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“Mixed Review”

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Cottages By The Sea
Ranked #1 of 4 Frederiksted B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 June 2008

My husband and I just returned from a week's stay in the Crow's Nest at Cottages. I had prepared a mental image of the property from reviews and from the promotional video on the website...sometimes it lived up to that image, sometimes it didn't.

We arrived late Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend. Paul greeted us and walked us up to our room, lugging our heaviest bag up the stairs for us. He made sure we were all set, pointed out the complimentary bottle of rum (which was definitely enjoyed during the week), and even walked us next door to Sandcastles to personally ask the bartender to sell us a drink. One of my favorite parts of the cottages - electronic locks! NO KEY to worry about, take with you, or lose while snorkelling! Crow's Nest is amazing...right on the beach, with a nice breeze through the room, great views and the most privacy of any of the cottages (at least from what we saw). The room is basic and clean - only bugs are the really teeny tiny ants that don't bother anything. Carmen, the housekeeper, is very sweet and does a great job without intruding. The kitchen has just about everything you would need (although we had to be inventive on a couple of things). We normally don't cook on vacation, but found it to be much more relaxing to make our own meals than to get in the car and drive across the island. One word of advice...check to make sure the grills are working before you plan on using them for dinner! (On our first "cook at home" night, one of the grills didn't have any gas, and the other grill's gas wouldn't open...my husband spent way too much time (with tools from the office) trying to get it to work. Eventually, they gave him a new tank to put on... No problems after that.) By the way, there isn't a restaurant on the island with a better view than Crow's Nest!

We completely overpacked...normally, I plan on having at least one tee shirt for each day (to go to restaurants, to go back and forth from the beach, etc). Well, when your room is right on the beach, no cover ups necessary....and if you cook most of your meals, you don't need dressier casual clothes either! If you're going to cook, just plan on bathing suits and comfy clothes to hang out on the deck and the beach.

Other than the views and being able to hear waves from your room, the other best part of Cottages is the beach and the snorkelling. It really is one of the best beaches on the island (when it's crowded by locals on the weekends, you know you're in a good spot). We tried to start and end our days with snorkelling right in front of our room. There is an amazing variety of juvenile fish and quite a few types of coral right off the shore! We even saw some hawksbill turtles and my husband saw a ray.

Now the "not-what-I-expected" parts... Granted, we arrived during a holiday weekend... I was expecting (from past reviews) for the beach to be busy on Sunday and Monday...which it was. It was packed. What I didn't expect was the noise at night. I am a light sleeper, and I was kept up until the wee hours on Sat, Sun, and Monday of our first weekend by music from some club somewhere (keep in mind that the trade winds come from the East) and from loud guests. On our 4th night, I had to break down and ask my husband to run the AC so I could get some sleep. On Sunday of our first weekend, and Saturday of our last weekend there were parties at the property. We were warned about the one on Sunday (and we had expected the beach to be busy anyways) so we did sightseeing on Sunday. The Saturday party was a bunch of college kids that were staying at the property (something about a beach cleanup day where they were paired with students from the UVI...an hour of cleaning the beach then 4 hours of partying) - they weren't overly noisy, but hearing "chug, chug, chug" when you're trying to enjoy your last day on the beach is kind of distracting. Our last night, we were awakenend at 5 am by some locals staying at the property, and the college kids - good thing we had a morning flight to catch, or I would have been really upset. During the week, the beach was mostly just guests from Cottages...but, keep in mind that there can be loud guests. We had several that talked constantly as loud as they could, not to mention bursts of noise every now and then from the college kids or locals staying at the property. The beach was only "quiet" a few days out of our trip, which was very disappointing for us...so close to perfect. When my husband mentioned this to Paul, he implied that other guests have been concerned with the same thing, including some that have been going to Cottages for years.

Definitely recommend going out to Buck Island - beautiful! We took the Terroro II with Capt. Heinz. Would definitely recommend this tour group for folks that want a more laid back trip, without the BBQ and rum punch crowd of the other operations. Capt. Heinz and his daughter were extremely nice and helpful. Make sure to take your own lunch, drinks, and towels. This tour sails both ways (out and back) and goes to the underwater trail first, followed by time on the beach on Buck Island...and you have enough time on the beach to do the hike if you want to, or just relax or snorkel some more. Definitely the most relaxing day on the island for us.

Restaurants...We did brunch and the "buy one get one free" Thursday night special at the Cultured Pelican. Service was great - friendly and fast, food was good, and the view was great. They are closed for the summer, but would recommend to anyone going at other times of the year. We ate lunch at Rumrunners (food was better than I expected, but it was a little warm - although they are right on the marina, there is NO breeze in the restaurant other than fans they have running), Turtles in Frederikstad (good sandwiches, not our favorite place though), and the Sunset Grille (great service and food was pretty good - nice view and good breeze and shade). Dinners out were Sandcastles (great view but food was just OK) and Blue Moon in Fredrickstad (Paul recommended this to us - food was AMAZING, but the restaurant is very hot and is indoors but open to the outside....we both kept half of our meals to enjoy later in the week...another advantage of Cottages - you can keep leftovers in the frig for a later meal!). We were going to go to Zebo's for dinner, but decided to eat at home instead - they had a great wine list and nice atmosphere with lots of tables out on a patio on Strand St.

Would definitely recommend stopping into the Divi Casino, at least once. I was thrilled to find my old fave slot machine that has disappeared in Vegas - Free 'N Easy - right inside the front doors!! We stopped twice on our way to other things, and I made enough money to fund a few drinks here and there on the island. We also played Miniature Golf across from the Divi. I know, sounds pathetic for two adults with no kids to waste time on vacation playing mini golf...BUT, the view is amazing and the course is a lot of fun. A lot of the holes are set up so your ball is likely to go into a water hazard (they have nets to retrieve your ball if you end up in the water) - just a fun little distraction in the sun with gorgeous views...

Overall, the island was disappointing to us. We've been to quite a few other islands (including St. Thomas and St. John in the USVI) and this one was definitely the dirtiest. After the holiday weekend, I was actually picking up trash from the beach for 2 days, and it's sad to see the trash underwater as well. We drove to a "photo" site listed on one of the tourist maps, and there were abandoned cars, old doors, trash, etc. everywhere...on the way to this "tourist scenic" spot! It was sad for me to see the people of the island not taking better care of the island that is so much a part of their livlihood. If you like nature, beauty, and snorkeling, I'd recommend St. John instead....but, you can't find ANYWHERE on St. John with the view and amenities of Cottages for the price they charge.

So...if you would ask me about my middle few days at Cottages, I would rate it a 5 (great location, great price, quiet and relaxing). If you ask me about the other days of my trip, I would rate it a 3 - way too noisy of a crowd for what is advertised. As my husband said, the place would be great either way they market it (either quiet and relaxing, or a party spot), but they can't be both. If you go and you're looking for quiet, just be prepared for some noise and you'll hopefully be able to enjoy the views and location for the price - my mistake was that I expected quiet and wasn't prepared for anything else (on days during the week).

  • Stayed: May 2008, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank catfan3333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 13 May 2008

My intention of this review is not to repeat NorCTDnL 's review however, I do not know if it is because we are from the same area or if we were just both in search of the same thing, which we also found at Cottages.

I"ll preface my review by saying my husband and I have stayed at 5 star resorts down to 2 star huts in the mountains of Belize. We do not like all inclusives however, we realize that at times, they fit the needs we might require. We are 34 and 31 years old and professionals who also like to SCUBA dive. Our last trip before this was Disney, Aruba, then before that, Africa/South Africa within the past year. We do not yet have children.

OK, so with that out of the way (because I always wonder more about the people who write the reviews where I am entertaining staying than given in the bio's), Cottages was certainly all we were hoping for. Our room was also within 12 feet of the sand with a recently remodeled cottage, full kitchen and king sized bed. We were there for a wedding that took place next door at Sandcastle's and our stay was perfect.

The owner's son, Paul, even took us to the store to gather a few groceries as our rental car wasn't due to arrive until a few days after our arrival. Imagine. A hotel manager who offers to drive you around himself!

With that said, definitely rent a car. The food was some of the best I've had in the Carribbean and you 'll need a car to drive to the many excellent restaurants. We paid $175/night and with a trip to the liquor store, packed our full sized refrigerator with nice, cold beer! (ok, some milk and OJ too)

If you dive, the tripadvisor boards directed us to SCUBA dive shop and you can reserve a dive with them by heading to the Sandcastle pool bar to meet Steve. They are, by far, the best dive outfit we ever experienced. Hands down. Their equipment was in tip top shape and they pulled right up to the beach to get us.

Do not come here expecting Shutters in California. Do expect to relax, meet great people and yes, ask about the room types. Ruth helped me reserve the perfect one for us. Yes, some of them are in need of updating but they are in the process of many upgrades so just ask!

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled with friends
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6  Thank tallmelfiz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2008

My wife and I stayed April, 2008. We were looking for a down to earth, non-pretentious, but nice place to stay on a down to earth, non-pretentious Caribbean Island. Cottages by the Sea, and St. Croix fit the bill perfectly.

Our cottage was 12 feet from the sand. We could hear the gentle waves rolling as we went to sleep, and what wonderful thing to hear upon waking up!

Each cottage has a small kitchen, comfortable accomodations, and proximity to the water.

The staff is very attentive and geniunely interested in our experience. The cost was reasonable, considering beachfront location.

This is not an all inclusive resort! If you want all the bells, whistles, expense, and facilities that you may (or may not) actually use, then go to one of the major resort properties. If you want a clean, quiet, comfortable, well located property, where you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself and your own itinerary and needs, this is the place for you!

It is located on the west side of St. Croix, near Frederiksted. The water and beaches are magnificent, and somewhat protected - not massive surf, but gentle waves. F'Sted is a pleasant town, in some neeed of revival. It's very quiet, with a handful of restaurants, not many shops, but a deligthful waterfront.

The main town on the island, Christiansted is about 35 minutes away, where there are more shops, restaurants, and tour-related facilities and providers. St. Croix is not St. Thomas. Don;t go there is you live to shop and want non-stop glitz and excitement.

I'd recommend Cottages to anyone. we will be back.

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank NorCTDnL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 March 2008

I will start with the negative: my husband and I spent a week in the Coco Palm, which is one of the cottages that has not yet been renovated. That being said, the cottage was clean and comfortable, but definitely could use some work. The biggest problem I had was that the shower pressure was nonexistent. I had trouble getting the shampoo rinsed from my hair. Also, if we used the toaster and the microwave at the same time, it popped the breaker. Not a big deal to get that fixed, but it was kind of annoying.
Now for the positives, which far outweigh the negatives. This property is on one beautiful stretch of beach, for which you cannot beat the price on St. Croix. The staff is absolutely wonderful. Paul is so helpful and friendly, and the housekeeping ladies are very sweet and accomodating. The cottages are close to plenty of restaurants and shops, and despite the talk of crime in the area, we always felt at ease.
Also, it was convenient to have the Sandcastles restaurant right next door for those times when we just didn't feel like driving anywhere. The atmosphere is great, but in our experience the food was very inconsistent. Sometimes it was great (Sunday brunch!) and sometimes it was really subpar, especially for the price.
So in summary, the cottages are a great value on a beautiful stretch of beach with a fantastic staff. We would certainly stay at Cottages again!

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank HopeM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 March 2008

We were making last minute reservations and I called them directly. I spoke with Mary who made every atempt to get the cottages booked for us. SUCCESS! They whole staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, regardless of the request. They made you feel like family.
The beach was perfect. Not too crowded and absolutely clear and clean. The facilities were very comfortable. My husband and child really enjoyed the kayak while I enjoyed snorkleing and lazing on the hammock during the evening hours.
It was quite warm naturally, but the waters were very cooling. At night, a cool shower helped as the AC took a while to cool the big cottage we were in. During the day, the breezes were great to cool off the rooms.
We rented a car for the day and had a wonderful time cruising the island which only took a few hours. We went through the rain forest, fed some pigs some beer (ask the locals!) and traveled into Christiansted for some shopping.
In Fredricksted, there are stores for shopping so that you can cook in your cottage, which is fully stocked with everything you would need to prepare meals. We ventured out some for dinners, but were not quite as impressed with downtown as we were with our resort. The restaurant next door serves great meals, but can get pricey. Breakfast was great!

I would certainly recommend this resort. I felt like a member of their family and would gladly return. The trip was well worth the money. Get a car for a day and do some traveling. The beaches and scenery are worth it!

  • Stayed: May 2007, travelled with family
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3  Thank ivy9toes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2008

The staff is the best we have ever encountered. They are welcoming and accommodating. These cottages are only feet from the beach. The room was the cleanest I have ever stayed in. The price was an incredible value for what we got. We arrived Christmas Day in the evening, and hadn't thought about supper, so they arranged reservations at the Restaurant next door (best food on the island). The amenities make it feel like an inclusive resort, with the price of a comfy bed and breakfast. An outdoor grilling area, the full kitchen in the room, games and snorkel equipment to use anytime. The guests here are all repeat guests, once you stay here, you are hooked. They become like family over the course of a week.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank brandylns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 November 2007

My wife and I chose Cottages by the Sea for our honeymoon and couldn't have been more pleased. The staff was incredibly nice and very accomodating, the property is beautiful and you won't find a better beach on St. Croix (trust me, we drove around the entire island looking). We stayed in the Coconut cottage - perfect view of the Caribbean Sea from the bed! During the middle of the week it feels like you have your own private beach. Also, no sea grass and amazing snorkeling! Highly recommended! We plan on going back!!

  • Stayed: July 2007, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Tim1024
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cottages By The Sea

Address: 127A Estate Smithfield, Frederiksted 00840-4048, St. Croix
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. Croix > Frederiksted
Amenities:
Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Frederiksted
Price Range: $196 - $335 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Cottages By The Sea 3*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1949, Cottages by the Sea is a family owned and operated, beachfront, boutique hotel, located just south of the town of Frederiksted on the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Our goal is to provide our guests with a quiet, friendly, relaxed, truly authentic Caribbean beach vacation. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Cottages By The Sea Hotel Frederiksted
Cottages By The Sea St. Croix/Frederiksted

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