US Virgin Islands Tourism Expansion Tied To Frenchman's Reef Reopening

US Virgin Islands Tourism Expansion Tied To Frenchman’s Reef Reopening

Key U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) tourism segments are returning post-outbreak, highlighted by the 2022 reopening of two properties at the territory’s anchor Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef resort following a $350 million renovation, said USVI Department of Tourism officials.

Shuttered since 2017 due to damage from hurricanes Irene and Maria, the Frenchman’s Reef resort is the territory’s largest property and plays a critical role in ensuring airlift to the destination, officials said. While Ambridge officials have not yet announced a form reopening date, they say the resort will return to operation before the end of 2022.


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“The reopening of two rebuilt and rebranded properties at Frenchman’s Reef [restores] our accommodation capacity in St. Thomas to the levels prior to the devastating destruction caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria five years ago,” said Joseph Boschulte, the USVI tourism commissioner.

Managed by Aimbridge Hospitality, the renovated Frenchman’s Reef resort is located 15 minutes from Cyril E. King International Airport and will offer “extensive conference and event facilities and diverse amenities,” said officials.

Positioned on an elevated peninsula outside of historic Charlotte Amalie, the revamped resort will offer an expanded variety of outdoor spaces, including a 20,000-square-foot pool deck, multiple large outdoor terraces, and two beach fronts. An additional outdoor setting, Palm Court, will provide space for year-round group gatherings.

Frenchman’s Reef will also operate The Flying Frenchman, a private catamaran offering snorkeling and sailing excursions that can be reserved for private group events of up to 75 persons.

Additionally, the territory’s cruise activity will increase in 2023 following pandemic-imposed shutdowns. Boschulte anticipates “a significant increase in cruise stops” in 2023, including more than 450 calls carrying 1.4 million passengers.

The projected 2023 figures represent a substantial increase over the 250 cruise calls and 480,000 passengers hosted to date in 2022. The territory is traditionally among the Caribbean’s leading cruise ports in terms of passenger arrivals, hosting 1.4 million passengers in 2019, sixth among Caribbean Tourism Organization-tracked destinations.

Finally, the Virgin Islands Port Authority’s governing board agreed earlier this month to explore a public-private partnership to expand and modernize the territory’s airports, according to local media reports.

Cyril E. King Airport was originally designed to handle 300,000 passengers annually and modern passenger loads nearly triple that figure, said officials.

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