Curacao vs. St Lucia vs Grand Cayman

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Apr 10th, 2011, 10:16 AM
  #1
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Curacao vs. St Lucia vs Grand Cayman

DH and I are planning a vacation for late May and will be leaving from the DC area. We are in our mid-40s and are planning a romantic getaway. We are looking for a relaxing vacation, great beaches, good restaurants and some options for other activities (shopping is not a priority). We love to linger over breakfast on vacation and would love have an open air dining option where ever we go.

In the Caribbean, we've been to Barbados (Hilton), Aruba (Hyatt), and Antigua (Galley Bay). Last year we ventured away from the islands and went to the Mayan Riviera (Secrets Maroma). Of these, our least favorite was Aruba because the area was so built up.

We're currently considering Curacao (Hyatt) , St Lucia (Windjammer) and Grand Cayman (Ritz-Carlton). Here are our questions:

1. St Lucia - I know the island is beautiful but have heard mixed things about the beaches. Can anyone comment on what they are like? Also, any feedback on the Windjammer? I noticed that many of the villas have an open living area--are bugs a problem?

2. Curacao - Anyone have recent experience with the Hyatt? The tripadvisor reviews point to some issues with the beach--a dock running the length of the beach and beach in an inlet instead of looking out over the Caribbean. Does anyone know if this is the only beach area at the resort and if this is accurate? If so, this won't work as a great beach is really important to us.

3. Grand Cayman - The reviews of the Ritz are good but I was wondering how stuffy the hotel is. We're looking for something fairly low key. Also, any guesses on how crowded the beach will be this time of year?

Thanks for any help. As always, any other suggestions are appreciated.
curiousgirl964 is offline  
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Apr 10th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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There are no beaches on St. Lucia with soft, white sand. A lot of the beaches are really beautiful, but they are nothing like Aruba.

If you didn't like Aruba, I really don't think you'll like Grand Cayman either. Granted, most of the hotels on Grand Cayman are not big high-rises, though the Ritz-Carlton is, and there aren't American fast-food establishments to the extent there are in Aruba, but it's still busy with a lot of traffic. The beaches are quite beautiful, with soft, white sand, but this is not really a low-key resort. You might like the Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas a bit better, though that island is also built up. I don't think the Ritz-Carlton is stuffy, but it's a huge, busy resort with lots of families. Sort of the opposite of what you're looking for. If I were you and still interested in Grand Cayman, I'd take a look at a condo or the Reef Resort out on the east end.

Curacao has some beautiful beaches, but I don't know the one at the Hyatt Regency well enough to advise you there.
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Apr 10th, 2011, 12:45 PM
  #3
KVR
 
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Went to Grand Cayman twice. I agree, Grand Cayman is alot like Aruba. However, we loved both. You will find better snorkeling and beaches in Grand Cayman compared to Aruba, St. Lucia and Curacao. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott when it was a Holiday Inn. The beach is across the street. No issues walking over there. We had a pool side room and it was very quite. Our second trip was a cruise. I feel if you stay away from Georgetown during the busy part of the day and when the cruise ships come in, it won't be as much of an issue with crowds like Aruba. We never even realized when the cruise ships hit Aruba. If I'm not mistaken, I read that the Ritz-Carlton is not directly on the beach, but you walk through an over head walk way to get there. You might look at the Westin or the Marriott on 7 Mile Beach instead.

St. Lucia is the exact opposite of Grand Cayman and Aruba. It is very lush with mountains, flora, fauna, plantations and waterfalls. Reminded us of Jamaica and Hawaii. Many people complain abour the winding, hilly roads, but we didn't have any issues with them. Driving can be a little difficult and everything is quite spread out. The beaches are made up of coarse brownish/biege sand and the water is a dark blue. There are a few black sand beaches also. We went there for the sightseeing, not for a beach vacation per se.

Curacao is nothing like Aruba. It was kinda of our first thought after going to Aruba since it's the next Island over. Reminded us of Arizona with beaches. There is also no long stretches of beach like Aruba or Grand Cayman. Their beaches are small coves mainly on the West side. The sand is made up of crushed coral so water shoes are a must. People rave about the snorkeling there, but that wasn't our experience. We stayed at the Lions Dive in a 2 bedroom apartment, which I would highly recommend over the Hyatt. The Lions Dive is a small hotel with 3 resturants and several more within walking distance. Also within walking distance is the Sea Aquarium. The beach at the Lions dive and next door Mambo Beach is a very nice area.

If your interested we have our pictures of each of those Islands here.

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Apr 10th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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KVR
 
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Just had another thought. If you want beautiful beaches, low key with decent resturants and love water related activities, then look at Turks and Cacios or St. John, USVI. Sounds exactly like what your looking for. We have those Islands on our picture site also.
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Apr 19th, 2011, 01:21 PM
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The Hyatt Resort in Curacao is a beautiful property, if a little remote, but perfect for the romantic getaway your planning! I really like the beach, especially the left part of it is excellent for swimming and not too far from the beach bar (important detail ;-) ). As you said it is on the entrance of an inland lagoon with open access to the ocean. The dive shop over there also provides snorkel trips both from beach and by boat. The area as a whole has a wonderful relaxed feel, lot's of open air dining and a great golf course. The plantation on which it is located even has some dedicated indian hiking trails.

I you would like a very private high end option with a beautiful beach I can also recommend Baoase Resort (www.baoase.com). This is a very asian inspired small resort with very private villas and a lot closer to town.

In general there is a lot to do on Curacao. I don't know too much about the other islands you are looking at, but I do agree with KVR that the island is nothing like Aruba! It has a pretty cosmopolitan feel, which is unual for a Caribbean island. You may want to visit the island pages on www.curacao-vacation.com for more background info on the island.

Whatever destination you choose, I wish you a wonderful vacation!
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Apr 19th, 2011, 05:13 PM
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I agree with others on Aruba/Grand Cayman. Havent been to St Lucia so cant comment.

If thinking about Curacao, I would recommend Kura Hulanda Lodge. Far from the city; beautiful surroundings; great food. I wouldnt stay in town. The suites are wonderful with great patios overlooking the ocean for breakfast.

Peace, Greenie
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Apr 20th, 2011, 09:01 AM
  #7
 
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You are all over the map in terms of choices. To answer your question about the Hyatt, I just came back from staying at the Hyatt Curacao. It's true that the beach area is man-made and faces the inlet. So that will be a deal breaker for you.
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Apr 21st, 2011, 07:41 AM
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I think Curacao would be the best for you. You want to do more than just lay on the beach and the island is full of culture! In fact, we were surprised how much there really was. We loved the bright buildings and the Dutch language. It's fun to walk across the pontoon bridge, which is over 100 years old. Can't help with the hotel as we stayed at the Marriott. I could go on and on. Great restaurants. Hook's Hut was a nice bar/restaurant within walking distance to the Marriott, but other than that, we had a rental car for several days, took the transportation offered from the hotel and used cabs.
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Apr 21st, 2011, 08:43 AM
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Just to clarify a comment made above, the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is on the beach but does also stretch to the bay side. So if you want a garden view, you walk to the beach via an enclosed walkway.If you want a beach front room,it's available.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:12 AM
  #10
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Thanks, everyone for the input. We are all over the place but there are so many options!
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