The U.S. Virgin Islands has received top honors from several prestigious media companies for 2023, and accolades for a successful 2022, according to the V.I. Tourism Department.
Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine, Frommer’s, and Yahoo! Life each gave destination top recognition in important sectors, the department said in a news release Monday. Tourism also is looking back over a star-studded 2022, having been recognized as a tourism leader with many coveted hospitality awards, it said.
The editors of Conde Nast Traveler put the USVI at the top of its Best Places to Go in 2023, citing the islands’ new hotels, resort openings, the national park, and Carnival festivals. The editors at Travel + Leisure ranked USVI as one of its 50 best 2023 destinations in its “For Beach Vibes” section.
Yahoo! Life listed the USVI as one of the top 10 tropical islands to get to in under three hours from the U.S. mainland. Readers of Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine voted USVI as the Best Caribbean Cruise Destination for 2023. Frommer’s also gave the territory top billing in its annual Best Places to Go in 2023 list.
Staffers and contributors selected places that are heading in new directions, adding fresh attractions, gussying up old standbys, recovering from past challenges, and emerging as formidable competitors for more established tourism epicenters, according to the release
“We are delighted to be recognized by these top travel media organizations,” said Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte. “It is a great honor and a testament to the work of my colleagues and our partners to receive these awards. We strive to make our destination one of the best experiences visitors can have and we hope to continue this trajectory in 2023 and beyond.”
The USVI also was recognized for its work in 2022, with many different awards including the Bronze HSMAI Adrian Awards that for 65 years have honored excellence in travel marketing. The Caribbean Journal named Boschulte Caribbean Tourism Executive of the Year and the USVI the Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in 2023, and the readers also voted the territory the winner of the CJ Caribbean Travelers’ Choice Awards 2022.
These readers travel to the Caribbean multiple times each year, scouring the region for the newest and the greatest, searching out hotels, beaches, restaurants, and experiences, according to the release. The USVI was recognized as the Best Caribbean Wedding Destination; the Best Cruise Port in the Caribbean: St Thomas; the Best Adults-Only Resort in the Caribbean: The Fred, St Croix; and the Best Caribbean Villa Destination: St John.
Also, Conde Nast Traveler ranked the USVI in its Readers’ Choice Awards as the Best Islands in the World. Not to be outdone, Global Traveler Magazine just announced the 2022 winners of its 19th annual GT Test Reader Survey Awards, and the U.S. Virgin Islands won for Best Offshore Business Location.
Individual resorts and hotels in the USVI also received recognition in 2022. Secret Harbour Beach Resort won Tripadvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice Award. The award recognizes businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months.
“As challenging as the pandemic was, Secret Harbour stood out (and continues to stand out) by delighting travelers who stay at the tranquil and well-managed beachfront Caribbean resort,” the release stated. The resort also was written up by Travel Lemming as the best hotel overall on St. Thomas.
SMARTmeetings recognized Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in 2022 with the Best Island Hotel. Located high above the Caribbean Sea on St. Thomas, the new accommodation includes 384 guest rooms, six restaurants and lounge areas, three oceanfront pools, 72,000 square feet of event space, and 2,000 square feet of the private dock area, the release stated.
Conde Nast Traveler editors also voted USVI as having the Best Airbnb in the Caribbean. In this case, Cruz Bay on St. John won with its “cliffside swimming pool, fine Belgian linens, and a well-outfitted kitchen (there’s an ice cream maker).” The property is a three-bedroom villa with views of Rendezvous Bay and is close to the Virgin Islands National Park.
With at least two new resorts about to open in the USVI and tourism numbers up 44 percent, the USVI is gearing up for a very successful 2023, according to the release. Already the territory has reported the highest hotel occupancy rate in the Caribbean, with 72.5 percent from June 2021 to May 2022, and revenues to match, it said.
The outlook is enhanced by the new branding campaign, “Naturally in Rhythm,” that supports the USVI’s hotel recovery following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic of the last few years, according to the release. It is designed to inspire visitors to “fall naturally in rhythm with the diverse culture, natural wonders, and beautiful hotels and resorts of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John,” it said.
The two new properties opening on St. Thomas, the first in 30 years for the islands, are: The Westin Beach Resort and Spa at Frenchman’s Reef; and The Seaborn at Frenchman’s Reef, an Autograph Collection, following more than a $425 million investment in the property that was formerly Frenchman’s Reef and its smaller sister property, Morning Star Beach Resort.