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TOP luxury for December - does this exist? (LONG post)

TOP luxury for December - does this exist? (LONG post)

Old May 27th, 2005, 09:03 AM
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TOP luxury for December - does this exist? (LONG post)

Hi All,

Please tell me if this exists anywhere in the Caribbean or Belize, Costa Rica, Cozumel. Every time I think I've narrowed it down, I find a negative post which makes me reconsider.

I've been to Peter Island in the BVI and stayed in the ocean front rooms so you know my minimum standard. I'm looking for a 4-5 day getaway. I don't mind spending the money if it's the best.

We are looking for a rival top-notch place in the middle of December (before the crowds of Christmas). We are in our 40s, no kids, and want to be pampered. Cost is not a factor. We don't want to feel trapped at a resort but are finding that most places that are top notch are secluded.

SERVICE is key.

1) I want to be able to scuba dive
2) My husband needs to be able to snorkel right off the CLEAN PRISTINE beach of the resort (no getting in a car to drive to a place to snorkel or be picked up and brought out on a boat). This is probably the most important water activity which is a show-stopper! I'm thinking a nice white sand beach although I must laugh, this seems a standard. Yes?
3) Hiking/Biking. We're not looking to climb Mt Everest but we like to be outside (any trails at the resort to explore would be key). We would get in a car to drive to this but it has to be less than a 30 min drive (don't want to spend the day trapped in a car)
4) We want a private beach for the resort (I don't mind the day trippers - I'm talking no locals hawking, selling me stuff). I want the resort to provide chairs for the beach.
5) Food service at the beach (either right next to the beach or better yet, someone who will bring me alcohol and food to me)
6) The pool is not a wow factor for me
7) I don't need casinos or activities at night
8) A spa would be really nice - although I would want a late appt (I don't want to be inside on a lovely day)
9) It would be nice to be able to walk to town (or some activities/restaurants). We don't want to be trapped at the resort. We're not big shoppers but we like to browse
10) Connecting to the internet/civilization is not a key factor. I spent too much time doing this when I am working. No need to connect to the office (after all, this is a vacation!)

Of course, top notch service, food.
Here's my choices (in no order) - please tell me if I am on the right track:

1) Peter Island - would definately return although after 4 days my husband had island itchness (no TVs also was kind of weird)
2) Caneel Bay - St John (worried about all the kiddy programs)
3) Intercontinental Presidente - Cozumel. Heard that it's gone downhill of late
4) Four Seasons Nevis - blah beaches?
5) Sandy Lane - Barbados. Hmm
6) Jumby Bay - Service is spotty
7) Four Seasons - Costa Rica. Very remote and trapped. Need a car to go anywhere
8) Ritz Carlton - Grand Cayman. The best snorkeling is a car ride a way.

I've read a lot of posts so I'm completely confused! Many thanks in advance for your help and support. Please also correct me if I'm wrong at any of these place. I may sound picky but I travel a lot (business and pleasure) and stay at the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton but I'm a novice when it comes to the Caribbean. I really appreciate input from other travellers and enjoy this forum.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Try www.pinksandsbahamas.com Pink Sands has just about everything you are looking for. There are 2 dive shops on island with Valentine's being one of the best known in the carribean.

There is a lovely 3 mile stip of beach and right off shore is a large reef.

Several good restaurants on island, a bit of shopping and you can walk everywhere. There's also a bit of nite life and live music.

Have a great time on vacation.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 01:21 AM
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Just want to point out that Caneel Bay is in fact known for its lack of kiddie programs. It may not offer the level of luxury in the rooms which you seem to seek. There are seven beaches on site so the snorkeling thing is easy. The island is just 8-9 miles long with wonderful hiking and snorkeling. Spectacular views and 2/3 of the island is national park. Scuba diving in the Virgin Islands is top-notch. St. John offers a great collection of shops and restaurants all within easy access of Caneel Bay. I recommend renting your own car for convenience. Locals hawking stuff is definitely a no-no. Oh, additionally, you'll love high-tea served on your private beach at Caneel.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 06:33 AM
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You may want to check out Harbour Village-Bonaire. Website very helpful.Bonaire not known for great beaches, Harbour Village has man made one, and it is private for guests only. If scuba and diving are your #1 priority, it sure looks like a possibility for you. Have fun planning and reasearching! Carol
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Old May 28th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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I've heard Parrot Cay in T & C is great.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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If you want a top of the line place to stay, and money is no object, Try looking at Cayo Espanto in Belize. It's a private island, but it's very expensive. Tiger Woods stayed there.....

Do a search for "Cayo Espanto" and you'll find it.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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What about Bermuda? It is a quick hop from NY area. There is snorkeling right by all of the hotels. The town is very cute and easy to get to. It is a classy island. The Elbow Beach resort, I believe might be owned by Mandarin Oriental brand. You can check into that.
Bermuda would be a very nice getaway.

Another thought and I don't know about the snorkeling there, but I hear Anguilla has some top notch resorts. An example would be Cap Jaluca. I have not been, but understand the beaches are incredible and so is this particular resort.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 01:08 PM
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You like to travel like I do! Let me tell you about a couple of my experiences. First, Caneel Bay. We were there over Christmas. Service was great, even though they were very busy. Turtle Bay restaurant was great, they always addressed us by name. Jeremy, the concierge went out of his way to accommodate us and even came to pick us up from a hike on his off day. We had a room on Scott Beach. The water was just 8 paces from our door. I would recommend staying on that beach, and down near the far end..rooms 82-86. It is a bit rocky there, but the good thing is that you don't have a bunch of other guests laying on the beach at your back door which could be annoying for privacy factors. The snoreling there is great...nice to just walk out your door to snorkel and walk back in for the shower. You can scuba there or other places on the island. Yes! Scott beach is white, and the nicest one (in my opinion). It is only for guests, as are all, except for the main Caneel Beach. You won't have any day trippers or vendors at Scott. No food sercvce on the beach at Scott...just relax and ejoy the beauty...especailly the sunsets at night. As for hiking, with 66% of the island a national park...you can do anything at any level of exertion you want. The hiking was very nice for us and we don't like to do Mt. Everest either. My recommendation is, if you do Reef Bay Trail, go with the park service, who will give you a boat lift back to the dock...otherwise you have to hike a mini Mt. Everest back to the top. At Caneel, the pool isn't much, so it's a good think it doesn't matter to you (me neither). The spa is tucked away in a quiet corner of the island. Not full service like you might be used to, but there are some classes (yoga, etc), and with prior appointments, you can book a massage.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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You like to travel like I do! Let me tell you about a couple of my experiences. First, Caneel Bay. We were there over Christmas. Service was great, even though they were very busy. Turtle Bay restaurant was great, they always addressed us by name. Jeremy, the concierge went out of his way to accommodate us and even came to pick us up from a hike on his off day. We had a room on Scott Beach. The water was just 8 paces from our door. I would recommend staying on that beach, and down near the far end..rooms 82-86. It is a bit rocky there, but the good thing is that you don't have a bunch of other guests laying on the beach at your back door which could be annoying for privacy factors. The snorkeling there is great...nice to just walk out your door to snorkel and walk back in for the shower. You can scuba there or other places on the island. Yes! Scott beach is white, and the nicest one (in my opinion)at the resort. It is only for guests, as are all, except for the main Caneel Beach. You won't have any day trippers or vendors at Scott. No food service on the beach at Scott...just relax and enjoy the beauty...especailly the sunsets at night. As for hiking, with 66% of the island a national park...you can do anything at any level of exertion you want. The hiking was very nice for us and we don't like to do Mt. Everest either. My recommendation is, if you do Reef Bay Trail, go with the park service, who will give you a boat lift back to the dock...otherwise you have to hike a mini Mt. Everest back to the top. At Caneel, the pool isn't much, so it's a good thing it doesn't matter to you (me neither). The spa is tucked away in a quiet corner of the resort. Not full service like you might be used to, but there are some classes (yoga, etc), and with prior appointments, you can book a massage. No casinos or the like on the island. Can't say as you would want to walk to town, but for a couple of dollars, an ever-waiting group of open-air taxis will take you there in a 5-minute ride. It's very easy that way. The rooms themselves are not glamorous...basic is what I can say. However, with the view of the beach, you don't notice it. Yes, there is a kiddy program...and I can say at Christmas time, it was a little crazy, especially near the dock, reception, and the main restaurant. That's why we ate mostly at Turtle Restaruant there,,,anyway, it was more upscale and better food. However, as you will go before the holiday rush when kids are still in school,, I am sure you will have a quiet time. Okay...we also went to Jumby Bay. Very nice rooms...HUGE..awesome furnishings and design. Get one of the rooms with the outdoor shower as we did. So nice!! Service was good, the resort more upscale in general (sure, it's newer!!)..and great turquoise water. Lots of activity at the resort, and they give you bikes to ride around on. The private island that JB is on is very small and coral based....read;rather dry, and flat (no hiking!). I found it to feel more like a desert-type heat. There are some villas on the island, too for rent. There is a manager's cocktail one night a week with villa owners and guests of the hotel. I would say the clientelle/guests there are more "stuffy" than at Caneel (Caneel=old money...JB=nouveau riche). As it is a small island (tiny!), your husband might get antsy quickly...you could always take their ferry over to the main island, then a taxi to explore...if you want to..it's just not real convenient. One day, it rained...at night we were attacked my mosquitoes IN THE ROOM even through the mosquito netting of the bed...know the Expedia commercial??? That was us! That was the only real downside,and that was not fun. Well, I hope this has helped. If you have any questions, or I can send some photos of Caneel (none of JB on digital), let me know.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 01:29 PM
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don't know why it posted twice...second one is the whole text.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Just a note, Cap Juluca is a fantastic resort, but OP wants to snorkle from the resort, and be able to scuba dive, neither of which they can do. Also, can't walk to town, little to no shopping, and I don't believe biking/hiking are popular activites on Anguilla. By the way,even though it is my favorite island, I do not believe it meets OP requests. Just my 2 cents again.
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Old May 29th, 2005, 04:19 AM
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Forget the Caribbean and go to Maldives it is heaven on earth
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Old May 29th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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If time allows, you would absolutely LOVE French Polynesia, i.e. Bora Bora.....Over-water bungalows that allow you the freedom to snorkel right from your patio. Also, have friends who stayed on private island in Fiji called Wadigi. They were the only guests on the islands. They loved it. Depending where you are flying from can make a huge difference for this trip because you certainly can't get there quickly.
I have been researching Maldives lately and they seem to have the luxury we are look for, but time is a issue for us at this time in our lives. Someday...........
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Old May 31st, 2005, 04:41 AM
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I agree with the Caneel posters (tho we didn't think much of the food). Have been to Harbour Village on Boniare-- doesn't hold a candle to Caneel. Anguilla has no great snorkeling. Nor does Costa Rica or Bermuda. The grounds at Caneel are gorgeous; likewise the views. Very few kids, virtually none. (Sister property LIttle Dix on Virgin Gorda caters to kids.) Thing you might be disappointed in at Caneel is the rooms-- rather small and not terrific privacy. If pirce really is no object, absolutely request Cottage #4: superb! In short, Caneel has best snorkeling, hands down. Service is good. Tea (and other goodies) in the afternoon lovely. Fine hiking on other parts of the island-- in fact, you can walk from Caneel to Honeymoom Beach "next door": nice and private.

By the way, I'd be interested in hearing why you chose Peter Island over, say, Little Dix. Oh-- have you looked into Guana Island? Just thought of that, but haven't been there.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 02:55 PM
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I forgot to mention that Caneel, like Peter Island, Little Dix, Guana Island, etc, does not have t.v. If that's truly an issue with your husband, Caneel would be out. That would be too bad, because in most other senses the place is terrific. We're passionate snorkelers, by the way-- don't know how the diving is there. On Cayman, both the diving and snorkeling are very good, but as you mentioned, the Ritz isn't right on a good snorkeling beach. Also, Cayman is very unattractive (except underwater) and St John is quite beautiful.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 03:59 PM
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Hi All,

Many thanks for the wonderful responses. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness!!

We chose Peter Island mainly for the dive shop (I was getting my certification), the room, the food, and the fact that Little Dix catered to kids. I did not want to go to a resort where I had to deal with children on the beach or at dinner.

We went to PI 2 weeks after the beach front rooms were finished by Benji which was another factor!! The jacuzzi was heavenly and the place was quiet. We liked the fact that we only had to stay 4 nights. Basically, we went to Peter Island BEFORE it was so highly rated. Now it's tougher to go (on the wallet, minimum stay, more daytrippers, etc). I would like to check out the spa though!

We are narrowing down our search and rethinking Caneel. My husband would love the snorkeling off the beach.

Does anyone have good input on Parrot Cay? The Ocean Club is much more my style also but my concern is that it will be much colder in December and the snorkeling is not that great.
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