Imagine the charm of a quintessential 1950’s lakeside resort in the Catskill Mountains (à la “Dirty Dancing”), but located instead on a white sand strewn Caribbean beach. Got the picture? Now, add in modern amenities and you have Cottages by the Sea…a charming hotel on the West End of St. Croix where family history is treasured and everyone is welcome. In fact, like those Catskills resorts of yesteryear, many guests of Cottages by the Sea return year after year and bring new generations of their families along. Let us introduce you to this hidden gem, along with its beloved founders, the Benedict family.
Paul Benedict, the managing co-owner of Cottages by the Sea, is proud of his family’s history. The Benedicts can trace their roots on St. Croix back to their Danish ancestors that settled on the island in the mid-to-late 1800’s. Purchased by the family in 1943 as part of a larger parcel, the Cottages property was made into a hotel in 1955 by Harold ‘Benny’ and Genevieve Benedict. Cottages has been operated as a hotel continually ever since then. Paul Benedict came back with his parents, Tom and Carol, to run Cottages by the Sea for the family in 2001. While both Tom and Carol have since passed away, Paul is keeping the legacy alive for the next generation. As Paul gave us a tour of the Cottages property, we were constantly stopped by guests that wanted to say hello to him, or thank him for suggestions of things to do here on the island. Paul knew every guest by name, and told us he has many families that return to Cottages annually and appreciate the fact he keeps the hotel feeling familiar, like a home away from home.
The beauty of Cottages by the Sea is that whether you are looking for family-friendly fun, or a romantic honeymoon in paradise, this is the place for you. Located on the far southern end of Frederiksted, with only Sandy Point to the south, the stretch of beach in front of Cottages feels quiet and secluded. The 29 newly-remodeled cottages that make up the hotel are spread across the property and connected by meandering sidewalks, lush green belts, and tropical landscaping. Most of the cottages include a kitchenette with cookware, dishes and utensils so guests can cook in their room – perfect for those on a budget or with special dietary needs. Guests also have access to a coin-operated washer and dryer, so you won’t have to go far to wash a load of clothes.
To make your stay comfortable, the cottages offer modern amenities like air conditioning, wi-fi, cable TV, a private porch or patio with seating, as well as housekeeping service. But, it’s the little extras that make Cottages special for their guests. For instance, Cottages provides their guests with use of bicycles so they can ride into Frederiksted to experience local shopping, dining, scuba diving, and more. For those looking to get out of the sun for a bit, guests can grab a book from the ‘Book Nook’ and read, or choose a board game from the community game closet to play with the family.
While the cottage accommodations are homey and comfortable, most people come to St. Croix to enjoy the Caribbean Sea, fabulous beaches and diverse natural landscape. Don’t worry on that front, the beach at Cottages by the Sea is truly postcard-worthy. Lined with lounge chairs and a few shady palm trees, the soft white sand is just begging to be felt by your bare feet. The Caribbean waters here are typically calm and clear, inviting you to snorkel, enjoy some watersports or just go for a float. As another added benefit to their guests Cottages by Sea also provides beach towels, and access to free snorkel gear, floats, beach toys, a double kayak and more. So, grab the kids and build a sandcastle, or enjoy a front row seat for a romantic sunset with the one you love. There are also three gas grills and spread across the property so guests can BBQ and enjoy dining al fresco in their tropical surroundings. Or, head to the large covered patio featuring a bar and seating in the shared space – perfect for communing with family and friends or setting up your computer and working remotely.
With the quaint feel throughout the property and smiling guests sitting on their patios and enjoying the Caribbean breeze, Cottages by the Sea really does feel more like a home than a hotel. Cottages by the Sea is an especially great hotel choice for families or groups, and those looking for the option of a more self-sufficient stay. To learn more about the history of the Benedict family and Cottages by the Sea visit their website by clicking here. To learn more about the unique accommodations or to book your stay at this wonderful hidden gem, visit their website.
-Jennie Ogden, Editor