March 30, 2005 – The territory was awash with visitors during the Easter holiday, say numerous hoteliers, retailers and restaurateurs.
"It's some of the best occupancies since we've been in business," Carringtons Inn owner Claudia Carrington said, adding that she and her husband, Roger, opened their doors in 2000.
The St. Croix-based Carrington said Monday that the entire month of March was good.
She said that spring break and Easter coincided for many schools this year, which helped to fill her rooms.
Rik Blyth, manager at Caneel Bay Resort on St. John, called Easter "incredibly outstanding."
"It's Easter week, the week before, the week after and next week," he said Tuesday, noting the hotel was sold out this coming Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Echoing Carrington's remarks, he said that families with children on school break helped fill the rooms.
Kathy Demar, who manages vacation villas on St. John, said Wednesday that she too has lots of families in her houses.
She said although rates drop April 16, she'd be busy throughout the month.
"The 16th is the busiest Saturday of the month, and it's the first day of the low season," she said.
Beverly Nicholson, who as president of the V.I. Hotel Association has her tabs on the territory's entire hotel industry, said that while figures are not yet it, Easter looked strong.
"The entire region is doing well," she said Tuesday.
She credited aggressive marketing, along with the fact that tourists who might have gone to south Asian countries hit with the tsunami, headed this way instead.
And, she said that that horrible winter weather in the Northeast sent tourists winging south.
Albert Willis, who owns St. John Car Rental and two St. John restaurants, said Wednesday all his cars were rented.
"It was a smashing success. Isn't it marvelous," he said.
He said all of St. John, including restaurants, was booked solid to the point that people who waited until the last minute to reserve anything were out of luck.
At the Blue Moon Restaurant in Frederiksted, St. Croix, manager Jenny Madden said Wednesday the restaurant was busy throughout the Easter holiday.
"And we've got a lot of cruise ship people today," she said.
Shay Brittingham, manager at Molly Malone's and A Whale of a Tale at Red Hook, St. Thomas, said Wednesday the restaurant served 600 people for Easter brunch and 600 people for Easter dinner at Molly Molones.
"And a Whale of a Tale was also busy," he said.
He said the weekend's Rolex International Regatta contributed to the rush, but said the entire month of March had been extremely busy.
"There's a lot of tourists spending a lot of money," he said.
While families have to eat, they may not spend as much at resort restaurants as couples who visit. Blyth said that many families head to Cruz Bay for dinner at restaurants with lower prices than Caneel Bay.
"Polli's, Morgan's Mango," he said, listing a few of those popular with tourists.
However, he said that the Caneel Bay gift shop carries items for children and teenagers, so it was doing well.
Jayne Winter, who handles marketing for A.H. Riise on St. Thomas, said Tuesday business was "robust" over Easter weekend.
"There were five ships in on Sunday and four on Saturday, which certainly helped," she said.
Looking ahead, Carrington said that April doesn't look as strong as the winter.
"I can feel a decline is coming," Carrington said.
Not so at Caneel Bay. Blyth said May looked strong, and bookings are 5 to 10 percent ahead of what they were last year for the summer season.
Blyth said the strong value of the Euro is sending European tourists this way, while the poor value of the dollar is convincing American tourists to visit the Virgin Islands rather than Europe.
"All the stars are aligned," Blyth said.
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