The moment we stepped off the plane at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas the pressure of our daily lives began to dissolve and the anticipation began to build as we went to visit an old friend. We knew we could have taken the safari bus from the airport but settled for the expediency of a cab, and the cost of $20. The right turn from the left lane into the historic enclave of Frenchtown, at the far northern tip of Charlotte Amalie, simply made us smile. We bumped down a narrow street between ballfields and the shopping center until we rolled down the little road that meandered between the old 100,000-gallon cistern and the shoreline until the road ended. We gleefully hopped out of the taxi and up the stairs to the wooden deck and reception desk of the renovated and rejuvenated Olga’s Fancy.
A coat of blue paint and colorful embellishments on the underside of the awnings seemed to breathe new life into the hotel. Olga was still Olga though, with a main house on the ground floor, then up one level for a breakfast nook, then another to the pool deck and a completely renovated pool. The other sections of the hotel were still accessed by wooden stairs that ascend the side of the hill, branching off to three separate blocks of rooms, two with views of the pool and the harbor and a third, our favorite, with a view of the water and Hassel island.
The rooms were still small and efficient, but with some major renovations since our last visit. The sink and vanity had been replaced with a much more modern fixtures; the bed, end tables, lighting fixtures and chairs were replaced and upgraded as well making the small room feel much more chic. Gone were the old bathtubs with mismatched fixtures (not that we minded the hot and cold knobs both saying cold and being from different decades), replaced with large tile showers. The water pressure and the hot water was not exactly what we’re used to with our gas-powered hot water heater, but did the trick to wash the sand off your body and out of your hair after a long day of swimming at the beach. The most important thing about the room hadn’t changed: the view. The view that amazed us on our first trip was still there. We were perched above the water, allowing us to watch the boats go by in the channel and the seaplanes buzz by as they landed. At night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the water gently crashing against the rocks.
Change can make you nervous. We’ve seen places we love change — and not always for the better — but this time the differences fit well with our memories. The changes made while resurrecting a place we so sorely missed leave us confident that Villa Olga, now Olga’s Fancy, will be there waiting for our return in the years to come.