
"I did everything … from coordinating weddings, to other activities around the hotel while we looked for a piece of property to buy. We stumbled across this place by accident—it was a residence at the time, and needed some fixing up, but we took it," Snodgrass said.
Investing all her money, and a lot of hard work, into the establishment, Snodgrass and her partner opened up Bellavista shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. "It was a slow first season … we had poured the last of our money into the renovations, and once again, I started doing various other jobs to get us through."
Fortunately, Snodgrass did not have to struggle for long. The Bellavista is currently celebrating its fourth year on St. Thomas and Snodgrass says that her rooms are now filled to capacity, with some reservations even being made a year ahead of time.
"This year, we had a summer like no other … usually guests only come during summer or winter … but this year the seasons have been indistinguishable. Guests are coming in all the time … it’s been phenomenal."
While Snodgrass seems surprised by her popularity, it is, however, easy to see why visitors would be attracted to her "household." Nestled in hills overlooking downtown Charlotte Amalie, guests are treated to warm concierge service, full amenities, and enough company, laughter, and muffins to last a lifetime.
"Our breakfast table is always lit up … my guests wake up, I make them breakfast, and we sit together and talk," Snodgrass said, shyly admitting that some take hours to leave the house in the mornings. "It’s a leisurely affair … I get to really know my guests, and understand what they’re looking for … and they’ve made me feel as if this is really where I should be. This is what my true calling is. I take care of them so they want to come back."
Snodgrass added that repeat business keeps Bellavista feeling like home. "I have people who come one year and keep returning … sometimes, they send their families to stay here, too. It’s always a familiar stream of faces, and it’s almost like people are returning home for a visit."
Dedicated to her guests, Snodgrass concluded that it is their presence that keeps her inspired. "I put a journal in each room in the house, and the comments that people write in there are so beautiful that I know I have to keep doing this."
To contact Snodgrass or inquire about reservations, call toll free at 1-888-333-3063 or dial (340) 714-5706, or visit the Web site.
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