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Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Travel discussion for St. John

Moderator: The Mgmt.

Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby gardengal » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:57 am

So, it's been a very long time since I've been on St. John, about 7 years if my memory serves me correctly. We've been living abroad and have traveled all over Asia and Europe and have yet to find a place like St. John.

My daughter will graduate high school this year and in lieu of a gift or senior trip with her classmates to Croatia, she requested we do a family vacation in St. John.

As mentioned, we've been all over from Africa to Thailand and everywhere in between, her favorite place (and ours as well) is still St. John. We have always rented villas, Aqua Blu x2, Belle Mer x2, etc. etc. I forget the names.

We love the freedom of a villa however we are thinking about staying at Caneel Bay this go around. Anyone been lately? I know the rooms are crap, especially after staying at 5* resorts in Thailand and the Seychelles but the beaches and snorkeling are the main draw. We will need three rooms, so it's not going to be cheap.

Anyone been lately? Any thoughts over Caneel vs a villa?

Looking forward to going back home- so to speak. The only place that has even come close to St. John is the Seychelles, but not as user friendly as St. John. Although, the Four Seasons is LOVELY and a nice getaway from where we live.

Many thanks from the UAE, Kristi
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Re: Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby liamsaunt » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:57 am

Hi gardengal,

I was at Caneel Bay last week. Some of the rooms have been completely renovated, specifically the premium beachfront rooms, which are rooms 64-86. Of course, that is the most expensive room category! As you know, you are mostly paying for the access to the beaches and grounds. The snorkeling is still very good. The beaches are still gorgeous, and there is beach service (including food) on Scott and Caneel beaches. The grounds are lovely, and all of the animals looked healthy. The food has improved at all of Caneel's venues (we ate at them all). Zozo's is now located at Caneel Bay and it is as delicious as ever.

One time, we brought along my sister, her two kids, and my brother in law, so we also needed three rooms (my brother in law is John's brother, not my sister's husband). We rented three of the four ocean view rooms attached to the Turtle Bay Estate House (rooms 99, 100, 101 and 102). It was a great setup for us: two of the rooms were connected via an interior hallway, so we opened that up and made an apartment of sorts for John and I and my sister and the kids, and then my brother in law got the "bachelor pad" on the other side of the Estate House. it was off season, so the Estate House restaurant was closed, and we often had the entire Estate House patio to ourselves in the evenings.

My personal preference is to spend a few days at Caneel and then head off to a villa for the majority of the vacation. That gives you the best of both worlds: access to Caneel's snorkeling, and then the space and privacy of a villa.

FYI too, Caneel will now allow you to come back and take their ferry at the conclusion of your vacation, even if you have moved offsite. That is a change from their prior policy, and we took advantage of it on Monday.
It's like looking in your soup and finding a whole different alphabet.
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Re: Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby gardengal » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:16 am

Thanks Liaumsaunt for you detailed response. As we are booking very late, beggers can't be choosey. I'd love for my daughters to be close to our room but we've gotten over that little detail when we stayed in Sri Lanka for our first expat vacation and our girls were situated a floor down and about 15 rooms away. Talk about freaking out, thankfully I quickly got over my issues and we lived to vacation together, yet solo with the girls always having their own room. It was amazing! ;) What a way travel!

We will decided next week how this graduation present/trip is going to roll. I think we may split between a villa and Caneel. This will keep everyone happy. Although truth be told, I'd rather just stay at Caneel and be a beach bum for the 10 day trip.

I seriously just want to snorkel and relax. Everyone else will dive and hike, not me- not this trip. We just did a big Thailand liveaboard Dive trip last Christmas, my bucket is full. I want peace and a nice drink in hand.

One other thing, has St. John changed all that much in the last 7+ years?
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Re: Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby iheartsj » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:51 pm

Yes, St. John has changed a lot in 7 years. The beaches are more crowded. Tourists have found what in the past were primarily local's beaches. Many more rental jeeps on the roads. But it is still a magical place.

You don't have to stay at Caneel to snorkel there. There is a $20 parking fee if not a Caneel guest but you will get it back if you spend $20 on property. There is a nice bar with eats right on the beach. You can use the beach but not the chairs.
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Re: Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby Pickle » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:23 pm

I second iheartsj, St. John seems busier and the beaches are more crowded now. I know of some used-to-be regular visitors who have steered away from the island for that reason. As for us, our admiration for St. John hasn't changed and we still visit the island annually - often twice a year.

The funny thing is that we are not sure if we can make it to St. John this year (which is dispiriting... and is not the funny part) but we are traveling to Croatia - the destination your daughter has turned down (our purpose of the trip is to attend MBZ/Music Biennale Zagreb, so we'll be mostly in Zagreb and its vicinity and won't have time to visit the coast, unfortunately). I'm hanging on to the hope that we will somehow find a way to St. John this year... we'll have to see.

You will find some new-to-you shops, bars and restaurants, as well as your old favorites, I imagine. The island, its beaches, water and greenery are beautiful regardless of how many of us visitors you might find. I wish you and your family a happy return and wonderful time on St. John!
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Re: Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby gardengal » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:34 am

Pickle wrote:I second iheartsj, St. John seems busier and the beaches are more crowded now. I know of some used-to-be regular visitors who have steered away from the island for that reason. As for us, our admiration for St. John hasn't changed and we still visit the island annually - often twice a year.

The funny thing is that we are not sure if we can make it to St. John this year (which is dispiriting... and is not the funny part) but we are traveling to Croatia - the destination your daughter has turned down (our purpose of the trip is to attend MBZ/Music Biennale Zagreb, so we'll be mostly in Zagreb and its vicinity and won't have time to visit the coast, unfortunately). I'm hanging on to the hope that we will somehow find a way to St. John this year... we'll have to see.

You will find some new-to-you shops, bars and restaurants, as well as your old favorites, I imagine. The island, its beaches, water and greenery are beautiful regardless of how many of us visitors you might find. I wish you and your family a happy return and wonderful time on St. John!


Pickle, we visited Croatia right after the war (bullet holes still in buildings in Zagreb), there were NO tourists. It was magical and something that has stayed with me. I can't bring myself to go back, I'm afraid it will be spoiled in my memory. Have a great trip, we LOVED it. Loved it is an understatement.
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Re: Been away A LONG time! But coming back 'home!'

Postby gardengal » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:43 am

Thanks everyone for the tips and advice. We ended up renting villa Amarosa for a week and on the back side picked up a few days at Caneel Bay. Thanks for the tips everyone, especially Liamsaunt on Cannel.

I'm horrible with trip reports but will post an update when we are done. It's funny, we travel so much living in the UAE that this holiday doesn't seem like a big deal as in the past. Living in the states our St.John holiday was the one and only. Now, we are jetting off every couple of months to some place exotic. As I type, my daughter is in Laos with a school service trip. Over Christmas break we were in Istanbul, Turkey and then my husband and I stayed in a beach villa on Sir Bani Yas Island.

I'm hoping that St. John will wow me with the 'nothingness' and I don't mean that in a bad way, I just want a beach, a lawn chair and a good book. It's a bit refreshing not to view temples, hike to mystical places, and be on ALL the time. Give me a great bottle of wine, and a view and I'll be a happy camper. :)
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