Just Returned from St. John

Aug 12th, 2002, 11:23 AM
  #1  
Michelle
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Just Returned from St. John

This will be short right now since I just returned to the office... but... I can't say enough great things about St. John. It was absolutely beautiful and wonderful. We even extended our stay by 2 days (we had already been there for a week) since we just couldn't get enough.

Stayed at the Westin and those who told me I wouldn't be disappointed were right! We were upgraded to a Garden View suite that was magnificent. From our bedroom and balcony we had amazing views of Great Cruz Bay and the hills and basically the whole property. Very clean and very well appointed. The staff was very helpful and VERY accommodating. The beach at the Westin is ok for some swimming but you MUST get out and explore the others on the North side.

The beaches are.... breathtaking. We rented both a small power boat and then a dinghy and the dinghy is the way to go. You can just pull up right to the beach and get in water. Amazingly clear water and we had most beaches basically to ourselves (except for Trunk which maybe had the grand total of 20 people).

Great restaurants but very pricey. Comparable to NYC and, in some cases, more expensive. We LOVED Asolare (we went there twice)and also loved Stone Terrace (the seared tuna is delicious).

That's it for now. Please post if you have any questions and I'll try to expand a little later.
 
Aug 12th, 2002, 12:21 PM
  #2  
Becca
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Michelle,
I am new to these boards - this is actually my first post - and have been looking for (and found a lot of) advice and suggestions for our honeymoon in June 2003.
I think we have narrowed it down to St. John, and are looking at either Caneel Bay or the Westin. I'm not sure if we can actually afford Caneel, but would love to stay there. Can you tell me more about the rooms at the Westin? Did you rent a jeep or car while you were there? From your e-mail, it looks like you are from NYC? I'm in Jersey - how long was your flight there?
Any other advice or words of wisdom you can share would be much appreciated! Many thanks!
 
Aug 12th, 2002, 12:30 PM
  #3  
Michelle
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Hi Becca. We did rent a jeep but for only one day. On the day that we rented it, we drove to the Caneel Bay resort. Very nice, yes, but we met a couple on one of our excursions to the BVIs that were staying at Caneel and they were not very impressed. They spent their last night at the Westin and loved it. The beaches by Caneel Bay are incredible (a couple are private for use by Caneel guests only --there are plenty of other GREAT beaches though) but you can easily reach them by dinghy or jeep. If you can, I say rent both and try to rent the dinghy for 2 days.

The rooms at the Westin are great but I suggest you get a room on the second floor as I had a peek at the ground floor rooms and they were quite dark. Also, I wouldn't recommend Pool Side as it might be a little noisy. Ocean Front or Garden View is the way to go. Ours was building 21 and we loved it. It was an easy walk to everything.

Flight time from JFK was about 4 hours.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
 
Aug 12th, 2002, 02:53 PM
  #4  
ttt
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topping for those headed to St. John.
 
Aug 12th, 2002, 08:18 PM
  #5  
Anna
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I'm heading to St. John with my husband in November, we're staying at the Westin, so I'm glad to hear you liked it. Did you rent your car from the rental place at the Westin? Where did you rent the dinghy from (and can I ask how much it was)? Would you recommend the excursion to the BVI's?
Thanks!
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 04:38 AM
  #6  
cj
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Have you considered renting a private villa? We've been to STJ and both times stayed in villas and LOVED it. (I guess we're not resort types.) I felt that a villa was much more affordable and private and many come with their own dip pools. Just a thought . . .

Also, rented 4wd vehicles both times and never regretted it -- there are so many beautiful places to explore!
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 08:10 AM
  #7  
whocares
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Rent vehicles from Conrad Sutton car rental...very nice and I believe that you can get a 5% discount for booking online..not much but it helps.

We have done the dingy thaing too...I think it is about $60 for a full day...we rented them down in Cruz Bay by the ferry dock.

I have done a private power boat to the BVI's through Cruz Bay Watersports (there at the Westin)...Captain Kelly is the best and last time we went on the big catamaran trip from the Westin that goes to Jost van dyke and Soggy Dollar Bar...honestly this trip was more fun than having our own private boat...there were about 20 couples on there..no children that day, maybe we got lucky? We snorkeling, went to lunch at Foxy's and drank a bunch...it was so fun! I think it was $80 a person plus customs. I think they offer another excursion to Norman Island and the baths which is suppossed to be good.

As for the beach at the Westin..nothing spectacular...maybe hang out there and the pool for the first day or two that you're there then rent a jeep and go exploring. My favorite beach is Maho...deserted. Hawksnest is nice too. Also you have to rent some snorkeling equipment and go out to Waterlemon Cay..the current is strong through so I recommend it to strong swimmers.

Restaurants I like: Chilly Billy's for breakfast--yum! Stone Terrace and the Lime Inn...haven't tried Aslorae yet but it is suppossed to be fabulous.
Skinny Leg's for lunch is you drive out to Coral Bay.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 08:34 AM
  #8  
ehem
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How much experince do you need to rent the dihnghy. I have had some exposure to power boating on the ocean but I certainly don't want to end up a tourist statictic.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 08:57 AM
  #9  
Michelle
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Hi all! You really don't need any experience for the dinghy. They'll explain everything to you. We rented it right on the beach at the Westin. The whole day was about $90 or $100 I believe. We rented the car from the concession at the Westin (which is O'Connor, I believe) and will NOT do that again. We could have gotten a better car for a better price in town. Plus, the girl at the desk had a very serious attitude and wasn't very helpful. Now we know. I don't know too much about the villa rentals but I hear some a very beautiful. Our room at the Westin was one of the best I have ever seen. I cannot wait to return next year!!

We had dinner at the Lime Inn and did not enjoy it. Maybe it was an off night. My fiance had snapper that smelled very fishy and I had shrimp that were not thoroughly cooked. Needless to say, we didn't eat very much and ended up going to Joe's Barbeque right by the dock that was fantastic!
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 08:59 AM
  #10  
Michelle
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Oops.. forgot about the BVIs. You MUST take the Adverturer catamaran day-trip from the Westin. We had Captain Doug (who owns the boat) and had such a GREAT time. It was really one of the highlights of our trip. It was the Jost trip, not the Virgin Gorda trip.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 09:18 AM
  #11  
ttt
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topping
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #12  
Becca
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Michelle,
Thanks for your advice - really appreciate it!
CJ- we have considered going the villa 'route,' but in all honesty, it makes me a little nervous - we haven't done too much research in that arena - would what be your suggestions?
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 10:58 AM
  #13  
Mary
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For those new to Fodor's: when reading posts by others and using this info to design your own trip, always ask yourself, "does the reviewer have tastes similar to mine?"
Just because someone likes a place, even raves about it, doesn't mean everyone will enjoy it.

Some people feel uncomfortable at nice places; some people think places which most people would deem luxurious to be just average.

I find the most important question to ask of reviewers is, "please compare 'resort X' or 'restaurant Y' to other places you've been?"
If someone raves about the Holiday Inn Nassau, because that's the nicest place they've ever stayed, that info is not helpful to me. It might be to someone who has never travelled outside the USA, though.
If someone knocks Atlantis, the question is, what places have you been which are much better by your standards.

Without any guidelines as to where people are coming from, their info may or may not be useful to a given reader.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 11:22 AM
  #14  
Michelle
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Good point. Well, the Westin is not Cap Juluca in Anguilla (to which I been) nor is it La Mamounia in Marrakech (to which I have also been)but it certainly was exceedingly nice! I have travelled all over the world and this was one of the nicest trips I've had. Hope this helps.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 01:17 PM
  #15  
Anna
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Thanks to everyone for the great info. I definitely want to rent the dinghy and do the BVI tour. We had looked into villas before, but I was able to get the Westin through Priceline, so it isn't costing us anywhere near their usual rates.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 01:28 PM
  #16  
Joe
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Remember you pay for what you get. The Westin is a typical chain hotel on a wonderful island. The small rooms, the manmade beach, overpriced food, the noisy pool area at night can all be overlooked once you get out and around and enjoy!
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 01:34 PM
  #17  
Susan
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If you book the Westin @ priceline...how do you upgrade to a poolview room? Can you? I'd be interested in knowing.

I agree with the previous poster stating that you need to compare a resort to another to get a feel of what they are talking about.

So...is the St. John Westin comparable to Aruba Marriott? Please let me know the comparisson.

And I must say...this has been a very good post...NO negative people!

Thanks
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 02:29 PM
  #18  
Michelle
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Joe, I certainly think the Westin in St. John FAR exceeds "typical" chain hotel standards. The rooms are huge and very comfortable. We had a suite, but another couple we met had a regular room which we saw and it was very nice and very large. The pool area was deserted at night. No noise at all. We took a little midnight dip and we were the only ones there. The beach is not that great but perfectly acceptable for a lounge and brief swim. The grounds are immaculate and the service... well, probably the best service I've experienced in a long time. Service on par with Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton properties. Food was quite over-priced in the restaurant by the beach and also by the pool, but surprisingly, our dinner at Chloe and Bernards (the other on-property restaurant) was fairly priced and the food excellent. It's run by the same folks as Asolare, Pardiso and Bordeaux.

We were very, very happy with the Westin.
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 02:34 PM
  #19  
Michelle
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To correct some of my typos---

The name of the catamaran at the Westin is the Adventurer, and in my last post, that should have been "Paradiso" not "Pardiso".

Sorry!
 
Aug 13th, 2002, 02:42 PM
  #20  
Michelle
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In my opinion, I would have to say that the Westin is nicer than the Marriott in Aruba. Also, in my opinion, the Westin is much more low-key, laid-back and elegant.
 

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