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Westin St John Master Thread - Part 3 [Dec. 2017 and forward]

Discussion in 'Vistana Signature Experiences (formerly Starwood)' started by DavidnRobin, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    Well that completely contradicts what the big wigs said in the BOD meeting. Go figure, their lips were moving.

    Nice that they will allow you to cancel. Really dumb that they are charging you $50. I would complain up the food chain some more. Worst case scenario you have to pay $50. We weren't at the resort during the day at all, so we hardly noticed the construction going on. We were in bldg 32. Only issue was a container truck backing into a spot behind the free cycle and he wasn't quite fitting(tore up the grass a bit), and waiting for a lull that was carrying a large roll of carpet.
     
  2. GrayFal

    GrayFal TUG Member

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    Would they put you in a different unit away from the construction? Different phase?
     
  3. okwiater

    okwiater TUG Member

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    Yes, but since we have younger children we like the pool villa. It makes it so easy to put them down for a nap or bedtime and still be able to “adult” on the patio and in the pool. I’m just not willing to risk the construction disruption, having gone through it before at Kierland.
     
  4. GrayFal

    GrayFal TUG Member

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    I see your point
     
  5. echino

    echino TUG Member

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    A question about Bay Vista deed recording. Can it be done by a closing company by mail, or is there a requirement for an USVI attorney to physically come to the recorder's office?
     
  6. carpie99

    carpie99 TUG Member

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    99% sure the closing needs to be done by someone in the USVI ... we have a closing in process with a great attorney with pretty reasonable charges if you want a contact.
     
  7. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    Doesn’t need to be an attorney, but does need to be done on island.


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  8. mpc5473

    mpc5473 Guest

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    Currently at the Westin. Anyone have questions?
     
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  9. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    March 2019

    Dear Fellow Virgin Grand Villas Owner:

    As your elected members of the Board of Directors of our condominium association, we recently participated in the annual meeting of owners at the resort and a board of directors meeting immediately thereafter.

    CONDITION OF THE RESORT
    The first thing to report is that the resort is beautiful. There are still a few things to be done, but the management company has done an outstanding job of getting on top of a disaster and moving quickly to get the resort up and running. Within days of Hurricane Irma, Vistana met with Cotton International, which became our resort’s primary construction contractor, and also met with our insurance carrier. As a result, Vistana locked up the talent and construction material that we would need before Hurricane Maria hit. Resort personnel, from top management to dishwashers, then worked day and night to restore the resort. In the end, reconstruction required 180 53-foot containers of new equipment and supplies and the rental of a special barge to bring this material to the island, night after night.

    These before and after pictures of the pool area say more than we can describe in words:

    [​IMG]
    Immediately After Irma

    [​IMG]
    March 2019

    As you can see, the foliage has recovered nicely. Ninety percent of the palm trees survived, and iguanas are beginning to be seen on the grounds.

    The work that still remains to be done includes the re-opening of buildings 33, 34, 41 and 42, scheduled for May 4, resurfacing of the tennis courts, re-opening of Lemongrass restaurant, bringing in sand to replace what the storm carried away from the beach, and furnishing the new sun terrace. Although some owners who have unit weeks before May 4 in the four buildings that have yet to open can’t use their units this year, all such owners are being accommodated elsewhere on the resort. No 2019 reservations were cancelled.(Kudos to Vistana’s Suzanne Clark and her team for making arrangements for everyone).

    Regarding Lemongrass: the resort is awaiting approval from the Virgin Islands Economic Development Commission—and its approval has not yet been given. After that occurs, getting the restaurant set up to begin service will take several months. So the restaurant may not open until fall. Meanwhile, three meals a day are being served at Snorkels (with a limited menu), the Mango Deli is open for breakfast food and sandwiches, kitchens in the villas are fully functional, and grills are operational for all the villas that have opened. The St. John Market and the Starfish Market are open, and although the island lost several nice restaurants (including Zozo’s, Asolare, Café Bordeaux, and Knox and Ollie’s), several others are back to normal or near-normal operations.

    As you know, the main lobby was demolished. There are currently three lobbies for check-in: at the airport, at the dock, and near the fitness center (which is operating, as is the spa). Where the main lobby used to be is a concrete slab with several white pillars, most of which used to be part of the lobby. The management company plans to turn the area into a sun terrace, with outdoor furniture including tables and chairs, shade sails, internet access, and views of the bay. In our personal opinion, the white pillars are unsightly and not in keeping with the look of the resort, and we have made our views known to management.

    [​IMG]
    Sun Terrace

    During the annual meeting, an owner reported a rumor to the effect that management planned to construct new timeshare buildings on the slab where the lobby once stood. Management has informed us that the plot of land is owned by the Developer and that it may build more units on that plot in the future but has no present plans to do so.

    Management expects to resurface four of the six tennis courts for tennis, and to turn the two other courts to a hard-surface court for basketball and pickleball. We think this alteration may prove popular, but if it does not, those courts could be resurfaced for tennis in the future.

    Internet service is much faster than before and, once you are logged in, it is no longer necessary to log in again each day or from other areas of the resort.

    The balconies of the hillside villas now have much lighter and more easily movable chairs and tables. The two bedroom corner villas have larger balconies than the other hillside villas and have four balcony chairs.

    New cushioned chaises were purchased in 2017 for the hillside iguana pools and the 3-bedroom pool villas but were not in place at the time of the hurricane. Since then, the Westin brand standard has changed to a chaise that has mesh for the seating area, which you can see in the picture of the big pool above. They dry more quickly than cushioned chaises. Some people prefer them; others do not. (The Virgin Grand Board might have agreed that this change was a good idea, but it was not consulted.)

    The Westin ferry now leaves from Red Hook rather than Crown Bay, which means that if you use the Westin ferry to get to the island, you will have a longer land trip and a shorter boat ride than before. This change has made it possible to have many more trips per day—and on a much nicer ferry boat. The resort’s newest ferry operates Thursday through Sunday due to a high volume of usage on those days and will be used any other day if demand is high. At other times the trips are made on the Island Time ferry. The public ferry, which also leaves from Red Hook, remains available, at a lower price. (It goes to Cruz Bay, not the resort, so it is then necessary to taxi to the resort or rent a car in town). The car ferry is also operating again, with only one carrier operating two barges at this time.

    O’Connor Car Rental located on the resort property is back in operation.

    ELECTION OF DIRECTOR

    Philip Schrag was re-elected at the annual meeting for a three-year term as an owner member of the Board.

    OTHER MATTERS

    Owners who banked 2018 StarOptions are allowed to use them within three years (until Dec. 31, 2021) rather than the usual two years. This change to the usual banking rule has not yet been reflected in the computer system. We hoped that the later expiration date would show up by now in your account, accessible through the vistana.com dashboard, but it will take a little longer for the later date to be visible to you.

    Vistana is offering us a new benefit called VSN Select, available from the vistana.comdashboard. StarOptions can now be exchanged for rooms at certain hotels without the need first to convert them to hotel points (formerly known as Starpoints, now Marriott Bonvoy points). In addition, Starpoints can be converted to passage on certain cruises, albeit with a cash payment as well.

    The network has also just added a new timeshare resort into which you can exchange using StarOptions: the Sheraton Kauaʻi Resort in Poipu, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi.

    We want to remind you to close your patio doors and leave your air conditioning running when you leave your villa. We know this is counterintuitive, as we have always been told to conserve power. However, we have brand new dehumidifying air handlers and ducts, and the best way to keep the villas mold-free is to keep the warm, moist outdoor air out of the rooms. The additional energy cost of running the air conditioners will, in the long run, be a lot lower than the cost of remediating the villas if they become polluted by mold. As always, please turn off all lights that are not needed when you are away from the villa, as the excessive usage is reflected in eyeryone’s maintenance fees.

    Finally, one more request: on or before May 4, our Freecycle shed will be back in operation, with a new lock and improved springs on the door (so that it closes automatically). We hope that owners will be able to borrow beach chairs as well as sand and beach toys, books, and fins, and to pick up unopened, non-perishable food and beverages. However, we have had a chronic problem with beach chairs that are placed in the Freecycle shed. Many have been abandoned on a beach or squirreled away in the storage lockers that are rented by some pool villa owners. As a result, on many days there have been no beach chairs, despite the fact that your Board has allocated $500 a year to purchase beach chairs in addition to those bought by owners and left in the shed. If you take a beach chair from the shed, please return it to the shed no later than the end of your vacation period.

    Your owner-elected directors,
    Larry Pelletier

    Philip G. Schrag
     
  10. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    “The work that still remains to be done includes the re-opening of buildings 33, 34, 41 and 42, scheduled for May 4”




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  11. okwiater

    okwiater TUG Member

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    Yeah I saw that too. Not sure who gave the August date. Either way it’s of no consequence since our week is prior to May 4 and the building is not ready.
     
  12. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    Volcanic Eruption in St John!

    [​IMG]

    Visitors are requested not to climb volcano to peer inside.


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  13. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    I saw that post. So bummed we missed experiencing this ourselves.

    We missed the eruption in Hawaii last year by one day.


    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
     
  14. melissy123

    melissy123 TUG Member

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    I added my Marriott rewards number to an upcoming stay at WSJ that I’m renting from a WSJ owner. The reservation is now on my Marriott account and it states I will get charged a $40 nightly resort fee. But hopefully I should just be paying the $25 USVI fee?
     
  15. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    ‘will’ or ‘may’?
    If you are renting from a WSJ Owner (have VSE Reservation Confirmation in your name), then you should not be charged a $40 daily resort fee.

    Only that BS $25 daily USVI ‘environmental’ fee.

    Why BS?
    - The fee is the same whether occupancy of 4 or 12 people. If environmental, then should be based on the number of people.
    - We already pay Property Taxes which should cover environmental impact.

    Hopefully. this so-called environmental fee finds its way to court - eventually...



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  16. OCsun

    OCsun TUG Member

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    We are flying into St. Thomas on Saturday around 3:00pm. Still trying to decide if we should take the Westin Ferry or not. My other option is taking a cab to Red Hook and taking the people ferry then a cab to the Westin. Any thoughts?
    We are renting a car at the Westin.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
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  17. GrayFal

    GrayFal TUG Member

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    Sounds good v
     
  18. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    Depends...
    It is not a cab or taxi in traditional sense. They are usually open-air safari buses. They also charge per person and large bags (including the ferry)

    The Westin shuttle also goes to Red Hook now - no longer does it go out of Crown Bay (close to STT).

    Cost-wise - cheaper to take ‘taxi’ and passenger ferry, but really depends on your cost vs. ease.

    Also, check out inter-island ferry that is now leaving out of Crown Bay.

    As you are arriving at 3pm - you need to check schedules of the Westin ferry/shuttle and Inter-Island ferry. If Inter-Island ferry is leaving at a time that works - I would check that out. More time on water and less getting over to RedHook - which is very dependent on traffic (dependent on Cruise ships).

    The Westin ferry timing is also important to the time you arrive at STT.

    You can always take the public taxi/ferry.

    Need to balance cost vs. convenience.



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  19. farsighted99

    farsighted99 Guest

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    Take the Westin Ferry. So much easier. Only problem is you probably will have to leave early on the last day, unless you have a later flight. You have to leave the room by 10 AM (no late checkouts). However, they will store your stuff if you need it.

    It's a drag to have to take a ride to Red Hook, get the ferry, then get a taxi to the hotel, and drag bags and check in etc. You probably save money, but you're tired by the time you get to the hotel, and on the way back, you're tired by the time you get to the airport. The Westin Ferry lugs your bags, they end up in your room, and everything is done for you.

    Tell them you are an owner; it's $110 RT per person.

    If you are renting a car at the Westin, rent it for the next day. You just call and they'll send a golf cart (er, Shuttle) to pick you up and they'll take you right there. Eat at Snorkles (at the hotel) the first night.

    BTW, driving in St. John is no picnic. They drive on the other side of the road (like in the UK) and the roads are up and down. and make sharp left and right turns. We opted for taxi's. It's $5 per person into town each way; you ride in a Jamaican-like open truck with tassels. It's a hoot! Make sure you eat at the Lime Inn one night.

    Can't wait to go back!
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019 at 5:34 PM
  20. farsighted99

    farsighted99 Guest

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    You only have to pay the $25 fee; owners don't pay the "resort fee". I thought the same thing. I just came back on the 22nd of March, and they don't charge the resort fee to owners (if you used StarOptions).
     
  21. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    Anyone have recommendations for a Fishing Charter while on STJ?
    5 of us...


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  22. OCsun

    OCsun TUG Member

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    Good Morning from St. John! We arrived Saturday and I am happy to report that the Westin Ferry worked out great for us. Since we are no longer young in body (but still at heart). . . letting someone else get us where we were going after a long day of travel was the way to go. The Westin property looks outstanding and the employees are very helpful.
    Our pool villa is not yet ready for occupancy therefore, we are in a three bedroom villa of Bay Vista which is lovely with a fabulous view.
    Since our pool villa has parking just outside the unit, our first reaction was OMG we have to walk a very long way and up a hill to get to our unit from the car. We are on vacation and this should not be a problem except when we are carrying cases of water and all the other crazy stuff we seem to need on vacation. LOL
    The saving grace has been what seems like an abundance of golf cart shuttles and employees happy to stop to pick us up whenever they see us carrying things.
    There seems to be some disconnect with The Westin getting kitchen tools. Our unit does not have a can opener, pasta strainer, or filter basket for the coffee pot and we have not yet been able to get them. These items are not vital until you have bought, many cans of sauce, pasta, meatballs, sausage and fixings for a large family meal. We did work things out by using a beer opener to pierce the cans and paper towels for the coffee pot until we could get other supplies.

    Beaches! We went to Frances Bay on Sunday and the beach was great. The snorkeling was pretty good and with the exception of the shade provided by the tree brush which is no longer there, everything was just as it used to be.
    On Monday we went to Maho. The beach was the same as Frances and we saw several turtles while snorkeling. The new great thing about Maho is the food truck, beach chair rental, flat board rental and drink stand which is now set up across the street from the beach. CASH only! Both beaches had bathroom / port a pot availability.

    The portable umbrellas and beach chairs I bought worked great for us. We rented snorkeling equipment from the Westin.

    The dinner we had at the pool bar restaurant the first night was very slow (45 minutes) but delicious and worth the wait. We stopped at Skinny Legs after leaving the beach on Monday and I am happy to report everything was great! They replaced the roof and things that needed to be redone and it looks just like it used to . . .like a great place for a burger on an island.

    We rented a car here at the Westin and have had no problems getting around the island.
     
  23. SandyPGravel

    SandyPGravel Guest

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    Can't recommend a fishing charter, but we went diving with Busy Bee(https://www.busybeevi.com/) out of Coral Bay and it was great. Small boat, max of 6 passengers(4 divers), so space is tight. Wonderful change of scenery from diving around the west end with Low Key.
     
  24. DavidnRobin

    DavidnRobin TUG Member

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    Thanks. We use Island Time for our charters normally - but specifically looking for fishing charter. I recall someone on the WSJ thread recommending a fishing charter, but can’t find it.


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  25. NNerland

    NNerland TUG Member

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    I highly recommend Mixed Bag. They leave from the Westin Dock, but you book directly with them.
    https://sportfishingstjohn.com/
    We used them in January. We did a 1/2 day morning charter with Cody. He was awesome. Was $600 for up to 6. He was so helpful and we did inland fishing. We had lots of success and he cleaned a bunch for meals. It was delicious!
     
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