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The Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort is a beachfront Caribbean retreat with stunning room views, a golf course, 3 private beaches, and new COVID-19 protocols — and you don’t need a passport to visit

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The Buccaneer 1

The Buccaneer is a storied beachfront resort with cliffside rooms overlooking the scenic Beauregard Bay on the island of St Croix. In addition to its sprawling grounds, the recently reopened hotel has implemented enhanced safety and cleaning protocols in response to COVID-19.I visited just before the pandemic and stayed in a mid-tier Deluxe Oceanfront room and found it to be a relaxing, spacious retreat. This room type starts at $419 per night, but was comped for review purposes. On a return visit, I would instead opt for an Ocean View room in the iconic Great House, for $269 per night.Sign up for Insider Reviews’ weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals

When cooped up indoors (as many of us have been, due to COVID-19) and dreaming of a beachfront escape with turquoise waters and sugary beaches, The Buccaneer is the exact kind of Caribbean oasis your mind is likely to conjure.

The island of St. Croix’s tourism board must know this since they offer a livestream of The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort that has been going since January of 2018. 

A member of the Historic Hotels of America, the hotel’s Great House dates as far back as 1653, and The Buccaneer first opened its doors to guests beginning in 1947 with just 11 guest rooms. Today, the sprawling resort is one of the most iconic spots in the US Virgin Islands, and still run by the granddaughter of the original owners and operators.

Now a full-service luxury resort, The Buccaneer has maintained a strong sense of camaraderie, at times feeling more like a 340-acre clubhouse where everyone knows one another, rather than a fleeting hotel stay. This is, no doubt, what keeps guests coming back year after year.

Naturally, this year, that annual ritual has changed for some of the extended Buccaneer “family.” After closing down due to COVID-19 guidelines, the resort recently reopened with new protocols in place. 

With American tourists’ travel limited right now, the US Virgin Islands — a Caribbean retreat that isn’t too far from the mainland and doesn’t require a passport — is particularly attractive. While I visited the Buccaneer just before the pandemic, its open-air style, private beach access, and ample outdoor grounds make it especially desirable now, too.

My mid-tier Ocean View Deluxe room was comped for review purposes, but typically runs $419 per night. However, entry-level Ocean View rooms still offer gorgeous views and stronger value, starting at $269 per night. 

However, be aware that while you won’t need a passport to enter the US Virgin Islands, you will need a negative COVID-19 PCR nasal test result that was received within five days of your arrival date, or a positive COVID-19 antibodies test that was received within four months of your arrival date. 

And if you’re not quite ready to hop on a plane just yet, consider saving this idyllic spot to your future wish list.

The first impressionThe roomOn-site amenitiesWhat’s nearbyWhat others sayWhat you need to knowCOVID-19 policiesThe bottom lineBook the Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort starting at $269 per nightRead on to see why I was so impressed with The Buccaneer.

1 Hotel Reviews Banner first impression

Great House Lobby by Nneya Richards
The brightly colored furniture and black-and-white tiled floors gave the lobby a fun, retro feel.

I arrived at The Buccaneer in early March, and compared to New York’s dull, gray days, the first thing I noticed was the sun shining over the rolling green hills of the property’s 18-hole golf course. The golf course is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean, and it made for a picturesque backdrop that set the tone of my trip as I drove up the driveway to the lobby of the Great House. 

The salmon-colored Great House (as the main building is called) is perched atop a hill. I was welcomed by neoclassical inspired fountains and statues that mixed with the wild yet beautiful landscaping of the courtyard that includes shady porticos. The brightly colored furniture in the lobby and black-and-white tiled floors gave the space a retro feel, but in a vintage, rather than dated, way. It reminded me of a classic country club, but with a more laid-back atmosphere.

The Buccaneer 2
The 340-acre sprawling property has ample opportunities for enjoying the outdoors.

I visited just before the COVID-19 lockdowns, so I was handed a rum refreshment upon entering the lobby and encouraged to sit in one of several seating areas as they took my information. After a quick check-in process, I was whisked away to my room in a golf cart by a bellhop who showed me the ins and outs of the resort and room. 

Though it was not the case when I visited, a mask or face covering is now required by all guests and hotel employees. Upon arrival, an attendant will also take your temperature to ensure you don’t have a fever. Any fever over 100 degrees is reported to the front desk and local Department of Health for testing. 

Pre-check-in, guests are now also required to submit their photo-identification, preference sheet, and any waivers they may need during their stay to limit the interaction with the front desk. Only two families are allowed in the lobby at a time and unfortunately, gone are the days of the delicious welcome drink. The attendants are protected via plexiglass and online payment and contactless check-out is highly recommended.

While a staff member guides you to your room, they no longer enter with you. Instead, you can learn more details about your room by calling the lobby.

2 Hotel Reviews Banner The room

The Buccaneer deluxe oceanfront king standard
The stunning ocean view was by far my favorite room feature.

As I entered my Deluxe Ocean View Room, I immediately took note of how spacious it was. As the bellhop showed me around, there was even a moment or two when I had to “catch up” to him.

The 16-foot ceilings added to the roomy feeling. While it was just me staying there, my room could easily have accommodated two to three people (or a small family) thanks to a separate sitting area, as well as ample closet and drawer space. 

In a grand reveal, the bellhop opened the curtains and revealed the best part: the stunning sea view and cliffside stone patio overlooking the seafront. During my stay, I actually slept with the curtains open so I could catch the sunrise every morning. The bed was equally enormous and facing the ocean, so I fell asleep easily with the soundtrack of crashing waves every night. 

The room was decked out in airy, beach bungalow-inspired earth tones and wooden accents. There was a round glass table with two chairs near the large windows where I could work and enjoy the view.

The Buccaneer wasn’t sleek, but it was homey. However, those used to more modern luxury stays may find the tile floors, drapes, and patterned armchairs dated. 

While the stone patio had two loungers on it, I was surprised that there wasn’t an outdoor shower. There was a coffee maker and tea provided in the room that I frequently made use of at night, but otherwise, the minibar was lackluster. Some locally-sourced products would have been a nice touch, though, they may be impacted by new COVID policies now.

Resort from the Great House by Nneya RIchards
My room was at the top of a large hill, but close to the beaches and tennis courts.

One downside to staying in a Deluxe Ocean Front room is that my room was an uphill hike to breakfast and dinner every day. I mean seriously uphill. However, my set of rooms were located between two of the property’s main beaches, Grotto and Mermaid Beach and I did like that I was close to the beach, the tennis courts, and the dock for excursions. 

The Buccaneer is a sprawling property with room options dotted all over to fit a range of styles and budgets.

Despite the higher price point of $419, the Deluxe Ocean Front room I stayed in is surprisingly the hotel’s most popular room category, according to the hotel website.

For those willing to seriously splurge, families with children 14 and under who want even more space can opt for the two-bedroom Family Cottage Suites starting at $555 per night. Similarly, the private, villa-style Beachside Doubloon rooms are popular with honeymooners, though they will set you back quite a bit at $679 per night.  

For an in-between option, the Luxury Ocean View Rooms (or Ridge Rooms as they are also known) sit adjacent to the sugar mill. They offer less privacy than some of the pricier options, but still feature sitting areas and patios and start at $400. However, I personally wouldn’t opt to stay there, especially if you’re superstitious; they are renovated former slave quarters dating back almost 300 years.

great house ocean view standard
Entry-level rooms offer significant savings and still come with lovely views.

The entry-level rooms are the beautiful Ocean View rooms in the Great House starting at $269 per night. If I were to return, I’d book this room category rather than opt to spend more on a Luxury Ocean View Room or Deluxe Ocean View Room

While my room was fabulous, it was bigger than many people’s NYC studio apartments, and, as the name implies, the Ocean View rooms still offer killer views of the turquoise sea at significant savings. The standard Ocean View just poses a much stronger value for my needs.

However, families may find value in splurging on an upgrade for the additional space and privacy they afford. 

Compare room types and prices for the Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort

3 Hotel Reviews Banner On site amenities

Nneya on Mermaid Beach by Nneya Richards
The resort has three private beaches and you can snorkel right on-site.

It would be easy to stay at The Buccaneer for a week without ever leaving the property. There is a resort fee of $10 per day, but with so much to do on-site, and breakfast included in the room rate, it feels more than worth it.  

It’s hard to miss the golf course. Not only is the course itself one of the most beautiful in the West Indies but it is also overlooking beautiful Altona Lagoon, one of the Caribbean’s rare bioluminescent bays. 

Near my room was the tennis facility with eight courts right off of the beach. Both the golfing greens and tennis courts are still open with tee times and courts requiring advanced booking.

The resort includes three private beaches. Mermaid Beach has a restaurant and beach games for guests to enjoy, Whistle Beach is the most private of the three, and Grotto Beach includes a pool right by the shore and is an especially great spot for beginner snorkelers. As a handy bonus, the property provides guests with snorkeling equipment for the duration of their stay. 

There’s a great gym on-site, though currently, it is not open due to COVID. Though, there’s no need to run on a treadmill when you can jog along the nature path that will take you through mangroves, water lily ponds, and the lagoon.

I also enjoyed a relaxing deep tissue massage at the property’s spa. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the spa is currently closed. 

Sugar Mill at The Buccaneer by Nneya Richards
The on-site sugar mill dates back to when the property was a sugarcane plantation.

There are usually four dining options at the Buccaneer. However, right now all food is operating from The Mermaid, the beachside open-air restaurant, and reservations must be made ahead of time. That’s not a huge loss, though. In the Caribbean, nine times out of 10, I’d say skip the resort food and head to a local restaurant, and this was no exception. I found the food to generally be less than memorable. That said, breakfast is included and the eggs Benedict was excellent. I’d also recommend having a sunset cocktail at The Lounge.

Additionally, there is an on-site sugar mill that dates from when Governor von Prock turned the property into a sugarcane plantation. During non-pandemic times, The Buccaneer has turned it into a space that you can book for a candle-lit romantic dinner or as a part of a wedding venue (it has even hosted the cast of ABC’s “The Bachelor”).

4 Hotel Reviews Banner What's nearby

The Buccaneer‘s private dock off of Mermaid Beach offers a pickup point for most tours going to Buck Island, a US Monument designated by John F. Kennedy. 

Close to Buck Island is an uninhabited island with a long, coral-reef “underwater trail.” It’s a stunning marine garden. The Buccaneer can help you book a guided snorkeling tour. I went on one with Big Beard’s Adventure Tours and found it was an absolute must-see.

If you’re interested in both history and food, I couldn’t recommend Virgin Island Food Tours enough. My guide gave me a crash course in the history of the island as it ties into the food.  Sampling island specialties like johnnycakes and doubles made for a fun day. Go hungry!

Check flight prices to St. Croix on Expedia

5 Hotel Reviews Banner What others say

The Buccaneer is a 4-star hotel that averages a 4.5 out of 5 on Trip Advisor, and is rated number 1 out of the 14 hotels in Christiansted. It is also rated a 9.1 (9.5 for location) out of 10 on Booking.com.

Most people are very happy with the service and the “vintage” charm of the hotel. The property and its ample amenities are a major draw for guests. However, there are those that would definitely have appreciated more updates on the property and find the decor too dated for their tastes. “It is almost as if a top resort from 1980 was frozen in time,” says one negative review. 

Some reviewers also note that the service, at the restaurants, in particular, was lacking and inconsistent. To their point, my breakfast did take ages to come out most of the days I was there.

Read reviews, compare prices, and book the Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort on Trip Advisor

6 Hotel Reviews Banner What you need to know

Who stays here: Families that have been coming for generations, young couples looking for a nice place to honeymoon, those looking for a passport-free beach escape. 

We like: The spaciousness of the property. It’s hard to be anywhere on-site without an ocean view or your toes in the sand and the outdoor offerings are particularly great for social distancing.

We love (don’t miss this feature!): The private beaches. A property with three beaches is a luxury and the fact that they have great snorkeling was an unexpected bonus.

We think you should know: The Ridge Rooms are former slave quarters, which makes for weird juju if you choose to stay in them. On a positive note, all of the water is recycled with bath and wastewater being used for irrigation and rainwater and desalinated seawater used for general washing. I liked these efforts toward sustainability.

We’d do this differently next time: I would opt for a more affordable entry-level room next time. Unless you truly will take advantage of all the extra space, it’s unnecessary. Plus, the ocean views are still exceptional from the less expensive rooms. 

Hotel Reviews Banner COVID 19 policies

The US Virgin Islands reopened for leisure tourism again as of September 2020. Prior to landing in the islands, every traveler over the age of five must use the USVI Travel Portal to submit results from a COVID-19 antigen or antibody test taken at least 5 days prior to landing in the USVI.

Upon arrival, you must produce your original test result and travel certification received from the Travel Screening Portal. Travelers unable to produce the required test result will be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days or until test results are provided, per the Department of Health, at the travelers’ own expense.

The Buccaneer St. Croix emphasized safety and cleaning protocol in response to COVID-19.

These new protocols include:

Masks or face coverings required when interacting with hotel employees, including upon entering at the main gate. The gate attendant will take temperatures of guests to check for fevers.Measures have been taken like implementing downloadable menus, socially-distancing beach and pool chairs, reduced capacity in the Grotto pool, and to-go food delivered to your door instead of room serviceThe gym is closed and they are offering all meals at the open-air Mermaid Restaurant.The spa is currently closed.

Additionally, the resort has tapped an epidemiologist to help implement the new protocols on the property, from the provision of hand sanitizer across the resort to sanitizing and cleaning property-wide throughout the day. 

 

7 Hotel Reviews Banner Bottom Line

The idea of hotel stay has changed significantly since COVID-19. However, The Buccaneer, which was already desirable pre-COVID, has only become more attractive.

The property, by nature of the sprawling layout, has social distancing practically built-in. The new COVID protocols they have implemented, along with the fact that they are working with an epidemiologist, makes it feel like they are taking safety seriously. 

Beautiful grounds, ample activities, and showstopping room views made me eager to return again in the future. While I thoroughly enjoyed the property’s nostalgic and homey vibes, those looking for more modern luxury may prefer a different stay. Additionally, while some may think the added space and privacy of mid- and high-tier rooms are worth the additional cost, there are significant savings to be found with entry-level rooms in the Great House.

The Buccaneer is certainly the kind of place you can head with your family or “quarantine family” as the atmosphere encourages reconnecting with the outdoors and enjoying being in the moment. And for those seeking a getaway farther afield without any additional hassle, the fact that no passport is required since it’s located in the US Virgin Islands is a serious draw.

Book a room at the Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort starting at $269 per night
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