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July 14-22 2007 - FS Nevis Mountainside vs Marriott Aruba Oceanfront for same price w/12 y.o.? Any shopping at all at either?

July 14-22 2007 - FS Nevis Mountainside vs Marriott Aruba Oceanfront for same price w/12 y.o.? Any shopping at all at either?

Oct 16th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 965
July 14-22 2007 - FS Nevis Mountainside vs Marriott Aruba Oceanfront for same price w/12 y.o.? Any shopping at all at either?

So, after a wonderful but stressful 3 week Italy trip last month that included alot of running around, trains, buses, more buses, ferries, cancelled ferries due to weather, loading heavy luggage here and then there, we decided to NOT do Europe next year and are considering the Carribean instead. At first we thought we'd do Sweden and Denmark for 10 days next July but a beach trip started to sound really great.

A nice relaxing vacation - we deserve this, and we want to finally take our 12 year old (my step daughter) with us this time. She's never been out of the country.

I thought... Nevis! I've heard of it as it's obviously the only Four Seasons hotel in the Carribean so that was intriguing to us. We loved the Maui FS 2 years ago and we did one night at the Hualalai FS on the Big Island but actually much preferred the Hapuna Prince Hotel so we switched back there, for 1/3 the price.

We could only afford the Mountainside room for $325 a night in Nevis. It's $335 a night with the breakfast buffet for 2 added in, which of course we'd do. It looks to be an interesting island but doesn't seem to have much in the way of shopping, which my wife and kid love to do when they are bored. We like to lay on the beach, play on the beach, our 12 year old loves the pools, walking in the sand and swimming in the sea. They love shopping, maybe a boat ride/tour, island tour, but no diving and very little snorkeling.

Then there's the Aruba Marriott where we could get an impressive 100 sq ft balcony w/oceanview or oceanfront for about $298-314 or so, but no breakfast included. Breakfast at the FS is $25 p/p so that's a big savings there as it would be free for 2 of us. The Marriot does have the perfect white sand beaches with turqouise waters, a huge plus. We don't gamble so the casino wouldn't interest us.

But, the FS is... well, the FS. It has that certain cache and is usually a fantastic experience with nicer rooms that a Marriott. It's nice to be able to get a room that runs $900+ in December for $325 in July at the FS Nevis.

They are both about 7 hours away and both are about the same $500-600 p/p or so for the flight. Any thoughts? It's SO hard to decide. Or, should we be considering Anguilla, Barbados or another island instead? Me and my wife have already done St John and St Thomas so we want to go somewhere different. We don't drink either, so party places with "all you can eat and drink" aren't our bag.

Just to confuse myself, I checked the Punta Mita, Mexico Four Seasons and they are only $375/nt that time of year but the taxes are 27% vs 19% in Nevis. Ouch! The bed and breakfast plan at Punta Mita is $410/nt for 2 breakfast's included.

Considering we have our 12 year old and we want to show her an interesting part of the world, something different, something exotic (monkeys in Nevis would count as that ), something superfun and beachy, something not boring... which would you suggest, you experienced Fodorites?

Steve and Julia R
Silver Spring MD
stever is offline  
Oct 16th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Of the two places you're considering, I think Nevis offers a more authentic Caribbean experience. It's true that the beaches aren't blinding-white sand with turquoise waters, but they've got a tropical beauty all their own, with lots of palm trees providing natural shade.

At the 4S, your daughter would have the greatest chance of finding playmates over other places on Nevis. And the mountain view room there looks out over beautiful Mt. Nevis--not exactly a hardship in terms of the view.

I would, however, suggest that you check out Nisbet Plantation (www.nisbet.com) for something a bit more traditionally Caribbean. One of the few other places on a beach on the island, this is a gentle and peaceful throwback to gracious living. Your family might enjoy this place just as much as the 4S, and the prices are a bit lower to boot.

For lots of great info about the island, check out www.nevis1.com, which should easily persuade you that Nevis is the better choice over Aruba for your family.
ejcrowe is offline  
Oct 16th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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Hi, we have been to the Aruba Marriott with our children (ages 7 and 12 at the time), I visited the FS Nevis briefly in April and also have stayed one week at the FS Punta Mita which I guess you also are looking at. All very different properties and locations but I think any of these would be good choices for you. Overall, the FS Punta Mita is our all-time favorite resort and the most spectacular setting (take a look at the tripadvisor viewer photos, ours are the ones from Turnersville, NJ.) We visited the island of Nevis for one day in April and were so captivated by it we are returning for a week this winter. The Four Seasons there was nice but its design and setting is not as spectacular as FS Punta Mita. Golf is incredible. There will also probably be more kids/teen activities at either of the Four Seasons, they do a great job with this and the service will be better although I generally like Marriotts, but it's just not FS level. Aruba Marriott had very little in the way of organized activities for kids but we were there in the off season (November) so maybe that's why. Punta Mita will be very hot and humid, Nevis will be more comfortable and Aruba is pretty much the same year round. Aruba is very much like Miami Beach or Marco Island, Florida -- one long beach lined with highrises, so if that's not the atmosphere you want, try something else. Nevis seemed to really fit the mold of what we think a Caribbean Island should be -- lush, pretty, charming town, friendly people, pretty but not spectacular beaches. The FS Nevis rates in the summer are a bargain compared to the winter, so you probably will feel you are getting a good value. Aruba Marriott is three resorts in one, just huge, lacking in personality. Aruba will have more shopping but the bonus with Nevis would be you can take the ferry to St. Kitts and there is more shopping there and more opening every day as they are building a large complex for cruise ships that was only half open when we were there in April. Also more interesting historic sites in Nevis and St. Kitts. The mountainside views at the FS are very nice I personally wouldn't pay more for an oceanview and you might get upgraded anyway since it is off season. Both places you can walk for miles on the beach and can walk to some beachside restaurants although there is more to choose from in Aruba. My kids went to Aruba after quite a few beach vacations and three months after visiting Hawaii so they thought it was good but not great. Both places have good boat/snorkeling trips. After saying all this I guess I would choose Nevis, it will be more special and then when you have a chance go to FS Punta Mita in winter (their winter rates are more reasonable than FS Nevis) because it is incredible but folks say it is much too hot in the summer. I was interested in your comment about the Big Island resorts because I am a beach person and think I might like Hapuna Prince more than FS Hualalai, why did you like it better?
eileen is offline  
Oct 16th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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If you are comparing just resorts any Four Seasons resorts beats any Marriott Resort any day of the week. That's a no-brainer!

Whether or not the island experience will meet your particular desires is another matter.

Personally Aruba , with its mulitude of high rise hotels, casinos, fast food restaurants, active night life and overall American feel is not my idea of a Caribbean Paradise.

Nevis, on the other had, with it's rain forests, old sugar plantations ruins to explore, nearly emply beaches and friendly people has an old world Caribbean charm that's had to find in this fast paced modern day.

The Mountain view rooms at 4S Nevis are just as nice as the waterfront rooms and, in fact, the views can be stunning early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the light is perfect as you gaze across the golf course and see the shadows on the mountain accentuate its ruggard beauty.

You daughter will have her choice of several pools as well as access to one of the best children's and pre-teen programs in the Caribbean. Yes, the sand on the beach has a dark tint to it but no matter which way you look you'll see hundreds of palm trees and other natural vegetation.

There is some shopping on the island but, true, it is not a duty free shopping mecca like St. Martin or St. Thomas not does it have the chic fashions shops of St. Barth's. If you wife and daughter need a shoping fix you can take a day trip to St. Kitts where you'll find more shopping opportunities (but not as much as ob the "duty free" islands mentioned above.

Since you are not too interested in snorkeling you won't mind the fact that snorkeling on Nevis is limited but you can take any number of island and boat tours. If you like hiking there are plenty of interesting trails scattered around the island. The 4S will gladly arrange tours for yopu or you can set up your own. Go to the Tourist Office in Charlestown (on Main Street right near the Ferry Dock) and pick of a flyer for Top to Bottom Tours - Jim Johnson or his wife Nicky can take you to places and hidden ruins that remind you of a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There's a lot of neat things to see and do on Nevis. Check out www.nevis1.com and you learn almost all there is to know.
A_Traveller is offline  
Oct 16th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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The mountainside rooms are nice with either a patio or balcony to enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain at the FS and the breakfast buffet is huge. They keep the restaurant enclosed so the birds don't fly in and as you pointed out, you would save quite a bit by getting it for free. There is a cute gift shop on the property and a nice clothing store as well, but they are expensive. Nice for browsing or for a special gift. Nevis is not the place that you pick to vacation if you like to shop, but there are a couple of places around main street in Charlestown. Some art shops, a clothing store called the "Island Hopper" (there's also one on St. Kitt's), Island Fever, and Jerveren's. There are also about half a dozen pottery places and other hand crafted types of stores. It would be better for your wife and daughter to set aside a day to take the ferry to St. Kitts and shop. The pool areas are in line with a showcase type of environment and there are plenty of chairs to lay on the beach and your daughter will have lots of room to walk the beach and if she is at all interested in shelling, they are plentiful. There are many delectable restaurants to choose from on the island, and I strongly encourage you to sample them. We love the tropical aspect of Nevis. In fact, it's our favorite island. BTW, there are excursions that charge to look at monkeys. However, the FS offers their guests what they define as a tour of their villas. They send people out in golf carts with a young guy and it's not a presentation at all. The end result is that you get to see monkeys out and about on the property. I came home with all kinds of pictures. We just stopped whenever we wanted and watched them. The locals don't care for them as they steal from their gardens, but they also understand that they are a huge draw to the visitors. The taxi cab drivers have some pretty funny stories about them.
We didn't care for Aruba. I don't gamble, I'm not a big drinker and I'm not a late night person. We also didn't care for how Americanized Aruba was. The beaches are nice, and the weather is good. We had heard how great the food was, but were unimpressed with that, as well.

Knowing is offline  
Oct 16th, 2006, 02:06 PM
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Nevis. Definitely more of a true Caribbean feel. If you stay at the 4 Seasons make sure to check out the rest of the island and as suggested a side trip or two. Nisbet Plantation and beach are beautiful. Not the Corona commercial type of beach but quite scenic.
vinceygirl is offline  
Oct 16th, 2006, 06:52 PM
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Wow, you folks are wonderful. Thx alot!

So, I'm talking to my friend that moved to Canada tonight, as she's very well travelled, and I tell her our predicament. She said "The Carribean? Uh... that's not for me. What about Belize?" she went to on tell me how great her trip to Belize was, how much culture was there compared to the Carribean (according to her, that is), how great the snorkeling was right off the beach at Ambergris Cay (sp?), and how wonderful the rain forests are there. She thought our daughter would get alot more out of Belize than a place in the Carribean.

Thoughts on that? I know this isn't the Belize forum, but have any of you gone there for the comparison to Nevis?

Nevis has now gone to the top of our list over Aruba then. We'll already be doing 5 nts in Miami and 3 nts in Naples Fl next April so your version of Aruba sounds similar to that. She also mentioned the Greek Isles, though I think for our 1st trip away with her, that's too much work with all the planes, the ferries, Taxi's, the mandatory cultural sites to see, etc. Maybe in a few years...

Steve R
stever is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 04:54 AM
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Hi, haven't been to Belize, hear it is lovely but that activities are mostly focused on diving and snorkeling and you mentioned that isn't really an area of interest. When you get a chance, can you answer my Hawaii question in my previous response? I really think Nevis with a day trip to St. Kitts is probably the way to go. One caveat though -- make sure you budget lots for meals/drinks etc., the FS is expensive. When we went to Punta Mita we bought a lot of sodas/wine etc. in town because a diet coke was about $5! It is still worth it, but with some planning we were able to keep our costs down and feel that we got great value with all the little extras the FS includes.
eileen is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 05:39 AM
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Sorry I forgot to answer your question Eileen, and thanks about the Nevis info. Looks like after spending hours researching Belize last night that it won't work for us as the beaches aren't that great for sandy, beach filled days. We're not snorkelers or divers so your totally on the money about that.

We adored the Hapuna Prince on the Big Island as the beach was simply amazing, the view from our room was incredible, and only $200 a night vs the $580 a night for our golf/beach view room at the FS. Plus, the room actually seemed bigger at the Hapuna the way it was laid out, the open air hotel was incredible, and the staff was great.

We didn't like the bungalow style FS there as we could barely see the beach, kept getting lost on this huge property as there is no good signage anywhere telling you where you are, and the beach stunk compared to the Hapuna. The pool WAS incredible at the FS and the hotel restaurant was awesome for breakfast, but we much more liked the concrete box layout of the open air Hapuna as the height gave you unimaginable views of the beach.

We didn't get the FS there. It was supposed to be one of the best hotels, but we MUCH preferred Maui FS, and we only had a mountainview room there!

Don't laugh, but now it's Nevis OR the ... Greek Isles. Yes, my wife is back on her Greek Isles tangent. Ughhhh... Either place will be good, but going all the way to crazy Athens and then taking a transport to Athen hotel #1, then a boat to an island, then another island, then back to Athens, then home... just sounds like alot of work for what was supposed to be a relaxing 8-10 days. It's not out of the running though... just a last potential place.

Steve R
stever is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 07:13 AM
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We were at the FS Nevis this April, and really enjoyed it. It's probably tied as our favorite Caribbean hotel along with Cap Juluca in Anguilla. Typical great FS service, lovely pools and great beach. We also had mountainside room and thought it was great. Views of mountain were very nice, and literally 30 second walk to beach. Rooms are the same as the ocean view or ocean front, it's just the view that's different, and there's no reason to pay extra for a view of the water. (I actually preferred the view of the mountain anyway.)

We had stayed at FS Maui on our honeymoon, which we loved, but we prefer the Caribbean to Hawaii because we like the beaches better, so overall we liked FS Nevis better. Food was good, but not as good as the FS Maui.

Sounds like Aruba is not in the running anymore, but none of the hotels in Aruba will give you anything near the luxury of FS Nevis.

We went horseback riding (on trails and along the beach, about a 2 hour ride) that we arranged through hotel. Also, the daily golf course tour is fun, and that is where you see the monkeys. We got very close to them and took some great pictures, your kids will love it.
almesq is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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almesq - Thx alot for the response. Sounds like it's Nevis or ... Nevis in the Caribbean then for us.

Now... don't laugh, we're researching one last possibility - The Greek Islands. I think the Greek Islands would be incredible, but you have to fly to Athens, spend a night there, then take a boat to island #1, unpack again, lug your luggage, then pack and unpack to go to island #2, and then maybe another island? Then back to Athens for yet another overnight, then home... Wow, that's tough with a 13 year old.

Not sure we want to get into all that, but she might get more out of a country like Greece. I wish I knew what to do. I'm leaning towards an easy trip for 7 nights in Nevis at the FS.

In the other corner is a 10 night Greek islands extravanza. Plus, in Greece we can use our 80.000 Starwood pts for the Blue Palace on Crete

We'd probably have some points left over for this killer Athens hotel coming and going...

What to do...

Steve R

stever is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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I have to agree with the Nevis thoughts that you have already gotten. We love Nevis and we have seen plenty of families at the 4S during the summer. Jim Johnson took my husband on the hike up Mt. Nevis. While it is not for everyone, being so strenuous, I understand that he is a great guide for other family-oriented tours. There is a wonderful rain forest hike in Nevis and St. Kitts. I also love visiting St. Kitts for a day or, as we did, 3 days. The monkeys, goats and cows are all around!
There is more to see in St. Kitts than in Nevis, but Nevis is the real caribbean deal, IMHO.
Aruba.....I stayed at the Marriott and there were also lots of families there during July. IMHO, I could have seen and done the same things in Myrtle Beach. It is very americanized and the food was ok. (Actually the only vacation that I didn't gain an ounce!)
I didn't really do much shopping on any of these 3 islands, besides buying basic gifts, but it was still entertaining to get out and about.
In Nevis I do know that lots of water activities are available at Oualie Beach, but the 4S will have the information that you need. Day trips from all islands that you mentioned are fun and varied.
Good luck. I don't think you can plan a horrible trip to the caribbean!
iw is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 06:11 PM
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Thanks iw: It's down to the Greek Islands or Nevis at this point then, with nothing else in contention.

I think over the next few months one or the other will seem like the obvious place to go.

Steve R
stever is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:33 AM
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Steve, I forgot to mention that every spring FS Nevis advertises lots of summer specials -- it's usually 4th night free and/or a $500 airfare credit and sometimes a guaranteed upgrade as well. So if you decide on Nevis make sure you check those out. They probably won't have the discounts in the system until the spring so you can always book now and then change the reservation later. Thanks for the comments about Hawaii, we have a possible trip in Feb 2008 (husband has a conference on the big island) and we love FS properties but comments on Hualalai seem a bit mixed and that beach at Hapuna is definitely a big draw for us. Did you hear FS Maui is doing a huge renovation?
eileen is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:58 AM
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Thx Eileen. If we do Nevis, I'll check back in the spring for the specials, though with the $325 Mountainview Room, it would still be cheaper I think than the $500 room with a free night over the course of a week.

Here's our Hawaii info, if the link works.

The FS Maui was desperately needing a renovation in the rooms. Ours was super dated looking but we still loved it. I heard the prices were going to be ALOT more than we spent ($425 nt with car and breakfast).

Steve R
stever is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 05:01 AM
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Whoops - the link didn't work. Here's our Hawaii Report for ya...

Just Back Report! Moana Surfrider, Kilauea Lodge, Hapuna Prince, FS Hualalai, Mauna Kea Summit Tour, FS Maui, The Lodge at Koele-Lanai (FS now)...

Date: 09/18/2005, 10:32 am
Oahu: Sheraton Moana Surfrider: 5 nights - Aug 30-Sept 4 2005

So I've had no sleep for 2 days but here goes. Just got back tonight after a 15 hour flight from Maui to Baltimore. We got into Oahu on Aug 30th and were amazed by the beauty of the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki Beach. For some reason they gave us a beachfront 3rd floor room with a lanai in the old Banyan part of the hotel. At first, the room smelled musty but we dealt with it due to the view of the ocean and the fact that they were at 100% and couldn't move us anyway. We used Starwood pts for 5 nights so we were happy, till the dreaded music started playing from 530-1030pm every night in the courtyard area. We were hating life and would not even stay in the room if we could avoid it. It was so loud, we could barely hear the TV over it! I could see it for a couple hours on the weekends and consider it charming, but every night for 5 hours? We were in hell. We just stayed out and shopped every night and visited with friends at the convention we were attending. Breakfast at Dukes was 1/2 the price of our hotel so at $12.95 we were happy. Went to Pearl Harbor and were amazed by it, drove around to the North Shore and took the weak tour of the Dole Pineapple Plantation (not recommended but we did learn alot about pineapple growing from their train). We were perplexed by the lack of growth in terms of houses and resort on the other side of Oahu. These islands seemed like mostly wild country STILL to us vs where we live on the east coast. So much open land for miles and miles as far as the eye can see, especially on the big island. Most of that place seems to be a National Park!

Ate a killer buffet at the Turtle Bay Resort and were surprised by the elegant beauty of this place. We would have loved to stay at this resort one day! Got my wife to hike to the top of Diamond Head and it was the highlight of our trip to Oahu. Ate at the Cheesecake Factory one night and it was one of the best and cheapest meals of the trip. Don't laugh, the fish there was better than at Spago in Maui for less than 1/2 the price. One night we ate cheaply at Cheeseburgers in Paradise and were treated to the best veggie burgers we've had in ages for dirt cheap prices. The fries with blue cheese dressing on the side... ooh lala.

We ate lunch at the Halekulani Room without a Key (?) and loved the view, the hotel, and the food. Ate at Ciao Mein Restaurant at the Hyatt Hotel one night on Waikiki across from our hotel (1/2 Italian menu and 1/2 chinese) and were impressed with the Risotto for only $7!, the pizza was exquisite at about $12, and a vegetable dish that was out of this world. We got out of there for under $50 and were pleased as punch. The traffic in Honolulu is awful and it really got us down at times. As we left town for the airport we spied Leonard's Bakery for their Malasadas (saw the commercial a million times while there) and stopped in for the best creme filled and sugar coated Malasadas I've ever had. Well, we never actually had them before. Yummmmm. I had my Fodor's notes at all times and would obnoxiously read them and reread them to Julia all throughout the trip to make sure we were doing many of the suggested things The Ala Moana Shopping center really appealed to her as they had all her favorite designers. Talk about money... these people definitely have some bucks there to attract these stores. The Rolex authorized dealer there had the largest collection of watches I've ever seen anywhere. It was kind of like a museum of it's own. My sweet picked up a lovely white patent leather Luis Vuitton and matching wallet and was in heaven

Next stop: The Big Island - 3 Hotels, 5 nights!

We got to Kileaua Lodge and found the room lovely but of course had no A/C. Everyone said: You won't need it there. WRONG! It was hot as he** in that room to the point that we couldn't take a nap in the afternoon like we'd come accustomed to, plus there was no cover for the drapes or windows and light poured into the room, so we hung up a blanket over the drape and made the best of it. Thanks god we bring a fan with us wherever we go for white noise and air. We checked out Volcano Nat Pk but didn't hike the 45 min or more to the lame lava flow that was barely flowing that week. We were exhausted so just relaxed at the Lodge and ate their great dinner that night.

The next day we checked out a day early as the lack of A/C was killing us and decided to try the Hapuna Prince Hotel as the FS Big Island couldn't get us in a day early. We were totally, utterly blown away by the Hapuna Prince. 600 sq ft room, a bathroom with, get this, a threaded sewing kit. Not just a sewing kit, but threaded with thread to needle in every color you could imagine. Is that cool or what? They gave us a partial ocean view and we were in heaven. Compared to the Kileaua lodge, and you obviously can't compare the 2 as their not in the same category, the Hapuna for $231 a night vs $140 a night for the lodge would make me want to stay at the Hapuna and simply drive to the park if we ever went back! The whole concept of the hotel with it's rounded edges on everything amazed us at every turn. The beach was marvelous and the best of the trip. The sand was like silk and there was no coral, pollution, or anything bad at that beach. We found heaven and wondered how the Four Seasons could possibly best this! The included breakfast buffet was incredible and MUCH better than others have suggested. We couldn't ask for more. Ate at Roy's at the King's Shops one night and love it. We ended up spending alot of time at the King's shops, but more about that later.

We excitedly and sadly checked out after a night at the Hapuna and headed over to the luxe of luxes for us:

The Four Seasons Hualalai - supposedly the best hotel in the Pacific Rim. Well, we checked in and found it to be very, very nice. The facilities were amazing, especially the health club (best I've ever used), and the restaurants were gorgeous. We got to our room and it was the $580 budget golf view room. Uh, we liked the 600 sq ft room, we loved the slate bathroom and shower (the ultimate!), we didn't go for the lava rock shower on the 1st floor as we wanted a better view room on the 2nd floor. The view? Well, if you like golf, I guess it was great. We were on a green with a very distant view of the ocean. The view from the Hapuna blew this away. We kept getting lost at this hotel, over and over. It's so spread out and there is practically no signage, we were alway asking someone for directions to the pool, the spa, the restaurant, etc. Call us retarded, but this spread out hotel started getting to us. The quiet adult pool was a trip, though. It was absolutely the blingiest, people watchingest experience I've ever had. I loved it and marvelled at it. The infamous Evian spritz was the highlight of my day there. I revelled in it. I hoped we could last till 12pm when the sunglass cleaning lady would come by and really turn on the service by cleaning our sunglasses, but alas we left oo early for our turn at that. The pool was heavenly too and I loved swimming laps in it while the lovers were kissing each other so quietly on the sides of the pool or eating their scrumptious pool meals. We even split a pool meal, a veggie burger I think it was and it was pretty good. At $17 it was actually reasonable as we split it and the fries and were full afterwards.

We tried there beach but gave up after 20 minutes due to blowing sand and high winds. We knew this beach would be lame, but I kind of liked it. I floated out there past the rough coral and just layed on my back in the water and felt happy to be alive. I was at the FS Hualalai and all was well with the world. We snorkeled in that Kings Pond with those 3500 fishies and it was a highlight of the hotel for us. So many amazing fish in such a concentrated area, so easy to see! It sound lame in theory, but in actuality it was very cool.

The breakfast buffet was obviously awesome but it was also very spread out and not easy to find stuff. It was in different rooms and we almost missed a whole room of food. The views from the restaurant were incomparable, though. We decided something crazy after 1 night there - it was NOT worth $580 a night, so we decided to bank the extra $350 a night per person for the last 2 nights and checked out after only 1 night there and transferred back to the Hapuna Prince. With our windfall savings of $700 for merely switching to the hotel we preferred, we both both 2 pair of Maui Jim sunglasses at the Sunglass Hut at the King's shops and were so happy with our decision. They let us have a 3pm check out that last day there so we soaked up the hotel as best we could and even got a ride in that cool 53 Buick Roadmaster in front that's converted into a surfing type wagon. We loved it.

Back to the Hapuna, and we even got our same room 5-606. We unbelievable changed real fast and went BACK to the FS for dinner at their beachfront restaurant. We got a sunset meal right in front and were happy as clams. The food was VERY expensive and not really worth it, but we enjoyed every minute of it, till we got our check and choked just a bit. Oh well - it's only money.

At the Hapuna I decided to do the Mauna Kea Summit tour alone (Julia wasn't up for it) and that was the highlight of that week for me. I'm trying to do the high point in each state and that was #14. They take you "close" to the high point with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures but you have to walk another 1/5 of a mile or so to the actual high point. The guide really didn't want me to walk there as it's a holy spot and the Hawaiin people don't want people there, but I was respectful of this place and practically begged the guy and he said ok. I was the only person there when the sun set and it got dark very fast. I got nervous being there alone with no one near by and walked back as quick as possible to where the rest of the tour folk were. I was so out of breath at 13700 some feet... it's the tallest mtn in the world as it starts at the ocean floor. I also learned that Mauna Loa is 2/3 the size of Connecticut and 2/3 of the Big Island. I believe it's the largest volcano on earth. Really fantastic tour but the stargazing stuff afterwards for almost 2 hours bored me to tears after about 10 minutes. I was dying of boredom and just wanted to get back!

On to Maui: The Four Seasons - 4 nights.
People have said that going to the FS Maui AFTER going to the FS BI would be a let down. WRONG! Just the opposite... we decided we LOVE concrete box style hotels over rambling bungalow style hotels. Our Mountainside room package for $425 a night was supposed to offer us a mediocre view or no view, but in fact, because we requested a highest floor possible we got a killer view of Haleakala and the golf course. We were in FS heaven, loving every minute of this fantastic, beautiful hotel. The room was dated and the furniture pretty "grandmotherish", but for some reason we "got with the program" there and fell into step with it all. The marble bathroom was very impressive. The toilet area was like a sanctuary - the marble floor was museum quality I can't really express how much the people at this hotel made us feel at home. The front desk people blew me away when they remembered me by name and asked how our bedding situation worked out. Spago for dinner was $175 for us 2 and we didn't have drinks but we did have that killer chocolate dessert with the 3 ice creams. Do yourself a favor and split that $12 dessert with your spouse - it's huge! We each ordered one and were in sugar overload. They gave us the best seat in the house in the front corner overlooking the beach. We ate with friends that were staying at a suite in the Grand Wailea and they loved it too. We nervously went over to check out their $1700 suite the next day that they got for $700 somehow and thought it to be amazing, but REALLY preferred our small, compact, easy to get around hotel over the audacious, wild GW. The artwork there was amazing as were the pool, but my friend's suite overlooked the pools and was noisy. We would have hated it there I hate to say. There's nothing wrong with the GW, it's just not for us. We much preferred the simply FS. We played a mean game of ping pong in that ping pong room they have. The work out room paled compared to the FS Hualalai but it still was pretty good. The outdoor exercise bikes were very cool. We walked over to the Kea Lani to check it out and were SO glad we didn't stay there. We hated the look of the place - all white and Arabesque almost, like a white mosque. It seemed dull, dull, dull to us and kind of stodgy. We would not have stayed there once checking in, if we had seen the FS also. They were nice to us though and gave us free water as we were very soaked from the long walk over from the FS. It's NOT very close really on that beachwalk.

On Maui we checked out Paia for the day and Makawao (sp?) for the boutiques. VERY expensive for hippie/cowboy towns. We ate at the Mana Food Store (not sure of the name) and for $2.95 split the best sandwich of the trip, a veggie powerhouse sandwich with red pepper hummus, veggies in a rollup. Yummmmm, and cheap. Lot of hippie folk there. Had some mediocre pizza too at the Paia pizza shop and my wife bought a nice skirt and top for reasonable $'s.

Later we checked out the windsurfers at Hookepa Beach. Amazing stuff they were doing out there. Went to Mama's for a picture but didn't eat there as we weren't hungry. What a great setting. We also ate at the Cheeseburger's place at the Wailea Shops and loved the veggie burgers again and loved the price savings over high line, semi-overrated dining! We also visited Iao Valley to see the needle and walk around a bit –awesome scenery.

Checked out the Ritz our last day in Maui and found it breathtakingly beautiful, but the weather was windy and cloudy there and Julia said she was glad we didn't stay there. The setting is heavenly and the hotel is gorgeous. I think we were the only non-Japanese people there as there was a convention going on in the lobby that spilled over everywhere. I would have been happy there had I not seen Wailea. We also took our pic together at the Westin Maui by the indoor waterfall as we both stayed there 16 years ago before we knew each other with our then, ex’s!

Lanai - The Lodge at Koele - 2 nights. Took the ferry over to The Lodge and got a royal treatment when arriving. The concierge that showed us around and to our room had the personality of dryer lint, but she did get us a great room on the 2nd floor as requested. We were told that we’d need a jacket or sweater in Lanai as it’s cool most of the time… this was not that time. We wore shorts in the evening and day. The hotel had no A/C in all but 3 of the 102 rooms. It was stuffy and muggy in the deluxe, gorgeous room we were in and we put our fan right on the window and left it on day and night. They did have a ceiling fan but it didn’t cut the mugginess. Why they didn’t put A/C in all the rooms escaped us. We met a honeymooning couple that had a $1100 room and it did have A/C. Our 2 nights here were free due to Starwood Pts even though it was already a Four Seasons property so we were happy nonetheless. When we checked in it felt like we were in the Lodge of “The Shining”. The place is really beautiful with lots of wood everywhere. The girl from “The Wonder Years” Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) was staying there and we met her a couple of times. She was doing a Yoga video and we watched some of her shoot sites. That was the highlight for me of this part of the trip. I love the whole star thing Here’s what she’s done lately.

We ate dinner at Blue Ginger Cafe and had their veggie stir fry and macaroni salad. Low budge dinner for $10. The next morning we had oatmeal at the hotel to balance out all the buffet breakfast’s we got fat on earlier in the trip. This day I worked out in their ultra cheesy workout room and went to the beach which was totally flooded due to high waves! The surf was so raucous that they closed the beach but we got in 20 minutes of sun on the chairs they reluctantly set up for us. Gorgeous beach and the locals were surfing there. The Manele Hotel was opening as a FS in 3 days but we got to eat at their awesome golf club for lunch with an amazing view of the beach and ocean. Had a delicious prawn club sandwich $15 and Julia had a Turkey club. We were stuffed.

Dinner was at The Hotel Lanai at Henry Clay’s Rotisserie where we got a decent pizza and a great butternut squash ravioli dish. We were grateful for the free shuttle the hotel offered to just about anywhere we needed to go. They say it’s an easy 10 min walk into town but it’s more like 20 minutes. It’s not a nice walk, either. Talk about the have nots – you really get to see them up close on the walk back from town. Over 50% of the people in this quiet, sleepy, throw back to the 50’s town are Crystal Meth (Ice) addicts – highest per capita city in America! Some kids told us it’s because there’s nothing to do there and people experiment with it and get addicted. We were supposed to go horseback riding the next morning before we checked out but had to leave early as the swells were so large in the ocean that they couldn’t guarantee the later ferry would even leave port!

We got back to Lahaina and walked around for 5 hours, being amazed at how much better it was than we had heard. They had great art dealers and showrooms and it kept us fascinated. Whoever says Lahaina is a waste of time as it’s just shlock and tee shirt shops is hugely wrong. We saw a movie there too in one of the skankiest theaters we’ve ever been in, reeking of mildew and then taxi’d back to the airport for the grueling 15 hour trip home to Silver Spring, MD.

Hope I didn’t bore y’all too much. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Steve and Julia R
Silver Spring, MD.

stever is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 929
Thanks for the info Steve. You do like to move around a lot on vacation, will you get bored staying on Nevis for a full week? You really covered some ground in Hawaii!
eileen is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 965
Ok, so don't laugh... I just realized that we have 67000 Starwood pts saved up, enough to get us 7 free nights in July at the Westin St John! Even though I'd been there before and thought 1 day there was enough (didn't even spend the night, just a day trip from St Thomas), I think this place deserves some serious attention. First of all, it will save us $2800! ($400 a night including tax on Nevis). I'm really excited... I think this is really our best best. It has everything we're looking for except the perfect beach AT the hotel. At least it's just a short drive to the perfect beaches near the hotel.

Thoughts? It's kind of a no brainer in a way... Free great place for a week?

Steve R
stever is offline  
Oct 19th, 2006, 05:12 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 97
No brainer. Go. Rent a car for a few days to explore the beaches not easily accessible by taxi. I love Nevis, but save it for another trip.
JimC is offline  
Oct 19th, 2006, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
If you can basically get a free stay, then clearly that's the optimum choice. But aren't there other resorts you can use your Starwood points in the Caribbean? Maybe you'd prefer to try a new island...
ejcrowe is offline  

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