Westin St. John trip report

Sep 12th, 2002, 02:53 PM
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Westin St. John trip report

My husband and I just returned from a week-long vacation on St. John (Sept. 2nd-9th). We stayed at the Westin St. John after "Pricelining" the room for $70 per night. Our weather the entire week was wonderful, but very hot. I thought it might be helpful to post my trip report for those who have questions about using Priceline as well as for those who have questions about staying at the Westin St. John.
We arrived in St. Thomas and took the public ferry to St. John. The public ferry out of Charlotte Amalie cost $7 per person which seemed like a deal compared to the Westin's charge of $65 per person roundtrip. Once we arrived on St. John, we picked up our jeep we rented for the week from Courtesy Car Rental. The total cost for the jeep for the week was $325.
We drove to the Westin and checked in. We were put in a gardenview room (building 24). We asked for an upgrade, but they told us this would cost an extra $50 per day. We decided to stay in the gardenview room. Our reservation was clearly marked "Priceline," so I don't know if we did not get an upgrade because of this or if they are just tough about giving upgrades. Nevertheless, we were very pleased with our gardenview room. The room was just a short walk from the room to the lobby or the pool. Two years ago we stayed at Caneel Bay in a premium room on Scott's Beach. In my opinion, the Westin gardenview room was much nicer than Caneel Bay's room (minus the fact that the premium rooms at Caneel Bay open up onto a fabulous beach!).
The pool at the Westin was huge and very nice. We spent a lot of time there, especially at night because the pool is open 24 hours a day. We spent very little time at the Westin's beach, however. The actual beach itself was fine, but the water was murky, and I didn't like swimming there. When we wanted beach time, we headed to Honeymoon Beach on the Caneel Bay grounds. We also spent time at Salomon Beach, Hawksnest Beach, and the Caneel Bay beach.
We ate the majority of our breakfasts at Chilly Billy's in Cruz Bay where we could both eat for about $15 total (bacon, eggs, etc.). We ate the Caneel Bay breakfast buffet one morning for $25 per person. If we ate lunch, we usually ate a burger or sandwich from Snorkels, the Westin pool bar, or Skinny Legs in Coral Bay.
We never ate dinner at the Westin. We were very disappointed at the number of restaurants closed this time of year due to the low season - Asolare, Lime Inn, Stone Terrace, Cafe Roma. We ate one night at Chateau Bordeaux. While the view and service was amazing, the food simply was not. Another night we ate at Turtle Bay - the restaurant at Caneel Bay. When we arrived, we noticed that beside our name on the reservations list was "Westin." As a result, we were clearly treated as second-class citizens. Our service was terrible, and the waiter was impolite, while the service at the surrounding tables was impeccable. We were very disappointed in the way Caneel Bay treated us, especially since we had stayed there before.
To sum things up, using Priceline to stay at the Westin was the way to go. $70 per night sure beat the $450 per night we spent at Caneel Bay two years ago. The Westin resort is beautiful, but it is a must to rent a jeep to spend time on other beaches on St. John. I would be happy to answer any questions anyone has!
Sep 12th, 2002, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for the report, my wife and i are going the last week of october and i have a pool view room (how are they?)I cant believe all those restaurants were closed, when are they going to reopen? How did you get to the beach at caneel bay, did you have to park in their guest lot and walk about 1/2 mile? did your car rental company in st. john let you park your car in cruz bay? thanks for the help
Sep 12th, 2002, 07:48 PM
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From one Becca to another... thanks for the great trip report! We are in the midst of planning our honeymoon, have decided on St. John, and are in the process of weighing our accomodation options - Caneel, Westin, or villa. Still have not decided which way to go. I appreciate you posting your experience! Take care, Rebecca
Sep 12th, 2002, 10:31 PM
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Sorry, but I wouldn't even pay $25 a night for a room at the Westin!!!
Sep 13th, 2002, 04:20 AM
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That's great. That way I never have to worry about running into you and ruining my vacation.
Sep 13th, 2002, 06:21 AM
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Hi Becca! We stayed at the Westin 3 years ago and would consider going back if we got a good deal like yours.

Were there any additional fees (resort fees, taxes?) when you arrived at the Westin that were not covered by your Priceline bid? I remember there was a $10-15 resort fee per day, was that covered?
Sep 13th, 2002, 07:17 AM
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Well, Rob, if you mean that you feel much better about your wise consumership by paying $350/night for a room at Caneel with Hampton Inn quality accommodations, by all means, feel wise.
(We won't bother to tell you, Mr Emperor, that you're not wearing any clothes).
Sep 13th, 2002, 07:34 AM
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For the person who is weighing Caneel vs. Westin, my feeling is that the only reason to choose the Westin is to save money. If you can afford Caneel, by all means go there.

The cost of Caneel certainly isn't justified by the rooms, it's justified by the incredible setting: a large, lush property with a limited number of low-rise accommodations; several beautiful beaches with clear water and excellent snorkeling.

Caneel's restaurant prices are ridiculous, in my opinion, but Cruz Bay is just a few miles away.

If you can get one of those $70/night deals at the Westin, it may make sense to stay there, rent a 4WD, and spend your beach time elsewhere on the island.

Has anyone gotten a really good price at the Westin during "high season" (Feb. and March) ?

Sep 13th, 2002, 03:17 PM
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We recently stayed at the Westin in St. John and we certainly could have afforded Caneel Bay but made the decision to stay at the Westin. Saw the accomodations at Caneel and spoke to those who stayed there and they WERE NOT (as we were not) impressed at all! What does the property spend all that money on? The ONLY redeeming thing that I could see about Caneel was the beaches. No pool to speak of and really no "atmosphere" at all. Part of my vacation experience includes my room/suite and the one I had (suite) at the Westin was FAR above what I saw at Caneel. Just my opinion, though.
Sep 13th, 2002, 07:54 PM
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So great to hear people raving about the Westin. I've been on this board for years touting the virtues of the Westin and I am usually alone and met with comments like Rob's. Thanks for the memories.
Sep 13th, 2002, 09:05 PM
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I'll try to answer all the questions everyone had.

Bob: I didn't see inside the pool rooms, but they are in a great location. The only thing wrong with them that I can think of is that they might be a bit noisy at night due to the pool being open 24 hours a day. As far as the restaurants go, I am pretty sure that Asolare was only going to be closed during the week that we were there. I'm not sure about the other restaurants. When we went to Caneel Bay, we parked in the guest parking lot and walked into the resort. No one stopped us and asked why we were there or where we going. Our car rental company did not provide parking in St. John. It was not really necessary during the low season, though; parking was pretty easy to find.

Mariarosa: We did have to pay the $12 resort fee per day in addition to our Priceline rate. We did not have to pay any additional taxes; we already had paid $30 in taxes through Priceline.

CDT: I seem to remember a posting awhile back about somebody getting the Westin for $70 a night during high season, around February or March. Check biddingfortravel.com to see if anyone got a good rate through Priceline during high season.

Finally, I agree about the comments made on Caneel Bay vs. the Westin. If we were rolling in money, we probably would have stayed at Caneel - not for the rooms, but for the beaches. The beaches are unbelieveably nice and private at Caneel. That being said, though, we were very pleased with the Westin's rooms, service, pool, and the grounds, especially considering the great price we paid.
Sep 13th, 2002, 09:29 PM
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it would be interesting to know who of the caneel-critics have stayed there and those who have stayed at both who can compare the actual accomodations, amenitites and resorts. For $70 a night the Westin is fantastic and it can get you on a great island but having stayed at both I can find little to compare the two properties. You are paying for the beaches, amenities, personal service and the property at Caneel and for the added pleasure to walk onto and snorkle, swim and enjoy wonderful natural beaches some of them right outside your room and a resort atmosphere. I take strong issue with the Motel6 remark since I found that atmosphere and ambience in the small dark tightly sealed rooms at the Westin overlooking a pool hearing CNN blasting from the TV at the pool just not what some want in a Caribbean retreat but for the standard hotel atmosphere it is fine. Vrigin Grande was built to compete with Caneel as another luxury property (on a filled in swamp) but until Westin took it over as a more moderate priced property, it couldn't make it as a luxury property even with several different management companies. There is nothing wrong with Caneel nor with the rooms and amenities and nothing wrong with the Westin but the differences are real and not subtle. You pay for those differences and you pay for what you get. The issue of Caneel being worth the prices its charges is another issue but since it's the only other game in town, they can charge whatever the traffic will bear and you don't find them cutting the prices for specials to get folks to stay there. And they have good occupancy rates without that so they must be doing something right.
Sep 13th, 2002, 11:05 PM
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Thanks, KarenW--oops, I mean "wondering!"

Note to May: I don't like the Westin OR Caneel (agree with you 100% about their rooms) OR St. John at all--PERIOD!! And for someone to refer to the grounds at Caneel as "lush" is just preposterous!! I'll take Grand Cayman, St. Barts, Hawaii or even Cancun over St. John ANY day, thank you very much!!
Sep 15th, 2002, 08:15 AM
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St John is spectacular. Would not stay at either Caneel or Westin when you have your choice of numerous gorgeous villas with pools, spectacular views and PRIVACY!.

You should check into looking at villas.
Sep 15th, 2002, 01:23 PM
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Okay, Rob, I'll concede that Caneel isn't "lush" in the Maui sense. Maybe I should have used the word "scenic" instead. At any rate, there certainly aren't many Caribbean resorts with a better setting.

I will confess to a bias: in selecting a place to stay, my top three priorities are beach, beach, and beach. Maybe snorkeling is #4. With these criteria, Caneel's a clear choice. Too bad it's so damn expensive.

Sep 15th, 2002, 01:59 PM
One of many
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Don't bother replying to Rob with any degree of seriousness.
He's a nasty viscious thug with too much time on his hands.
He spends his time attacking the USVI on various travel boards and attacking the other people who post.
This is factual, he very nearly destroyed my computer with a virus he sent to me in an email. Another reason I will never use my real email address on any travel board.
Sep 15th, 2002, 04:55 PM
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I don't know anything about Rob or his viruses, but I do agree that At. John just isn't for me period, whether it's Caneel or Westin.
Everyone is different, to be sure, but the kind of luxury resort I'm willing to shell out hard earned $ for doesn't exist on SJ.
Sep 19th, 2002, 11:59 AM
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Becca (or anyone else who has experienced Priceline),
Could someone get a raw deal with Priceline if they're traveling with two children and requesting a "resort" hotel, such as Caneel Bay or Gallows Point, where kids are either univited, ill-advised, or, in the case of Caneel, unable to stay in the same room (maximum of 3 per room)? I know that Priceline guarantees the room for two adults, but what about family travelers?
I asked Priceline, but they were evasive and non-committal.

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