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virgin islands on line : st. john : hotel & villa reviews

Westin Resort & Villas 10/18/01
Reviewers Rating: Great
July 14 - 22, 2001

We checked in at the Westin office at the airport. They checked us in to the hotel, took care of our luggage and put us on a shuttle bus to the Charlotte Amalie Harbor to catch the ferry. The ferry trip took about 45 minutes and the seas were a little choppy, but a pleasant ride. The ferry took us right to the Westin's own dock, where we were greeted by resort staff that took our luggage and put us and another couple on a souped up golf cart for a short tour of the resort and the ride to our villas. We had booked a studio villa on the hillside to take advantage of the kitchen and laundry facilities in the villas. We were in the "lower" hillside villas that are actually across the main road from the rest of the resort. A bit of a hike down to the beach and resort and a steep ascent on returning to the villas. The resort has a shuttle truck that makes the rounds every twenty or thirty or forty minutes, depending on which way the wind is blowing. We caught a shuttle about 1/3 of the time and walked the rest.

The Westin grounds were immaculate! We were impressed by the resort from the minute we stepped foot there until we left. There was no construction or renovations occurring while we were there, although I've read some other trip reports where this was a distraction at other times. We had done our research and expected the villa to be nice, but we were still impressed by the condition of the villa. Nicely equipped kitchen, apartment sized washer/dryer, plenty of closet/drawer space, nice bath with great water pressure and an in-room safe. The Westin's "Heavenly Beds" are aptly named! We enjoyed grilling fresh fish on the grill by the small pool at the villas and having drinks around the decks with a view of Great Cruz Bay.

The Westin beach is nice white sand with very calm water in the bay. A huge floating trampoline in the bay provided a focal point for swimming and playing for kids (young and old). Plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas and small tables (uncrowded beach, an off-season bonus). Cruz Bay Watersports has every water toy available for rent down on one side of the beach. Very friendly, accommodating people running the concession! The bay itself remained murky for our entire stay and is NOT an ideal snorkeling spot. This beach is made for lounging and playing and is not a snorkel area. Too much boat traffic anyway.

We bought a couple of breakfast items and drinks at the convenience store (Mango Deli) and ate dinner at the Beach Cafˇ. The food was overpriced, but good. The only rude people we met our entire two weeks was at these two places. The two women working the Mango Deli were without a doubt the rudest, most uninspired employees we have ever come across. The hostess at the Beach Cafˇ told us there would be a one-hour wait for a table and since they closed at nine she wouldn't guarantee that we would even be fed. When we went over to the bar, we noticed some people eating there and asked the bartender if we could order there. Great bartender! He immediately assured us we could get whatever we wanted in the bar and quickly delivered our drinks and appetizers. Fifteen minutes after we seated ourselves in the bar and had ordered, the hostess came over and told us our table was ready. We demurred her offer and stayed in the bar for dinner. The restaurant itself is very nice. They served an excellent breakfast buffet on Sundays.

Monday we took the obligatory time-share tour and collected our 75 Westin Sand Dollars and were provided with a free lunch from the Mango Deli. A low pressure tour if you know haw to say no politely. We used our Sand Dollars on a Limnos trip later in the week. The Sand Dollars can be spent anywhere at the resort or a multitude of other places.

I picked up a rental car from O'Conner Rental located in the lobby of the Westin. $65 per day for a Jeep Wrangler. Very convenient as the vehicles are parked at the Westin. No worrying about returning the vehicle with gas either as they do not charge for that. Easy to pick up and drop off if you decide you don't need it for a day or two and save the rentals. I recommend them if you are staying at the Westin and even if you're not; they have a second location downtown.

We grilled grouper and Mahi-mahi from Starfish Market back at the villas, made daiquiris and enjoyed an evening with our villa neighbors.

I parasailed off Great Cruz Bay with a camera. They pick up right on the Westin dock of course. Starbucks coffee is provided daily by the Westin and then the breakfast buffet at the Beach Cafˇ on Sunday is $19 per person, worth it! Stuffed for the day! Checkout was a breeze and we caught the ferry to STT where we were staying for another week.

Rod Dillon

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