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Need help picking an island ...

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Oct 22nd, 2013, 12:18 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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Need help picking an island ...

... and we have a LOT of Marriott points!

We are going end of February. We like being slugs on the beach, drinking and food, snorkel, hike ... not really shoppers - but I guess we have to bring back something for the kids and all.

We've been to St Martin - many years ago. St Thomas (twice), St John, Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Rico (thrice), Grand Cayman (but just a cruise stop ... don't ask), Roatan (same cruise) and Bermuda. Something new would be nice but anywhere out of the New York winter would work. I was looking at Aruba - we've never been there - but someone mentioned it very commercial. Like Cancun commercial? Don't want that. Maybe Curacao?

The people on this forum are so helpful. You have made so many of my trips in the past soooo much better. If anyone has some suggestions for an island with a Marriott I'd love to hear them.

Thanks,
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Oct 22nd, 2013, 03:11 PM
  #2
 
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Can you stay at a Ritz with your points?
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Oct 22nd, 2013, 03:24 PM
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Aruba is not like Cancun. Aruba is quite "Americanized", but doesn't have the party atmosphere Cancun has. Aruba is a scrub island so it is not lush like most of the Caribbean. It should be nice and warm there in Feb.
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Oct 22nd, 2013, 08:08 PM
  #4
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Hi Jimmie. Yes, we CAN use our points at a Ritz, it requires a lot more points ... but it can be done. What are you thinking?

Hi Schmeri. What? No palm trees? Hmmm ... I like palm trees.
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:23 AM
  #5
 
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The Ritz St. Thomas is a nice property and offers easy access to St. John. But you've been to STT already. Maybe St. Kitts Marriott? Not the best snorkeling though.
Here is a list:
http://www.marriott.com/hotel-search/caribbean.hotels/
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:41 AM
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I didn't care for Aruba, although my stay there was really too short to be a fair judgement.

I'd go with either Curacao or St. Kitts, if I was using Marriott points.

Consider, staying on Curacao for a few days, then heading to Bonaire. No Marriott there, but, there are reasonably priced properties and the snorkeling is absolutely amazing.

There's also a surprising number of really good restaurants for so small an island.
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 08:02 AM
  #7
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Hi Jimmie, good idea ... never been to St Kitts. I'll check that out.

Hi Jean. (ha ha ... hygiene ... sorry, I'm a dork) What was it about Aruba you didn't like? The two things most people talk about are the commercialization and the arrid environment. You? About the the snorkeling: is Bonaire much better than Curacao? Or Curacao doesn't really have any snorkeling? I do like the idea of being further south for more of a warm weather guarantee. Oh, and the good restaurants - is that Curacao or Bonaire?

And, thanks, you guys are so awesome.
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 08:28 AM
  #8
WWK
 
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The Marriott Stellaris on Aruba is actually one of the island's best hotels. Rooms in The Tradewinds Section of the hotel have their own private check-in and concierge ( I think) and are pretty large.

BUT... If you want to go all out, Ritz Carlton is opening very close to The Marriott in November.

Both hotels are on a section of beach that can be zooey during prime vacation weeks, so beware.

Now about Aruba itself: I am going back with my MIL in a few weeks. Her favorite place, but not mine.

Why? Not nearly as lush/tropical as many other islands. Cruise ship central in town and around some hotels' beaches on certain days. Lots and lots of high end shopping and American chain stores.

Having said that, many people LIKE having that available. And Aruba does have an excellent long stretch of beach, usually predictable weather,good excursions, and some of the top restaurants in the Caribbean.

Now that The Ritz is opening, it will probably have one of the best hotels in the Caribbean, too.

Lastly, very off subject: The Ritz Carlton in Cancun is an amazing property. It is a few miles away from downtown Cancun, so suffers from none of the crazy party atmosphere that some people don't want on their vacation.

We usually stay a few blocks away at LIVE AQUA, an AI, but have visited friends at The Ritz Carlton which shares the same beautiful, and pretty uncrowded stretch of beach.

Rooms are large, and the hotel is within easy access of several amazing restaurants, plus a high end mall, if you really want that kind of thing on vacation.

So when people talk about Cancun now, I have a whole different view of the place

Good luck!
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 09:24 AM
  #9
 
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We stayed at the Marriott Curacao and though it was really nice. The beach is rocky immediately in front but if you walk a few yards to the right, it is sandy and very nice for swimming and laying on the beach.

We really enjoyed Aruba too and have recently stayed at the Casamagna Cancun, which we liked very much. Yes Cancun is commercialised but the hotels are gorgeous as is the beach. Sometimes this is just what the doctor ordered.
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 12:43 PM
  #10
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Odin, are you one of those people that are always happy? That is a lovely way to go through life ... and I bet you're a pleasant traveling companion. I could do Cancun again, since we never made it to the ruins - my husband would rather not. Could you tell me why you liked Aruba? I think we're probably going to end up there or Curacao. Aruba is cheaper air, less travel time but some negative comments about atypical caribbean environment and the cruise ships. Curacao would work but it takes 4 hours longer to get there with TWO connections to make. But it sounds like more our style ... we LOVED St John - the beaches, hiking, low key - and Curacao sounds similar. Am I correct in thinking so?
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 12:47 PM
  #11
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WWK - awesome news about the Ritz in Aruba. I'll have to check that out and see if it tilts the scale one way or the other. Have you been to Curacao?
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 03:23 PM
  #12
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I haven't been to Curacao. I think of it as a mecca for divers. And I also feel like I've heard many times that the beaches aren't as nice as Aruba and that it's really quiet, but maybe I'm wrong? Have to say though that if I had to make two connections, I'd choose Aruba hands down. Flying isn't what it used to be, and I like to minimize hassles!
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 04:04 PM
  #13
 
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We were in St. Kitts last March. We had a wonderful time! We stayed at the Marriott there. It was a great location. I cannot wait to go again. If you have any questions send me a note.
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Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:27 PM
  #14
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aesj123, so kind of you to offer to help. Do you snorkel? Can you tell me about the conditions in St Kitts?
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Oct 24th, 2013, 06:18 AM
  #15
 
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Snorkeling around St. Kitts is very limited. because there are few, if any, near shore reefs. At the Marriott (where you are considering staying) there's a man-made breakwater a hundred feet or so off the beach where you'll see a few fish. You'll find limited snorkeling around the rocks at the far ends of Frigate Bay, South Friars Beach and Cockleshell Beach but it's nothing to write home about. The "best" snorkeling (but it's "below average when compared to the snorkeling you'll find in places like the USVI's, BVI's, the T&C's) is a Shitten Bay BUT that area is accessible only by boat - you need to do one of the day sails or a private charter to get there.

Simply put, no one goes to St. Kitts, or it's sister island Nevis, for the snorkeling. If snorkeling is a high priority for you then you'll want to go somewhere other than St. Kitts.
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Oct 24th, 2013, 06:55 AM
  #16
 
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As I said, our trip to Aruba was very short, just a couple of days on our way to Bonaire. We stayed at the Radisson, I felt like we could have been in Florida.

I realize there are other areas of the island that aren't that commercial. We never made it there.

We didn't do any snorkeling while on Curacao. We enjoyed the city of Willemstad. We'd sit for hours sipping drinks, reading, watching the swing bridge. Some nice, small museums. We also spent a couple nights on the west end of the island. It was beautiful.

But, Bonaire won our hearts when it comes to the ABC islands. So easy to get around. Literally dozens of spots to walk in and snorkel. Even right in town, in front of the condos we stayed at. Excellent restaurants. Not much for beaches, but, when we were in the mood for some beach time, we would simply drive to 30 minutes or so to Lac Bay for the day.
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Oct 26th, 2013, 01:35 PM
  #17
 
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I just got back from Sandals Grand Bahamian two weeks ago. The resort has its own private island! We've been all over the Caribbean, and while I realize that the Bahamas is NOT the most exotic place, this private island had the best beaches I've ever experienced! I also like that they had tiki huts with reclining loungers, hammocks, swings, and plenty of sun and shade! There is also a restaurant on the island with 360 ocean views, a pool with a swim up bar, a spa and private cabanas. The beverages are included with the price you pay. Snorkeling and diving lessons are also included upfront. Hiking wouldn't be included in this one, but if you are looking for pristine powder white beaches and great snorkeling, this is the place for you!
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Oct 26th, 2013, 01:40 PM
  #18
 
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Well, disregard my last comment as I clearly ignored your major request of staying at a Marriott. Forgive me- I read just "loves the beach!" and got overzealous!
Best wishes!
ps looking over the Marriott all-inclusive locations in the Caribbean, I like Curacao! I've never personally stayed at that resort, but that one looks the best to me out of those options! Just my two cents.
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Oct 29th, 2013, 09:29 AM
  #19
 
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pick this island....www.privatexcams.com
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Nov 1st, 2013, 09:36 AM
  #20
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Okay ... It's going to be Curacao. Now I've got to decide Marriott or Renaissance. Anyone? (but22 don't feel you need to weigh in on this one)
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