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Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

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New York City, New...
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Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

Hello!

My fiance and I will be getting married and honeymooning in St. John this summer. We will be staying at a private villa for the first portion of our trip and I am debating on Caneel Bay for the remaining few days (our villa is booked for those days). Since it's our honeymoon we are willing to splurge on something luxurious. I understand the concept of CB, it's simple luxury as opposed to a glitzy resort, but is it worth the money? We'd be staying in a beach front room, which I thought would be lovely but the recent reviews on Tripadvisor are making me nervous. Any input would be greatly appreciated, or any other suggestions on where to stay. We're open to neighboring islands, another villa, resort etc. Thank you!

Pennsylvania
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1. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

I am a fan so yes, I think it is worth it.

What specifically have you read that concerns you? I get a kick out of reading the reviews. Some of those people really went there with no clue about Caneel and STJ in general. Like the bugs, there are bugs in the tropics, did they expect a bug free experience?

I could go on and on about all the great things about Caneel. Knowing what concerns you will help me (and others) give you honest feedback. It isn't for everyone but for the ones that "get it" tend to return over and over again so Rosewood must be doing something right.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

Reading all of the reviews can certainly drive a person crazy and of course they're completely subjective. I think what concerns me are the reviews that focus on the cleanliness, shabbiness, dated rooms, unhelpful staff, etc. I've traveled throughout Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Panama, CR), stayed at places ranging from hostels with community bathrooms to beautiful, magical resorts (you can't escape the bugs!) In my experience you get what you pay for. I know the beaches are unsurpassed at CB, but I am wondering if the rest of the experience is as desirable?

Corydon, Indiana
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3. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

Like Cleo, I am a huge fan of Caneel. We've been going there for almost 30 years. There have been several really bad reviews lately but I have read through them and I'm not worried about my stay in one month. Many people book Caneel because it's the most expensive place on the island and they have expectations of what that money will get them. Caneel is absolutely the best location on the island, or in my opinion on any island in the Caribbean. But you need to be aware that it's sort of the original eco-tourism resort. It's also within the National Park so some forms of updating by Rosewood are not possible. The rooms are not huge and I certainly haven't been in all of them or even all the different categories but I've never thought of them as small. For me the rooms are lovely and have a tropical ambiance. But it has always seemed to me that if you are spending a lot of time in your room at Caneel, you're missing the point of being there. The beaches are prefect. We've not had any problems with the staff, but they are predominately Virgin Islanders, not expats or mainland folks so they are a bit more reserved. Many of them have been there for years so I'm sure they've seen it all. So my answer is worth every penny.

Pennsylvania
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16 reviews
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4. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

Never had a problem with cleanliness and I am super fussy about that.

Shabbiness/dated rooms - As Hoosier mentioned, the agreement with the national park limits the improvements and expansion allowed so the rooms are nice sized but are the original size from way back when the place was built so the rooms don't have the expansive feel of a modern resort. Think cottage versus McMansion. The rooms are spacious enough for us even with a twin bed for our child.

The rooms are finished with tile floors in the living and bathroom areas, not the updated acres of marble/granite look popular now. The rooms we have been in over the past five years were all updated with new retro-looking teak furniture. Maybe some people can't tell the difference between old-old and new-made-to-look-old? The soft furnishings were of excellent quality and condition.

During our last visit, I did think the outdoor furniture should be replaced due to the salt air wear and tear but it was functionally fine, just didn't look new.

The West Indian staff is older and more reserved than most people are probably used to. They don't fall all over themselves with a burning desire to cater to your (using you in a general sense) every need and desire. We are fine with that but based on a lot of the reviews, others have different expectations. The staff was always professional and polite and that is all I care about. In February, we noticed a huge increase in younger, ex-pat (for lack of a better term) staff members that were sprinting around the food service areas.

North Carolina
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5. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

I think it's worth it :) and in the summer it won't be as pricey. We went in Feb and stayed on Scott's Beach, just a few rooms down from where we honeymooned ten years before!

The location is just unbeatable. We have also been to Carib resorts in this price range - Curtain Bluff, Bitter End, Parrot Cay etc and I don't think the Caneel rooms are in any worse shape compared to those places. It's just not all granite and glam like the price would get you in the States.

Being right on that gorgeous sandy beach is divine. Try it and see!!

Germantown, MD
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6. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

Caneel is a very pretty and quiet place to stay. It is a large property with some very nice beaches, nice little Turtle Bay hike with benches to watch the boat traffic go by if you want to get away from the main desk area. You have a few different places to eat on the resort. The food is good. We like the staff for the most part. The rooms are understated without phones or TV's. It is very easy to find a taxi into Cruz Bay if you need to get away from the resort. Whenever we are on St. John we stop in and eat at the beach bar and have drinks. That being said it is pretty expensive. If you have the means it is a very nice choice for most people. The villa choices on St. John are also very good. If you prefer to be up high, cooler with forty mile views a villa in the mountains is also hard to beat. You will have a kitchen and can save money while having a non-resort experience. You will have to try them both and see which you prefer. Then you will know what to choose when you return. It is hard not to return to St. John, wherever you stay.

Boston
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7. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

You might also want to look at Little Dix Bay or Peter island in the BVI. Little Dix is the sister resort of Caneel but may have more amenities that people expect when paying the amount of $$ for a resort like Caneel.

NY metro
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565 posts
3 reviews
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8. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

Some of the room cats--Hawksnest and Courtside are ready for updating. As Cleo says cleanliness is not an issue. However the bathrooms and room sizes in the Courtside category can be disappointing. Particularly if you are new to the resort.

I read those 1 star reviews also. I find them entertaining. I think there are maybe three since the New Year. I will say this. If you are a Four Season's/Ritz Carleton type of vacationer; dollars to doughnuts. IMO, you stand a chance at disappointment.

There are some of us here who (Lord forgive the blasphemy) could give a rat's @ss for St John, national parks, beach variety, Cruz/Coral Bay, etc... We come for Caneel Bay, full stop.

.

Jersey City, New...
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for Anguilla, St. Lucia
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9. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

I love Caneel for it's fabulous beaches and simplicity. Saffie made a great suggestion when she advised you to consider Little Dix on Virgin Gorda because it offers much more luxurious options in its accommodations. Our unit there had indoor and outdoor showers. Since this is your honeymoon trip and you want to blow out all the stops, Caneel may disappoint you. As previous posters have stated the rooms can be smaller than more modern resorts and yes, I have seen things crawling about in the bathroom. As I've lived on islands and in Africa, I know you have to be prepared for this in the most luxurious settings due to the heat and proximity to water.

Staying at Caneel is all about being outside of your room IMHO. We're only inside to sleep and change. Even for drinks, we sit outside on the deck. One of the loveliest thing about being at Caneel is your room can be so close to the beach.

With no phones in the rooms and no televisions, I think it makes for a nice honeymoon setting as you won't have these distractions and your time there can be all about reveling in each other.

Happy Honeymooning!

NY metro
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10. Re: Caneel Bay - worth every penny or over-rated?

I spent my own honeymoon at Little Dix and much as I like Caneel; I would recommend LDB over Caneel Bay for that. As said, the rooms and the spa experience are superior. The food and off property resto scene is better at Caneel/St John The beach scene is better at Caneel. But at LDB you can picnic to a different beach via a personal Boston Whaler, daily.

I can't pick one over the other. They each have different strengths and weaknesses (IMO). I was equally happy at each resort.