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Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

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Shelton, Connecticut
posts: 67
reviews: 85
Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

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.

Thanks again,

Jim.

45 replies to this topic
Shelton, Connecticut
posts: 67
reviews: 85
21. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

Thanks for the pointers, Wanda.

And not to stray from the topic here, but you will LOVE Aruba. We went there in Nov. 2009, stayed at the Marriott resort at the end of the strip. Had a great relaxing time. Can't remember everywhere we ate but those that stand out are La Trattoria el Faro Blanco (best sunsets on the island by far) and the Sunset Grill at the Radisson resort. Also, I think Simply Fish was the one where we literally sat right on the beach just feet from the water and dined by candlelight. Have a great time there, I'm sure you will.

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
posts: 7,657
reviews: 176
22. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

In terms of the crime issues you've read about, the advice is the same all over the Caribbean and Hawaii, too. Tourist crimes happen in, well, tourist-centric places! In addition to not leaving anything in view in your car, don't walk down alleys and dark streets at nights (stay where there are other people), and don't wander on beaches at night. I imagine the Carambola is patrolled.

Off-season is generally hurricane season, June - October (or November, I don't recall).

Grafton, North...
posts: 2
23. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

if you snorkel or dive, cane bay is a good choice and is close to the resort. you can also rent equipment across the road at cane bay dive shop. they have a restaurant there also "eat at cane bay". you can enjoy the food and the view.

also, down the road from there is Off the wall, a small casual outdoor restaurant. "Waves" is a really nice place to eat. We shared a lobster... they pull from the ocean right in front of you. Caribbean lobsters don't have claws and are really colorful.

Elkhart Indiana
Destination Expert
for St. Croix
posts: 977
24. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

While you are on your feeding frenzy on the North Shore stop at Rowdy Joe's for ice cream ... deeeeeelightful!

Shelton, Connecticut
posts: 67
reviews: 85
25. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

Ha, feeding frenzy may not be far from the truth. It doesn't sound like there is a lack of good food choices there.

Just thought of another question: Are there any restaurants (both within Carambola and out) that require formal dress, and by formal I mean pants not shorts, and collared shirt? It looks like the vast majority of the places to eat have very laid back dress codes, either right-off-the-beach casual or shorts-and-t-shirt casual is fine. I planned on bringing one (and only one) pair of khaki pants and a few collared shirts just in case we went somewhere a little more upscale one night. The rest of the time I'd rather be wearing shorts. Would I be ok with this plan there?

boston
Destination Expert
for Christiansted
posts: 2,043
reviews: 80
26. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

My husband NEVER packs a pair of long pants when we go to STX....and we have eaten at all of the nicest restaurants. He'll wear a nicer collared shirt to the more upscale places but that's about as 'dressed up' as he gets.

Elkhart Indiana
Destination Expert
for St. Croix
posts: 977
27. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

Same here Carol... my hubby has never taken a pair of long pants and never will. He also takes one tropical looking collared shirt ... the first year we went we took one large, one medium and 2 carry ons ... the next year we took 2 medium and 2 carry ons ... last year we took 1 medium and 2 carry on suitcases ... this year we are going for 2 months and I'm pretty sure I can darn near fit everything in 2 carry on's :)

Shelton, Connecticut
posts: 67
reviews: 85
28. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

That's great news. I'd much rather be in shorts. I will just bring a couple of collared golf shirts and that's as formal as I'd like to get. Thank you both for the response to that. I'll have the jeans I'm flying with (it will be November in the Northeast when we take off and land after all) but that's it. No long pants will be packed then.

New York City, New...
posts: 11
reviews: 10
29. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

Very informative thread going here. We're also staying at Carambola Feb/2014 and find all this info very useful.

I really like the idea of just bringing shorts - but will I feel out of place in a more 'upscale' restaurant like Kendricks with shorts on?

Elkhart Indiana
Destination Expert
for St. Croix
posts: 977
30. Re: Staying at Renaissance Carambola in Nov. 2013, advice/tips?

I really think you will be fine with just shorts ... not blue jean or cut offs but a nice pair of shorts or bermudas will be fine. St. Croix is a very casual island many of the restaurants have outdoor dining.

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