My wife and I will be vacationing there mid November (9th to 16th). We're in our mid 40's and both work long hours in stressful jobs, so we're looking forward to this being primarily a "chill out and relax" trip more so than an active trip. We've been to many other Caribbean islands but this will be our first visit here. We decided to redeem our Marriott points and the Carambola looked really nice. We're looking very forward to getting there and enjoying ourselves. Since we haven't been here before we were looking for some advice and tips from the TA community here that might help us have a better time there. So here goes.
I have seen between the forums and the reviews of the resort that there is an overwhelming majority that say to rent a car, especially if you're staying at the Carambola because of it's seclusion. I have preferred status with Avis so I reserved a Toyota Corolla for our entire stay there. This will give us the freedom to drive ourselves to and from the airport and also explore the island at our leisure. My wife has concerns about us driving ourselves around and having to drive on the opposite side of the road that we're used to, and I'd be lying if I said i wasn't a little concerned about it, too. So my first question would be how difficult is this to get used to? I have to imagine that if so many from the US do it, it can't be too bad to get used to. As far as getting around the island, I assume they give you a map, but I was also planning on using Google Maps and navigation with my Verizon smartphone. Is this possible and practical with Verizon? I already heard that the coverage is spotty with Verizon around the resort but what about everywhere else you drive around? It's an extra $14 a day to rent their GPS so I'd rather save that and use my own phone for free (provided it will work when I get there that is.) Any other dos and dont's about renting and driving around there? My wife likes taking nice pictures so what would be some picturesque places to see there? We'd also like to tour the rum distillery. How long of a drive is it from Airport to Carambola, Carambola to the two major towns?
As far as the resort goes, we've never been let down by the other Marriott places we've stayed at in the area (AUA, SJU, STT, etc.) so we're expecting a similar experience here. I can't remember which room category we have reserved so I'll have to look it up and let you know. As far as hanging around the resort, is there difficulty getting chairs/space here by the beach or pool? Are there chairs in the shade available as well as in the sun? Is it buggy at all? Should insect repellent be brought? There will be some days where we just chill on the beach all day reading, napping, eating, repeat, so any other pointers you think are relevant, let us know.
As far as eating at the resort, How many dining options are there for breakfast, lunch, dinner? Do the restaurants change themes at all or is it the same menu every day/night? Are any of the restaurants must-do or must avoid in your opinion? As far as leaving the resort in the rental car, I know I will have to follow the golden rule of keep your left shoulder on the left shoulder, but how are the roads generally as far as condition wise. Anything to know ahead of time about driving besides stay on the left? Any restaurant recommendations for lunch & dinner, both upscale as well as casual? We're pretty open to a lot of cuisines and always like to sample the local flavor of where we visit. Are there any areas to avoid driving through or around, whether for the road conditions or safety reasons? What's it like to park if you go to one of the major towns to eat, shop, or explore? How plentiful are the gas stations there? Do they take credit cards right at the pump like mainland US? (I'm starting to nitpick, I'd better start wrapping up the first post here.)
What is one thing you wish you knew before you got there, about the hotel, airport, rental car, touring, beaches, sightseeing, etc?
Well, I think I've bombarded you with enough questions for one sitting here, sorry for all this at once! I'm looking very forward to your replies and as you can probably tell, we're looking forward to getting there. If you have any more questions for us, feel free to ask away, too.