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Cap juluca, little Dix bay or la Samanna

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Celebrating my 40th. We have four other couples traveling with us. I'm looking for a 5 star hotel with great food and beautiful beach....thinking of cap juluca, la Samanna or little Dix bay.
Anyone have any suggestions??

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    Little Dix Bay is one of the best resorts in the Caribbean and one of our favorites. Our first visit was back in 1988 and have gone back many times since. It just keeps getting better and better.

    Been to Cap Juluca three times and have always enjoyed our stays. Wouldn't hesitate to go back.

    La Samanna, on the other hand, was a total disappointment. It's been resting on it's laurels for years. Went once, couldn't wait to leave, would never go back.

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    Thanks for the advice. Which was your favorite between VG and Cap juluca? We are traveling from Charlotte nc and would like a easy flight. Do you have any suggestions? We what something very nice but not too stuffy.

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    I must disagree with the Marketing Director. We were disappointed 3 years ago. After one lunch and two dinners we eliminated it as a dining option. It was a faded star. Eighteen years ago it was a 4+ star in my opinion. On our last visit I would assess it as a 2++ and at their rates it is criminal.
    Cap Jaluca looks lovely based on a lunch visit and a complimentary afternoon at the cabana/pool. But in my opinion though I would assign it a 4+ star it was too sterile for my taste compared to Little Dix or Caneel. LDB I would rate tops of the three and the food based on the lunch with the same five at Cap as at LDB the food at LDB was better prepared.
    If it were not for the small beach Biras Creekk had better food than the three and the beach is fine but narrow and small. The villa accomodations are a little rustic but quite private and the public areas are only 5-6 years old and first rate. You might want to look into it as an option. Peter Island Resort is lovely but a bit stuffy but rivals Biras in terms of food and the beaches are as nice as LDB in my opinion. It is smaller than LDB and has honeymooners often (based upon 2 visits) but LDB has children under 5 even when school is in-session.
    Maybe the Marketing Director should spend 2 days each at Biras, Peter Island and LDB and see why I think La Samanna has lost it.
    Caneel Bay Resort would be right near the top but the food based on our last two visits in 2007 and 2010 was not very good. In 2004 and before we had 4-5 visits that made it a 5 star. But beach, food, accomodations and sorkeling make a trip a success for us.

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    Thanks StanKase...i think you hit it on the nail from everything Ive read. My husband and I spent our honeymoon at caneel bay in 2003 and LOVED it!!! I really wanted to try little Dix bay, but on most of the reviews i have read say Anguilla was better. I think i have it down to three resorts in Anguilla...

    Viceroy , Cuisinart and Cap Juluca? help!!! looks like Cuisinart might be too quiet?

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    I'd give LDB a slight nod over Cap Juluca but both are very nice resorts.

    By the way, although Anguilla has some fantastic white sand beaches the island itself is flat, arid and scrubby. For us it was not anywhere near as attractive as Virgin Gorda.

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    AS RoamsAround says, and you were to Caneel, Little Dix is almost as lush as St. John and for us that adds an important aspect vs. a sand bar which is just what it is. I do not know but it may be onlt 10 feet above sea level. I consideer the environment off-beach an element I should have listed. If any of your group enjoys snorkeling there is ZERO around Anguila but LDB has some right off shore and small tour boats (75/person) that go out for 5-6 hours to some of best remaining places. If you go there DoubleD Charters (just a name, you do not have to charter the boat) goes to Monkey Point, The Dogs, Norman Island and the Indians all good to very good spots.
    Also check average temp in Angilla in the month you are going vs. Little Dix for it seems St Martin and Anguilla were warmer but that could have just been by coincidence. A high of 85-86 is far better than 89-90.

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    Thanks to all....I think I'm going to go with Little Dix bay. I'm trying to figure out if we should fly into st. Thomas or San Juan. I know we could take a private boat from st. Thomas to VG or a short flight. From San Juan you have to fly into Tortola then boat to VG...anyone have suggestions? Even though the boat ride form St.Thomas in 90 min it still seams the easiest.

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    There's no one right or wrong answer to determining the beat route to Virgin Gorda. For what it is worth, there's a very active BVI forum at Traveltalkonline.com and this question comes up often (probably once every week or so) and the responses are vary greatly. Some people always go through san Juan, others swear by St. Thomas, some fly to VG others go by ferry and still others go by private water taxi. The point being there's no one "best way" there's just different ways. You have to select the routing that works best FOR YOU - factor in things like flight/ferry schedules, the day you are traveling, total travel time, overall cost, your budget, etc. and the answer will become obvious as which works best for your situation.

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    Here my review of La Samanna and St Martin (December, 2016)

    St. Martin and Belmond La Samanna were a complete disappointment and are not safe. If we knew what we know now after our week visit, we would NEVER have booked there. Starting with safety. St. Martin is not the same island you read about within recent travel recommendations, including Fodor’s travel guide (Fodor’s in Focus St Martin). The city of Marigot, once the crown jewel of the island, is economically distressed and has become a drug den and a home for gangs. The streets are littered with empty drug packets and trash. Except for a few buildings, most are falling apart. The fact is that the French side is in the middle of severe social unrest and there are billboards encouraging the fight for property rights. In addition to the billboards, you will hear from loud speakers, mainly emanating from parked cars, calling for the people to rise-up and revolt against the government. It is very disturbing to say the least. Despite these warnings, we did climb the steps to Fort Louis and the views of the harbor are spectacular. However, you must keep in mind that this fort was built by slaves and the residents of Marigot do not embrace its barbaric history for obvious reasons. The poverty in Marigot and for the most of the island is heartbreaking. The anger is palpable and due to the economic crisis, there are few jobs for the island residents. Crime on the island is escalating and becoming increasingly violent towards visitors. Before traveling to St. Martin, it is imperative that you review the police logs (http://www.sxmpolicenews.com) so you understand that tourists are targeted. There are countless knife robberies that have led to stabbings and face slashing. Many of the jewelry stores and casinos have been robbed by armed masked men. Grocery stores are frequently robbed.

    If you think you can escape this by taking refuge in your resort, you are wrong. Our resort, La Samanna, was attacked by four masked men, with one carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. They held a young girl working at the store at gunpoint and successfully robbed the onsite jewelry store located directly across from the hotel lobby. They escaped in a white van that they had stolen the night before. The armed robbers had by-passed the security gate by entering and leaving the resort down an unmanned dirt access road. This all took place within 50 feet of our suite. Soon after the robbery, thirty French Gendarmerie (armed swat officers in riot gear) stormed and locked-down the resort. The Gendarmerie lined the main road in front of the resort and were actively sighting passengers in cars through their gun sights. The resort was closed for about three hours as they searched the premises (including the kitchen) for suspects. In the afternoon, A police helicopter flew overhead searching for more suspects. The narrative from the resort was that it was an “unsuccessful smash and grab” and once again the front desk lied to their guests. The papers indicate otherwise and the guests who got caught up in this mess (including us) know the truth. The excessive show of force by the Gendarmerie is because of the type of weapon used to rob the store (assault rifle) and the potential of this weapon to cause great harm to resort staff and guests.

    As for La Samanna, let me start off by saying it is no Four Seasons and there are many better choices throughout the Caribbean. It is important that you do not pre-pay to get a lower rate. They will stick you in the least desirable suite (i.e. in front of a beach bar with tent) even though there are other rooms available. We immediately complained and we were relocated to the cliff side of the resort (same style suite). After our check-in hassle we walked down to the beach bar to have lunch and safely arrived 30 minutes before the restaurant closed. We ordered our food and then the staff immediately proceeded to dismantle every table around us to set up the area for a wedding. It was ridiculous and it inherently made us very uncomfortable and rushed. When the staff started rolling tables off the deck and giving us dirty looks we decided to leave without eating. This was our first 30 minutes on the resort.

    We loved our suite. The plunge-pool suite is a very nice setup and we greatly enjoyed the deck. We also loved the little cottages throughout the resort. However, the grounds could use a little attention. We found in our $1,100 suite (which went up to $1,900 the next week for Christmas) that the television did not work. Worse is sort of worked but froze every 10 seconds causing you to have to change channels until it permanently froze and needed to be re-booted. The front desk promised an “engineer” to work on it but they lied and eventually admitted it would never work. They did offer us an upgrade to a presidential suite located in the main building. However, although greater accommodations, the “presidential suite” it is not as nice as the little cottages located on the resort and we declined the upgrade. After two nights of broken sleep my back was killing me. The bed was like sleeping on a lumpy door. We later discovered that the king bed was two ratty twin beds pushed together (see pic). How can this be in a king-bed suite at a high-end resort? We also struggled getting a down alternative for our bed. They gave us a few very light quilts but never enough.

    For some bizarre reason the front desk does not operate on the same system as the spa. They could not look up and did not inform us of spa appointments we booked 4 months ago. There is no information in your welcome package and no message the night before. It added stress and we almost missed our second day appointment at 10:00 AM (opening of spa). However, it must be said that the massage was very good.

    We went thinking that St Martin would be the epicurean capital of the Caribbean and we were excited to explore the island. The food was generally awful and very expensive to boot. Most of the restaurants are dirty and located in questionable areas. You spend half of your time deciding if you should go to that area at night. La Cigale (recommended by La Samanna) is located on the back porch of a seedy motel, offers no parking, and you will find that their credit card machine is broken because they want to paid in cash. The food is so-so and the atmosphere includes barking dogs and a mosquito invested bay (bring bug spray). Le Santal (also recommended by La Samanna) is on the boarder of Marigot and you should not go there at night. There are police reports of tourist muggings in this area. The food at breakfast and lunch at La Samanna was fine but the dinner was not editable. Be extremely careful of the bottled water supplied in rooms. We found many bottles had already been opened and we think the resort has a questionable supplier. It was not until the end our stay we finally found a few gems on the Dutch side (Copecoy) that were as wonderful as expected and not a 35 minute drive away from the resort. If you still decide to go (I don’t know why you would) check out Mario Bistro at Porto Cupecoy. The grocery store nearby is also a great resource, although expensive, for wine, cheese, and bread. You should also visit Grapevine at Hope Estate (past Grand Case). Incredible selection of wine, foie gras, bellota, jams, French chocolates, and truffles (highlight of trip). In fact, the appropriately named Hope Estate is the only upcoming area on the entire island. La Sand is probably the best French side option that is near the resort, but their deserts are really bad (pre-prepared).

    Orient Beach is low-rent dump and not worth the hassle. It is a narrow beach lined with rows of faded beach chair rentals. Car break-ins are very common in this area so ensure you leave your car unlocked, windows down, and NOTHING in it (even a bag with towels). Robbers are not selective; they just break windows and pop trunks with crowbars looking for unattended bags in cars. Make sure you take your car rental contract with you.

    Finally, don’t bother with the hotel shuttle from the hotel (~$140 round trip). The resort is 10 minutes from airport ($25 cab). If you plan to tour the island a car rental is by far more economical since a ride to Orient Bay will cost ~$50 each way. Driving can be frustrating since there are many lunatic motorcycle riders and lots of traffic in Grand Case, Marigot, and particularly Philipsburg.

    In summary, do your homework and don’t rely on TravelAdvisor and Fodor’s guides glowing reports of resorts. The best recommendation is through a friend or someone you know and trust. La Samanna may work for some, some return, and some may enjoy the grime of an impoverished island; but our experience was very stressful and the resort does not care. They just hope another American or European will arrive with a full wallet tomorrow. You must decide if a trip to La Samanna is worth the risk.

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