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“St John in my dreams but Caneel has room for improvement”
Review of Caneel Bay Resort

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Caneel Bay Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Caneel Bay
Certificate of Excellence
Fremont, California
Level Contributor
55 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“St John in my dreams but Caneel has room for improvement”
Reviewed 8 March 2014

My husband and I just returned from our first visit to St. John. For those who have not been, most of the island is national parkland so it is pristine, with long sandy beaches and unblemished land areas.

After reading reviews, I was pleasantly surprised by the accommodations. The cottages offer great views and are easy walking distance to most amenities. (I would have been disappointed if I had reserved a Garden Room, it is quite far from the beaches and restaurants.) That said, the reason why anyone would come to Caneel is for the beaches.

My husband and I enjoyed snorkeling at all of the beaches, especially Scotts Beach. We were never disappointed, each time seeing numerous turtles, beautiful tropical fish and large rays.

For those considering Caneel, I recommend considering the Allure package. This package came with a number of adventures on and off resort that helped make the vacation special including a dinner on the beach, picnic lunch, half day sail, sunset boat trip, and ecotour. One of the highlights for us was the Eco kayaking tour: we hiked on the premise and learned more about the history of the island, kayaked over to our favorite beach and learned how to look for the turtles ect (etc.). (Patrick was terrific!). The half day sail with Greg and Barbara was also one of our favorite days, not to be missed!

Sadly, the meals at Caneel do not meet the expectations of this beautiful hotel. The basic meal plan offers breakfast and dinner which was fine with us. Breakfast offered a satisfying buffet of various items in a nice, open air venue overlooking the main beach. Omelettes and pancakes/waffles are made to order. Dinners at either Turtle Bay or Zozo’s were enjoyable, and the view of Zozo’s should not be missed. As you can’t always get reservations at one of these two restaurants, the remaining venue was a dark and noisy restaurant (the Grill). There, the food was at best mediocre, with no view or island vibe. We learned early to ask to eat outside the restaurant and enjoy the sea breeze.

What was also confusing was, despite your meal plan selection, you were asked to sign for each meal and activity. My husband and I were quite sure we would have a “surprise” at check out and were relieved when this was not true. Nonetheless, having stayed at other “all inclusives” I think Caneel should consider a better system.

We greatly enjoyed our vacation at St. John and I hope to someday to return. Whether we elect to return to Caneel or vacation at a private home or smaller hotel is yet to be decided.

Room Tip: The Cottages are somewhat in the middle of the resort; giving a great view, being away from public b...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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4 Thank ZionHiker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
44 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 March 2014

February marked our 11th straight stay at Caneel and we are already booked for next year. The resort's seven spectacular beaches and 170 acre of plush island landscape are what makes the Caneel experience so wonderful.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank VimMcG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Birmingham, Alabama
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 March 2014

If you're a "resort" kinda person, this place is for you. Everything is done for you here, and you really don't even have to think about a thing, except what you will eat next.

It's a large resort property, once owned (as much of St John was) by Rockefeller, pristinely manicured, that has been around since the 40s when it's first origins of a "resort" took hold (with just 12 cottages). St John, and Caneel Bay in particular, have quite an interesting history recorded, dating back to the 600s. I suggest reading about it while you're planning your trip; it will make it that much more enjoyable when you see any of the numerous plantation buildings throughout the island, and understand their history. The land backs up to the US National Park, so it's basically uninhabited all around. Very peaceful, quiet, beautiful.

We were there for a wedding, and as the "stateside" pseudo-wedding planner, I had the coordination duties. Of course, since this was my family, I was super picky. And all of my needs were very well met by Vera Payne, the special events director. She had a staff of people at my disposal at all times. There wasn't a thing I didn't get immediately after I asked for it. She had everything planned out from the transportation into Cruz for the rehearsal dinner to the way the tables would be set up for dinner. If I had a change, it was met, delightfully.

While I LOVED the property, and the attentiveness of the special events folks, the resort falls short for what you pay for a room. In Mexico, I can stay at a Viceroy resort for just about $100 more (and this was LOW SEASON RATES for Caneel Bay, mind you), and get all meals, drinks, a butler, special services, a large villa with the most comfy bed I've slept in ever, a beautiful shower, an outdoor shower, and a dipping pool (and did I mention the dude who cleans my sunglasses at the pool? yah - it came with one of those too!). The rooms at Caneel Bay were nothing special, dirty, with uncomfy beds and cramped spaces. There was a tiny loveseat sized bench with a cushion built into a corner - but we used that as a place to put our day packs. SO, literally, there was no place to sit. Odd. The bathrooms were also a disappointment.

There are a few restaurant alternatives to choose from (see reviews: Caneel Beach Terrace Restaurant: yelp.com/biz/caneel-beac… & Beach Bar at Caneel Bay: yelp.com/biz/caneel-beac…). There's also the gelateria / coffee house, called Canella, Turtle Bay Estate House for fine dining, and Zozos, a well known restaurant which used to be in Cruz Bay, also serving fine dining fare. Kids eat for 50% off the menu prices - that's a plus if you have little ones.

Sailboats, Hobies, SUPs, kayaks and some snorkeling gear (not that you would use someone else's snorkeling gear) are available at no charge, or you can book a scuba, sailing or fishing trip.

In a nutshell, would I go back? Probably not unless their rates were at least half of what they are now. It's just not worth the price.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
10 Thank CaliGal089
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hawley, Pennsylvania
1 review
Reviewed 6 March 2014

We've been vacationing at Caneel for close to 15 years. The setting, the facilities and the staff are wonderful. The on site restaurants were great - offering a variety of options from casual fare to elegance. Caneel is a real jewel!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Nick D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 March 2014

We used to consider Caneel Bay a luxury, 4 star resort but no longer do . After spending a week there we wont be going back. You are now greeted and sent off with a loud, obnoxious DJ blaring the top 20 like it's spring break . We ordered room service on a few occasions and items were missing, cold, $8 toast that was damp white bread, nothing to put on it. etc.. that's fine but not when your being charged $40-$50 per person for breakfast.
Our $900 a night room had holes in all the screens so there were constantly mosquitos. The most disappointing was having an item stolen from our room so be sure to use the safe for anything of value. If you're really looking for a luxury resort in the Virgin Islands Peter Island resort is the way to go.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
14 Thank Stark25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MDCaneel, General Manager at Caneel Bay Resort, responded to this review, 7 March 2014
Dear Stark25,

Thank you for sharing your review on Tripadvisor, and regardless of the unfortunate reason that motivated this review, I do hope you accept my apologies for the disappointment you have shared regarding your most recent stay.
Please know, as you arrived on January 1st, we were in the final days of our festive Christmas holiday; a time where numerous daily activities are enjoyed by all. One of the most anticipated traditions we share, involves our managers, guests, as well as myself and our resort manager, showing a proper holiday farewell to those departing by jumping off our dock, as our ferry slowly pulls away. Part of this festive departure experience includes a DJ and music which is played for 10 to 15 minutes while our guests proceed down our dock, occurring only during our 3 daily departure times; this occurs 3 days per year. This is always a highlight and extremely popular for our guests and “friends” to enjoy, relive or experience second hand, our holiday spirit on our Facebook page.
Thank you again for your comments on several missed service opportunities, I have shared your comments with our team, as we continuously strive to enhance each experience we provide our guests and your feedback allows us that opportunity.
Again, my sincere apologies to you, and I do hope to have the opportunity to welcome you back one day in the future.

Respectfully,
Nikolay Hotze
Managing Director
Caneel Bay Resort
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 March 2014

Caneel Bay is amazing!!! We loved it and will definitely be back.

I'm will admit, my husband and I were hesitant to go based on some of the reviews we read on Tripadvisor. I'm so glad we ended up going. Caneel Bay is Heaven on Earth. The beaches are absolutely amazing...turquoise water and white sand. There are 6 Private beaches to choose from and they are all quite and beautiful. Our favorites were Scott Beach and Turtle Beach.

We rented a jeep for the day directly from the resort. We visited Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay, both are beautiful but just as pretty as the beaches at Caneel Bay. If you want to go to town and have dinner it's very easy to take a taxi right from the resort. We ate once at the Ocean Grill in Cruz Bay and it was good. Our meals at Zozo's and the Turtle Bay Estate house were excellent. Our favorite place to eat was the upstairs of the Beach Terrace where we would watch the sunset and enjoy a great meal. We preferred to have breakfast at the Estate House, felt the quality was better.

I completely disagree with the people who said the staff was unfriendly. The staff was extremely friendly! Anytime they saw us walking they always asked if we needed anything or a ride anywhere. They were very accommodating and extremely pleasant.

We did the sunset cruise offered through the resort which was really fun. It had live music, appetizers and was a great way to see the island.

The rooms are a little outdated but not nearly as bad as I thought after reading some of the reviews. The bed was quite comfortable and the room was very clean. The air conditioner worked great. Loved the shower made of stone. We had a garden view room and it was very nice. We both agreed if we went back we would splurge and upgrade to the ocean view...well worth it!! They don't have TVs or phone and the wireless can be spotty. We have Verizon and were able to call home and get good service.

Overall, Caneel Bay was fantastic. I think the price you pay is well worth it for just the natural beauty of the property and the beaches alone. If you prefer to have a state of the art room then this might not be the resort for you. We really weren't in our room too often, we were too busy enjoying the beautiful beaches.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank 638kristinaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
avon
Level Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 February 2014

We stayed at Caneel Bay Resort for 8 days in February of 2014. This was our second time staying there. I can't say enough good things about the resort. I agree with the reviewers who say the rooms need to be refreshed as they do. However they rooms we have stayed while older were clean in good repair and lacking for nothing.

The reason we have gone there is for the amazing setting. Caneel has at least 5 beaches. None of them were crowded when we were there. There are trees on all the beaches if you want out of the sun. The sand is soft and fine and the water is turquoise. We have found the snorkeling to be wonderful. We have seen rays, turtles and many different varieties of tropical fish. It doesn't get any better. The grounds are well maintained and you wont feel crowded as the rooms are spread out over many acres.

There are two places to have breakfast, one at Caneel beach and the other at Turtle Bay. We preferred Turtle bay because it is much quieter though they don't offer as much as Caneel. We had 3 dinners at Zozo's and the food was wonderful, certainly as good as our favorite places at home.. We had one dinner at Turtle bay which might have been the best dinner we had on the island. I do suggest taking a cab into Cruz Bay for a couple of dinners. There are some great places and it is only 5 minutes away by cab.

I would have to disagree with people who complain about the staff. In every instance when we needed something the staff came through for us. They are well trained, professional,and kind. We saw many of the same faces last year as this year. I suspect there is not a lot of turnover which speaks well of everyone.

We rented a car for a day this year. Keep in mind that they drive on the left side of the road there and the roads are very steep with hairpin turns. We went on a sunset cruise which was a lot of fun and interesting.

Room Tip: We stayed in Hawksnet which offers beachfront rooms and is close to both Turtle and Scotts. If I ha...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank chuckk5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Caneel Bay Resort

Property: Caneel Bay Resort
Address: PO Box 720, Caneel Bay 00831-0720, St. John (Formerly Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort)
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. John > Caneel Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Caneel Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Caneel Bay Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 166
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Also Known As:
Caneel Bay, a Rosewood Hotel Caneel Bay
Caneel Bay a Rosewood Resort
Caneel Bay Resort St John
Caneel Bay St John

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