The first new hotel to be built on St. Croix in almost four decades is blossoming like a rare Caribbean flower on the south end of the Frederiksted waterfront. The same developers are buying and renovating other buildings in Frederiksted to attract people to the historic town.
It has taken four years for partners Christopher “Topher” Swanson and Jeffrey Printz to get permits, build, renovate and open 12 of 22 rooms planned for the historic Ashley Totten and Douglas properties on Strand Street. They also have purchased and renovated Liberty Hall on Hospital Street into modern apartments.
The Totten house has been renovated into a large lobby with comfortable leather seating; bright blue walls, paintings of roosters, internet and a beverage station. The pink cottage at water’s edge has been transformed into two honeymoon suites.
The completed guest rooms feature modern Caribbean appointments that highlight the colors of the region. No detail has been overlooked, including the original artwork on the walls.
The Fred is pet-friendly, so much so that animals get their own therapeutic bed and a dog or cat snack bar. Pets will be eligible for a massage and a crate will be available if the human guests want to go out on their own. With all that, pets stay free.
The Douglas house, south of Totten house, is part of the hotel and houses the spa (open now) and the future display kitchen. Between the two buildings, a restaurant, two bars and the pool are taking shape. The indoor/outdoor restaurant will seat 100 to 200 people and is steps away from the white sand beach and the view extends to the blue horizon.
The Fred has already been recognized – the Caribbean Journal named The Fred the Best New Boutique Hotel in 2018 in the region.
“We’re on par with any other hotel on the island,” Swanson said.
Printz and Swanson anticipate the bar and pool will be open by the end of the first quarter and the restaurant by the end of the second quarter. They plan to host a Valentine’s Day wine tasting party with a pool full of foam.
While all this is going on, the partners purchased and remodeled the Liberty Hall apartments on Hospital Street. Other development plans for Frederiksted are to open a gym for guests on Prince Street and a laundry facility down hill from Liberty Hall to make the best use of the huge cistern.
Although this is their first hotel, the partners spend the last 20 years developing property in Washington D.C. One of their latest projects was converting a brick schoolhouse, within sight of the capitol, into nine upscale penthouse apartments complemented by a black pool, a spa and a home theater. They purchased the Prince School for around $250,000 and the property was listed in the Wall Street Journal in 2014 for $7.5 million.
Swanson and Printz visited 14 islands, including Hawaii, Jamaica, Aruba and Roatan, before they decided to settle on St. Croix in 2015. They knew they wanted to relocate to the sun and sea, but were looking for just the right ambience.
“We looked for artfully depressed. It (St. Croix) smelled like D.C. The economy can only go up,” Swanson said.