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Island w/easy flight from Charlotte - luxury hotel and great snorkeling?

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Jun 2nd, 2012, 06:17 PM
  #1
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Island w/easy flight from Charlotte - luxury hotel and great snorkeling?

We are traveling for the first time in a VERY long time without our children for my husband's 50th birthday. We are recent West Coast transplants and have spent a lot of time in the Hawaiian islands, loving Maui best hands down. I've never been to the Caribbean and have no idea where to go. We have a sitter secured and can travel next week. Here's our wishlist:

Luxury hotel with a beachfront room up to $800/night

Easy flight from Charlotte (CLT) we have enough miles on US Air or Delta to get just about anywhere they fly. We only have 4 days so I don't want to spend a lot of time plane hopping.

We love to snorkel and have our own gear. We don't like boat trips and prefer to get right out from the beach.

Being June I need AC at night.

Privacy and room to breathe! I don't want to get up at 6AM to secure a lounger. Our past trips we've rented a house in Makena on Maui but I don't want to cook this time. We love end of the road, feel like you're on a deserted island feel. We don't smoke or feel the need to get wasted on vacation. I like the lush tropical feel of Maui. Past hotels we've enjoyed have been 4 Seasons, Ritz Carletons, Montage in Laguna Beach, Grand Wailea etc.

Many thanks to anyone who is able to point us in the right direction! So far I've gone blind researching Jamaica, St Lucia, St. Martin, St John etc. I also looked at Turks & Caicos but I'm a little freaked out by their current norovirus outbreak.
mommy2four is offline  
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 12:27 AM
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On St. Lucia look at Ladera , Jade Mountain or Anse Chastinet. you should know that there's not a lot of off beach snorkeling around St. Lucia but what there is can be pretty good. The best spots are accessible only by boat. It's a big island so, depending on where you stay, it may be a long ride to reach the access points to the beaches with the better off beach snorkeling.

On St. John, the only resort that fits the definition of Luxury will be Caneel Bay. This may be your best choice side it has 7 beaches, most with very good to excellent walk-in snorkeling. There are also plenty of other beaches on the island with very good snorkeling close to shore. The only drawback is you can't fly into St. john as it does't have an airport. You'll have to fly into St. Thomas and than take a ferry to St. John.

On St. Martin look at La Samanna - it's probably the only resort that will meet your definition of Luxury but you should know there's no real snorkeling off the La Samanna beach and only a limited amount of snorkeling from a few other beaches on the island. The best snorkeling spots are accessible only by boat and the are just "average" at best. St. Martin is not known for being a snorkeling destination.

I'd skip Jamaica - I doubt it will have the overall vibe you are seeking.

You might like the Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas and you should be able to fly non-stop to that island.
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:06 AM
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Have you considered Bermuda? Direct from CLT on US Airways, quick 2.5 hr flight, look at The Reefs or Cambridge Beaches - smaller, luxury hotels on the far end of the island. Might still want a shortie for snorkeling, but it ticks a lot of your boxes.
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 05:56 AM
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By the time you travel, Turks and Caicos will have contained the noroviris outbreak. It is now contained everywhere except for Beaches Resort, and they now are closed until 10th to get rid of it once and for all.

In a couple of weeks, it will be the cleanest less contaminated place in the Caribbean!

Here's why you should pick it:

Direct flight from Charlotte, on usairways they use great planes for this flight, all leather seats, etc.

Great off the beach snorkeling
One of the best beaches in the world according to everywone! Every magazine, every travel outlet, even Tripadvisor

No need to play the save a lounge chair game
No vendors on the beaches to try to sell you stuff, no interruptions

Check out West Bay Club. Much less than your budget, yet drenched in luxury. Awesome A/C. Gorgeous resort. You do need a rental car to get to the best restaurants, but well worth it and meets your criteria.

The manager of WBC published a statement about their ministry of Health inspection. They got a clean bill of health, had no one get sick, including employees. Email Dane Underwood, GM for the info.

I've traveled to many Caribbean places, and gotten "monazuma's revenge" many a time, so there are never any guarantees where ever you decide!
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 03:21 PM
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In our opinion La Samann was over the hill 15 years ago. caneel is an option. Staying in the Hawks Nest section on the upper lever (only 2 levels) you will finnd.
St. Lucia has very limited snorkeling and Ladera did NOT have A/C 4 years ago so we checked out after 2 days.
A 50th Birthday is an important event for some so to spend 4 days is maybe short changing it a bit. In 4 days no matter where you go you will eat up 1+ day Round Trip traveling but I assume you realize that??
What about $99-$1000 a day at Sandy Lane on Barbados. We spend 3 days there before going to Petit St. Vincent for 6 days 4 years ago.It is AMAZING. The only aspect that is a drawback is that Barbados has only adequate snorkeling but we are very critical. Hawaii is at least twice as good off Maui or was it the Big Island where the half circle is the focus and all the tour boats go (that part of it is not good).
sorry I cannot help more. If you had 6 days there is an amazing place in Belize at $800-$900/day with excellent snorkeling but it is Charlotte to miami or Houston and then non-stop to Belize City.
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 03:25 PM
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usair will get you to grand cayman in under 3 hrs. we stayed in a villa so can not advise on hotel. lots of walkin snorkeling.
flts to st lucia take too long for a 4 day trip.
usair will get you to st.thomas in 3hr45min. taxi to ferry 10 mins. ferry to st john 45 mins. caneel would be ideal for you. quiet & laid back. 7 beaches. excellent walk in snorkeling.
jamaica & st. martin not known for snorkeling. st. martin is a very busy island.
t&c is my favorite island but usair is $1150/pp for nonstop (3hrs) - would your points cover that? besides blamona's idea you might like grace bay club, slightly over your budget but they offer 3rd or 4th night free deals. i just think you might like the look of it. http://www.gracebayresorts.com/gracebayclub/gallery
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 05:12 PM
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I would differ with Virgina about snorkeling around St. thomas. On a scale of 1-10 (having been to 11-12 Caribbeab and Bahamian Islands) I would give it a 5.0 If you take the 30-45 minute ferry to St. John and then take a snorkel tourthat goes off Hawks Nest, Watermelon Key then the snorkeling is a 7-7.5, in my opinion. If you stay in St. Thomas though the ferries run often you have to get up at 7AM to get over to St. John for a 8:30-9 tour boat trip. Try to goon a boat that takes no more than 12 guests on a 32-36 ft. boat even if it is $125/person for 6 hrs. The snorkeking off St. John is better than around "most" spots of T&C, in my opinion.
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Jun 4th, 2012, 06:36 AM
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stan, please start actually reading my posts before you "differ" with me. this is the 2nd times in 2 days. yesterday i said st. thomas is NOT as safe as st. croix or st. john and in this thread i said the snorkeling on ST. JOHN is excellent and said nothing about snorkeling on st. thomas at all.
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Jun 5th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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to BLAMONA (sorry for the irrelevant post here). You said above:
"In a couple of weeks, it will be the cleanest less contaminated place in the Caribbean!"
As I read your post I became worried about norovirus outbreak in the Cayman Islands where we are going at the end of the month...do you (or anyone else) have any information? please share.
thank you
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Jun 5th, 2012, 06:52 AM
  #10
 
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Grand Cayman. Great snorkelling and fantastic restaurants.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 07:37 AM
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yannis, re norovirus "Since Sunday, 5 February, about 67 people sought medical attention at the Health Services Authority facilities. Both children and adults are affected: Of the 67 people, 28 were under 5 years old. In total, 18 children (14 of whom were under 5) were admitted to our paediatric ward for medical care. All are doing well and based on the patients’ symptoms it appears to be viral gastroenteritis,” Dr. Kumar clarified"

quote taken from this article: http://www.cayman27.com.ky/2012/02/1...ritis-outbreak

as this was in feb i can only assume it over & done with.
virginia is offline  
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Jun 6th, 2012, 06:07 PM
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I highly recommend Bremuda, Cambridge Beaches fits your bill.
Best food, beds, views and service.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 06:33 PM
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yannis, I was referring to Turks and Caicos, I didn't mention Caymans.
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