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Jamaica, St. Lucia,or Aruba, for a honeymoon...advice please

Jamaica, St. Lucia,or Aruba, for a honeymoon...advice please

Mar 18th, 2013, 08:50 AM
  #1  
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Jamaica, St. Lucia,or Aruba, for a honeymoon...advice please

Hey guys, I know that all of these islands are extremely different but does anyone have any advice regarding choosing the following resorts for a honeymoon? I am helping out a friend. She was originally set on Sandals Antigua but her fiancée does not want Antigua for some reason. Also, this would be a May honeymoon.

Right now she is looking at:

Aruba Bucuti & Tara
Sandals St. Lucia La Toc
Sandals Jamaica (Royal Caribbean or Royal Plantation)

Main requirements:

Beautiful beach with clear and CALM water (she REALLY loves calm water)

Good food (she is a vegetarian too, so a resort that caters to vegetarian diets would be ideal)

They will spend most of the time on the resort, but would like to do a few excursions, so a resort that is not convenient to getting to excursions is a no-no.

ROMANTIC and relaxing (this is their honeymoon after all)

All Inclusive (or meal plan possible)

If anyone has any personal experience or advice that would be great…or if you have any suggestions for any other resorts please send them over!

Thanks
dontcallmecass is offline  
Mar 18th, 2013, 09:31 AM
  #2  
 
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It's been many years since I stayed at La Toc, before it was Sandals. But the beach won't have changed and the sea was a little rough for my liking. It does not have a beach with calm and clear water. Sandals Antigua's beach is much calmer but the water was not particularly clear, nevertheless the beach and sea were beautiful, if not the surrounding area. Eagle Beach in Aruba is calm, at least where we stayed (Holiday Inn.) No need for AI in Aruba because places to eat are plentiful.
I can think of better places for calm clear water that the islands that have been picked, for example Spice Island Beach Resort Grenada or a hotel on Barbados's west coast eg Cobblers Cove (meal plan available, food is very good here as it is Relais & Chateaux)and many others to choose from. Antigua has alot of calm clear beaches so bit surprising this has been discarded. Anguilla is another option with many AIs to choose from.
Odin is offline  
Mar 18th, 2013, 10:36 AM
  #3  
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Antigua was her first choice, but for some reason her fiancee isn't keen on it. We actually just got back from a group trip to Barbados, so she wants to honeymoon somewhere different.


Is it easy to get to Anguilla? She is departing from NJ and they want to avoid flights longer than 7 hours.
dontcallmecass is offline  
Mar 18th, 2013, 12:11 PM
  #4  
KVR
 
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Bucuti in Aruba is not an all inclusive resort unless they have recently changed. AI in Aruba ia really not recommended. There are hundreds of dining/bar options in all price ranges. One of the attractions there is to go to as many as you can. Aruba is "safe" and very easy to get around. I feel the Eagle Beach area is much nicer than Jamaica or St. Lucia. If they insist on on AI there, look at the Divi/Tamarijn or the Manchebo.

I have stayed at Sandals Grande St. Lucia and rate it at the bottom of my list. Totally overpriced for what is offered. The worst food and customer service. For a resort of that calibur it was a major disappointment. St. Lucia is a goreous Island and I would recommended highly, but not any of the Sandals resorts.

If they insist on a Sandals, I would suggest that they check reviews on Trip Adisor and weed them out. Not all Sandals resorts ae created equally. The Whitehouse in Jamaice gets the better reviews, but it is located out in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at the Jewell Dunns River in Ocho Rios, which used to be a Sandals resorts and it was far better and way less expensive than the 2 Sandals resorts we've been to.

I have never heard of all inclusive resorts on Anguilla. I even did a Google search and couldn't find any. There might be hotels that offer a food/beverage plan, but they are not like a typical AI resort you would find in other destinations. Anguilla is also one of the most expensive Islands out there. A very healthy budget will be needed.

Based on those 3 choices and having been to all those Islands and 2 Sandals resorts, I would go with Aruba.
KVR is offline  
Mar 18th, 2013, 12:47 PM
  #5  
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Her budget is about 5k and they are dead set on an all inclusive. The Bucuti is not AI but she said that they have an add-on meal plan.

Do you think Aruba is too flashy/Americanized for a romantic honeymoon? She has been to Aruba before (YEARS ago) and loved it but it has apparently built up quite a bit since then (We’ve all read complaints that it feels like Miami there). She prefers islands with lots of culture over Americanized ones, but I think her fiancée is the other way around.

I say this because we have gone together as a group to Bermuda and Barbados. She wasn’t impressed with Bermuda because it didn’t feel “authentic” to her but she really liked Barbados and the culture there. Her fiancée preferred Bermuda 100% because it felt safer and was more “Americanized”, I guess.

She loved the desert-like environment in Aruba though, so maybe Aruba is a good middle point for them?

She would really like to do a Sandals, but isn't too keen on Jamaica from a past experience there which is why she was looking at St. Lucia (also loves Costa Rica and it looks similar) but the water in St. Lucia looks questionable.
dontcallmecass is offline  
Mar 18th, 2013, 09:31 PM
  #6  
KVR
 
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Aruba is one of my favorite Islands because it is so built up with tons of restaurants and bars. I refer to it more like Las Vegas with a beach, but the casinos are not as great. I've been to Miami several times, but not the South Beach area. I guess to me Aruba is more for mature people. Like 40's+ and families.

When we went to Aruba, we stayed at the Holiday Inn on Palm Beach and did do their AI plan. We also did as an add on and it only cost $400 total for the both of us for the week. Unless you can find an add on that inexpensive I would not go AI there. The multitude of restaurant and bar choices are so good. It would be a total waste. The food at the HI was not that great, and we went to several restaurants in the area.

AI in Aruba is not like AI in Mexico or Jamaica. It's completely a second thought and about 2-3 times more expensive than what cam be found in Mexico or Jamaica. Also, check and make sure about their meal plan add on. Some hotels offer pre-paid vouchers for off site restaurants. More like a dine around plan. It's is very expensive and usually doesn't include desserts or alcohol beverages. They can do better just going to the offered restaurant themselves.

I wouldn't say Aruba is very "cultural" compared to other destinations, but it's not completely Amercanized either. You know, people throw the word "Americanized" around on these boards like it's a "bad" word, and it' really not. To me, destinations like T & C, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, etc. are just as Americanized as Aruba.

She might look at the Sandals in Exuma, Bahamas. However, I don't think there is much for excursions there except sailing, fishing and golf.

Costa Rica is not known for their AI's either Plus, it's not really a beach destination It's more about sightseeing. From research, it's really best to see about 3-4 areas during one visit. So moving around a lot to different areas and hotels is expected. Many hotels have a maxium night stay of just 3 or 4 days. I would save that for another time.

St. Lucia really isn't a beach destination either. The beaches are not as nice as the scenary and the snorkeling is sub-par. People looking for crystal clear water and white sandy beaches will be disappointed.
KVR is offline  
Mar 18th, 2013, 09:37 PM
  #7  
KVR
 
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Also, the Sandals in St. Lucia are the worst resorts of thier chain. If she is interested in that Island, look at Rendezvous or Jade Mountian instaed.
KVR is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 01:14 AM
  #8  
 
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I might have made a mistake when saying there are AIs in Anguilla, in any case there are no direct flights so would likely exceed the 7 hours travel time. I'm sure you would get meal plans though and the beaches are to die for.

I don't understand the comment about Bermuda not being "authentic". In a way I'm glad to read this because Bermuda is nowhere near the Caribbean and is not in any way linked to it & they certainly don't want to be compared to those southern islands. It does not have a Caribbean vibe because it's not the Caribbean, it is authentically and uniquely Bermudian. Given it's proximity to the US and short flying time to the East Coast, it's no surprise that it also has an American feel, even though it is British.

St Lucia is a beach destination, it has a developed north area where the best beach is, Reduit which has a few hotels along it and where you can go to the local jump up party at Gros Ilet. Or you can go to the less developed south where the beaches have darker sand with crystal clear water around the Pitons, great for snorkelling and scuba diving whilst being surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Antigua would probably meet your requirements, unsure why it is discarded if you want beaches and AI plus a bit of culture thrown in. Americanised is not a bad thing at all, at least it means there are lots of amenities & there will be a certain standard (Hawaii is part of the US after all). But sometimes you might want to get away from being surrounded by your own kind and it also means on the downside that any local culture is usually obliterated (eg Hawaii).
Odin is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 05:30 AM
  #9  
 
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If they will consider other all-inclusives other than Sandals I can definitely recommend the Iberostar Grand (adults only) in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Beautiful rooms, great service, very good food. And the water is calm there. It's not the absolute best beach we've ever been to but it's fine. Montego Bay is also close enough to activities that you won't spend hours reaching your destination.

Have they looked at Swept Away or Couples, both in Negril? We haven't been to either but we've looked into Swept Away many times. The Couples chain seems to get much better reviews than Sandals.

We went to The Body Holiday in St. Lucia a few years ago. If they want a more active trip then this is the place for them. The resort needed an update when we were there but it's since had one. The food was good, service was good, and the water was calm. Plus it's close to Reduit Beach, the best beach on the island in my opinion. There were tons of honeymooners so they'll be in familiar company. There's a lot to do on St. Lucia.

I like Aruba just fine but when I think honeymoon I definitely don't think Aruba. It probably has more kids and families than any other island we've visited. I'm not knocking kids and families. I just don't think of that combination for a honeymoon.

In November we vacationed at the Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada that Odin referenced. It's a beautiful resort on a fabulous beach. I was in the water there more than any place ever. Even though we loved it I'm not sure I would recommend it for a honeymoon. It's pretty sedate although there were definitely a few honeymooners there when we were. But very lovely with great food and Grenada has a lot of exploring opportunities. And Caribbean Airlines even has a few non-stops from JFK (if they're close to NYC). I think there are a couple of other all-inclusives on Grenada they may want to look into.
sharona is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 07:24 AM
  #10  
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KVR –

She actually has been to Costa Rica before. It is her favorite overall destination. She was set on Sandals but wanted to avoid Jamaica, which is why she looked into St. Lucia (since it looks similar to Costa Rica). She really wants calm, clear water for her honeymoon though so maybe St. Lucia is for another trip.
dontcallmecass is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 07:28 AM
  #11  
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Odin – She is aware Bermuda is not in the Caribbean and wasn’t expecting a Caribbean island. She just didn’t find the island to have much culture of its own and didn’t like that. I somewhat agree with her, but I love the people of the island and the beauty of the island itself, so it is one of my favorite places to escape to. It’s kind of just like a little paradise to me.

Sharona – Newark is preferable but they can also fly out of JFK. I’ll have mention Grenada to her, but I will have her look at this whole thread for ideas.

Thanks for all the tips.
dontcallmecass is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 05:05 AM
  #12  
 
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Google "bucuti construction" and you will see that the resort will be closed the second half of May.

Also be advised that the "meal plan" offered at an extra fee, only includes dinners and no lunches. Breakfast is including with the room rate, but the meal plan does not include beverages and the number of restaurants available for dining are extremely limited.

Lastly the Bucuti is situated on Eagle beach which is a beautiful stretch of beach, however, there can be waves at their beach depending upon the whim of mother nature. For "guaranteed" calm water in Aruba I suggest an accommodation on Palm beach.
ArubaLisa is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 10:17 AM
  #13  
 
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In my opinion a fantastic spot in Jamaica is the Rock House Resort which is not on the beach, but located on the West end of the island.It has beautiful cliffs with convenient stairs going down to secluded little coves that are ideal to explore. They have thatched roof private little villas with lots of island flavor, not to mention two great places to eat. Vegetarian food is plentiful in Jamaica and really good.As far as St. Lucia goes, I would not go to a Sandals resort because it is not what you would expect despite what they tell you about being all inclusive.My choice there would be St. Lucia Beach Cottages which has a great little beach and is next door to a Sandals.It is a self catering safe and clean little resort that has kitchens and acess to some really good local markets that have any thing you want. Stay away from French Islands unless you are French because they don't like Americans and I have had some bad experiences on them see my review for Palm Court Hotel St. Martin..broken into an robbed..yes St. Lucia is most likely the best bet.
Wingfoot1 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 11:11 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Sandals Royal Plantation(Jamaica) has a beautiful beach and is also a very very quiet property.... It is loacted in Ocho Rios where there are also lots of restaurants and attractions in surrounding areas.
Jewel Dunns River which was formerly Sandals Dunns River is a great seller also, i see this as the best property in the Ocho Rios area and would be perfect for a couple that is celebrating their honey...this could be topped off with their butler service that is offered at the hotel..guaranteed a great time.
islandbookings1 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 12:19 PM
  #15  
 
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I would highly recommend a honeymoon to St. Lucia. I have been here in the past and it was an unforgettable time. Beautiful beaches, public and private. Gorgeous villas, everything you could want!

I used www.preferredescapes.com and they set everything up perfectly. You can get affordable packages, but as it is your honeymoon, I would think you are going to go for something spectacular

Hope this helps!

TravellingSimon
TravellingSimon is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 02:57 PM
  #16  
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They actually decided to go with Jamaica after all! Splitting their time between Whitehouse and Royal Caribbean.

The airfare to St. Lucia was too much and the flights were too long with all of the stops.
dontcallmecass is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 05:55 PM
  #17  
KVR
 
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Hope they enjoy. Please let us know how it turned out for them.
KVR is offline  
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