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“Reef: Great family vacation for the "average Joe"!”

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Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed 22 December 2012

We stayed at the Frenchman's Reef, December 16-20, as my daughter had planned a destination wedding at St. Thomas (not at the resort). 35 family and friends stayed at the resort, in different areas, so we had a good feel of the different rooms and experiences at the resort. Let me preface my remarks by saying that we aren't a family that stays at resorts - our teacher income wouldn't cover such luxury. We would normally be a family that stays at a Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn, etc, but my daughter had wanted this destination wedding and was able to pay for most of the expenses herself, so the plans were put into motion to save up and go. For us, the average Joes, we thought the Reef was simply fantastic. We arrived at the resort at 3:00 pm. Our room was not ready, but they gave us a pager so that we would know when it would be. We went out on the porch overlooking the harbor and enjoyed the view until about 3:45 pm. When we got to our room, we were pleasantly surprised - we had been upgraded to an ocean view room with a king-sized bed and porch (we had reserved a resort view). We really enjoyed waking up every morning and being able to have a cup of coffee on the porch overlooking the resort pools and ocean. Our one daughter was in a resort view room with two doubles. It was a very nice room as well. Both were spacious, have a frig and safe for use, as well as comfy beds. The bathroom is an average size, probably small for a resort. It was strange that there is only one hook on the wall to hang your towels - no place to hang a hand towel by the sink. Another daughter stayed in a harbor view room. I don't recommend those rooms. They are adjoining rooms and the noise from the other rooms is more noticeable. I also thought that the room smelled a little musty. Another downer is that it is a walk from those rooms to the regular part of the resort. Speaking of walking, it's just something that you have to accept at this resort. The ocean beach is in front of the Morning Star part of the resort. There is a smaller beach at the Frenchman's Cove, but we didn't use it. We saw it when we took the water taxi to downtown ($14 r/t per person), and it appeared to be more for families. It is also protected by the harbor so the waves aren't as noticeable. We enjoyed our walk to the main beach. It is a nice walk in paradise! You will walk by some iguanas along the way, but they won't bother you unless you try and feed them something. If the steps back up to the resort are too much (it is a little of a workout), you can either take the shuttle back to the Reef or there is an elevator to take that eliminates some of the stairs back up. The beach was very nice: plenty of lounges, very nice sand. We enjoyed using the free flotation pads (it's actually covered in your resort fee). Two of our daughters enjoyed kayaking, but none of us used the snorkel gear (all of this is "free" because of your resort fee - $30.day). We greatly enjoyed the pools. The Infinity pool at the Reef is small, but it's pretty neat to swim in with the ocean view. The main pool was never very busy and was also enjoyable. We also enjoyed the somewhat more quaint pool by the ocean at the Morning Star resort.

It is expensive to eat at the resort, but it's fairly expensive everywhere in town. We figured that it was worth staying at the resort to eat mainly for time, and when you figure in taxi fare per person (anywhere from $8-$12/person), it seemed to make money sense as well. We greatly enjoyed the breakfast buffet in the Aqua Terra restaurant every morning. True, the $24/person (that includes drinks) was steep for people like us, but we would eat around 10:00-10:30 am and consider it like a brunch for the day, thus not having to eat lunch. It is open until 11:00 am. We hit it off every morning with one particular server: Emaline. She was simply fabulous - always happy. She even gave us tips about shopping on the island. When we left the resort, we were walking up from the pool and she was working at the outdoor restaurant, Sunset Grill (by the pool). She came and gave us a hug goodbye! I told the manager that she deserved a promotion. One evening we ate dinner at the Aqua Terra. We greatly enjoyed all the different dishes. Prices ranged from $23 to $36. You can order Dominos pizza for takeout. It costs about $20 for a large pizza. The delivery charge was only $2.50. You can also buy sandwiches and snacks in the store on the main floor. Coffee in the morning is $3.00, sandwiches are about $10. Munchies are like $7.95 for a bag of whatever. We also ate downtown at Hooter's for the bachelor party. Prices were reasonable.

As far as shopping, you can barter for goods under the blue tents near the harbor. That's where you can buy t-shirts, cheaper jewelry, nick-nacks, etc. Be willing to walk away from their offer and the price comes down. I was able to negotiate a necklace for my daughter from $35 down to $20. You can also barter on prices in the "regular" stores on the waterfront area.

The resort people will, at some time, probably try and get you to listen to their pitch for their vacation condos at the Cove. I just basically stayed away from those people. Zoogisle (a vacation property salesman) approached me at the pool area and introduced himself, saying he hadn't met me yet. He did give me some good information about dining in St. Thomas, but his real purpose was obviously to find a time slot for me to listen to his sales pitch. If only he knew that we had saved for a long time for these five days at St. Thomas, and could never afford being part of their vacation club! haha. I just let him know that we weren't interested. They have their sly ways to make contact with you, and I guess you can either listen to them (you get a $100 credit if you listen for 90 minutes), or brush them off.

All in all, we had a fantastic time. The resort was beautiful, the service was great, and the weather, ocean views, and scenery around St. Thomas were breathtaking. I did ruin my cell phone as I forgot I had it in my swimming suit pocket, but the bartender at the Sunset grill bar went out of his way when I asked if he had any rice to immediately send a staffer to the kitchen to get me some!

I suppose for some who travel to resorts around the country/world, this resort may not be the quality that they demand, but at least for this average Joe family, it was awesome and I'd stay there again.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank 225Chuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Joyce G, Director of Sales at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 1 January 2013

Thank you for the well written and informative review! I am so pleased to hear your family’s experience with us (and in town) was fantastic! Happy New Year!

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Reviewed 22 December 2012

We stayed at the Morning Star portion of the property and here are the ups and down..

**Starting with the low points since this list is much shorter. While the room we booked was listed as an ocean view room that assessment is bit of a stretch, actually we had a fantastic view of the balcony of the room adjacent to ours and past that was the ocean. We were in a first floor (of a two story) so the views from the second floor may have been better. Less than a foot away from our balcony was three of the noisiest air conditioning units i have ever heard. Their placement is as curious as it is unfortunate and annoying. They cycle on and off non stop making for a less than relaxing morning cup of coffee or evening cigar and cocktail and they reek havoc on your night sleep.

** Highlights??? gonna be a long list. Starting with the personnel... The staff at this resort are amazing overall but there are a few notables..
Starting with the information Tzar ZOGISLE (Zoo Gyle). He was actually our first contact at the resort and The Marriott is unlikely to ever find a better "Welcome Mat". Zogisle is a must find when you get to the resort. He will sit with you and get you squared away with whatever it is that you have on your list of things to do. Best part is if you take the time to share your story, he listens well enough to figure you out. He sent us to a fantastic local hangout (Latitude 18) and as soon as we got there we realized that Zogisle had heard every word that we said and found us the spot that fit our needs TO A TEE.. So, trust his recommendations on the cozy little places off the beaten path and that is just the tip of the iceberg,, Zogisle has extensive recommendations on amazing places to eat (exponentially better than any of the information we've read in Frommers or Fodors)!!! He'll get you to the place that will fit the bill for you no mater what mood you are in or what vibe you are looking for. And more refreshing than anything he is honest and trustworthy. If he wouldn't go there he's not gonna send you there either.
While still on property get to Coco Joe's bar and restaurant on the beach for lunch, dinner and drinks. Once there be sure to request Yvette as your server. If for some inexplicable reason you wake up in paradise in a sour mood this lovely woman will have you smiling in seconds with her easy going attitude and her infectious laugh.. You just can't help but smile when you are around her. But if you still need a bit more help find the bartender Zane,,, this dude is a hoot!! He gets crazy busy as he mans the bar by himself and some how manages to get you laughing.. and is a blast to talk with when he does have a minute to relax.

The property itself is beautiful period. The beach and the water are among the best we have ever seen. There are amazing views to be seen from multiple places on property. Enjoy this property, the food, the drinks and most importantly,,,,, ENJOY THE STAFF. We did.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank pvandy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Joyce G, Director of Sales at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 1 January 2013

Thank you for the great review and breathtaking photos! Our leadership team greatly appreciates the detailed mentions of our team so we can thoroughly recognize them. We also appreciate the mention of the a/c units. We are currently in the process of updating Morning Star Resort. Happy New Year and we hope another vacation brings you back to the islands!

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Reviewed 22 December 2012

We stayed here one night in transit to the BVI and are frequent travelers to the VI. Lovely resort, good service, great room, but the food at the Aqua Terra Restaurant was absolutely dreadful and extremely expensive. I have had better mashed potatoes from the frozen food section of my grocery store and our fish and steak entrees were both substandard. This was the worst meal we had on the entire trip. Go to Charlotte Amalie to one of the many great restaurants in town. I will not stay here again for this reason.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank BGMoss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Joyce G, Director of Sales at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 December 2012

Please accept my apology for your disappointing meal at Aqua Terra. I have passed this review onto the management team for investigation. We have several restaurants on the property to choose from and hope that based on past reviews, you will give us another opportunity on your next visit. Happy New Year!

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Reviewed 22 December 2012

I choose this property because of my previous experiences with the chain. I would like to start with something positive. The concierge Mandy M. made our trip very enjoyable with great restaurant recommendations and activity suggestions. Well done ! Now the not so good. The place has some mechanical issues. The elevators in the main building worked sporadically during our stay and at times neither worked for extended periods. We just started using the stairs all of the time to get to the lobby. The elevators also smelled like grease or oil probably tied to the constant maintenance issues. Luckily we were on the first floor. I guess I will throw this is in too. We booked the room months in advance and requested an upper floor room with an ocean view. Paid extra for that and got a room in the basement of the building. We did get an ocean view. The ice machine on our floor never worked during the stay and the other ice machines were difficult to locate. The food was average at best and we are so glad we did not get in the all-inclusive package. DO NOT DO THAT ! There are many places to eat on the island and we spent very little time at the resort. We had the breakfast buffet most mornings before we were on our way. Breakfast was decent with no complaints there. The other food venues had lack luster service and average boring offerings. Once again, stay away from the all-inclusive packages. Our first room (water view) was under the sunset grill over looking a pool filled with children. We asked to move immediately and were given a room on the first floor in bowels of the building. The AC dripped water from the air return the entire time. We collected the water in the garbage can. Called the front desk twice and nothing was done from what we could see. Housekeeping just worked around our collection bucket. We had to call for towels and coffee multiple times otherwise we would have been without. We never used the beach area since it was a journey of elevators, paths and broken boardwalks to get there. We had to transverse the tennis courts to get to Coco Joe's and the beach. In summary the place was somewhat clean, had mechanical issues, sub par service (except for Mandy M.) but just not a great value for a Marriott. We would try another resort if we ever return to St. Thomas.

Room Tip: Good luck. Our room was just a place to sleep, shower and store our stuff. AC leaked water, doors...
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  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank keith m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Joyce G, Director of Sales at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 December 2012

Thank you for pointing out the outstanding service you received from Mandy. We appreciate you highlighting the positives of your overall experience despite a few mishaps. If another vacation does bring you back to St. Thomas, feel free to contact me through the hotel so that I can assist you. We would love the opportunity to show you the level of service Marriott is known for. Please, keep looking here on TripAdvisor to observe our improvements and view our current specials. Thank you again.

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Reviewed 22 December 2012

On the surface, thie resort looks picture perfect. It's on the ocean, they have beach cabanas adjacent to the beach, over 3 swimming pools and two hot tubs and supposedly went through a $30,000,000.00 renovation and your in paradise being in St. Thomas. Yes on the surface this hotel is supposed to be a 4 star resort but it is NOT. In fact it is far from it!

My wife and I traveled to St. Thomas to spend our second anniversary together here at the Marriott. When we arrived at 4:00pm our room was not even ready (4pm and room is not ready). We were supposed to be in the main resort however, they placed us in the Morningstar bungalows. Ok, no problem, being by the beach is great right? Wrong!!!! The walls in the Morning Star Bungalows are paper thin, the air conditioner is as loud as a jack hammer when it is on, the ice maker in the room sounds like a bee when it is working, the air conditioning vent looks like it has not been cleaned in years and the bathroom is OLD.

Ohhh, bring your black light because I bet you the beds and sheets are not clean either. One of the day we returned to our room, house keeping placed a number of dirty brown stained pillows on our bed. I even circled the stains for house keeping the next day to remove the stained pillows just so they would not miss this important detail...

On to the two hot tubs that did not work while we were hear the entire time. The hot tubs were at most luke warm. We had asked them to fix the hotub the first day we were here but by the sixth day the tub wasnt working still. The seawater was warmer then the hot tub. As to the pools, at night they are poorly lit.

Now the only saving grace the Morningstar Beach room does have is it does have a somewhat working refrigirator (go out and purchase your food outside the hotel..they have a carribbean style costco just up route 38 East if you rent a car...its worth it or go to the food center on your way to Red Hook on the left hand side of the road). A large spacious patio with a nice table and that is is close to the Morning Star Beach.

A few other saving features about this hotel however it is very inconsistent at times is that the staff can be somewhat responsive if they dont have an attitude, or a cold, or is out trecking 9 miles to get more beach towels because there out of beach towels. But not all staff are this friendly...beware, some of them just wish they werent there in the first place and well are plain lazy, yet a small handful are as sweet as a peach and nice as can be. Most of the Islanders are sweet as a peach and nice as can be in general. The snorkel gear at the hotel is part of the resort fee so I recommend renting it for the day and taking it with you around the beaches of St. Thomas and St. John and the parking is ample.

Now to the food at this hotel, whatever you do, do not pay for the over priced very very shabby breakfast buffet. It is not worth $24.95 and simply does not have the quality a breakfust buffet should have. Also, they only have one hostest trying to seat the entire hotel and they move like molases. I travel a lot and this breakfust buffet is not worth it at all. The other places to eat on the resort have standard bar type food and it is resort style over priced...go to the Caribbean Costco I was telling you about.

I would not return to this hotel, I would not recommend this hotel, I would not come back. Like I said on the surface this place looks great but it is NOT. Its a dissapointment.

BTW we were offered a room in the main resort and decided to check them out once one became available. Here is the deal on those, they are small, they are a little bit more modern but you have to get into the rooms by taking an elevator that has not been remodeled since the 1960's...yes that is how fast they move and how old they look...It is not a privilage or right to stain the main hotel, their equally as bad.

Room Tip: Do not stay here at all, please stay somewhere else
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  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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3  Thank mohaffa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Joyce G, Director of Sales at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 December 2012

Thank you for your feedback. I regret we were unable to meet your expectations for this recent visit. I would welcome the opportunity to hear from you directly if there is anything else you would like to discuss. I can be reached at sttfrexperienceteam@marriotthotels.com. Please know that we do take all these reviews seriously in our efforts to improve guest experience. Thank you again for sharing your experience.

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Additional Information about Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort

Address: 5 Estate Bakkeroe, Charlotte Amalie 00802, St. Thomas
Region: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. Thomas > Charlotte Amalie
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 453
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Surrounded on three sides by stunning Caribbean ocean views, Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort combines modern luxury and the unique Virgin Island style of St. Thomas. Our US Virgin Islands hotel in St. Thomas features clean, crisp large guest rooms with flat screen 50" TVs. Experience new resort features including an infinity pool, children's splash zone, adult infinity pool with bar; and private spa pool. Our Lazule Sea Spa is now open featuring extensive treatment rooms, salon, state of the art fitness center, and private spa pool with cabanas. Aqua Terra is one of three restaurants at Frenchman's Reef which features spectacular views of the Charlotte Amalie harbor. Our mission is to host you brilliantly... To make your every event and stay with us unforgettable and effortless. Come visit us at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort and discover the most luxurious vacation destination in the US Virgin Islands. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Marriott Frenchman`s Reef & Morning Star Beach Hotel Charlotte Amalie
Marriott Frenchman`s Reef And Morning Star Beach Resort
Marriott Charlotte Amalie
Charlotte Amalie Marriott
Marriott Frenchmans Reef
Frenchmans Reef St Thomas
Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort St. Thomas/Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands

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