Ever read reviews and then book a resort based on them and think “was everyone who stayed there and said it was great high?”
Perhaps it’s because I write for the luxury audience, perhaps it’s because I think hot water and a beach towel shouldn’t be too much to ask for a room that is $425 per night. This price would be considered “budget” when stacked up against luxury properties, but when the hotel comes with the tagline “Voted 10 Best Beachfront Hotels by Frommer’s” when you search Bolongo Bay Review- you can see where I’m coming from. Also, Frommer’s, come on what are you thinking?
We booked Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on St. Thomas because we needed a last minute place to stay before we got on a chartered boat. I was reassured by the reviews that I read. So was James from Big Time Rush, he booked last minute and found that this was the only hotel on the island with rooms. I think I know why.
The beach is outside your door. Literally. The food at the swim up pool is tasty. The water toys are free, however they keep you in such a small area using them that they’re not too much fun.
Unlike some of the high end resorts, there are hot young guys at Bolongo Bay (Macie insisted I include this). It’s true, when you are traveling with teens, they want more than high thread count sheets. However, this is not a hot sexy getaway, though their bar was listed as one of the “Sexiest Bars in the Caribbean.” There is a healthy mix of retirees and chain smokers to wade through for your eye candy here. I can’t promise that you’ll ALWAYS run into a teen heartthrob from Big Time Rush with his shirt this unbuttoned, but you never know.
We have been here for two days, on both days I was unable to secure enough beach towels for my family. You are issued plastic beach towel cards upon check in, you have to use them to get a towel. But there were no towels to be had both days. On both occasions the lovely girls at the front desk gave me the “last towel”. By the end of our second day their supply had been replenished, by then we didn’t need a towel.
The hot water heaters are solar powered and the shower temperature is controlled by God. On the first day I had a scalding hot shower and since then have had cold showers. I can’t decide which I prefer. Also, the shower is the size of a box that your child’s Christmas toys were delivered in so shaving your legs is not an option.
The staff are helpful, but you have to ask. The lack of service is not due to lack of staff, there seems to be an excess amount of staff, including a lot of people wearing SECURITY t-shirts who just stand around all day. Yet there is no service on the beach, no service anywhere on the patio. Dirty glasses and half smoked cigars left at noon will still be there at 4:00pm. Perhaps when security isn’t busy (have not noticed them busy yet) perhaps they could offer people a refreshment from the bar, or pick up debris? At one point, SECURITY was in the way of the water sports staff doing their job. Am I missing that this is a dangerous area? Why so much SECURITY?
Though the hotel is “family owned and run” the only time I saw any management was during the manager’s cocktail party. They could take a page from Curtain Bluff, also an older hotel that is family owned and operated. The managers there are ever present, from the moment they give you your welcome cocktail to the hug goodbye as you leave for the airport, the sense of being a part of their family is constant.
The rooms here are cleaned daily and the housekeeping staff does a nice job, I could bounce a quarter off my sheets. There are a few hammocks to relax in and the scene at Iggie’s beachside bar is a lot of fun.
There are a few resident iguanas, Wilson took this photo.
If you are looking for a last minute getaway and you are only interested in sun and rum and there is nowhere else to stay, book Bolongo Bay but know that it’s not one of the Ten Best Beachfront Hotels. Bring water shoes, the beach is painfully rocky. Take day trips to nearby islands as often as possible. Just because a hotel is “tired”, and this one is, it can still be a fabulous stay. A good hotel always comes down to service, I have been at beautiful properties with sub par service and rated them so. I have also been at tired hotels with great service and would recommend them to everyone. Bolongo Bay is lacking in all areas.