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mom4girls Feb 17th, 2005 06:05 AM

Family Christmas Vacation, where to go????
I routinely rely on all of your expertise whenever travelling, this being no exception. We have just decided to take a family vacation over Christmas (hopefully the week before but possibly the week between). Family being 8 adults (20 something to fifty something) and 6 kids (ages 4 - 11). We are looking for any recommendations you have regarding location, specific villas etc. Our requirements: it has to be a warm locale (we're coming from Michigan!), family/kid friendly location, pool, good snorkeling, availability of good food/restaurants. Other than that, we aren't picky. Thanks so much for your expertise!

spankerdog Feb 17th, 2005 11:20 AM

depending on your budget look at the Cayman Islands for your holiday. Nice beaches, very safe island, lots of restaurants and I think there maybe a direct from Detroit with NW airlines.

Sunnyboy Feb 17th, 2005 12:18 PM

Christmas week is the busiest and most expensive time in the Caribbean, expect to pay top dollar. Many places will have minimum stay requirements (10 to 14 days) and are booked up a year or so in advance so it's important, with a group your size, to firm up your plans as soon as possible.

You really didn't give us much to go on by saying you want a warm local - for that just about every Caribbean island will fit the bill but just to be clear you should avoid the Bahamas (not technically in the Caribbean) as they can be cool in winter. To be safe, pick an island south of Puerto Rico.

Also, you can find rental villas on just about every island and in almost every price range but with 14 people you will need a fairly large villa so that will limit your choices somewhat. Do a google search for "Rental Villas - Caribbean" or "Rental Villas - (Insert island name) and you will find links to scores of web-sites from managment companies that handle just about every rental villa in the Caribbean. You find pictures, full descriptions, virtual tours, rates, etc. Most site will allow you to sort by island, villa size, price range, etc. One other hint, many villas are listed on multiple web-sites (somewhat akin to a multiple listing service) and the rates for a particular villa will be essentially the same no matter who you book through. I've used (they broker villas in the USVI's, the BVI's, St. Martin, St. Barth's, Anguilla, to name a few) with great success but there are plenty of other reputable companies.

St. Barth's is an island that has hundreds of villas (some say it's the villa capital of the Caribbean), lots of fantastic restaurants, terrific shopping, wonderful beaches and good snorkeling.

St. John has many rental villas, a fine selection of palm tree lined beaches with very good "off-beach" snorkeling and many excellent snorkeling sites a short boat ride away, and a limited number (when compared to St. Barth's) of good restaurants.

You'll also find a good selection of villas on Virgin Gorda. This British Virgin Island, has some of the finest beaches in the BVI's, great snorkeling (both off beach and off shore), a number of good restaurants with the only drawback being it is a little difficult to get to.

Another island with access to a lot of rental villas is Anguilla. This island has fantastic beaches, over 80 restaurants (some of the best, if not expensive, in the Caribbean) and good to very good snorkeling.

My suggestion is that you get together with the other members of your group and decide upon one or two islands that most closely match what you want in a destination and how much you are willing to spend for airfare and accomodations. From there, it will be easy to research what villas that will accomodate your group are available for the dates you want to travel.

TomCayman Feb 17th, 2005 12:44 PM

Re Cayman, try if you are interested in villa accommodations, or else do consider taking two or three adjoining beachfront condos if you want to be part of a resort environment while still being able to cook for yourselves (and the kids!)

Oh, and NW does fly direct from your area in the winter season.

mom4girls Feb 20th, 2005 06:50 AM

Thank you all for your input. I know we aren't specific on location yet. None of us have much experience with the Caribbean so really have no idea where to go. Your postings have been incredibly helpful. Anguilla seems to be a favorite at this time, along with St. Barts. Any experience with specific villas on either of these islands? Thanks again for all of the info!

tivertonhouse Feb 20th, 2005 07:20 AM

Wimco ( handles most of the villas in St Barths. Expect sticker-shock pricing at top-peak season Christmas/New Year's weeks with premium rates and often 10 night-2 week minimum stays at some villas. Dining out here is superb, albeit also costly as everything is imported, most often from France. Cove Castles on Anguilla is also a superb choice tho the rates will not be for the budget-minded. The South Coast of Jamaica might be an option less cost-prohibitive. See the Treasure Beach community Web site at for a full spectrum of accomodations, mostly villas.

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