Our ten day experience in this tropical wonder was better than average, but not as great as our experience with other Ritz Carlton facilities. The weather in December was better than our weather in Hawaii last year at the same time, so that was a plus. My understanding is the temperature is always a bit warmer than even the Bahamas, so the destination choice for weather was a good one, even though it rained a fair amount every day. We had one storm come through, but even so it lasted only a couple of hours.
Don't plan on any walking around the area off the hotel or club properties. Not only are there some questionable safety concerns in terms of people, but also issues with pedestian zones for walking along the roads. There are hardly any shoulders anywhere on the island and of course, if you're not careful you may get fooled by the right hand right of way traffic pattern.We rented a van for our party, and it was a good choice. The food is fairly expensive on premise and gets a bit boring, so the only alternative is finding a place to eat in nearby Red Hook area, right by the island ferry dock. There are plenty of good spots to choose from as good alternatives to Ritz Carlton monopoly of foods at the resort. But you will need transportation as the Club or hotel provide nothing. Either have your own or get a cab, which will cost a fair amount every day. Might as well rent a vehicle.
That said, we found both the hotel and clubs's eateries decent and generous in portions for the high cost. We prefered the hotel's poolside restaurant and service over the Club's offerings. Plus the swimming pool was heated, a definite plus for our 4 year old who refused to come out of the water the entire trip! Club bookings give you access to the hotel's facilities also, and it's just a very short walk between the complexes.
Service was very good except for one day, when an electronic glitch caused us to be locked out of our rooms and when opened we found the rooms had not been made up. It occured late at night and getting in to our room proved to be a very trying experience. No concierge on duty after early evening, it seems. We had to go over to the hotel for help, and it was not readily forthcoming, causing a tiring end to a long day.
Then there was the incessant noise from the generator rooms right behind the building. they have a de-salinazation plant and generator there running 24/7 and the hum is prevalent even on the side of our rooms away from their location. A definite drawback, at least for those in the building located closest to the West side of the complex. The water tasted salty to me, so we bought plenty of drinking water in Red Hook groceries.
I indulged in a bourbon and seven at several establishments on the island including the bars at the Ritz Carlton. Not one had the proper ingredients and they tasted horrible. Be forwarned!
The staff by the pool at the hotel was uneven in friendliness and cooperation. Some of the staff gave the distinct impression they were put out by accomodating even simple requests - towels, umbrellas. moving lounges, etc. Others were very friendly. So a mixed rating there.
We spent a lot of every relaxing morning listening to leafblowers, lawnmowers and rakers going over the grounds. Maintenance is one thing. Constant noise is another. Worst hotel/Club we've been in for that aspect.
The animal life is something to deal with. We had hordes of iguanas competing for our scraps of lettuce left in dishes. And we had hordes of stray cats competing for the rest of the scraps in our dishes. There was zero effort on the part of management to limit this unwanted intrusion of beasts into our lounging areas anywhere on the complex.
Overall, Hawaii was and will be a better choice for a vacation. The island itself harbors a poverty ridden mentality and appearance. We are not shoppers and the shops of Charlotte Amalie offered nothing of interest. We took in a round of golf at the only facility on the island - Mahogany Run which I will write about soon.
Last we want to point out that the fourth floor view we wanted came at a price. Our room was located in the same place as the breakfast room which is located one floor above our bedroom. Not good. At 6 every morning the staff could be heard moving about, bumping things, dropping things and scrapping tables around. I cannot stand anybody over me when I try to sleep, so that was intolerable. About 7 when the noise overhead quieted down, the leaf blowers and lawn mowers started up outside. Terrible. Hope you like getting up early in the dark with nothing to do.