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Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

CT
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for St. John
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Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

My work systems were done, so here it is!

I am not even sure where to begin. For those of you reading this that don’t know, I lived on STJ for 5 years in the 90’s. We travel back at least once a year and have always stayed in villas. This trip was supposed to be a bucket list resort vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Note that I was it was SUPPOSED to be!

I will not break this down in crazy detail, if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask them here or send me a PM.

Arrival day: This was not the exact arrival experience I was looking for but..

Our room was not ready and we sat at the beach café and had a drink and split a quesadilla. It was a good 90 minutes with no update so I went to the front desk to ask. Housekeeping had neglected to tell the front desk that our room was ready. I was a little ticked off but when we got to our room and I looked out at the view, my annoyance was gone. We stayed in room 72 on Scott Beach. We quickly unpacked and a friend arrived to drop off some provisions for the week (booze and snacks) and we hit the water!

After a bit of relaxing and cleaning up, we went to the Beach café for sushi and turned in very early. We had been up since 3:45 and we were exhausted.

Sunday: We were up with the sun and went for a run. I am a flat road runner so the hills were a little tough for me but we got in 2 miles and heading to the breakfast buffet. It was included in our room and was a great way to start the day. Back to the room and we were on the beach for the day. We did order lunch and a drink from the beach attendant but had to go to the Scott Bay bar to do so. With only one person manning the bar and the beach, service was very spotty all week. It was not a huge deal for us but I know that others on the beach were not happy about it.

Chip napped while I headed up to Turtle Bay for afternoon tea. It was busy and filled with kids, so I didn’t stay long.

Dinner that night was at Zozo’s. I will first say that the owner is a good friend, but I promise that I am not over embellishing because of that. We had an exceptional meal. Great wine and large entrees followed by delicious dessert. We went to the beach café for an afterdinner drink and turned in early. Again

Monday: I had a massage scheduled for 9:00am so we had an early breakfast and I headed to the beach cabana for an amazing massage. If you can add this to your trip, do it! The crash of the waves and the breeze through the palms was incredible.

We spent some more time on the beach with a bottle of champagne and then headed into town for a full day of visiting. Lunch at Gecko Gazebo was delicious, happy hour at Joe’s Rum Hut was great and dinner at the Banana Deck was great as well. Back to Caneel for Gelato and an evening swim and we were in bed early

Tuesday: Mary Point Hike followed by a quick dip and breakfast. I think we relaxed on the beach, had lunch at the beach café and then went back to the beach. It’s hard to remember. We had dinner at the bar at Zozo’s. Another wonderful meal

Wednesday: Hawksnest trail hike and breakfast followed by beach time for a bit. We headed into town about 12:45 to drop off some supplies we had brought down to the Animal Care Center and to visit with the dogs. We shared a sandwich at Sam and Jacks and then we went up to STJ Guest Suites for a tour. Disclaimer: Our friends own the property. Review: This is a great property. The finishes are high end and the amenities are great. Yes, it is a shared property with other rentals but if you are looking for a reasonably priced space with all the touches of a high end villa, this is the place for you.This is our new spot for a villa trip.

After the tour, we went out to Coral Bay for a villa dinner with friends.

Thursday: We slept in a little and had breakfast delivered to the room. Then we had friends come visit us on Scott Beach. We did have to get permission from the concierge for this and our guests needed to be with us at all times. We lounged on the beach, had drinks and lunch in the sand (service was better today) and were generally lazy. This is the day that they opened Scott to children due to the Easter holiday, or at least we were told that after asking why there were so many kids on the Quiet beach. I was a little miffed, but the kids were all very well behaved, I just wish I had been told. We have friends that live on STT so we met them for dinner in Red Hook and then headed back for Gelato and another moonlight swim

Friday: Our last full day. We went to breakfast and spent the entire day on the beach. This was the day that we had very slow service on the beach and waited forever for our lunch. Again, there is only one person working and they can not possible keep up with taking orders and making all the drinks. I felt bad for her.

We had some friends meet us for drinks as it was their first time on island and then had another meal at Zozo’s. it was a great experience again.

Departure Day: Breakfast in the room again and then we packed up and took the 10:30 ferry. We met Rachel for lunch and then headed to the airport for the long trip home

Random Thoughts:

This turned out longer than I thought :)

We LOVED Caneel, we are already looking to go back in November. It was so different than any other STJ trip. It really focused on rest and relaxation. I never felt rushed; I didn’t need to pack up the jeep(we didn’t rent one) and decide what beach to go to or find a place to park in town. The service from the vast majority of the staff was great. Yes, there were hiccups but they are to be expected anywhere. None of the issues lessened the experience for me.

There are a few suggestions that I did give; better beach service, small tables on the beach where there is beach service, and if you are opening a quiet beach to children that the guests staying on that beach should be notified.

What this trip did, besides allow my husband to actually relax and unwind, is discover that Caneel is a very different STJ experience. No better or worse than a STJ villa experience, just different. I know that STJ is quiet and mellow, but Caneel takes it to a new level. We did not take the shuttles opting to walk instead and it was just peaceful. Many evenings we did not see another person on our walk back to the room. There may be multiple beaches but we never went to them. We walked out of our room to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on and never ventured further. We never even saw the pool. Our vacation was all about us; from a resort service perspective and our personal perspective. We had more time to talk and more time to just enjoy each other’s company.

The burning question I know that many of you are thinking? Will we ever go back to renting villas? The answer is Yes! We will likely split our time between STJ Guest Suites and Caneel, I think that will give us the perfect balance on the island that we all love.

Thanks to all the Caneel Experts that answered my never ending questions :)

Thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions!

New Jersey
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1. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Thank you for the report. You answered my primary question which would be is it a more relaxing way to do STJ. I love exploring and all, but want a least one trip wear I dont need to run around.

How was your room?

CT
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for St. John
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2. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Our room was Nice. It is not luxurious and new but it was spacious and clean. Since we were Beachfront, we spent almost no time inside the room and almost all of our time on the patio or beach.

The one thing that I would have liked was a little more storage in the shower

I understand that rooms wil be updated this fall and I am hoping that they stay with the Caribbean feel and not update to a Ritz type of room decor.

Coral Bay, St. John
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3. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Sounds like a wonderful STJ trip! And glad to hear that Caneel found a place in your heart! As you know, it's a special property and an integral part of STJ's tourism. Thx for sharing your thoughts : )

Ridgewood, New...
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4. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Glad your trip worked out well! ZoZo's is our favorite restaurant, just as good at Caneel than in the old location, and with easier parking.

Friends of ours - much in need of a vacation after a long NYC winter, including a bout of pneumonia - recently stayed at Caneel for the first time. We saw them several times while they were there, and it was obvious that they were recovering a little more each day. Rooms at Caneel may look "out of date", but the location and the resort deliver on relaxation as promised.

chicago,IL
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5. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Where exactly are the St. John Suites? The rooms looked nice. Is it near the Gift Hill School area?

Glad you had a good trip. We overlapped with you. We went to ZoZo's and the Beach Bar. We were rushed though at ZoZo's. It was our anniversary and they put the check on the table after 45 minutes. My husband was not happy. They wanted to turn the table. Beach Bar service was so slow. We recognized some of the older staff. There was a manager there who was really rude (Riggerio) He was even rude to the staff. I agree with you about the children on Scott Beach. We were solo this trip too. Still love all aspects of St.John. Only place I see my husband relax. Caneel was not full so I hope new management listens to current guests suggestions. General Manager was never around. We don't want glitzy, but some things need updating.

CT
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for St. John
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6. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

I'm surprised to hear that about Zozo's, we were very leisurely as were many around us and I didn't see anyone rushed out.

STJ guest suites are just above chocolate hole, but you access them from the gift hill road just past the fish bay turn off

ny
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7. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Thank you for your trip report. I'm curious: do you have any tips that you wish someone had told you before your trip?

New Jersey
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8. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

I can understand the sentiment about keeping with a carribean feel and not going over the top. I hope whatever they do it is in keeping with the architecture and reminiscent of its past.

Corydon, Indiana
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9. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

Thanks for taking the time to write such a great report. It was very nice to have your particularly well rounded perspective. I believe Caneel is a unique experience. It certainly doesn't fit in with a typical resort.

We had a similar experience with our room not being ready but we always specify a room and the couple in it were taking advantage of AMEX late check out. While it wasn't Caneel's fault, I would have at least liked to have the option of switching to another room so we didn't have to wait. Last Thursday seems a little early to open the quite beaches for Easter but I assume they figure Passover in too and give it a ten day window or so. I agree that the guest should have been notified. We've never had food delivered on the beach, but have found the drinks delivery sometimes slow. We always use one of the beach chairs, not the loungers, as a table, but it does have it's hazards!

I also hope they don't make substantial changes in the style of the décor. I've always thought it was interesting that there are people who think teak chairs in a room could be called cheap and tacky. We go one month from today. I'm nearly beside myself with anticipation!

NY metro
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10. Re: Sooner than I thought! My Caneel Trip Report

I am so glad you had a great trip!

Dining on Scott is a really long putt. Order taken, Called in at the Scott Beach Bar, food cooked at a busy Beach Bar and Grill, usually at the height of the lunch rush, delivered back to the beach hut or then delivered either directly by the person picking it up at the beach bar or transferred to the person providing service on Scott. The place is simply not set-up for any kind of timely service. Given the aforementioned; it may be viewed as more of a chore than a service.

Maybe when they start delivering via drone ala Amazon.com. :-)

I have a much more effective and less aggravating experience by walking up to the Scott bar and getting my own drinks, or placing my drink order and--depending on how busy--having it delivered back to me.

Food? I always leave my towels and snorkel gear and make my way back to the beach bar and grill. Even If I don't return; my stuff is always good. No worries. I'm a jui-jiujitsu diner. I can sense the stress and go with the path of least resistance. Sometimes I get a table right away, sometimes not (day-tripper dependent).

Hotel F&B ops are a bear wherever you go.

Edited: 15 April 2014, 03:55