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lorey Aug 18th, 2010 01:56 PM

need help selecting xmas destination, no budget constraints
We are a family of 5, kids aged 18-21, looking for a spot to spend probably one of our last family vacations before the kids are on their own. We are interested in a place that has options for all, from relaxing at the beach to an assortment of adventures. I would prefer an area that is not overly commercialized. We don't have budget constraints, but that being said, I would like value and quality. I have read many of the forums for guidance and am still confused. At this point, I am considering Aruba, Caymans, Nevis, St Barts, TCI and USVI. I would appreciate any tips or suggestions you all may have. Are there any locations that have the powdery beaches with turquoise water and inland mountain adventure opportunities? Thanks in advance!

Kristen1206 Aug 18th, 2010 02:03 PM

St John sounds like it might fit the bill. Beautiful mountainous island but with lots of picturesque, white sand beaches. Not sure if you are looking for a hotel or villa but I would recommend a North Shore villa...close to the beaches, great sunsets and still close to town. If you want a hotel, I would look into Caneel.

RoamsAround Aug 18th, 2010 02:21 PM

Not mentioned in your "tag line" as a possible destination but you might want to check out renting a villa on Virgin Gorda. It has great beaches, excellent snorkeling, hiking as well as all types of watersports and other islanmds that are easily visited. Our kids loved it when they were the same age as yours.

lorey Aug 18th, 2010 03:42 PM

Kristen1206, I was initially looking for a hotel/resort, but am open to a villa rental. Caneel Bay is booked for Christmas week. Would you recommend any particular North Shore rental ?

RoamsAround, I will also consider Virgin Gorda. Is it comparable to USVI? Do you have any specific recommendations for rentals?

TurtleTagger Aug 18th, 2010 05:31 PM

Both St. John and Virgin Gorda are great destinations for what you are looking for. Would definitely recommend a villa (one in Peter Bay on STJ; an example or one of the units managed by Guavaberry on VG But since you mention Caneel Bay is booked you may also want to look into its sister resort Little Dix Bay on VG. Grand Cayman's main tourist area of Seven Mile Beach would probably be to developed for your taste. If you do consider it, I would recommend looking at a villa in the Rum Point area.

lorey Aug 18th, 2010 06:33 PM

Turtletagger, thank you, I will look at those sites. I think the reason I didn't initially consider BVI is because we are traveling from Dallas and I wanted as little travel time as possible. Does that change any recommendations from anyone?

LindainOhio Aug 18th, 2010 07:40 PM

We loved having a private villa on St. John but another place you haven't mentioned and I think is great for families, is Costa Rica--it is a lot cheaper than St. John and has some very nice accommodations. You can split your week in Arenal and have the volcano, ziplining, hotsprings, hiking, Cano Negro and then go the the beach and have the monkeys and wildlife at Manuel Antonio. Or stay at the fabulous Bosque del Cabo--in the rain forest, lots of wildlife, right above the Pacific Ocean--it was one of the most memorable places we ever stayed. We would love to take our children there--they are now 27 and 29. Not a long flight from Dallas. There are some very helpful regulars on the Costa Rica forum here that were great when we were planning our visit.

I just want to mention that this probably won't be your last family trip. If you pay, they will come. Scheduling gets more difficult but it is amazing how our children can adjust their schedule when you offer to take them somewhere they cannot afford themselves.

TPAYT Aug 18th, 2010 08:33 PM

I just want to point out that the Northern Caribbean can be somewhat cool at Xmas---think Florida. If it was up to me, I'd go to the Southern Caribbean at that time of year.

I don't mean to put a damper on your plans, but---"been there, done that"! If it's in the budget, look at St. Bart's or lower.

Just my opinion.

Kristen1206 Aug 19th, 2010 07:25 AM

Look into Cinammon Bay Estate ( Another nice one in the Great Cruz Bay area is Abrigado. If you are considering Virgin Gorda...our friends loved this villa on Mahoe Bay

RoamsAround Aug 19th, 2010 08:01 AM

On Virgin Gorda check out rental villas on Mahoe Bay - there's a small "private community" of about 10 upscale villas - some beachfront and others just a few hundred feet from the beach - all with fantastic views of neighboring islands and cays as well as having a westerly exposure so you can enjoy cocktails wjile watching beautiful sunsets. There's a terrific snorkeling reef that begins just 150' or so offshore that runs the entire length of the 1/2 mile long golden sand beach. Quite honestly it doesn't get much better anywhere in the Caribbean. Do a google search for "Mahoe Bay Villa Rentals, Virgin Gorda" and you'll find tons of information.

lorey Aug 19th, 2010 01:02 PM

I am now looking into Virgin Gorda... appears beautiful. However, how would you recommend getting there? Fly into BVI or USVI and take ferry, or some other way?

lorey Aug 19th, 2010 02:12 PM

Ok, I have a new parameter to consider. Since we have time constraints, I have looked into travel time. From DFW that leaves us going to Aruba, St Lucia, Caymans, TCI and USVI. There is actually a direct flight to TCI that would get us there in 4 hours... so if there are any recommendations to TCI, that would simplify our lives tremendously.

RoamsAround Aug 19th, 2010 03:07 PM

On Provo in the Turks & Caicos look at Grace Bay Club, Parrott Cay or Amanyara Resort.

Caribzack Aug 19th, 2010 03:23 PM

On Provo, Turks & Caicos also check out The Somerset great location(nearby restaurants) 2 excellent ones on site, great staff, powder sugar white sand, beautiful condos --we love it!

lorey Aug 19th, 2010 04:28 PM

RoamsAround and Caribzack, Thanks for the ideas. I will look into all of your suggestions and see what is available.

virginia Aug 19th, 2010 06:41 PM

provo is my favorite island. it may not be as warm as you'd like (air or water temp) particularly as you're used to texas heat. also provo is flat & arid. all "adventure" is water oriented. it's a very laid back island.
it does have the stunning tourquoise water and oh so soft sand that doesn't get hot. restaurants are excellent.
you didn't say what kind of adventures your looking for.

lorey Aug 19th, 2010 07:59 PM

Thanks for the input. Is there any kind of activities/tours/day trips that would interest young adults? I guess if there isn't, I should consider other places. Any suggestions? I have been looking at USVI, Aruba, and Caymans also. Any thoughts on these? Also, any thoughts on places generally safer than other places? Also, do we go resort route or rent a villa? Are the online rental sites reputable?
I'm sorry I have so many questions, but this is all very new to me.

girlonthego Aug 20th, 2010 03:18 AM

I also think TCI would be cool for Christmastime.

I have older teens and was thinking about spring break next year (I have a junior and senior in high school this year). Trying to find the happy medium between active and beautiful.

The island of St.John will be quiet. If you stay in a villa, it will pretty much be your family. My guess is staying in a resort will give you more for your teens.

I have been to Aruba and Grand Cayman on your list. Aruba is definitely more commercialized. They have great restaurants and cheap ones. The island is dry like a desert, but lush around the resorts. There is nightlife and lots of watersports activities.
Grand Cayman is quieter than Aruba. It is also dry and desert like. The water is clearer and more beautiful than Aruba, but Aruba's is nice too. Lots of watersports, nightlife is more beach bars, good restaurants and some cheap ones too.

I found both islands to be safe with lots to do. I think the drier islands have nicer beaches and some of the more lush islands, the beaches are not as nice. St. John is supposedly beautiful, but it is very quiet.

I also thought of costa rica when you mentioned adventure and lush. My friends took their kids there and loved the adventure side of the country. they did it all, ziplining, volcano, and then they surfed on the coast. The beaches are not the white sand and all, but they enjoyed it.

I think the further south you go, the warmer the waters and air will be at christmas. Best wishes and let us know where you choose. I am looking for ideas!

Kristen1206 Aug 20th, 2010 05:37 AM

I love T&C and think the Somerset is a great choice but it may be a little chilly in late December. It may be just perfect too..but it's a gamble. We got married on 7 Mile Beach in Grand Cayman in December and the weather and water temp was perfect.

Caribzack Aug 20th, 2010 06:11 AM

We love TCI at X-mas and the weather has always been great ( much better than NYC) We have always gone in the ocean and the pools with no problems, sunny hot and wonderful.

virginia Aug 20th, 2010 10:14 AM

if grand cayman interests you there are loads of resorts on seven mile beach and more stuff than turks & caicos to do for teens. the weston is well reviewed. if you'd like to be away from the hubbub look at the reef resort. it's on the east end, ai & all condo, on a good beach with snorkeling. it is 45 mins to seven mile/georgetown area. you would have to rent a car.
we rented a house near rum point w/pool and liked it a lot but it was fairly secluded.

if you're really serious about being someplace with tons to do for young ppl 7 adults, then you should consider the maya riviera coast south of cancun. ai's in all sizes or good hotels or loads of condos & villas for rent on good beaches. something near playa del carman would be good. the town has fun duty free shopping and restaurants, etc. there is golf/tennis, snorkel/scuba, fishing deep sea/bone, ruins to tour, ziplines, caves/cenotes to explore, atv rides in the jungle, horseback & 2 fabulous eco marine parks: xcaret & xel-ha. for info on all is excellent.
if you're thinking ai look at riu & iberostar which both have numerous resorts in close proximity and share facilities. they also have teen only "nightclubs" - open at 9 or 10pm with music. kids can party without leaving the resort which is so much safer.

NM Aug 26th, 2010 06:54 PM

Our family goes to the Carib for Christmas each year. Generally, you have to start almost a year ahead--it's most expensive time for accommodations and air with some min. stay requirements. Villas on Virgin Gorda are likely already booked. We've spent Christmas on Anquilla, many times, Provo in TCI (it was not too cold) and Tortola. The Christmas winds can churn the water up in late December so that's something to consider. This year we're renting a villa in Akumal Mexico. You should try villa rental places in Provo look for villas in Chalk Sound and condo resorts on Grace Bay; Anquilla ( Grand Cayman, also a very nice island, with fabulous 7-mile beach. Let me know if you have more specific questions.

TPAYT Aug 27th, 2010 08:52 PM

Our favorite is Grace Bay, TCI-----but as I posted above, Anguilla, St. Bart's or lower at that time of year. You're spending alot of money, I think you want WARM!

Caribzack Aug 29th, 2010 05:37 PM

TCI is hot enough at X-mas...

stmartinguy Aug 30th, 2010 05:41 AM

i would recommend the little known area of nettle bay in st-martin. it is quiet and safe. You are in France essentially with all the great food. Plenty of room for 5 people. Beach not crowded and civilization is down the road (6 miled) with its casinos, bars etc.... on the Deutsche size. it is one of the smallest island. similar to exclusif St-Barth.

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