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Trip Report Caneel Bay "I think I get it"

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Caneel Bay “I think I get it”

Let’s get this out of the way so that I don’t have to mention it again. “It is expensive” Here are two reasons why I think it needs to remain so;
1. It must take a bazillion dollars to keep this place so beautiful, 170 acres of ground and beaches.
2. Keeping it hard to obtain keeps the mystic and charm of Caneel, if even that it keeps me out, I am happy knowing it exists!

Bad Reviews; I think they come from people that don’t get it. Caneel is beautiful! What is the reason you go to an island for? Caneel keeps that feeling; it’s an island in every sense of the word not a resort with a beach. You have to understand that.

As I began to plan our trip, I read many good and bad experiences. At one point I even canceled my trip for another property on St. Thomas ( RC)..I am so glad I changed my mind back to Caneel. Carolyn at Rosewood headquarters in Texas, Lucy from WhataHotel & the General Manager himself quelled my apprehensions.

I don’t understand when you enter into an agreement with an airline and pay in full; they can just switch your times and flights at will, one time not even informing us! Of course there is no discount or refund for that however when the opportunity for us to catch an earlier flight due to favorable tail winds, we were told it would be an additional $50.00. With the amount of travel I do with USAir they did eventually waive the fee.

Getting to Caneel was a breeze; we flew non-stop on they way down only from Philadelphia, which is the closest airport to us living in Southern Jersey. Arriving in St. Thomas, it was a few second walk to Caneel’s reception area where I think they had cookies and drinks but we did not have any at that time. We were asked to sign a paper and then were given room tags to place on our luggage. I was a bit worried due to the fact that the deal we received from WhataHotel should have been a complimentary upgrade IF available, so I predicted in advance where we would be placed if this came to be. The tags for the luggage did not match my perceived idea of that location.

From that point on ,we did not deal with bags until we met them in our room. Along with a few other newly arriving guest, we boarded a mini van for a very short ride to the ferry dock. There we were greeted by very friendly Caneel staff members on Caneel’s very own boat. Staff members Monet and others treated us wonderfully, gave us a rum punch took our weapons :) and told us to enjoy the 20 minutes ride.

Passing other islands and watching St. Thomas go by I was happier and happier we continued with our original bookings. Upon the viewing of the grandeur of Caneel from boat both, Francine and I smiled at each other. We knew we were going to be happy here.



All of us were greeted by many of Caneel’s staff and management. Edward Gannon (GM) and Paula Tilas (Guest Relations) were there to welcome us. They shook our hands and informed us that if there was anything they could do to make our stay more enjoyable we just needed to ask. We then were taken by golf cart after receiving a moist cloth towel to freshen up with, to our most beautiful room with a view of the beach.

Upon arrival to our room I heard my wife giggle, she was overwhelmed with its view and placement inside the National Park.

The rooms are perfect for the beach life..remember it’s an Island right? The furniture is durable, clean and appropriate for what it is used for..Throwing your keys, snorkel equipment loose change etc, etc. The bed was so comfortable that upon first test both my wife and I could barely get back up.

There were a few letters to us with information regarding diving and other topics. As well as a complementary bottle of rum and champagne to celebrate our shared birthdays; yes we are both born on the same day!

Wildlife; I started to count the different species of fish, bird and mammals but soon lost count somewhere over 100: Dolphin, Turtles, Sea Cucumber, Donkeys, Tropic Bird, Pelican, Iguana, Lobster, Rays, Mongoose, 2 types of Crab, Tarpon, Barracuda, Conch, Spotted Drum and baby Deer…etc. Since I dove a few times with Chris Sawyer Diving the amount of sea life was too many to count. I have logged close to 100 dives around the Caribbean and you need to know the health of the reef system is as good as any place I have personally been.

Cruz Bay is a bit honky tonk but has many shops and fine beach casual restaurants. We only went into town one night but realized that the food and charm and service of Caneel are all we needed. There were 2 jewelry stores we went into; Under the Blue Moon and Vibe, we purchased a really cool bracelet for Francine and also had dinner at the Waterfront restaurant which was very very good. Our server was a bit grumpy but heck we all can’t be happy everyday.

Caneel staff; To Be Touch? We were touch by every single staff member we passed. Not physically but with a “Good Morning”, Hello and a Waive. Everyone was jovial and friendly; notably the two women at the hostess station at breakfast..I am so bad with names but they were a joy to be around and always made us feel special..They deserve to be recognized. Guys with rakes, grounds crew, servers all with a smile.

Define SERVICE; the beach attendant walking into to the water fully dressed up to her waist to deliver some kind of beach beverage to awaiting guest! Ahhh service I think?

The food was excellent, in the morning my wife enjoyed the eggs Benedict station, not massed produced but each egg carefully attended to and the best tasting granola I have ever had. The breakfast buffet was included in our stay and we took big advantage of it. There was a version of zucchini / carrot bread, that during the mid day one of the staff members would sneak back and get for me. This was considered off season so the Turtle Beach Estate restaurant was closed however there were the Equator and the very informal beach bar restaurant available. We are not use to 3 full meals a day so opted for splitting a bite at lunch, after that size breakfast it was all we needed until dinner.

One night I didn’t know what I wanted, so I created a dish in my head and the chef was more then gracious in making it for me. TIP, there are several bottles of wine not on the menu and reasonably priced. Just ask the managers working the dinning room to talk to you about them. TIP, do not miss the Mangers cocktail party on Monday night, you can dress any way that you want but I would seriously consider a collard shirt and long pants for men and sun dress for women here and at all the evening meals The dress up is fun and part of the charm. There were many men in sport coats but I did not bring nor did I feel to out of place without.

I know I need to wind this down…Beaches, Service, Smiles, Staff, Food and management always visible all the time. You can have as much interaction with staff or as little as you please. I enjoyed my many interactions with Paula Tilas and Nikolay Hotze, great people that make me want to come back even more! I owe you one

I am working on getting Francine a second job so we can come back and I see how people do return year after year. Mr. Gannon and his team do an excellent job maintaining the meaning of Caneel Bay.

If anyone would like more details, don’t hesitate to email me.

johnbufanio
Marlton, NJ

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