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VIEDA celebrates first Hotel Development Program project with the upcoming reopening of major St. Thomas resort

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – September 2, 2022 — The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) celebrates the first Hotel Development Program resort project on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. On August 30, 2022, the 34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands ratified the Re-Development Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and CREF3 USVI Hotel Owner, Inc. (CREF3), the new owners of the Frenchman’s Reef Resort campus.  

In April 2021, CREF3 purchased shares from DiamondRock Frenchman’s Rock, Inc. to become the new owners and complete reconstruction of the property, which is now comprised of The Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef and The Autograph Collection Resort at Frenchman’s Reef. Including the prior owner’s investment, CREF3’s total reinvestment is projected to be $428 million. The highly anticipated soft opening is set for December 1, 2022, followed by a grand opening in the first quarter of 2023.

“Our goal is to build on the rich history of Frenchman’s Reef, and in doing so, we have carefully designed and branded each aspect of the property to create a truly unique experience,” said Joe Gould, Managing Director of Hotel Asset Management at Fortress Investment Group, representing the new owners, CREF3.”  The Frenchman’s Reef Resort campus will feature more than 400 guestrooms, including over 28 suites, 10 distinct food and beverage outlets, 4 different pool experiences, including a children’s “splash pad”, a kid’s club activity center, 2 fitness centers, over 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, a state-of-the-art wellness spa with 13 treatment rooms, 2 retail boutiques, and a newly constructed dock, which will be home to a custom built catamaran and a starting point for many guest excursions.

“The re-opening of Frenchman’s Reef will reinvigorate the USVI tourism industry and solidify St. Thomas as a leading vacation destination in the Caribbean,” said Peter Brogan, Vice President of Hotel Asset Management at Fortress Investment Group, representing on behalf of CREF3.

On June 7, 2022, the VIEDA Governing Board approved the first draft of the Redevelopment Agreement, which later incorporated minor changes following negotiations.  The final draft of the Redevelopment Agreement was approved by the VIEDA Governing Board on August 9, 2022, and transmitted to the Governor for review and approval on August 17, 2022. Upon his approval, the Governor then transmitted to the Legislature for ratification.

The amended Hotel Development Act (HDA), signed into law on October 7, 2019, broadened the scope of hotel projects in the territory to include properties that sustained more than 75% of damage due to natural disasters. 

“This redevelopment project demonstrates that the amended HDA is providing the VIEDA with a more robust finance tool to assist severely damaged hotels and resorts with reconstruction so they can  re-open and increase the Territory’s hotel room inventory,” said Wayne L. Biggs, Jr., VIEDA chief executive officer. “The HDA is an attractive financing option to investors who are interested in developing resorts in the territory. It gives us a competitive edge when investors are looking at the entire Caribbean for their next hotel development. With the anticipation of this resort’s amenities and activities for our visitors, we also look forward to the impact this project will have on our economy and our tourism industry,” added CEO Biggs.

“The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the Territory’s people, infrastructure and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit http://transparency.vi.gov .”

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