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mbone206 Apr 5th, 2010 08:57 AM

Family 4 Caibbean Island vacation choice
My wife and I have two children, 18 & 17, and recently joined RCI. We have banked 2BR 2weks for 2011. We need to select a place for vacation. We know we like to go to a beach with beatiful scenery, resort on beach, balcony facing water, so we are assuming the Carribean (although pictures of Greece are beautiful)
* Restaurants not critical, do need some economical places to also eat, since we will have 2 weeks
* Rental car - will have, ok to do small travel
* Some activity, older teens, none of us are into night clubs
Few people recommended St Martin or was it St Marteen????
Only travel we normall do is to Fla, vivit family, get hotel on Daytona Beach
This looks like a great WEB site to get help, RCI and just talking to certain people have not been very helpful. Would greatly appreciate feedback

tejana Apr 5th, 2010 11:33 AM

In case no one has warned you, it is EXTREMELY difficult to get a two bedroom exchange in the Caribbean, so you may not be able to be too choosy. Sometimes it is better to just give them a season that you are willing to travel (i.e., spring only, or at least specify NOT September or October) and see what happens. It sounds like with a 17 year old you might be hampered by school schedules, so you may be even more limited in your availability. That said, some of the best RCI exchanges we have ever had were at places that we didn't know too much about but decided to try anyway. Tobago was a beautiful and very friendly island (and you would have no trouble exchanging in, even for a two and sometimes even a three bedroom condo, but new plane schedules have made it very difficult to get there from most of the US). Guadeloupe was fabulous and terrific fun (we spoke absolutely no French, and no one on the island speaks English), although as I recall the condo that is available there (GreenBlue Houses in St. Francois) is really only one bedroom with two other single beds located in various corners. We've also done Carib exchanges to St Thomas, Tortola, St Croix and Cayman (as well as Nice, France and in Key West), but I don't recall ever being able to find a two bedroom except for KW (one bedroom or a hotel unit is usually fine for us). Long story short, if you can find a two bedroom that fits with everyone's vacation schedule, don't be too picky about the island -- there is bound to be something fun and interesting to do, and it is adventure!

mbone206 Apr 5th, 2010 04:45 PM

thank you for valuable info.. yes, we have a limited travel window do to school, last week June to end August. Sounds like you have a lot of experience, can you recommend something other than Caribbean?

tejana Apr 5th, 2010 06:43 PM

Don't give up on the Caribbean, just don't be too picky and turn something down thinking that something better will pop up. We have friends that trade into Aruba every July and absolutely love it, and I think they have done two bedroom units there. I also hear good things about St Martin for trading availability, but I've never been. The good news is that July and August are not exactly prime season for the Caribbean, so you might find more availability than you think (and it is still before the heart of hurricane season). My main point was don't get your heart set on finding a two bedroom in St. John for spring break week.

Tuxedocat Apr 6th, 2010 07:07 AM

I think you should look into the St. Thomas possibilites because it is a terrific island and has ready access to many other Virgin Islands. Are there any RCI participations on St. John? There are certainly plenty of timeshares at the Westin property and probably others.

mbone206 Apr 6th, 2010 08:09 AM

Thank you tejana & Tuxedocat....
Although Sept officially starts hurricane season (i think), is there more chnace of rain July vs August? Certain Isalands in Carribean have more rain than others in July / August?

mbone206 Apr 6th, 2010 09:19 AM

Looked up RCI properties St Thomas & St John. Not too many choices, best rated was on hill top, want water front, balcony, pool to beach close....
Two places on St John, one on Hill Top, other had no reviews from RCI, but went to WESITE, looks great...
Called 'Virgin Grand Villa' AKA 'Westin vacation Club St John'
Any experience with this place? Is pool close to beach?
Is it costly to visit other Islands?
Is it better to stay at St Thomas, have 17 & 18 year old

doug_stallings Apr 6th, 2010 09:26 AM

If you have never been to the Caribbean or done much traveling, I'd recommend Aruba. It's very easy to get around, driving is on the right, just as in the U.S., and the beaches are beautiful. It also doesn't some with some of the crime problems commonly associated with St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Plus, there are lots of condos and many flights.

Finally, it's out of the line of most hurricanes, making a strong storm there much less likely. FYI: The earlier you go to the Caribbean in June or July, the less likely a hurricane; the later you go in July/August the more likely, though you never know.

The Westin St. John is nice, but the beach is man-made. However, it's very cheap and easy to head over to St. Thomas or Tortola for the day.

tejana Apr 7th, 2010 04:23 AM

You have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting an exchange into the Westin on St John - I have never seen it show up on the RCI list as available because it usually exchanges first through its own system. That is what I meant when I said don't be too choosy, and don't get your heart set on one particular resort in one particular week. I agree with Doug that Aruba might be perfect for you, and I think that they have a larger selection of timeshare availability than most islands. Are you able to do your own availability search on the RCI website, or are you calling RCI and talking to an agent? If you can do it on the computer yourself, you can see what is really available and can modify your search however you like (and remember that availability changes daily as new units get put into the mix). If you tell the agent that you will only look at one or two particular weeks - or at one or two particular resorts or particular islands -- they will limit the search availability to the specifics that you give them, and that is usually when people get frustrated and say that they can't find what they want.

doug_stallings Apr 7th, 2010 05:01 AM

By the way, I can almost guarantee that you'd be able to find a timeshare in the DR ... most likely in the Puerto Plata area, where you can pay a relatively small supplement to get an AI plan. If all else fails, the beaches there are quite nice (though the beaches in Puerto Plata aren't as good as those in Aruba), and the island is cheap. If you just want to stay in the resort and have a wide variety of activities, this is a good choice. Plus, there are some things to see in the immediate Puerto Plata area.

virginislandtraveler Apr 8th, 2010 09:30 AM

Former resident USVI 2007/2008..I don't know about any RCI time shares on St John USVI...but having travel to St John with family for years..You can not go wrong with St John-2/3 is a national park..nature trails and great views and beaches..also restaurants in Cruz Bay..For insider tips On Virgin Islands..Check out this site(middle of first pg)

briansurv Apr 8th, 2010 12:11 PM

I will second the Aruba vote. I have no doubt that after a week there it is the most Relaxed I have ever been in my life. There is a reason they were voted the friendliest people. Its not a lush Tropical area like St. Marteen but I relaxation and fun and you have very cheap car rental (Get a 4 wheel drive) and we prefered to stay in the low rise that is less crowded. Eagle Beach was voted one of the best in the carribean. The La Cabana is where we stayed and they are an RCI affiliate. The Grocery store there is a bit high but they ahey have some great uniqe food also. They do have Wendys and subways if you can't get away from the fast food which with my 4 kids.....never. I took over 450 pictures while I was there and I just love Baby Beach and the Natural Pool and when you go on the adventures like a Jeep Adventure, YOU drive not a guide. My only complaint on the things we did was the 4 wheeler tour and it was super fun but the Helment we got were horse riding helmets and they stunk. Id be glad to ahre some pics of Aruba if you interested just give me a shout out.

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