We arrived in St. Thomas with much anticipation. The airstrip is right over the water--what a sight!There are no covered arrival gates, so you deplane on the tarmac, just like in the good old days. We went to get our rental vehicle from Avis with no problem. Our economy vehicle was just like back home, but you drive on the opposite side of the road. It is easy to master once you get used to it. Most of the roads are only two-lane and can get very congested. Be patient!
On our way to the Wyndham Sugarbay, we passed through downtown Charlotte Amalie, which is very quaint and beautiful. It is a harbor town where you can look across the bay to see the cruise ships, sometimes five or six at a time. Havensight Mall has duty-free shopping in the cruise-ship docking area. We followed the directions we were given for about 12 miles, up and down mountains. We finally found it and drove up the hill to the resort entrance. We were met by a very happy fellow who assisted us with our bags. There is no valet parking (see my accommodations section for more details).
The young lady who checked us in was great--she asked if we wanted the all-inclusive for $75 each a day, but we opted not to and were glad we didn't. After we settled into our rooms, we took off to explore and have a little lunch. We decided just to stay at the resort and have a bite by the pool. we went down the 99 steps (really isn't that bad) to the Mangrove restaurant. Well, we weren't all-inclusive, so the cook behind the grill told us to go see the manager. The female manager was sitting at a table folding napkins and yelling at one of her wait staff taking a phone order. After she finished, we told her what we wanted. She wrote down our room number, handed us a receipt, and told us to tell the guy at the grill what we wanted. You had a choice of hot dogs, chicken, or hamburgers, which came with one drink and chips and condiments--for $25, not worth it at all. We then went back for dinner that evening. It was okay, but nothing to rave about. The next morning we went to the Manor House at the main hotel for brunch. The waitstaff there was terrible. They acted as if you were inconveniencing them by asking for water. There was a woman at the omelette station yelling at everyone as she was giving directions and being rude. You could see all the staff just leaning against the pillars talking about who knows what--no class and very ill-mannered.
After that experience, we did have the breakfast there, but lunches and dinners were out on the island, and we ate at a very good place in particular right on the bay that served lobster, from 1 pound to 8 pounds--whatever you liked. It is called Mim's and is worth a try, with great food and ambience.
One thing to be aware of: If you are like me and are prone to mosquito bites, take plenty of insect repellent. We took a snorkel and sightseeing tour of St. John at about $100 per person. They pick you up right at the hotel lobby. We took the ferry from Red Hook, which is a short drive down the mountain from the resort. If you don't care to do the tour, you can take a taxi to Red Hook and take the ferry, which runs about $6 round-trip. It is about a 15-minute ride across the bay. If you are like me and prone to mosquito bites, take plenty of insect repellent. You will need it, especially if you go to St. John and Trunk Bay. It practically ruined my vacation, but I didn't let it. Fortunately I was prepared, but if you forget or run out, they have a K-Mart and Sears. And on St. Thomas it's just like home, with Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's.
All in all, we loved St. Thomas. We snorkeled at Magen's Bay. It is a state park, and they charge you about $3 per car. There is a snack bar there that serves salad, hot dogs, and pizza. You can also rent gear there. They had the biggest iguana I had ever seen. It must have been at least 3 feet long and older than dirt. They are protected, so don't feed them and don't touch! Coki Beach is a nice little spot with no charge, but there is an aquarium and the charge was minimal. All of St. Thomas is a water-sports mecca. We will, however, not be returning to the Wyndham Sugar Bay.