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“It ain't what it used to be”
Review of Caneel Bay Resort

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Caneel Bay Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Caneel Bay
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 29 May 2014

First let me state that my view of the resort has been swayed by the natural and enhanced beauty of the grounds. I've been there at least once a year for the last eight years, and twice a couple of years ago.

Property oversight has shifted since last year, and according to the hype, Caneel would retain all the great things we remember and improve. Well, the grounds still look about the same. And they have made a few "improvements" like adding a wooden hut that blocks the view of Caneel Beach to handle snorkel equipment. (The other place was completely adequate.)

They added a gelato/coffee shop! It's owned by the general manager's wife. To ensure you see it, you now have to walk by the shop to get to the taxi stand to leave the property. They tore up the old walkway so you can't bypass it without going in the street.

The transfer boat from St. Thomas to the property was in poor repair and did not have working lights. The bathroom was pitch black. I had to stand guard over the room leaving the door wide open so it could provide my wife enough light to take care of her needs. She was embarrassed by the entire incident as it unfolded before many strangers.

Room 96 was run down. It has broken light fixtures. It has poorly touched up walls using a different color paint. How lazy. They close for two months each year for upkeep and that was the best they could do. It probably saved a gallon of paint and a half day labor. There are many dead bugs in the light fixture covering the shower overhead light. There are ants running all over the bathroom.

We were there for 9 nights. There were days when no ice was left in the room. One day someone actually took our ice chest and i had to call housekeeping to get another one. They delivered it later that evening; empty. On other days ice was provided late in the day. Only two or three times was it provided in the morning as one would expect.

While the room was cleaned nicely each day, the normal evening turn down service was provided most nights, but not on the last night. There were no fresh towels left for the last night either.

On the second Saturday night of our stay, there was a large wedding reception on the point preceeded by a wedding on Turtle Beach. The wedding caused a major disruption to our beach stay because it caused the lounge chairs to be cramped together so the wedding could take over a sizable portion of the beach infront of the Estate House.The hubub of putting the chairs and decorations out distracted greatly from the reason we go to Caneel; tranquility, peace and quite. The reception was outrageous, blasting loud amplified music from late afternoon until after 10PM that evening.

Our room cost after taxes approached $700 per night. For a run down room, the noise, and the extortion the property charges "non-preferred" vendors for use of the dock, you might want to look hard at renting a villa. There are some pretty amazing private properties on St. John that offer everything Caneel used to offer and a better price.

Room Tip: Hawksnest rooms have larger closet and bathroom areas. The airconditioning often causes the floors...
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with friends
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8  Thank FUNDOUG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 29 May 2014

My wife and I (along with another couple) just returned from a long weekend at Caneel Bay. The Island of St John and the Caneel property and beaches are spectacular. Unfortunately, most of the time we spent away from the main reception area and beach, we had much less than spectacular customer service. We planned to spend one day at Turtle Bay beach (on the property)--we took the shuttle trolley over (the shuttle service was a bright spot--very frequent). Once at the beach we tried to go to the nearby bar/restaurant--it was closed. So we called the front desk on our cell phone asking if we could get some water, ice, etc-- they said they'd send someone over---we waited an hour--called again...waiting another half-hour and then went over to Scott Beach, which has a very small beach bar --and a very nice bartender...we were also able to order food from her which came from the lobby restaurant. We spent the next two days at Scott Beach because we heard similar stories from the other more remote beaches on the property. Sitting in the hot sun at Turtle Bay without access to water is not only uncomfortable, but unsafe--we were thankful we didnt have children with us!
FYI, Wifi service was also VERY spotty--we had to go out on our patio to receive any type of wifi service (i was happy to be forced to "disconnect" from the world a bit--but can imagine others may not be so appreciative). One more issue-- we had chartered a small boat to take us island hopping around the BVI. We used Trip Advisor and booked a month before arriving. When our captain pulled the boat up to pick us up at the resort's dock he was told of a new policy of charging $250 to pick up guests...even registered guests at the resort. He was told that the resort has a new "agreement" with another charter--based in ST Thomas NOT St John--and any other companies would now have to pay this prohibitive fee...again, terrible customer service to guests wanting to make independent (and less expensive) plans with a LOCAL charter company. There WERE positives besides the natural beauty...the rooms and service in the main area was generally very good--and we received a welcome bottle of nice rum and good champagne upon arrival..nice touches. Many of the staff members were very nice (although some were not as friendly). And the wild deer and donkeys roaming around alwasy put smiles on our faces. So to summarize, the grounds were stunning--however there are many other resorts in the Caribbean where you can get the natural beauty AND the service to go with it-- Little Dix Bay and many resorts in Anguilla come to mind. Little Dix Bay is still Rosewood resort--and i wonder if Caneel Bay used to feel the same when IT was a Rosewood Resort. That being said, service is something that can be fixed--hopefully it will be as we'd love to return to St. John one day.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Erik A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

Well Caneel Bay came very recommended but I was extremely disappointed. I had several issues on check in and with restaurant staff. I spoke to Frank and a very grumpy older woman at breakfast, i believe her name was Eva, and neither were very helpful. I almost felt as though I was a bother. I also over heard them snickering and poking fun at my issues as though I was asking too much. At those rates I don't think I was. My wife was so disappointed she cried. I had been there several times as a child and I must say Caneel has gone to the dogs. I was very disappointed and doubt I will return!!!!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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21  Thank Melissa P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

I was married at Caneel Bay (Turtle Bay Estate House) in 2005. I had never set foot on property before but it came highly recommended by friends of friends and we figured, why not? In a wonderful twist, we were recently invited to a wedding there by friends who got the recommendation from us and were sort of able to see how our wedding looked from the guests' perspectives. The property is beautiful -- large but not overwhelmingly so. Arriving at night can be a bit disorienting but come sunrise, it is easy to get the lay of the land. There are rooms at various price points, some near the main beach and buildings, some on more private beaches with great views and few distractions. Wedding planning service was great - a bit hard to communicate it all long distance -- but it all came together nicely and the various vendors (flowers, music, hair, etc) were pretty spot on. Changes to the property in the past few years have been lovely -- new/additional bar space near the main building, updates to rooms, etc. The only challenges (and not even complaints) are the food (fine but pricey for what it is), pool (small, not centrally located) and beach service (hard to get drinks/food on some of the outer beaches). Still, it is a great place to get married or enjoy time with friends and loved ones. Not sure I would bring my kids though...

Room Tip: if you can swing the cost (or have a wedding rate!), the lower level rooms at turtle bay and hawks n...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Rebecca B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

We are not picky, high-end resort connoisseurs so this review is coming from someone who stayed at Caneel Bay for a wedding but loved (nearly) every minute of it.
Caneel Bay is a 160-acre resort on prime beach-front land on St. John. It is also the site of a former sugar plantation which is the only thing that bothered me.The idea that hundreds of slaves toiled and died there made me a bit sad and I wished they had some sort of memorial to honor them. I assume that would be a buzz-kikll for most people but I think they deserve some mention.

Putting history aside, Caneel Bay resort is lovely. The rooms vary from (cheaper) garden-view rooms overlooking tennis courts, etc. to (more expensive) beach-side rooms. All of the rooms we saw were tastefully decorated, immaculate, and generally perfect. The resort has a breakfast restaurant (be warned that one egg from the hot bar puts you into the $32/person breakfast category so come hungry or stick to the continental bar). it also has a, "grill" with delicious food and amazon sushi. One of our favorite suppers was sushi made by Caneel's gifted sushi chef out of fish our friends had caught that day.
There is also a cafe with amazing, house-made gelato and GLUTEN FREE food (woohoo) in addition to normal food like wraps and paninis.
In short, you won't go hungry.

As for activities, the wedding was beautiful -- like something out of a magazine. The dinner was ok but slow, the steel drum was magical and that drummer knew more songs than we could count.
There is a beachy area with free windsurfers, sunfish, paddle boards, and paddle boats. They also give out free snorkel masks but try yours on beforehand because some of them are dreadfully leaky.

Finally, there is a dive shop which we only ventured in toward the end. St. John is known for great diving and I wish we'd gone in sooner. the manager was very nice and helpful and knowledgeable.

The best part of Caneel Bay is probably the snorkeling. The resort, "owns" 7 beaches with different sorts of sea life. We traveled from one to the next and saw sea turtles, rays, parrot fish, reef fish, and beautiful coral. I'd recommend Hawksnest for turtle sightings and Turtle Bay for reef viewing.

At first I was taken aback at the price. Our garden-view room was $420/night including the taxes and "gratuity" which I never think is handed entirely to the staff. Nonetheless, I actually thought it was worth it -- and I am a cheapskate. The rooms are beautiful, the a/c works. the bathroom has shells embedded in the shower walls, the food is amazing, the snorkeling is some of the best I've seen.

I'd say: spend the money and go for it. You won't regret it. Oh, bring your sunblock or buy it in the dive shop.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with family
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4  Thank kern22101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2014

Caneel Bay was so incredible, where do I even start in trying to sum up the hotel into words?

Service: Wonderful! From the moment we arrived in Caneel Bay's air-conditioned office in the hot and muggy baggage claim area in St. Thomas, we were transported to another world. Cynthia welcomed us with a big smile and immediately made us feel at ease. Complimentary cookies and water were on the counter. They tagged our bags with our room numbers and after a short wait we were escorted out to the taxi where the nicest man drove us to the waiting place for the Caneel Bay ferry. So worth the extra money not to wait for the public ferry and ride in style on Caneel Bay's private ferry. Rum punches anyone? Yes please. The ride over was a little rough because of the waves and being down low a lot of people got sprayed by water but it was so much fun and 30 minutes later we arrived at the most beautiful place we have ever seen! We were greeted by friendly people with cold towels and then placed with a sweet girl named Diana for our ride to our room. Diana gave us a brief tour of the property and then we had a tour of our room given by another gentleman, but I can't remember his name. He was nice and pointed out the complimentary bottle of rum. Everyone we met that was working at the hotel was so very nice and helpful and seemed genuinely happy....smiles on their faces and signing joyful songs!

Room:
We stayed in room number 63 which is a premium ocean view at Cottage Point. The view was incredible! I have read other reviews stating the rooms need to be updated. I thought the rooms were fine, the curtains were tropical and the bamboo shutters were nice. The bed was very comfortable and the wooden furniture looked a little worn, so if they were to upgrade the rooms they could do a nice dark rattan furniture or dark wicker. Nothing modern needed for a beachy place. The bathroom was quite large with 2 sinks and a big walk-in shower. Bathrobes were provided. The bath towels were huge....so nice! Beach towels are also provided in the room, as well as a cooler that you can leave outside at any time to be filled up with ice. We did not miss the TV or the telephone in the room at all. The room was quiet and we rarely heard our neighbors. The only thing we could hear is their patio door closing. Very quiet and peaceful rooms and we felt very secluded in our room on the end. We did not spend a lot of time in the room but we did sit on the porch a couple of times to soak in all of the beautiful scenery!

Scenery:
The beauty of the surroundings at Caneel Bay can't be beat. The beaches and mountains are so pretty. It even smells good outside from the pretty flowers! The donkeys and deer were everywhere and there were lots of cute little babies. They seemed to be well kept and they have a keeper that feeds and takes care of them. We saw only a few mongoose and it was much more of a rare sighting to see a mongoose. We also saw several iguana's sunning themselves on the grass.

Getting around:
There are shuttle stands outside of the room and the shuttles run about every 10-15 minutes. They will take you anywhere you need to go on the property and were never crowded. There is a taxi stand to grab a taxi to go off property and it was $5 a person to go into Cruz Bay.

Beaches:
The beaches were like something on a postcard - picture perfect and extremely clean and quiet. The most people we ever saw on one of the beaches was maybe about 12 or 15 people. We had the pleasure of visiting 4 out of the 7 beaches...we never made it to Caneel, Little Caneel or Turtle Bay. Caneel and Little Caneel looked very nice and calm. Honeymoon Beach was a nice little 5-10 minute walk down a trail, no tennis shoes needed, and over to a beautiful sandy beach! We saw a manta ray and a few small fish. Paradise Beach was the closest to our room, just down the hill. It was a little rocky but still so very beautiful! We ventured over to Hawksnest and it was very windy and a little wavy over there. We saw a sea turtle for the first time at Hawksnest!! The visibility was not the best but decent, and we heard of several sightings of sea turtles here. We saved Scott beach for last and I'm so glad we did. It was by far our favorite beach we visited. The water was calm and crystal clear and the snorkeling was amazing! There is a beach bar and you can also order food. The beaches at Caneel are the best we have ever seen!! The furniture was just the plastic chairs, but you don’t need anything fancy. We spent a lot of time in the water, not lying on our chairs. There are no umbrellas but plenty of natural shade underneath the beautiful trees!

Dining:
The Caneel Beach Terrace had wonderful breakfast with a little bit of everything in the buffet with a lot of hot and cold selections and the best fresh fruit! The Beach Bar & Grill had delicious food and a nice atmosphere to hang out and eat. We are there a few times. Johanna and Lincoln took great care of us there. You could also sit at the little couches and eat which was fun. Blake was manning the bar by the beach and she was so nice and made the best drinks!
ZoZo’s was our least favorite restaurant, the food was good but it took over 30 minutes for our entrees to come out after we were finished with our salads. Our waiter disappeared for long periods of time. The view was nice but we did not return to ZoZo’s. We saved Turtle Bay Estate House for our last night there and the food was amazing and our waiter Lincoln was so nice. It was very nice and romantic inside with soft music playing in the background. Loved Turtle Bay Estate House.

Sunset Cruise:
We took a sunset cruise on one of Caneel Bay’s boats and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip! The live steel pan music was great and there were appetizers, sandwiches, and an open bar. We met some really nice people and the scenery was incredible. The staff on the boat were so nice and so much fun!

Jeep Rental:
I highly recommend renting a jeep one day at the hotel to go and explore the island. It was a smooth, easy process and Jennifer provided us with a map and tips on where to go. No touristy beaches for us and we had a blast driving over to Coral Bay and exploring St. John on our own. The roads are very windy and steep but we were only going 25 mph so it’s not too bad. There are some beautiful overlooks and the beaches we went to were so beautiful and secluded!

Massage Cabana:
This is a must-do! The cabana’s overlook Hawksnest Beach. Cary had magic hands and she worked out all of my kinks and knots. The sound of the ocean and waves while getting a massage was so incredibly peaceful and calming. You can also hear different birds, it was just wonderful.

Caneel Bay was truly Heaven on earth to me and my husband. We hated to leave, but the send off on the ferry made us feel like we were now a part of the Caneel Bay family. We met some of the nicest couples and truly had a magical vacation. We highly recommend Caneel Bay and can't wait to go back someday!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
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5  Thank Jenny Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 May 2014

This is by far the best place to stay on St John. Fantastic private beaches and great service. All staff was incredibly nice and helpful. You can take taxis into Cruz bay and it's only like 5 minutes away. Free snorkeling gear to use your whole stay. We spent all day just lounging and snorkeling around. We stayed in the tennis court rooms and though no ocean view they were good. Close to main area. would definitely stay here again!

Room Tip: If you can splurge get a room on turtle bay. Awesome views. Quiet.
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank elc20132013
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

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 Spa Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Caneel Bay
Price Range: £446 - £644 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Caneel Bay Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 166
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on a 170-acre peninsula amid the lush beauty of the Virgin Islands National Park and seven picturesque beaches, Caneel Bay is one of the most breathtaking vacation destinations in the Caribbean. ... more   less 
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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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