Not very far from Cruz Bay in St. John, Lovango Resort and Beach Club is the kind of place that can make an entire region buzz. After all, it’s not every day that a new resort, let alone a private island, opens in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In fact, when it opened in December, Lovango became the first new resort to be built here in the last 30 years, so there is something genuinely special about this passion project from a couple that knows a thing or two about cultivating a memorable vacation experience.
Little Gem Resorts owners Mark and Gwenn Snider have already delivered incredible experiences at their award-winning properties in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, so if anyone is capable of creating an incomparable setting for families and couples, it’s the brilliant minds behind Winnetu Oceanside Resort and The Nantucket Hotel and Resort.
“We set out to find an opposite season, U.S.-based destination that would have a good synergy with our New England resorts, from a guest perspective,” Gwenn tells us. As luck would have it, when the couple was vacationing in St. John a few years back, they were able to explore this very special island, and a plan came together.
“When Mark and I were shown the property we were so entranced, because of its natural beauty and breathtaking vistas,” she says. “As we explored the island, we were fascinated and could see this becoming an opportunity to create a private island resort.”
Aside from the obvious allure of the island’s natural beauty, the other no-brainer aspect is location—by boat Lovango is minutes from Cruz Bay and less than 20 minutes from Red Hook in St. Thomas—and that also gives the property the advantage of boasting the destination’s first beach club. Even if people aren’t staying here, they can still make day trips, and they will undoubtedly leave with the desire to choose Lovango next time.
Originally intended to be a private residential community, Lovango is not your typical resort. Fortunately for Mark and Gwenn, the previous owners completed several crucial aspects, including the installation of three deep water docks and some solar, as well as mapping out roads. Most importantly, one villa was built out, serving as the main resort villa for rent this season.
Like most resorts, though, Lovango’s plan was altered by the pandemic. That meant the owners had to be a little more creative in working through adversity.
“Because we were able to take a step back, we slowed our roll on the resort and decided to build the public amenities,” Gwenn explains. “We put in a 145-seat restaurant that is both indoor and outdoor—we have a fantastic chef, and his food is pretty spectacular—and we built the beach club. It’s very much a European model, that you can rent a cabana or a day bed by our infinity pool and really have a curated beach experience.”
The three-bedroom resort villa, which is already sold out through May, is ideal for family getaways, as it can be booked by day or week and offers everything we want in a Caribbean getaway—privacy, exclusivity, views for days, and plenty of little perks that go a long way in making a vacation that much better. A stocked pantry for snacking by the private pool, a fire pit for sharing romantic dinners and cocktails, launch service to Cruz Bay, and access to a wide variety of activities, from exploring the island’s natural beauty to enjoying some of the best snorkeling the region has to offer. Guests also receive beach club memberships and priority seating in the on-site restaurant.
Lovango will also be anything but typical as the Sniders complete their overall vision. For starters, the private island still has a residential component, with 14 lots available for private villas that will also be designed to celebrate the surrounding natural beauty. Bungalows will be added, as will glamping tents for the ultimate nature-lover’s experience.
As for right now, though, Lovango seems to be just what the USVI needed.
“People are here enjoying themselves,” Gwenn says, “and it’s been amazing.”