heart set on St. John, but...

Jun 4th, 2010, 10:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 63
heart set on St. John, but...

After weeks of reading and researching I have my heart set on St. John to celebrate my 50th birthday in January. Caneel Bay is just a little out of my comfort zone pricewise in January, especially since the rooms seem to get mixed reviews. I would love suggestions for somewhere to stay that would have a great view, maybe a plungepool and outdoor area for sunning/dining, and where we could easily drive to the beaches at Caneel (which are mostly public beaches, right?) Like the idea of dining in different restaurants in Cruz Bay and also having the option of doing some cooking ourselves. OK with renting a Jeep and driving around the island. What are the pros/cons as far as difficulty parking, finding restrooms if you aren't staying at the resort, etc. Suggestions or should I just go with Caneel?? Is it really any cheaper to rent a villa, rent a car than to stay at the resort? For the same price could I have nicer amenities and still access their beach? So much fun to plan vacations!
npiazza is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 36
These guys are the authorities on St John, for sure:

dlundgren is offline  
Jun 5th, 2010, 03:56 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 207
Only Caneel and Honeymoon beaches are accessible by foot for non guests. Others, while public as all St. John beaches, are only accessible for non guests by boat and swimming in from bouy markers. Non-guests may not use changing/rest rooms. It keeps the resort from being crowded and losing that special magic that guests are paying for.

There are plenty of other wonderful beaches on St. John that you would enjoy and feel comfortable using.

You might enjoy looking into Gallows Bay which is within walking distance of Cruz Bay. It has many nice reviews and have met people who have really enjoyed it. If you enjoy driving, exploring, touring, rent a jeep and enjoy. If you prefer quiet, no hassle relaxation, Caneel may be best.
Dianebridles is offline  
Jun 6th, 2010, 03:29 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,477
If you are perfectly okay with staying somewhere and driving to the beaches ($$$ for car rental/taxis), then you could rent a small villa (see www.cateredto.com ) or stay at a place like Gallows Bay (on Cruz Bay harbor w/o much beach).
On the other hand, there is something magical about staying beachfront and having wade-in snorkeling all day from your beach and 6 others. That is Caneel, and there is nothing like it. Most negative reviews are from those who didn't research and expected that big bucks meant massive lobbies, marble baths, flat screen TVs, etc. Caneel is very upscale, but West Indies casual. The rooms are fine, just no phone or TV. Who cares in a place like that? IMO best beachfront setting is upstairs (for privacy) on Hawksnest Beach. Only steps from water's edge. You can be out all day, shaded by sea grape trees. If you like this kind of ambiance, break open the piggy bank to get it--you won't be disappointed.
xkenx is offline  
Jun 6th, 2010, 05:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2
Ladera or Anse Chastenet in St. Lucia - even prettier than St. John, both cut into the hillside. Ladera is locally run, exquisite food, plunge pools in every room, all wood and stone. Incredible, caring staff. Short trip provided by the staff to Anse Chastenet beach. Anse Chastenet food is quite good but not Ladera. High end, gorgeous stone and wood premium units that can be found on a deal if you work on it; lower end units are clean and pretty. All units on a hillside leading down to the restaurant and main area, and then to the 50 stone steps to the beach - always makes me feel as if I am in better shape when I leave (age 57). Lunch restaurant and spa services at the beach plus PADI dive shope. Water taxi can take you to the north end of the island which is a more traditional tourist area (think St. Thomas) for some shopping or adventure - or take a special sail to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
chowder99 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 756
I've stayed at Caneel many, many times and would just go with them. The "cheapest" rooms are still only a short walk/jitney ride to the beaches and, as noted above, you're really supposed to only access all of the beaches if you're a paying guest. In December, we noticed that they were paying a lot more attention to that and asked people who weren't staying there to leave Scott Beach.
Check out the packages through the resort directly, as well as with Virtuoso.
MP07950 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2010, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 23
We've been going to St. John for over 15 years and definitely prefer to rent a house and a Jeep.
You might take a look at BALANCE villa over on Reef Bay - an incredible 2 bedroom, 2 bath villa with beautiful views, pool, indoor/outdoor showers and 2 indentical sized master bedroom suites. We've stay there the past 2 winters and just booked it for March 2011 as well.

If you rent your Jeep from Conrad Sutton rentals in Cruz Bay you get an added advantage in that when you go into town you can park your car for free in the lot. Parking spaces in Cruz Bay during the winter season can be hard to get so this is definitely a plus too. Reliable rental service with well maintained vehicles. I highly recommend them too.
Nicco is offline  
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