St Thomas vs Puerto Rico

May 5th, 2015, 03:53 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2015
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St Thomas vs Puerto Rico

I have a few simple question about traveling to the islands. My fiance and I would like to get married in St Thomas or PR. We've never been to the islands before and this is a very special trip for us. I've notice that St. Thomas is a bit more expensive and also have all inclusive resorts. PR doesn't offer all inclusive but it's much cheaper. The difference in cost is about $ 2,200 give or take. I don't think my fiance and I will eat or drink that much, plus the dinning reviews for St Thomas are not that great. I could be wrong!! I understand that if we do not get all inclusive we will be responsible for all (drinks/food). but after saving 2,200 i can afford it.

Whats the difference between the two, I don't want to compare apples and oranges but I cant have a bad experience. Please send me the Pros and Cons of both places, hold no punches. I'm looking for a 4-5 star resort, great sea food (preferably buffet style), no resort fee's, room service, wedding accommodations, and a ocean view.

Thanks in advance
Stiggers
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May 5th, 2015, 05:36 PM
  #2  
 
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If you must have AI, St Thomas is not for you. It is a place for getting out and sampling different activities and restaurants. Another island might be better.
eastenderusvi is online now  
May 6th, 2015, 04:02 AM
  #3  
 
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If you don't think you'll eat or drink a lot then all inclusive would be a waste of money for you.
We prefer Puerto Rico. We love the people and all there is to do there. You have beautiful beaches, rain forest, lots of history, mountains to zip line, etc.
schmerl is offline  
May 6th, 2015, 04:35 AM
  #4  
 
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If your budget allows it, consider the Ritz on St. Thomas. It's the only high quality resort on the island. It's expensive though. Otherwise, you can find some nice options on the beach in Puerto Rico. Lots to do there.
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May 6th, 2015, 03:25 PM
  #5  
KVR
 
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We did the AI thing at the Wyndham Sugar Beach resort in St. Thomas years ago. Personally, we did not like the Island and have no interest in returning. We did do day trips to St. John and the BVI's. St. Thomas has a sketchy reputation. There are just better Caribbean destinations for a vacation. If you really want AI, go with Mexico or Jamaica. You will get so much more for your money than other destinations that offer AI resorts.

I have been to Puerto Rico years ago. We are booked to return in a few weeks. Though we prefer AI vacations, our passports have expired and we didn't want to renew at this time, so it was chosen more by default than anything else. I've noticed that the food and drinks in the resorts are very expensive, but it looks easy enough to venture outside the hotels and find more reasonable prices. Still it is going to cost about twice what we usually spend for an AI in Mexico or Jamaica. I am turned off by the resort fees the resorts in PR are tacking on. I have not seen that anywhere else beside Las Vegas.

Are those 2 destinations really your only options? We've been to several Caribbean Islands and Mexico numerous times. There are better places for a wedding/honeymoon to choose from.
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May 6th, 2015, 07:17 PM
  #6  
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Thanks for the comments all. @KVR we do not have passports, therefore PR is probably our best guess. What do you recommend friend? And yes these resort fees are completely out of control. I don't travel enough to think of other places that will be fun, beautiful and different. You seem to travel a lot.....and i really want your opinion. I'm wondering whats PR 3 beast hotels, I just don't trust these sites.

@schmerl..... please tell me more about your vacay,
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May 7th, 2015, 05:14 AM
  #7  
 
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We stayed at the El San Juan Towers our first stay and a condo in Luquillo Beach a couple times.
We rented a car whenever we were there and explored the island. We have befriended some people and that makes the stays even better. We had gone to the rain forest on our own and then with a friend who lived in PR. Having him as our "tour guide" made it all so much better. You can book a guided tour which I would recommend.
We spend most of our time on the beach since that is why we go there. We did not eat at the resorts, but sought out local restaurants or cooked at the condo. Ask the people at your hotel for recommendations. Everyone is very friendly.
We loved going into Old San Juan and exploring the forts and learning the history. There are cute little shops and art galleries as well.
We took a boat ride through the bioluminescence bay in La Parguera which was great fun.
There is a lot to do in Puerto Rico depending on your interests.
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May 7th, 2015, 07:16 AM
  #8  
KVR
 
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Since you don't have a passport then of the 2 I would go with PR. My first trip was with my family when I was a teenager. We did a city tour and then went to the rainforest. This trip is for my DH's 60th birthday. He has mobility issues, which is why we don't like to go international very much anymore. Getting through customs and immigration has become a huge PIA. We are tour takers, so I have booked several. It's a good way to meet other people and guides are good with giving history of the area and showing places we can later go on our own. I booked a catamaran snorkel trip to Icacos, rainforest, City tour and a walking food/bar tour in Old San Juan.

We are staying at the Marriott Stellaris in Condado in a pool view room. The other recommended hotel in that area is the La Concha. We are more pool people than beach and didn't care for the look of the pool at La Concha. Both are within walking distance to several dining options, bars, a Walgreens and a CVS. The other hotel area is Isla Verde. I've read that the beach is better in the Isla Verde area, but there is more walking dining/bar options, plus closer to Old San Juan in Condado. It just depends on your priorities.

Of course, I can give you more detail when we get back in a few weeks. I always post a detailed trip report and photo link.

If your interested I have all of our vacations photos at:

https://kvrlvnphotogallery.shutterfly.com/pictures/5

Just click "all" to scroll all the way down.

I have our St. Thomas/St. John/BVI photos posted there also. There are many people on this forum who absolutely love St. John and return over and over again. We are not one of them. However, the census doesn't care for St. Thomas. Also, check out the forum at vinow.com for info on all of the USVI's. Do a search here on Puerto Rico, there should be a few trip reports.

If you plan on traveling in the future, you might want to invest in getting a passport and opening your options. We've been traveling since 2000. We will eventually renew ours as we are not done with the Caribbean yet. However, we are moving to Florida at the end of the year and chose to travel within that area for awhile.

Good luck and congratulations!
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May 7th, 2015, 07:41 AM
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I've only been to St. Thomas once, years ago, on a day trip from San Juan. However, I have been to Puerto Rico many times over the years. Regarding resort fees - all of the larger hotels/resorts in Puerto Rico have these so just factor it into the price.

For Puerto Rico, you have a number of choices depending on whether you want to be in the San Juan area or in a more secluded or remote area. In San Juan, the best hotels include Ritz Carlton, El San Juan and Intercontinental in the Isla Verde area and Renaissance La Concha, Marriott Stellaris and Condado Plaza in the Condado Beach area. There is also a new hotel that has opened in Condado called the Vanderbilt. It is pretty expensive and is being marketed as a smaller luxury hotel. Finally, the Caribe Hilton is located in between Condado Beach and Old San Juan.I'd suggest you do some research into all of these hotels - each have some pros and cons.

Both Condado and Isla Verde are metropolitan areas meaning they are highly developed - so you won't have sprawling resorts surrounded by a natural setting. On the plus side, though, you will have lots of dining and nightlife options outside the resort.

If you want to stay outside of the San Juan area, there are a number of options but I don't have any recent firsthand knowledge. I've stayed at El Conquistador Resort and liked it but it was quite a few years ago.
tom42 is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 01:54 PM
  #10  
KVR
 
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We just returned from PR. Had a great time. Definitely better than St. Thomas. I'll be posting a trip report with photo link in the next few days.
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May 18th, 2015, 03:00 PM
  #11  
 
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How about St John? My trip to those two islands was many years ago but I didn't care much for what I saw of St Thomas at all (was only in Charlotte Amaliie coming and going to St John).

Of the two you are asking about I would definitely pick Puerto Rico.

It's tricky what you are asking for, without having a passport. Would you consider something in Florida? Or Hawaii?
suze is online now  
May 19th, 2015, 03:18 AM
  #12  
 
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There is much more to Puerto Rico than the city hotels and all-inclusives. We have stayed in Isla Verde hotels (Ritz Carlton and Water Club) and Condado (Marriott Stellaris), as well as the El Conquistador (a large resort at the east end of the island which is not AI), but our best experiences have been elsewhere.

If your budget allows, the Horned Dorset Primavera is a full-service (but not AI) property in Rincon (west end of the island). It's a splurge, but it's an absolutely spectacular property, and the rooms have their own plunge pools (as well as resort pools). The food in the restaurants is excellent, but not buffet.

And, of course, there are the "Spanish Virgins" -- the islands off the east end of Puerto Rico reachable by ferry or commuter flight -- Culebra and Vieques. I don't know much about the hotels on those islands because we've always visited by sailboat, but they are much more secluded and the beaches are spectacular.

Finally, look at El Convento in Old San Juan. I haven't stayed there, but there is a lot to say about staying in the midst of the history, buzz and bustle of the vibrant old city.
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