By Roger Cox, Editor
Originally built by Laurance S. Rockefeller, Caneel Bay trails along seven gorgeous beaches in the 5,000-acre Virgin Islands National Park, which covers much of the island of St. John. The waters offshore are all part of a protected marine park, rich in colorful reef life. Within the resort, footpaths and shuttle routes connect the main hotel building, restaurants, and watersports center with the scattered 166 air-conditioned rooms and a parklike tennis complex of nine hard courts.
The Peter Burwash International (PBI) organization has a long history of managing tennis facility here, and has currently installed Eric Gessner. A native of Michigan, where he was a Top 50 ranked junior, Gessner went on to play No. 1 singles and doubles for Eastern Michigan University. After college he joined PBI, taking positions in the USVI, California, Hong Kong, and Arizona before returning to the island of St. John, where years earlier he had met his wife, first as Caneel Bay's head pro and now as its tennis director.
Tennis has to share the stage not only with the beach and the lipid waters but also with hiking trails that meander along the shore or up to mountaintop overlooks on the town and harbor at Cruz Bay. Yet its weekly tennis round robins often have a solid turnout and staff does an admirable job of lining up guests with games, drawing on local members when they can't find another guest.
Pro Shop: 340-776-6111
Courts & Fees. The court complex consists of seven Agile Turf (a type of artificial grass) courts (2 with lights) and two U.S. Open Deco Turf II courts.
Beach. Caneel Bay begins along the beach and bay for which it was named but that is, in fact, the third of seven beaches on the property. Variously facing east, north, and west, they all border shallow turquoise waters where as a snorkeler you can see an extraordinary variety of reef life without venturing into water deeper than 6 to 10 feet.
Apart from half-horseshoe of rooms on the hillside behind the tennis courts, most of the resort's lodging can be found along—or not far behind—one of the seven beaches. Clustered together in one- and two-story shingle-roofed buildings of stone, stucco, and weathered wood, the rooms have generous decks and newly renovated interiors in a decor Caneel dubs "1950s beachhouse" (think rattan and teak with jalousie windows for cross-ventilation from the era when the rooms had not air conditioning; now they do).
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There are multiple categories of lodging at Caneel Bay. The least expensive are those near the tennis complex, the most expensive the beachfront rooms, including the five in Cottage 7, the former home of Laurance S. Rockefeller. Rates are subject to 8% tax and 10% surcharge.
Visit the website for current rates
Seasons. Closed September and October.
Travel Instructions. The nearest airport is on the island of St. Thomas. Caneel Bay has its own greeting area in the airport and arranges transportation to the ferry which takes guests to the dock at the resort itself.
General Tourist Information. For general tourist information, contact the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism at 800-372-USVI or visit its offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or Washington, DC. Among other things, it publishes a brochure that outlines rates at resorts, hotels, and inns on St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas.
©2017 Roger Cox