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Best Caribbean island for 4 day trip?

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Dec 6th, 2009, 07:18 PM
  #1
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Best Caribbean island for 4 day trip?

Hi all - my husband and I would be flying from NYC to our destination. We want to go over Christmas for 4 days max, haven't booked anything yet and are assuming we can find a good deal on short notice. Because this is a short trip, we just want an island with a (very) beautiful beach(s) and good dining, with less of an emphasis on sightseeing (!).

We have already been to St. Lucia, Barbados and Puerto Rico. We looked into Turks and Caicos and it is slightly out of our budget. Any suggestions? Thank you!
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Dec 6th, 2009, 08:14 PM
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I don't think you should assume you can get a good deal on short notice. Bookings are looking fairly robust this Christmas, and many resorts have one-week minimums for Christmas.

I'd suggest you look at San Juan. While it doesn't have the most beautiful beaches (though the Isla Verde beaches are still pretty good), it is close to NYC (a non-stop flight) and might not have a minimum-stay requirement.

Otherwise, look at places you can fly to nonstop. Perhaps Aruba or Antigua. Atlantis in the Bahamas is having some good specials right now, but it can be a little chilly in the Bahamas at Christmas time.

You might also take a look at the Radisson or Westin in St. Maarten. They might also be good possibilities, but I think they both have minimum-stay requirements at Christmas.
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Dec 7th, 2009, 06:04 AM
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I go along with Doug's suggestion - choose and island you can reach non-stop from one of the NYC area airports as that will give you maximun time "on island" rather that spending the better part of 2 days travelling to/from the resort. From NYC you can probably do St. thomas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, St. Martin, St. Kitts (if you don't mind flying on a Wednesday or Sunday), Aruba, Grand Cayman, Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia.

And, yes you won't be able to be too picky as many resorts have minimum stay requirements for Christmas time so I suggest you first pick one of the larger islands then try finding a resort in your price range that can accomodate you for the 4 day stay.
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Dec 7th, 2009, 11:45 AM
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RoamsAround - which island of the ones you mentioned would you suggest? We're using flight costs as a gating factor and this is why we initially picked St. Martin - flights were several hundred dollars cheaper versus Curacao, Antigua, etc. We also see that flights to Aruba are cheap (relatively). What do you think of Aruba?
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Dec 7th, 2009, 01:41 PM
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There's a lot to like on St. Maarten, and business is down enough that you might be able to snag a good deal. See if you can get a room at the brand-new Radisson or the Westin if you want a big-resort experience. You can easily rent a car and explore on your own if you want to see the better beaches. Most accommodations in Orient Bay are not directly on the beach. Dining (especially in Grand Case, which is just a ten-minute drive from the Radisson) is great on St. Martin (somewhat less so on the Dutch side).

Aruba has a nice mix of high- and low-rise hotels to choose from, but it's very Americanized and developed (especially the nicest beach areas). But there are a lot of good restaurants (certainly enough to justify NOT staying at an all-inclusive resort). It can be windy.

The beaches on St. Martin are lovely, but not huge and expansive (except for Orient Beach), and most of the best hotels are not necessarily on the best beaches there. I think you'd probably like the beaches on Aruba better, and you'd be more guaranteed a good beach experience right at your hotel if you stayed there. There's a lot to do on either island.
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Dec 7th, 2009, 01:56 PM
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A lot of people like St. Martin as it has two different cultures (French/Dutch), nice beaches, plenty of restaurants (in all price ranges), a wide variety of accomodations, casinos, duty free shopping and plenty of beaches. It's also crowded which is a deterrent for others, however, since nice beaches and good dining are important to you St. Martin will fill the bill. Also, keep in mind that at Christmas almost every island will have lots of tourists so the "crowded" aspect of St. Martin won't be a significant issue.

If flight costs are a major determining factor you'll probably find that airfares to Aruba, St. Thomas, St. Martin, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico are among the lowest in the Caribbean (lots of competition). Other destinations are probably going to cost you more (although you never know when you might encounter an airfare sale).

All in all, for a short stay (4 days) St. Martin might be just right for you.
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Dec 7th, 2009, 04:56 PM
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can anyone tell me if the Le Domaine in St Martin was recently refurbished. I understand there is a new chef at the restaurant who is well known
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Dec 8th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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RomasAround - thanks for all of your help. We just noticed that our Starwood account had expiring points and wanted to use them, so that limited us in terms of which island to stay it.

I was more set on going to St. Martin or Curacao because I loved St. Lucia and all three of those islands seem to have a European flair that I really enjoy. But the Westin in St. Martin didn't have great reviews and it seemed not to be on a perfect beach, like you mentioned. And there were no Starwood hotels in Curacao, and moreover, we couldn't find any decent flights to get there.

So...Aruba it is! We just booked at the Westin there, for 5 days/4 nights. We're going in fully aware that it won't be the most authentic of Caribbean experiences, but all the same, we are excited to just lie in the sun, eat some good food and relax after a hectic year. Thank you again!
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