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Las Casitas, Westin St John, Surf Club

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May 13th, 2008, 05:52 PM
  #1
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Las Casitas, Westin St John, Surf Club

My wife and I used to like to stay in more upscale hotels such as Ritz Carltons in Palm Beach, San Juan, Naples, etc. Now that we have two young children, we have different priorities. We stayed in a one bedroom villa at the Marriott Ocean Club in Aruba. It was nice, my daughter loved it, my son had a babysitter arranged by the Marriott.
Once a family of four stays in a one or two bedroom villa, it is impossible to go back to a regular room. With that in mind, we were thinking of such places as Las Casistas or the Westin St John. Both seem to have negatives and positives (no beach at Casitas, people say food *#$*$, expensive even for a NYer, etc)---Westin (takes forever to get there--my wife gets sea sick). Want a one or two bedroom for a relatively reasonable price (I think Casitas are about $500 peak)--lots to do, maybe a kids camp + babysitting so wife and I can relax (haven't slept in 12 1/2 mos). Suggestions for villas on a nice island (not attracted to Jamaica or Dominican), snorkling, pool is key. Casistas may be my best bet or just go back to Aruba. What I do for my kids...
blueshirtjosh is offline  
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May 14th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Would you consider renting a self-catering house or condo?

St john is beautiful, but there are a lot of negative reviews on the Westin. For a similar amount of money you could probably rent a 2-bedroom villa or a condo.

For villas try:
http://www.caribbeanvilla.com/villas.html

or Gallows Point gets good reviews: http://www.gallowspointresort.com/
steviegene is offline  
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May 14th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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We use to own a 2 bedroom villa at the Westin on St. John. We sold it because we prefer renting homes/villas. We've used Caribbean Villas and have stayed at Gallows Point, both are excellent companies. Another rental agency we've been very pleased with is www.destinationstjohn.com.

Food is expensive on St. John and the Westin's beach is not the reason to stay there. If you choose St. John a car is recommended so that you can enjoy the beautiful beaches all around the island.
Pulley is offline  
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May 20th, 2008, 05:52 AM
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Another possibility you may want to consider is The Buccaneer on St. Croix where you can rent a Family Cottage (two bedrooms with a connecting bath) for $500 to $700 per night (including breakfast) depending on the season. Kids Camp for those 4 and over and they have babysitting available for the younger ones. Personally, I like having daily maid service and someone cooking and cleaning up my meals while I'm on vacation so I prefer it to renting a villa. But you can get some fabulous villas for great prices so it's a tradeoff.

We starting going to the Buccaneer when I decided renting a villa on St. John was too risky from a safety stand point. When my kids were toddlers, I feared they'd either wander into the pool while we slept or would figure out how to slide off the very high decks. I realize that I was probably crazy, but I knew it would make me nervous my entire vacation!
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May 23rd, 2008, 06:00 PM
  #5
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Actually, my wife and I stayed at the Buccaneer prior to kids. Had a great time. While I wanted to go somewhere new, maybe you're right, the Buccaneer was a good choice. Thanks.
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May 24th, 2008, 08:51 AM
  #6
 
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We've been to El Conquistador, the Westin and the Buccaneer. All are great spots. However, these are my thoughts if you have young children...

El Conquistador and Las Casitas. Puerto Rico may be a direct flight for you which is a plus. However, it is a minimum of a 45 minute ride to the resort without traffic. The resort is beautiful with view of the ocean and rainforest. However, it is large resort which may make it harder to navigate with children. The beach is on a private island which is beautiful (no good snorkeling) but is inconvenient with younger children. The ferry over is about 15 minutes. Food is expensive but we would just get coffee and bagels in the AM to keep breakfast costs down. They recently built a water park at the resort but your children may be too young to use it. The other attractions, El Yunque rainforest and Old San Juan are also activities you might want to try when they are older.

The Westin is a smaller resort but most of the villas and timeshares when we went were on the hill, a tough walk. They do have shuttles but that involves a wait. They have since built more timeshares probably closer to the water. The Westin has great children's activities, feed the iguanas, movies under the stars at the pool, a great pool,...The island of St. John is one of the most beautiful of all I've traveled to and the beaches are great. However, the beach at the Westin is just OK. It would be a shame to go to St. John and not experience it's other beaches, great snorkeling, cool restaurants and island hopping. It is also very expensive to take taxis or rent a car. The Westin's ferry is really very nice and I am prone to sea sickness. I had no problems.

Of the three, I think the Buccaneer might be the best fit for a nice resort on a nice beach with good to very good food. The family cottage suites offer some privacy and space. They are not particularly luxurious but I heard they are to be renovated. The view from the upper units (we were in 171) is fantastic. They also have a suite or two in the main house which might suite you better. Rates go down significanly in mid-April. As you know, the beaches there are very calm and nice and breakfast and the kid's club are included in your room rate. Tehy also have beach toys the children can use for free.

We also stayed at the Marriot at St. Kitts. in a 1 bR suite. The suite was large with a kitchen, washer and dryer, dining area. The island is really beautiful and undeveloped except for the Marriott. The beach is nice but on the Atlantic side and can get rough. They have three nice pools. Once again, this is a large resort but it is pretty easy to navigate. You can take a taxi or drive to less expensive and good restaurants near-by. I found the locals on this island very friendly. We used Marriott points but upgraded to a suite with cash.

Finally, some thoughts on places I haven't been to but you might want to consider - condos on Grand Cayman 7 Mile Beach or on Turks Caicos. There are a number of condos with resort like services. Both areas have beautiful, clear calm beaches and would have a variety of restaurants within walking distance. You can save a few dollars by buying some groceries. You probably won't have the Kid's club.

Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!
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May 27th, 2008, 05:11 PM
  #7
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Thank you lovethecape, your comments were very helpful.
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