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Early November, Water Bungalows, Excellend Medical Facilities

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Can anyone help me identify countries/ resorts that offer the following:

* Early to mid-November visit (for probably a fortnight) so climate good at that time of year
* Preference would be for a water-bungalow style resort, though other options with private pools per room may be a possibility
* Must have quick access to first class medical facilities, preferably not just a doctor on site but a nearby hospital with full facilities / all departments

Many thanks for any help, this would be much appreciated.

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    Here are some comments:

    1) Weather throughout the Caribbean in November is generally fairly good - expect daytime temps in the low to mid-80's F. At that time of year it's not unusual for there to be a couple of brief passing showers (lasting minutes rather than hours. November is toward the end of the Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane Season so there is a small risk that a major storm might affect the island where you are staying but it's impossible to predict more than a week or so in advance whether a storm will affect any given island.

    2) Not sure what you mean by "water bungalow". Do you mean a room unit on stilts over water like found on many islands in the South pacific? If so, there are only two or three places in the Caribbean that come close to that description and none are near "first class medical facilities". If, however, you just mean beachfront accommodations they are available anywhere and consist of anything from high rise hotels and condos to resorts with a variety of attached or stand alone rooms to private multi-bedroom multi-million dollar villas. Tiny "one bedroom" beachfront private cottages are few and far between. It would help if you could give us an idea of what size accommodations you require, the type of amenities you need and, of course, your room budget in terms of actual dollars.

    3) Quick access to "first class medical facilities" is going to be your LIMITING FACTOR". Generally speaking medical facilities throughout the Caribbean, especially on the smaller islands will be nowhere near what you find in the US, Canada, Europe, etc. If you truly need "first class medical facilities with a nearby hospital with full facilities / all departments" you are going to have to confine your search to one of the major islands like Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic or perhaps Trinidad and even then you may find some services lacking. I can tell you this, most Ex-pats and many locals who live on the smaller island (and many who live on larger islands) go back to the US, canada or Europe whenever they have a serious medical condition. They rely on local medical care for routine things like colds, flu and minor scrapes and bruises. For example, I have a home on a smaller island - a couple years ago I slipped and broke the fibula near my ankle. The emergency doctor immobilized my ankle & lower calf using "wooden splints", the next day the surgeon set the break and put on an old fashion plaster cast. Sensing this was just rudimentary I flew back to the US where an orthopedist told me he hadn't seen a plaster cast used for my type of injury in almost 20 years. So if you have a serious medical condition I suggest you consult with your primary care physician and ask him/her to suggest which islands will have hospital/medical facilities which will serve your needs. Lastly, if you make the trip no matter where you go you'd be wise to purchase Medical Evacuation Insurance as it can cost upwards of $25,000US to $35,000US for an Air ambulance in the event you come down with a serious illness and want to be transported "back home" for treatment.

    If you live in the US or Canada and you are really concerned about "first class medical care" you might want to forego traveling to the Caribbean and go to Hawaii instead. Medical care there will be similar to what you have "back home".

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    There are no Caribbean resorts I can think of with over-the-water bungalows as you might find in Bora Bora. There are definitely many resorts that have private plunge pools, and lots of resorts have private bungalows.

    San Juan is the only destination in the Caribbean I can think of that has a big modern hospital, and even then most people would evacuate to Miami for major medical care.

    I think the Caribbean is the wrong destination for you give you needs and wishes. I mean even the time of the year you want to go is the end of hurricane season, which seems to be pretty tame this year but could still go out with a bang.

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    Other than hurricanes the climate is great! It's hot, maybe humid, maybe a chance of passing half hour storms. However, can't predict weather this year, it's been wacky and unusual all over (Especially East Coast, been a chilly year very unusual)

    But this is the case anywhere in the world!

    Water bungalow style resorts, there's one in Bermuda (not by a beach, but over the water)

    There are bungalows at Staniel Cay, Exumas (not over the water, but balconies feel that way)

    Placencia Belize has that

    Other places have bungalows on the beach, Belize has Cayo Espanso, Harbour Island Bahamas has them, Palm Island SVG, Parrot Cay in TCI, just to name a few.

    Do you mind us asking why the medical treatment worry? Do you have something or just worried? Can make a difference.

    You can also get Medi vac insurance to fly you out if needed.

    Most islands have hospitals, but it also depends on what you're worried about.

    PS I've been to islands with over the water bungalows (Bora Bora, Maldives, etc) and I personally wouldn't want to go to the hospital there!

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    Thank you all so much for your comprehensive replies.

    Sorry I'm being a bit cagy about the medical information, but am asking the question for a close friend, who is a bit paranoid about sharing actual medical issue online, even though no one knows who I'm asking for or anything!

    But, we are trying to avoid places where the solution is medivac fly out as time may be of essence in terms of getting treatment, should there be an emergency.

    By water bungalows, yes, meant the places on stilts above the water. That's what friend would love but also open to compromise on fairly luxe room with direct access/ private plunge pool.

    Budget, there's not a set budget, but it's not unlimited. We're talking a blow out normal person trip rather than a trust fund / rich person lifestyle!!!

    But looks like Caribbean may not be a good solution for this trip.

    If anyone does know particular locations with great hospitals and some beautiful resorts (with something special if not the water bungalows) I'd be grateful!


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    Guadeloupe and Martinique have full hospitals. They are part of France and as anyone from the UK will know, French medical care is very good. No water bungalows though or any of the other amenities you want.

    Barbados also has a good hospital. I would not know if it is great but there are plenty of flights back to the UK. Is Barbados special enough - doubt it as special places are usually remote.

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    Actual budget helps, as a "normal person" we have no idea what you're going to find.

    Most islands (Caribbean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean) don't have the greatest medical facilities, depending on ailment need to fly into a mainland

    Hawaii might have beach bungalows (no over the water)

    Over the water places really don't have hospitals and have to be flown somewhere else. (Bora Bora, Moorea, Maldives) and without having a clue can't tell you if their clinics would work.

    For example, while Parrot Cay is only a boat ride away, Turks and Caicos does have a decent hospital. By decent I mean normal ailments, they have maintenance equipment such as dialysis machines, etc. and a private clinic where doctors actually make house calls. If the ailment is large enough to require more, should they travel anyway? (Parrot Cay and Maldives and Bora Bora might be out of budget anyway, have no idea what yours is!)

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    You really should advise your friend to have a frank discussion with his/her primary care physician about the type of medical facilities actually needed and have the physician recommend a destination in the Caribbean that can provide the required care. The rest of us would be just guessing as to what level of care might or might not be suitable for your friend's condition. Suffice to say, that you are going to have to make major concessions in your "wish list" if your friend has to be near a hospital where he/she can get the type of high medical care you have back in London.

    As you already have been told, "over water" bungalows are few and far between in the Caribbean and NONE of them will be anywhere near hospitals with exceptional medical facilities. So,, you probably have to give in on those types of accommodations. There are, however, plenty of resorts on islands with "decent hospitals" that have wonderful beachfront accommodations that are just steps away from the sand and water. And you can find places that have "private pools, so that's a plus. Now, you tend to find those types of accommodations at the higher end resorts so we really do need an idea of your budget to make meaningful recommendations. Quite frankly telling us that "there's not a set budget, but it's not unlimited. We're talking a blow out normal person trip rather than a trust fund / rich person lifestyle!!!" DOESN"T provide any useful information. We have no idea what YOU AND YOUR FRIEND can actually afford. It will only frustrate and confuse you further if we recommend places that cost $1,000US/night when all you are looking to spend is $300US/night.

    I don't mean to seem unhelpful but your need for a resort with over water bungalows that's also near a major hospital with all the latest equipment is extremely hard to fill. While most people make their choices by either picking a type of resort or choosing an island that interest them you have a unique need.

    It seems to me you should first identify an island that has the medical facilities to treat your friend's condition then find a resort on that island that has the type of accommodations in your budget that you'll be comfortable with. I repeat, those accommodations WON'T be an overwater bungalow.

    Good luck with your planning.

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    Reason no budget posted is because no budget has yet been set. That will happen at some point, obviously, but at this point it's a case of looking at options and seeing what is out there, and then perhaps they'll start excluding some places on cost grounds, but not at this stage.

    Regarding the water bungalows, that was the original request, but as I mentioned, friend understands that there may well be need to compromise on that if there isn't much crossover between the criterion on medical facilities and resorts offering that type of accommodation.

    So places with private pools also an option.

    At this point, recommending places at $300 a night AND $1000 a night is fine, as this is very early stages research. Of course, a budget will be set before further narrowing down, but right now it's a broader research than that. Also, there's no point in them setting a budget of $300 a night if we then discover that actually, the broad majority of options that suit what they want are around $500 a night. Obviously, what they can afford will enter into it, but it's not a factor I can take into account yet.

    The Hawaii suggestion may appeal, if I can find accommodation options with private pools instead of water bungalows, that may be a great solution.

    We are in the UK. There is definitely no physician here that I've heard of who would have any clue whatsoever about medical facilities available in other countries, nor make efforts to do that kind of research on behalf of patients.

    Obviously, I and friends know the medical facilities they are looking for, so once I have some kind of shortlist (I really didn't know where to even start) I can look further into the hospitals in question, and quickly ascertain whether or not they would be able to help with the specifics in question.

    It's not a medical issue that precludes travelling, this has already been double-checked.

    And yes, I understand the requirement is very hard to fill, it's not how we've made choices before, and this is exactly why I've turned to the resources here to see if anyone can help. I won't get petulant if it's not the kind of thing people know about or can help with further than they have already, because I'm fully aware it's an unusual request, but the feedback I've already had has been helpful so it seemed worth asking.

    I've been coming to Fodors Forums since the late 1990s and always appreciative of the breadth of knowledge the collective membership shares.

    Thanks again

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    Here are a few specific suggestions, which may or may not work, given your friends' concerns.

    As others have indicated, Puerto Rico has a major metropolitan area in San Juan, which has a broader range of medical facilities than most other Caribbean destinations. About a 2.5 hour drive from San Juan is Rincon, and the stunning resort that is the Horned Dorset Primavera. Although without over-water bungalows, each of the suites has a private plunge pool (and the resort itself has larger "public" pools). The beachfront suites are probably over $1000/night in season, while the ones not on the beach are in the $600-$700/night range.

    A slightly outside-the-box thought -- several islands in the Caribbean have medical schools, whose associated facilities might be helpful. Grenada has a medical school, and Spice Island Beach Resort has suites with private pools. Similarly, St. Kitts has a medical school, and I know that Ottley's Plantation has rooms with small pools.

    Hope this information is helpful. Obviously, your friends will need to decide whether the proximity to these sorts of facilities would be helpful.

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    Whilst there might not be a physician in the UK who knows about medical facilities in other countries, the physician could tell you what specific facilities to look for in a hospital rather than just saying full hospital/all departments. Even in the UK hospitals do not always have all departments. Some don't have A&E, some don't have maternity, others specialise in one thing or another.

    Any what about travel insurance? Pre existing medical conditions are not always covered by insurance. If you need to be flown back home for medical or to the US for example, that will cost significant $$$$. Some medical conditions would need disclosing to the airline too, for medical clearance.

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    Callaloo's suggestion of looking at islands with "medical schools" sounds good but is not necessarily the best choice. I live on an island with a medical school and as I pointed out in my first response the medical care on my island is "basic" at best. In fact one of the interns who initially treated my ankle fracture was associated with our local medical school - she wasn't very good and even mistakenly wrote in my chart that the tibia was broken when it was the fibula - two very different bones. The thing was, I happened to be the one who caught it and pointed the error out to the surgeon. A word to the wise is sufficient - that "medical school" may not be the best source for your medical care.

    We Ex-pats who live in the Caribbean (especially if it's one of the smaller islands) KNOW we have to get off island if we want good medical care. We all have Medical Evacuation insurance and expect to have to use it at one time or another.

    So tread carefully when it comes to choosing a place where you'll need modern up-to-date medical care.

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    Callaloo beat me to the punch. If a plunge pool will suffice I can enthusiastically recommend Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada. It's a very well-run resort on a beautiful beach. The food is also very good. I believe the medical school on Grenada is widely considered the best medical school in the Caribbean, but I don't know if that translates to a good local hospital.

    Runaway Bay in Jamaica also has some private plunge pools. I haven't stayed there, however, so I can't make a personal recommendation. Jamaica has a large population and will have a few hospitals scattered throughout the island although I don't know the quality of care.

    There are a couple of resort on Antigua with private plunge pools: Galley Bay and Hermitage Bay. I have stayed at Galley Bay and although it gets very good reviews we didn't like it and would not return. The water at the resort can be very rough in the winter months. We were there in November 3-4 years ago and we couldn't get in the water.

    St. Lucia also offers a couple of resorts with private plunge pools. Jade Mountain and Ladera are both in the southern part of the island. Both of these resorts are missing the 4th wall in the rooms and that does not appeal to us so we haven't stayed at either resort. Not having air conditioning might be okay in November but St. Lucia is pretty far south so I can imagine it might still be hot.

    Obviously we don't know the particulars of your friend's medical problems but since there seem to be some fairly serious issues I would not consider traveling without evacuation insurance. Miami is a short flight from many islands if the medical problem allows a small delay in getting care.

    Another alternative is Miami itself if close proximity to good medical care is a necessity. There are tons of choices in accommodations. It's not the Caribbean but it sounds like close, good medical care is the priority.

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    RoamsAround, thanks for the qualification about the medical schools. Only the prospective travelers can decide whether the medical schools would be helpful after doing their own research. Just adding them as additional food for thought.

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    Odin, as per my last reply, it's not that *we* don't know which medical facilities we need - we do and have a comprehensive understanding of that. But that I can't share that here because of my friend's privacy concerns (rightly or wrongly), hence at this point, easiest to ask for guidance on hospitals that have the full regular set of departments. Those will almost certainly include what we need.

    Of course we have already spoken to our own specialists about what is needed!

    We are also already versed on safety of travel and travel insurance. None of these are factors, so I have not listed them here.

    If the above means that the information I'm providing is not specific enough for some members to be able to/ want to provide suggestions, that's completely fair and understandable.

    However I'm grateful for those who are still able to give me some *potential* ideas to look into. This is not a holiday style I have researched as I'm not good with heat nor on beaches, so I'm really in the dark and the starting points for research help me narrow down a little rather than trying to investigate every beach resort on the planet as a potential!

    Callaloo, I do like your out-of-the-box thinking but on reflection, I feel similarly to RoamsAround that I'd prefer to have fully qualified expertise available should an issue arise. However, it's a great thought and much appreciated.

    Sharona, will look at those options, sound like they have some appeal actually.

    I was asked not to include options where medivac is the solution to reaching medical care if needed, but will certainly feed that information back too.

    Thanks again,

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    Thank you everyone, I passed all the information back to my friends. They are focusing their further research on Mexico and Thailand as the two suggestions with best medical facilities and beautiful resorts and realise that water bungalows are not really available in those areas, so are looking at properties with private plunge pools etc.

    Thanks again for all the advice!

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