You don’t have to travel all that far to enjoy a private island-type luxury vacation. In fact, you don’t even need a passport. Introducing the recently opened Lovango Resort + Beach Club in the United States Virgin Islands.
When the property first debuted during the COVID-19 pandemic (December 2020), it comprised only a beach club, restaurant and a three-bedroom villa. One year later, it launched the resort portion of the property, offering a slew of new accommodations located on the back half of the semi-private Caribbean cay.
Luxury Travel Advisor visited this spring to experience the property first-hand. To get there, we flew direct (from New York) to Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, where Lovango had arranged for a driver to take us to its ferry terminal across the island in Red Hook; here, we were picked up by the resort’s private catamaran ferry and enjoyed a quick trip to Lovango Cay (about 10 to 15 minutes)—and, voila!—vacation commenced.
Since opening its first slate of 11 accommodations in December 2021, the resort has added a few each season and is now up to 17. Beyond the three-bedroom villa (the top accommodation on property), options are split between Luxury Treehouses and Glamping Tents. We stayed in one of the latter, Room 102, which accommodates just two people. Totaling 640 square feet, these are large canvas tents with screened windows; they include an air-conditioned king bed (more on this in just a bit), an indoor bathtub and shower and a large deck with chairs and a lounger. The highlight, however, are the views from the deck—which look out onto a channel separating Lovango Cay and Congo Cay, an uninhabited island directly to the north. It was as nice of a view as we’ve enjoyed on any of our trips.
Note: Although Glamping Tents include a stand-up oscillating fan, there is no central air conditioning. That said, beds are complete with an air conditioner that drops cool air from, essentially, an inflatable tube above the four-poster bed (complete with a mosquito net). It won’t keep the full room cool—although between the fan and the breeze, you hardly need A.C. (and we are typically very fond of our climate control)—but it will keep your bed plenty cool while you sleep. The bed itself was also extremely comfortable.
It’s also good to note that neither the Glamping Tents nor Luxury Treehouses have TVs, since the resort aims to be a “disconnect” for guests. That said, if you need a “fix,” in-room iPads are available, with Netflix and other useful apps downloaded.
Luxury Treehouses are the next step up among the accommodations. Beyond being larger (960 square feet), these rooms have wooden walls, in-unit air conditioning and an indoor twin-sized daybed with a trundle bed, which makes them more popular with families. (Luxury Treehouses can additionally accommodate a rollaway bed if you’re traveling with three kids in tow.) These rooms also have larger bathrooms that have both an indoor and outdoor shower, but do not have a bathtub. On the larger deck, there is a sunken seating area with two couches.
That all said, if a couple is looking for a bit more space than what the Glamping Tents offer, the Luxury Treehouses are also a great option. Should two couples or a larger family be traveling together, many of the accommodations are paired off, connected by a wooden walkway. In some instances, it’s two Glamping Tents or, more often, one of each.
In all rooms, you will find a Nespresso coffee machine, beach chairs, a yoga mat and blocks, dumb bells and a small cooler. It’s also important to note that rooms do not have a lock, but the only people on this side of the property are overnight guests and staff. Rooms have a safe.
The only unique room on property is the three-bedroom, 5,400-square-foot Villa Lovango, which is located on the front side of the property, nearer the beach club. It has three separate king bedrooms surrounding a central pavilion consisting of a full kitchen and living and dining room. Each bedroom has a private bath with an outdoor shower and a private patio. The villa also has its own pool (and fire pit), making it the only room at the resort with one.
Villa Lovango is also the only room on property that is fully air conditioned and has its own TVs, available in each of the bedrooms but not the central living space. There is also a full kitchen and pantry, which can be stocked before arrival.
Breakfast is served at the highest point on the property, just a short walk (including stairs) from the Treehouses and Glamping Tents. Here, guests can enjoy a buffet that includes hot dishes, pastries, coffee, juices and a bit more. Be sure to grab a table outside on the patio for some more great views.
Rooms 101 and 102 are the furthest walk from the breakfast treetop tent; 111 and 112 are closest. Tents numbered 201 to 204 are located higher up on the cliffside than those in the 100s. Room 110, a Luxury Treehouse, is handicap accessible, as it’s located directly off the road, with no stairs.
Most of the facilities and daytime activities are to be found on the front, public portion of the island. Here, you will find a waterfront restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, the beach club, comprising serviced loungers and cabanas, a 70-foot pool, and beach and lawn games. There’s also the shopping “village” where clothing, jewelry and more are for sale.
As was the initial design of the property, the beach club is open to the public, catering to day-trippers, but resort guests have complimentary access. We would recommend earmarking at least one full day of your stay to enjoy the facilities—and be sure to book a cabana, available either poolside or on the beach. During our visit, the beach side was a bit calmer, and we enjoyed that more than the higher-energy (kid-friendly) pool area.
Although there isn’t a walk-in beach at the beach club, there is a stretch of swimmable water further down in front of the resort. In fact, this spot makes for great snorkeling (gear is available free of charge at the beach club). Fun Fact: Lovango Resort has partnered with the University of the Virgin Islands to restore coral reefs all around the island. When snorkeling in front of the property, you can spot letters spelling out L-O-V-A-N-G-O, which are the first steps of the coral restoration project. In all, there are nine different reefs that guests can explore.
Adjacent to the beach club is The Sandpit, a casual seating area on the beach, which plays host to dinners on Saturdays and Sundays. Just beyond that is the restaurant and bar. Also available is an ice cream shop with homemade ice cream. We made sure to try one of the boozy milkshakes and it was a great decision.
Hot Tip: While at the bar, we met other guests—one couple and one family—who had just come from another luxury resort in the U.S.V.I. and shared with us how much more they liked Lovango than their previous hotel. In fact, the couple still had nights booked at the other resort and chose instead to spend the remainder of their trip at Lovango after visiting the beach club. Now that’s saying something!
As for the F&B, Chef Stephen Belie serves a variety of Caribbean cuisine at the fine dining restaurant. During our stay, on Friday night, there was a buffet, while over the weekend, there was only walk-up counter service. Weekend eats are a bit more casual than throughout the week; guests can expect flatbreads, taco bowls (we really enjoyed our jerk chicken taco bowl) and more. Lunch is also served from the walk-up counter; or you can order from a different menu while at the beach club. Should you be exploring off-island, or you can order an on-the-go lunch in advance and pick it up at the dock on your way off.
If guests are looking for a true private beach experience and a bit more solitude than can be found at the beach club, head down to Crescent Beach. Located on the accommodations side of the island (i.e., not open to day-trippers), resort guests will have a quiet beach essentially all to themselves.
Good to know: No matter where you are on property, you can be driven around by staff in one of the resort’s UTVs. A necessity in getting from the public side of the property to the accommodations, you can text the resort concierge via WhatsApp to get picked up from your room, the treetop tent after breakfast, or Crescent Beach.
The walk to the beach from your room is maybe 10 minutes, but if you want to take a towel, a cooler, snorkel gear or any other items, it may be best to get picked up. Then, when you’re done, just text the concierge to be brought back to your room. We waited no more than a couple minutes each time we used the service.
Tip: Crescent Beach offers better snorkeling than the public-facing side of the resort. That said, there are no facilities located on the beach. Owner Mark Snider—who you will find walking around the property most days, greeting and interacting with the guests—says that this beach in the coming years will undergo some renovations to make it even more guest-friendly.
Beyond the beaches, the island has several hiking trails, which vary from moderate to difficult terrain. Some are compact dirt; others are a bit rockier. If you would like to get your steps in while at Lovango, be sure to bring some sturdy, if not comfortable, shoes. From the top of the trails, you can spot various Virgin Islands, belonging to both the U.S. and the British.
St. Thomas is less than 15 minutes away by ferry, while St. John is about 10 minutes from Lovango. The resort has scheduled ferry departures to each island every day, so they make for popular excursions off-property.
We visited St. John and spent the whole day. Here, there are plenty of beaches, more hiking and lots of restaurants. To get around, it’s easiest to just use the “safari taxis,” which are pick-up trucks with seating in the back that operate almost like buses. They’re inexpensive and will take you anywhere you need to go.
Maho Bay is popular on St. John for its turtle sightings, but that also causes it to draw a bigger crowd. We instead opted to visit Trunk Bay, which has food and shower facilities, as well as a place to rent loungers, snorkel equipment and more. While the food options did look good, we were set on trying out The Longboard, back in Cruz Bay, the main town on St. John where the Lovango ferry drops you off.
The menu here consists of bar snacks, appetizers, ceviche, poke and tacos. There were also very creative homemade cocktails, and a good selection of beer and wine, not to mention non-alcoholic beers and mocktails. The Fresh Catch poke, made with snapper, was very refreshing and among the best we’ve ever had.
For dinner, we went to Morgan’s Mango, which specialized in Caribbean and seafood. We enjoyed the Wahoo with a ginger soy glaze; for dessert, the key lime pie is renowned, and with good reason. Tip: Be sure to make reservations, even if you plan to sit at the bar.
Beyond these day trips, concierge Tammy Csapo ([email protected]) can arrange just about anything you’d like—including private yacht charters. She will reach out before your arrival to assist with crafting your itinerary and making any necessary bookings / reservations. It’s best to book at least a month in advance.
In the coming years, Lovango Resort + Beach Club will be adding more accommodations, including a new Cottage category, as well as new villas. The Cottages will be in the back, with most of the rooms, while the villas will be on the front, near the current villa.
A gym and spa are also in the plans; these will be developed alongside the treetop dining tent.
The resort closes seasonally from the end of July to mid-December. It is a member of Little Gem Resorts, which is owned and operated by Mark Snider and his wife, Gwenn. Its two other hotels are in New England: Winnetu Oceanside Resort on Marth’s Vineyard and The Nantucket Hotel + Resort.