This was my second stay at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. This trip was about pure relaxation; no shopping, no site seeing, no bar hopping… Just sitting on the beach or by the pool, enjoying some of the islands best adult beverages, having a wonderful dinner at the Lobster Grille, and crawling into bed sun-drenched and exhausted.
The transfer to the hotel was easy ($16 for a shared van) and I was greeted in the lobby with a much-anticipated cup of rum punch and smiling faces. Check in was a breeze, where I was given an all-inclusive wristband and a schedule of events for the five days I’d be staying. I was in the room in less than 10 minutes, despite a number of other check-ins and phone calls the front desk was fielding. I reserved an ocean front room and was not disappointed. The room was recently renovated and the mattress was actually better than the one at home. The shower was a bit tight, but if you’ve traveled to Europe, it was still bigger than many I’ve encountered over there and plenty good enough to wash the salt off and get ready for the evening. The room was about 20 steps from the bed to the water. It’s not a white sand beach once you’re past the tide line, but there’s plenty of sand for lounge chairs, towels, and spreading out. Because of the rocks, I found the snorkeling to be very good right in front of the hotel.
Iggie’s is the place to be for a very casual meal and a great “beach bar” flavor. Had dinner there the first night and then switched between there and the Lobster Grille for meals the rest of the stay. Lobster Grille tends to be a little more “formal”, although for us that mostly meant putting on something other than swimwear and knocking the sand off our feet. The second night, I had the filet and lobster combo and was very, very impressed. An excellent meal and very large portions; one of the best-prepared steaks I’ve had anywhere in my travels. There was live entertainment (ranging from steel drums to a rock trio from Boston) every night we were there. Eric Stone has a nice Jimmy Buffett flavor if that’s your thing. I enjoyed his sets quite a lot. The bars close up around 11-12 most nights, so if you’re looking for somewhere to drink and dance all night, this might be a strike against Bolongo.
The bar at Lobster Grille doubles as the swim-up bar for the pool and better bartenders would be hard to find anywhere on the island. They were like old friends by the second day and knew what you were drinking, but would mix it up for an occasional “surprise” drink now and then. The pool isn’t large, but even when 20-30 people were milling around on the pool deck and in the water, it never seemed crowded.
Overall, I was very pleased with the hotel, staff, and location of the resort. Last year, I had an ocean view room (balcony) and did not have the all-inclusive plan. After this year’s stay, all-inclusive and ocean front is definitely worth the extra cost. If you eat and drink well and plan on staying on-property most of the time, it will save you money in the long run.
Things to know before you go: It’s not the Ritz Carlton (that’s on the other side of the island), but it is clean, quiet, and very well maintained; It’s a bit of a drive to Red Hook or to Charlotte Amalie. If you plan on spending a lot of time in these places, the cab fare adds up quickly or you’ll need to rent a car; Once the sun goes down the place gets very quiet unless you’re at Iggie’s and that sidewalk rolls up around midnight, so if you’re planning on partying all night, you may want to look elsewhere.
With that said, Bolongo Bay is exactly what I look for in my beach vacation – the opportunity to be as active or lazy as I want to be on any given day. With customer service that was top notch from start to finish, I don’t have a single complaint about my stay. The next time I’m on St. Thomas, I’ll be staying at Bolongo Bay. Check them out at www.bolongobay.com or on Facebook.