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advsrbill Sep 25th, 2004 11:22 AM

Caneel Bay Trip Report, Best & Worst
Just got back from a week at Caneel. Stayed on Scott Beach.

Everything that God put there was unbelievable. The beach, sand, view, off the beach snorkeling were as good as it gets. If you are ok paying 5 star money for these things and don't need 5 star service, this would be a fantastic place for you.

Everything that man put there leaves a lot to be desired. We read all of the reports about plain rooms, service problems, etc, before we went. We were still taken a little aback.

Yes, it is way too expensive for what you get. I don't get it compared to other Rosewood offerings? Maybe they just use it as a cash cow, using the beauty of the property as the lure without putting a dime back into the place. They need to do a complete rebuild to bring it up to equally costly resorts.

What is the deal with the locals (not the friendly US transplants, but the ones that find it amusing to take our language and jive it up so that they can talk to each other without us knowing what they say)? I felt like we had to tip toe around the service staff. We were there to accomodate them and their peculiar habits and "service" is not in their vocabulary. You have to ask for EVERYTHING, they will not volunteer one word. Eye rolling, a swagger worse than Bush's, moving slow is more of an attitude thing than a culture thing.

No place to eat that is air conditioned except one night at the expensive restaurant, which was wonderful. Odd and stagnant food selection. Food in town is great, but you will not get a very safe and cozy feeling in Cruz Bay - happy hour starts at noon during the weekdays for many it seems. Cab drivers in town gave us bad directions on purpose to try to get us in their cab due to frustration.

What a gorgeous island!!! The snorkel trip with Lucy was worth it. Sea turtles, giant stingrays, tons of reef fish, no waves.

Maybe I am getting older, but the lack of service and no A/C and plain (a bit ugly) rooms bugged me for $575 a night, which is closer to $700 with their surcharges and taxes, in the risky off-season.

Sorry to be so negative about such a gorgeous place. Seems like a love it or hate it kind of place. Five stars for the resort property, but 2 stars for the resort and you can't even rate service that does not exist.

owa Sep 25th, 2004 02:26 PM

Hi, Thanks for writing a report about Caneel. Did you pay Scott Beach room prices or did they upgrade you? We are going in November and I haven't decided about asking for Scott Beach insteady of ocean view. Our first visit was two years ago and since then more and more reports echo your views on staff attitudes. Was it your first visit and would you go back? I agree with you about the rooms, but the beaches are wonderful like you said. Thanks again, Owa

Diana Sep 25th, 2004 02:48 PM

Excuse me, but I must take EXTREME offense to the phrase that you used -

"What is the deal with the locals...the ones that find it amusing to take our language and jive it up so that they can talk to each other without us knowing what they say)?"

"Jiving it up so you cannot understand what they say" is known as Caribbean patois - which is the result of the HUNDREDS OF YEARS that the ancestors of these people who were forcibly brought here from Africa have lived in slavery, and their native languages still have retained their original accents and idiosyncracies.

OUR LANGUAGE???!!! Do we as Americans OWN the English language so that no one else is permitted to utter it in any manner that you can't understand?

I have been posting on this board for 4 years or more, and I have NEVER read a post that so graphically illustrated ignorance and prejudice and total lack of understanding the way yours has.

You were a GUEST on this island, and you have the audacity to have a complaint with the way these people speak. I am astounded.

What utter patronizing drivel.

Try Vegas next time.

Mermaid Sep 25th, 2004 03:33 PM

Thank you Diana... I share your distaste.
advsrbill, you are of course entitled to your opinions and your experience is your experience and I won't argue it.

I however can't take it seriously when your condescension and superiority complex are palpable.

travleis Sep 25th, 2004 05:06 PM

1. I completely agree with the OP's assessment of the 'manmade' aspects of CB. I just don't understand the people who defend the resort itself, though the setting is undeniably special (obviously that's what keeps people coming back).

2. I could be way off base, but I'm going to guess that the OP has spent very little time in the Caribbean. I find that people who are used to staying at nice resorts in the US and Europe, who have never been to the less populated islands in the Caribbean, tend to complain at first about the 'island time' pace (mistaking it for carelessness, which it's not) and the fact that on many islands the locals expect (rightfully so) to be treated as the established residents and that the travellers accord them proper respect. This is, of course, common courtesy, but travellers who have spent little time as guests in the culture of others tend not to appreciate this at first.

So....if I'm correct about advsrbill's lack of experience in other cultures, I'd say Diana was a little harsh in assuming otherwise. If advsrbill has travelled outside the US quite a bit, I'd say Diana has a point or two.

advsrbill Sep 25th, 2004 05:39 PM

My apology if I offended anyone. My comments were meant to help others considering Caneel Bay, so I was as blunt and honest as I could be.

Yes, I am well traveled.

Among other examples: when a very intimidating maid came to the door for the turndown, I mentioned that we are ok without service tonight; I politely asked for the shell that they leave on the pillow for my wife. She rolled her eyes, looked at me directly and said "What is she, a big baby? Put your sign out next time so I don't have to come to your door."

To answer the polite person's questions: We did pay Scott Beach prices, not upgraded. There were quite a bit of empties on Scott and folks staying on the other beaches, so I would assume that an upgrade is not automatic. No, we will not go back. Even with a rebuild, the islanders attitude may always be an issue.

Has anyone been to the Caymans, BVI, Bahamas Out Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla, Mexican coastal resorts,etc., etc.? The people there are just lovely. My difficulty in understanding the unique accents is part of the flavor of each place. It is when the accents are used/embelished at a guest's expense that I am offended. St John is part of the USA! And yes, we do have our own national language!! Perhaps I need a better understanding of the trials that some of these families have endured, but I would prefer that they do not take out generations of difficulties out on me.

travleis Sep 25th, 2004 06:35 PM

Well, you were doing OK until you got to the last paragraph. You really don't get it. And I would like to know just how well travelled you are, because if you've spent any significant time in another culture and you still don't understand why people are offended by your comments, then I don't think anyone here is going to be able to turn on the light for you.
Have you ever been to France or Japan or India? Places where your English is not likely to carry you very far, and if you don't respect the local culture your visit is likely to be unpleasant?

What a ridiculous comment that since St. John is 'part of the USA' the locals should respect your customs and use your manner of speaking in Indianapolis or wherever you're from.

Would you walk into a diner in Russia and get all PO'd because they don't serve burgers and fries or understand your questions?
Heck, would you go to Boston and demand that sales people please do a better job of enunciating their 'r's' for your convenience?

I will almost guarantee you that the reason you were treated rudely at CB was because the service people could spot your attitude a mile away.

There's are many reasons American travellers generally have terrible reputations abroad. Your notes are shining examples of the root problem.

Diana Sep 25th, 2004 07:30 PM


Of the islands you have cited, I have been to all of the BVI's, some of the Bahama islands, Anguilla, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Akumal, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, etc.

I have been fortunate enough to visit most of the major Caribbean islands, and hope to visit all of those less traveled as well.

The Caribbean islands are not manufactured "Disneyesque" places where the song "Hot Hot Hot" plays over loudspeakers 24/7, and every islander is a happy Step N Fetchit just waiting to bring you a Pina Colada loaded with rum with a big grin before the limbo contest starts.

These are real people making a living, and the Golden Rule applies, just as it does everywhere.

I can understand your not realizing that these people make a fraction of what a comparable position would pay in the US for much longer hours.

I CANNOT understand your thinking that people in a completely different culture from yours should live their lives in some kind of suspended animation or "advsrbill World" to enhance your vacation experience.

St John is part of the US only because the USVI's were sold to the US by the Danish in 1917.

Perhaps you can make it your life's work to convert all of the Spanish-speaking population of Puerto Rico to English only...

Dianebridle Sep 25th, 2004 10:09 PM

I am admittedly a 'Caneel lover'; consequently, my views may be somewhat biased. That being said, in any of my five previous stays, I cannot recall ever having problems with staff. Perhaps because I frequently travel alone, I enjoy initiating pleasantries to almost everyone, guests and staff alike, with whom I have contact at a resort such as Caneel where I feel very comfortable and safe.
I feel that the staff at Caneel, many who have had umpteen years of service there, have a loyalty and pride in their resort, and enjoy seeing visitors enjoy its beauty.
It seems that a simple hello, or talk about the weather goes a long way in making anyone feel appreciated for their humaness and individuality, as opposed to being regarded with the same improtance as of the furnishings.
I find that trying to learn different dialects can be fun just as in learning a new language.

IRabbit Sep 26th, 2004 04:59 AM

I've only been to Caneel once - just got back from a short trip. But I want to repeat that I found the staff to be both friendly and efficient. We arrived at the tail end of Jeanne, and the desk manager provided us with umbrellas and food. The ferry wasn't running, so they sent someone out in a boat to meet us on St. Thomas. I felt they went out of their way to make us comfortable in an unusual situation. I honestly thought the people were quite lovely.

advsrbill Sep 26th, 2004 08:05 AM

I give up. My views have not changed, but I will certainly take to heart your sincere comments. Perhaps we should end this string and let more positive entries overwhelm the negative.

caf Sep 26th, 2004 08:42 AM

Though I agree with your sentiment as to the offensiveness of the original poster's message, I can't let pass MY offense as to your comments relative to the poster being from "Indianapolis or wherever".
I AM from Indianapolis, and probably would be considered to be very widely travelled, both in the Caribbean and abroad. Thanks to the world's largest charter airline being based in Indianapolis, there are actually more direct non-stop flights to the Caribbean from Indianapolis during the winter months than from almost any other U.S. city, with the possible exception of Miami. When I think about the times I've taken off from Indy and been on the beach at 10AM at Abaco, or some other hard to reach Caribbean destination, for instance, I realize that very few cities in the U.S. have that kind of access. At the school my children attend here in the "heartland", 25% of the students are foreign nationals, and my children do all of their subjects in elementary school in foreign tongues. So please broaden your perspectives a little bit when you stereotype people based upon where they're from.

caf Sep 26th, 2004 08:45 AM

By the way for the purists, I realize Abaco isn't technically in the Caribbean!

Enya Sep 26th, 2004 11:00 AM

Diane and Travelis thank you for telling Mr Advsrbill like it is. As a West Indian, I can tell you first hand that he is ignorant. The fact that he would refer to our prized dialects as a "jive on HIS language" says it all. Mr A please understand that a typical West Indian will not give you attitude for no reason whatsoever - we may be on island time, slower than what you may be used to, etc . But we pride ourselves on being a courteous mannerly people who do not take the simple courtesies for granted. "good morning, good afternoon, please, thank you" are staples in our dealing with each other and we expect the same from visitors to our shores. We are good people and relatively tolerant but we do not suffer fools gladly so if you are discourteous, display a holier than thou air of superiority or are unmannerly, do not expect us to be pleasant in return. And yes, we might "bad talk" you on account of this. I doubt that the service people who "jived up your language" so that you could not understand what they were saying, were doing so just for the sake of being rude. They are in the service industry so they know better - its their livelihood which they would not jeapodize for trivial reasons. I am minded to think that they were doing so on account of something you might have said or done. There are two sides to a story and based on the feel I get from your postings, I am taking your comments with a grain of salt.

mnag Sep 27th, 2004 06:37 AM

I will not comment on the offensive part of your post (I think there has been enough discussion on that) however it seems to me that there have been so many negative posts on the service at Caneel that there has to be some truth to the matter. I too would be upset if I paid $700 a night for a not so perfect experience.

caribtraveler Sep 27th, 2004 07:21 AM

I haven't stayed at Caneel but have had breakfast there. I did think the waitress we had was a bit cold.
The point is it's one thing to say someone lacked warmth or was rude, and another to say someone is "jiving" up the English language so the guests can't understand. That comment simply showed your lack of knowledge of Caribbean history and culture. Why on earth would you think that residents of St. John have nothing better to do than to think up a way of speaking just so those pesky American tourists won't understand them?

ScottB Sep 27th, 2004 08:31 AM

Coming from the srevice industry myself, this is very simple. You treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. I own my own business, and deal directly with the public everyday. I go out of my way to be friendly with my customers, and actually will tease people if they don't respond to my "hello"....all in good fun of course. I find it puts people at ease. When people are just down right nasty in nature, I simply don't go the "extra service mile". Am I offended by the original post?'s too short to let rude people get to me. Anyone with half a brain can see what probably happened down there. Sorry advsrbill, the writing is on the wall.

As far as Caneel goes, it gets enough bad reviews where we would stay clear for sure. Not to mention the price tag that goes with it. I'm sure the beaches/property is gorgeous, but I guess I'll never see the point of paying $500-700 dollars a night for a place to sleep, even if all the reviews were great. Give me the $200-300 dollar a night condo/villa anytime!!

cdt Sep 27th, 2004 09:50 AM

There's no question that Caneel has an $800/night location with $200/night rooms. I feel sorry for people who don't realize this until they get there.

We're really glad that we read about the importance of polite greetings before visiting St. John and St. Thomas. We were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of almost all the local residents we encountered.

oceanrover Sep 27th, 2004 10:55 AM

Could you provide more details about your snorkel trip with Lucy please? Sounds great.

gfunk Nov 1st, 2004 09:35 AM

Just returned from 3 days at Caneel Bay. i agree with several of the above mentioned posts.

The property is an $800/ per night location. Seven secluded beautiful beaches with white sand, clear water, good snorkleing, and very little people. On one of the days we were there, Scott beach had only 2 other guests at that beach. Very nice grounds and views of the property. Wild donkeys were grazing on the property all three days.

I also agree the rooms are subject to debate. We stayed in a tennis -garden room. It was spacious, clean and quiet. (while the room wasn't the four seasons, or Ritz Carlton, our expectations were tempered, so we weren't put of by the rooms.)

We found the food to be good. (we ate all meals on the property.) The service was slow and sometimes non existent however our expectations were tempered so werent put off by it.)

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