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We are in our prime tourist season now for the next few months, and lovin’ meeting all the folks who come here to get away from it all, including ice, snow, and cold. Here are 3 hotels which will give you a different feel than the big resorts, and a different experience to take back home.

Hotel Caravelle

Located along the waterfront of 18th century Christiansted, Hotel Caravelle enjoys views of Protestant Cay, Fort Christiansvaern and the old French fort site to the east; as well as views of the outmost point of the Judith’s Fancy neighborhood to the west. This point marks the entrance to Salt River which was originally the location of Columbus’s landing.

In its early Danish days, the land on which the property sits was used for the loading and off-loading of shipped goods, including sugar, fruits and live cattle. By the 19th century, a warehouse was built on the seaside and a townhouse was established on the hill, including a separate cookhouse and stable. The property was owned at this time by merchant Robt L. Merwin, founder of Robt L. Merwin & Company and was subsequently transferred to investor and friend, Robert W. Skeoch, who established the Christiansted Utilities Company on the site in 1946. The waterfront portion where Hotel Caravelle now sits was used to load live cattle onto ships and, what is now the Caravelle Shopping Arcade, served as a lumberyard.

In 1967, an artist from Denmark leased the land and built the 43-room property that is now Hotel Caravelle, designed to reflect the charming 18th century Danish style of architecture. In 1983 Sid and Amy Kalmans purchased the oceanfront hotel, which travelers enjoy visiting today for its historical roots, friendly staff and breathtaking views.

Mount Victory Eco-Lodge

Mount Victory is a genuine forest hideaway situated on seven acres surrounding the 170 year old stone ruins of the Mt. Victory School House. Once the center of a thriving pre-Colombian Taino settlement and later the site of a busy plantation-era village, Mt. Victory is steeped in the country traditions of St. Croix’s sugar cane and cattle country. In the mango tree-covered hills two miles up from the beach on a picturesque deep forest roadway, Mt. Victory delivers on its promise to bring guests “close to nature in complete comfort.”

The ancient Mt. Victory School House anchors the property, now dotted with colorful screened-in units, built to a unique architecture that employs only local hardwoods. The School House (often referred to as the “Von Scholten Schoolhouse”, after the famous Danish governor who presided over its construction) was built to teach literacy and bible conversion to children of enslaved workers. It now hosts a captive breeding colony of the locally endangered Red Footed Tortoise, and tucked into one corner of the ruins, one of Mt. Victory’s unique dwellings for overnight guests. Mt. Victory truly embodies life amongst the ruins.

Northside Valley

Established as a hotel in 1971, this verdant paradise still houses remnants of the ruins of Estate Northside where sugar crop once thrived. The unique design and construction of the villas utilized both fragments of ruins and native stone to create dwellings that completely embrace their surroundings. The hotel has been proudly “green” long before most other properties embraced ecologically-friendly initiatives. Northside Valley makes a special effort to care for the trees planted on the original sugar plantation, now hundreds of years old.

Nita and Phillip Brown, Northside Valley’s original owners, moved to St. Croix in 1959 with their five children, after purchasing the land from native Crucian Virginia Gordon. The family built the villas one at a time as they could afford materials and demonstrated to Ms. Gordon their gratitude by caring for her until the day she died. The cornerstone from her limestone home stands proudly in front of the house called ‘Shepherd’s Hut,’ in memory of Virgie because she loved animals. The beauty of the property and the villas was the Brown’s dream – to create a setting where the Caribbean landscape and ocean were integral to the living space.

Many of the Territory’s small hotels reflect the unique lineage of the USVI and carry with them individual stories. Try one on your next trip.

(resource: USVI Times newsletter, www.visitusvi.com)