It’s just up the hill. Look for an iron gate with stone pillars under a flamboyant tree.
These were the directions I was given to find Estate Belvedere, my hotel for a night during a recent trip home to St. Croix. The minute I heard ‘em I knew this place would be perfect.
No big fancy welcome sign. No numbered street address. (No keys either, incidentally.) Just a gate… under a tree… with a tidy gravel driveway… that leads to this:
This is the new Main House at Estate Belvedere, a comfy three-bedroom/three-bathroom dream of a villa lovingly constructed around an old Danish sugar mill. The year inscribed above those beautiful arched mahogany doors: 1763.
Any home, villa, or building that incorporates an ancient sugar mill carries quite a bit of historical romantic cachet with me, but the bigger reason I say the Main House was lovingly constructed is because it’s got the only sugar mill I’ve ever seen anywhere that’s actually stuccoed and painted in the fashion embodied by all Danish sugar mills in their heyday. The current owners took great care in researching and implementing the old style, and it shows!
I also call it the new Main House as the estate is a good 200+ years old, meaning that the original living quarters have long outlived their usefulness. Stately ruins remain, however, giving anyone who stays here a nice glimpse into St. Croix’s past…
Just up these stairs and to the right there’s a modern two-story building with two enormous suites, one on each level. These are the Tower Suites – Ocean and Coral. I had the Ocean Suite up top all to myself, but if my wife and two kids (and perhaps even a few of their friends) had been along, there would’ve been plenty of room for all of us.
Each of the Tower Suites comes equipped with a full kitchen and bath, two queen-sized beds, and enough living and dining room space for a good crowd of people to spread out.
(There’s also a smaller one-bedroom West Cottage toward the back of the property, also with a full kitchen and bath.)
The Ocean Suite, of course, derives its name from the views it offers of St. Croix’s north shore. The Coral Suite offers views of the gardens around the Estate, which aren’t too shabby either…
For the best views here, though, you have to get out of your room and climb the staircase that winds up and around the old sugar mill. There, at the top of the property, you’ll find one of the coolest secret limin’ spots on St. Croix…
My jaw dropped when I saw it – a rooftop patio in the brim of a 250 year-old sugar mill! The views down to Cane Bay and along the north shore from here are simply incredible.
Even better; on clear days you can see all the way to Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques to the northwest, St. Thomas and St. John to the north, and the BVI’s to the northeast! That mural you see painted beneath the flag is actually aligned with the position of each labeled island, making it easy for you to identify the land masses you might see off in the distance.
The Sugar Mill Sundeck, as I like to call it, is great, but it’s not the only cool place to hang out at Estate Belvedere. Over the property’s four acres, you can find all kinds of comfy nooks and crannies to relax, unwind, and draw inspiration from the surrounding tropical gardens. One of my favorites is this newly-constructed patio set within the ruins next to the tower suites…
As you wander your way through the gardens and further down the hill you’ll also find hiking trails through the bush to additional plantation ruins. There’s really quite a lot here for such an intimate property – Estate Belvedere maxes out at 14 guests – which to me makes this place absolutely ideal for families.
Maybe it was the smell of the grass and flowers, or the singing of the familiar island birds of my youth, but being at Estate Belvedere reminded me of growing up on St. Croix such to the extent that I could almost feel my brothers were with me.
The ruins, the trails into the bush, the pool, and views to the ocean; it all stirred memories of our childhood and the endless days we’d spend discovering the little things that made our island so special through the simple act of just hanging out.
Aside from staying with old family friends on the island, there’s no better place I know where my kids, and my brothers’ kids, can come together and gain the same type of close connection with St. Croix that we enjoyed back in the day.
Yeah, I’ll be back, though the next time I definitely won’t be alone…
Estate Belvedere offers weekly (seven-night minimum) rates on an exclusive basis, meaning that the owners will only rent the entire place to one group at a time. The property also accommodates special events and weddings.
For rates, reservations, and more information, visit the Estate Belvedere website.