USVI fans, lend me your ears!

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Aug 6th, 2011, 10:36 AM
  #1
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USVI fans, lend me your ears!

Hi, y'all. My husband and I have a trip coming up in October with one of our granddaughters to celebrate her 13th birthday. She is too late in getting her passport application started, so we're necessarily limited to Puerto Rico and the USVI. I've stumbled across some outrageously good airfare to STT and SJU, so now I need your advice.

I had originally thought to book us into a beachfront resort in San Juan for 4 nights. Not my first choice, certainly, but I thought it would appeal to her. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me last night that she thought she'd prefer someplace smaller, "more Caribbean-y."

I was considering a repeat trip to Vieques with like we did with her cousin a few years ago, but the biobay won't be running tours during our dates of Oct 6-10. I liked Vieques very much, but most of that appeal was centered on the biobay visit and without it I don't feel the same urge to return to Vieques.

So that leaves the USVI. I know that I would prefer St. John to the other locations, but with only 4 nights, it seems like a giant hassle to get to & from there to St. Thomas. But for the perfect place, I'd do it. So that's why I'm asking for your advice. We'd like recommendations for an inn, B&B, small hotel, apartment, or villa in St. John that offers us a/c in the bedrooms. Since not many places are on the water, I'd like it to have at least a pool and for it to be charming & quaint. Luxury not so much an issue, though we want things to be comfortable and not dirty or falling apart. About $200/night, which I'm hoping won't be an issue because it's low-low season.

I'm not opposed to STX, but airfare is significantly higher there than to STT or SJU. And I'm not wholly opposed to STT, if you have great suggestions for that island instead.

Thanks muchly!
emily
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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St John best more intimate

Not hard to get to at all just a ferry ride

maho.org

vrbo.com private villas

betterbidding.com excellent deals on the Westin from $100

Gallows Point

Caneelbay.com best bit of a budget buster but awesome.

For St Thomas more crowded touristy rent a car stay

around www.magenspoint.com nice for price used to own

a condo there VERY pretty part of the island.

San Juan Vieques(more of a hassle to get to) touristy

more metro bigger not as great as St. John for beaches.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:26 PM
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weather2travel.com Climate guide lots of rain in Carib in Oct..

Usually prefer www.konaweb.com www.stayhawaii.com in Fall

Kohala Coast beautiful less than 1 inch rain in Oct usually

Hapuna Prince great values there on Priceline packages

for me under $1k pp last including hotel air car

direct 4 hour flights from LAX would be lots dryer for you...
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Aug 6th, 2011, 01:52 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions, but Hawai'i is definitely out. Entirely too far to go for only 4 nights. Gallows Point is about $100/nt OVER our budget and Caneel Bay, while lovely, is impossible. I will definitely look into VRBO, though, as individual owners are as likely to cut us a price break as anyone.

brenandg, you out there? Any suggestions? I've heard back from Lavender Hill that the three of us can share a 1 BR for $195/nt plus tax. Looks cute. Do you have any thoughts on that?
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Aug 6th, 2011, 03:03 PM
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Try Secret Harbour on STT. www.secretharbourvi.com
Nice condo hotel on calm water beach with good snorkeling.
Good restaurant on site. Close to Red Hook ferry for a day trip to St. John.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 03:47 PM
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Biobay trip on St.Croix is amazing. Also they have rain forest, tide pools(an amazing hike or jeep trip) lots of fun for teenagers. Carambola resort is great for kids her age - we always do vrbo but for just a few nights that would be great. Best bio-bay ever and they let them jump outta boats to swim
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Aug 6th, 2011, 04:03 PM
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ejcrowe- I corresponded with these owners about a trip next spring that we are not taking after all - they were very nice and the unit seems very well located for walking in Cruz Bay to restaurants, etc. and has a reserved underground parking space and (it looks like) a great view of all the activity in the harbor.
http://www.vrbo.com/268587
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Aug 6th, 2011, 04:11 PM
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PS These were also good prices for a decent place it seemed-

http://www.serendipstjohn.com/

and vrbo # 296905 Stowaway
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Aug 6th, 2011, 04:26 PM
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Thanks, ishkribbl. I've just looked at their VRBO site and sent them an inquiry. I hope that if you're not going to STJ in the spring that you've got something else planned that's fun.

Ken, I've heard good things about Secret Harbour, so if we end up on STT, I'll give it a shot.

Mlynn, as I mentioned, airfare to STX is prohibitive but thanks anyway.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 04:38 PM
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ejcrowe- we are paying for our daughter's wedding in December so we are going on less expensive travels in the spring. The Exumas are calling me back and we found a great deal on a house so we are going there for 9 days in May. I have kept all of my research for SJ/Jost van Dyke combo trip that will have to wait until 2013 unless we hit the lottery. I hope you find a great place and have a wonderful time. My (2nd) husband and I got married on Hawksnest Beach there 10 years ago so we wanted to go back since we have not- have gotten as close as Virgin Gorda last year and an almost free/hard to refuse trip to ST in June. Please let me know what you find if it will work for 2 people for a good rate.
Oh, and by the way, we did love Culebra, too- never been to Vieques but Culebra is certainly a little off beat and "caribbean-y". And, don't know where you live or fly out of but since you said "y'all" I will tell you that Delta flies to Great Exuma twice a week and I know where you might get a good deal on a house in October - might be too laid back for 13 though!

PS St Thomas is not for us but if I were to ever stay there again (we have passed through several times but have not stayed until this last trip) I would choose Secret Harbour from all the places we saw when we were there- just in case you do end up in ST. The granddaughter might enjoy it, too.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 05:02 PM
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I would love to Great Exuma--the out islands have been calling my name for some time. It's just that our granddaughter and her parents have been too lax about applying for her passport. Since they've not even sent off the paperwork yet and the trip is less than 8 weeks out, I want to play it safe by staying within US territories. But if we ever get to any of the Exumas, I'll hit you up for the house info!

Happy news about your daughter's wedding, though!
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Aug 6th, 2011, 05:08 PM
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oops= I forgot that I read the part about the passport. I do think it would be a little anxiety provoking to wait for even an expedited one. Hope you find a great place.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 06:41 PM
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Hi EJ and Ish! We're doing Staniel Cay June or July of 2013. Kristen will probably go too. Just sayin... Might be fun to do a fodors gathering, especially if the Exumas are on your to do list!

EJ, those serindip condos look pretty nice for that price! And walking distance to Cruz bay is a plus, especially with your grandaughter! Did you see that St. John Brewery now has a new drink -R&R -Rootbeer and Rum? You'll have to try it and let us know what you think!
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Aug 7th, 2011, 04:37 AM
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Big fan of St John here and have always done the VRBO thing. If you can not find a villa for a short stay you may want to consider Estate Lindholm. I have never stayed there but, have always read favorable reviews on it. As soon as you confirm a place, reserve a 'jeep' rental. You'll want to make the most of those four days.

http://www.estatelindholm.com
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Aug 7th, 2011, 06:08 AM
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ishkribbl,
Hate to steal this thread, but did you make a decision on a place for your daughter's honeymoon.

ejcrowe,
I renewed my passport this past Feb. and received my new one in two weeks! You never know.
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Aug 7th, 2011, 09:23 AM
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Hi Kellybeaches,
We loved Staniel Cay (Key Lime, June 2009) so I hope you have a great time and wish we could get to meet you but we are going to Great Exuma- have rented a house near Georgetown for a trip in May 2012. I hope the expansion of SCYC doesn't do anything to diminish the unique character of the place- it is a fun trip!

Schmerl-
The jury is still out- since I started helping look she got a job teaching Kindergarten this year (yeah!!! she has been working other jobs and trying to get a school job for 2 years) so they are even talking about delaying their honeymoon until her spring break which would also give them more time to save for it,more choices of destinations, and she would not be away from her little ones the week before Christmas break. I suggested some of the places you told me about and the ball is in their court now. Thanks for asking and thanks for all the great help.

ejcrowe- did you have any luck with the condos in SJ?
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Aug 7th, 2011, 10:02 AM
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ej, Wish I could help you out more but we have only stayed at Gallow's Point and Grande Bay. GP has become out of our price range too. We have friends that stay at Lavender Hill and love it. I have not personally seen the units. Be careful of what people advertise as walking distance to Cruz Bay! Most are really not IMHO. Even Lavender Hill has 2 hills to navigate. The one is up to GP and then another hill up to LH. The one to GP is not bad at all. I really like Grande Bay for the convenience to town. You may be able to find decent rates on VRBO. I have many acquaintences who really like Cruz Views for a budget accomodation, but my understanding is that they are very basic units. They advertise walking distance to town but the hill is HUGE and I certainly would not walk back up it. I have also been noticing St John Boutique Motel, not to be confused with The St John Inn. I didn't even know it was there. It is smack in the middle of town above Da Livio restaurant. You might also want to look at Star Villas. Also very basic. Knowing your tastes somewhat, I would definitely go to STJ over STT. The whole taxi, ferry thing is really very easy! You can sometimes find more reasonable deals on the Coral Bay side of the island, but it is more remote to restaurants and such. With only 4 days, I would recommend the Cruz Bay side. Cruz Bay is a great little town to walk around and safe. If you choose STJ, I have many restaurant and beach recommendations! I'll post again if I can think of any other places to stay. I'm thinking LH might be a nice spot for you. It does overlook a small cemetary but also the Cruz Bay Harbor. I only mentioned that because I have read complaints about it. We have become so used to that little cemetary that it doesn't bother us in the least.
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Aug 7th, 2011, 10:57 AM
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Wow, thanks for the explosion of responses, y'all! I wish Estate Lindholm would work for us but their rooms are too small to accommodate 3 people and we cannot afford two rooms.

My husband and I will look at some of these other condo properties when he gets home tonight and hopefully we'll book within a few days.

Brenandg, would you recommend Grande Bay over Lavender Hill based on location and the relative newness of the property? Which unit(s) have you stayed in at Grande Bay?

RE: the walk into town from these properties. I'm not in such great shape that I'll want to walk UP the hill after dinner in the evening after a long day of snorkeling. But do you think it's feasible to walk down the hill for dinner and catch a taxi back up? I've heard that parking is crazy-difficult in Cruz Bay, so even though we're getting a rental car I'm not sure that we'd find place to park it during dinner.

I'll start another thread to get restaurant recommendations, but if you have any to suggest now, I'll take 'em. Our granddaughter does NOT have an adventurous appetite, so we'll need places that offer some standard pub fare like burgers, chicken fingers, pasta in addition to more interesting fare that my husband and I will prefer.

Thanks again!
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Aug 7th, 2011, 12:19 PM
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Ish, thanks for your feedback on Staniel Cay-glad you liked it! It looks like they're only building 2 more cottages per their FB page photos, but either way, I'm sure it'll be fine. Plan is to book this winter-they're now booking out a year in advance!

EJ, check w/Kristen on restaurant rec's in Cruz Bay-they just got back and there is a new one that opened that they loved. I can't remember the name though.

I hear Rhumblines is good too -I actually ran into the owner at a Buffett concert in Atlantic City, NJ. Random! She was very nice!

Can't wait to hear all about it! Not sure if you guys want to leave the island at all, but if you can do a 1/2 day trip to Soggy Dollar for lunch-it's awesome. You've already done the Baths so I'm not sure if you would need a full day trip to squeeze that in, but Soggy Dollar is worth the 1/2 day trip!
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Aug 7th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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ej, Here is the link to the unit we have stayed in our last two trips.

http://www.vrbo.com/274240

The first time at GB, it really wasn't open yet and we went through a not too reliable broker, so I don't have the vrbo#. What I didn't like about that unit for more than a couple was that the bathroom was accessable only from the bedroom. I REALLY loved our unit that I posted a link for. It is above your price range. But, it is gorgeous and new!! Beautiful kitchen, washer and dryer, and bathroom is separate from the bedroom. Lots of outdoor deck space too. I really can't say enough good about it.We have booked it again for the third time for Thanksgiving week if that says something! Having said that, I want you to know that staying "in town" is probably not for everyone. We really like the convenience to restaurants without having to drive. This unit has parking in a covered shelter too.

As for the question about getting a taxi back up to places near town, yes, no problem. But keep in mind that the rate is per person. All but one trip, we have rented from Cool Breeze which doesn't have a lot in town. We like them because they are not fussy about sand being in the vehicle upon return. Tough to avoid that! I also think Lavender Hill could be a value, but if it were me, I would stay at Grande Bay. But, to each his/her own preference . With a 4 day stay, you would be close to pretty much everything.
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