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Planning a Honeymoon Stay

tamu_bu

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Please provide that extra level is expertise that I don't have. When I read the bulletin board here on occasion, it reinforces just how little I know.

I have been a WKV owner (67,100) since 2005. Since then, we've muddled along using the options within SVO and infrequently trading into II. We like the SVO properties.

My son is targeting to get married next June (they should have firm dates in a week or two) and my wife and I would like to help him get into a honeymoon location with our options (77,350 in 2022).

He would like Westin St. John but that has always been unavailable to us at the 8 month mark.

I would like to ask for the collective expertise of the creative tuggers.

Food for thought:
  1. He likes St John but he's not locked in. Do we have a snowball's chance of getting a mid June reservation trading at 8 months within Vistana?
  2. Might consider other II locations. St Thomas, St Croix, St Kitts, BVI, maybe Hawaii. Not as interested Bahamas, Mexico, Dominican, Puerto Rico.
  3. Are there other locations you would suggest that we aren't listing? Btw, Cayman is currently closed to most travelers.
  4. Trade timing - would you suggest waiting for the 8 month trade window to open with Vistana before considering other options? Or conversely, would we be better served banking with II asap?
  5. Are there other outside the Vistana/II box trade options to consider that I'm not versed on?

Your input and even opinions are appreciated.
 

sharr7

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I've had luck getting St. John at 8 months. To maximize your chances I'd try at midnight ET. You could even check now, it should show you the inventory available when the reservation window opens. Even if you strike out, I'd keep checking the system for at least the first couple weeks after 8 months to see what opens up at people shift their reservations around, cancel extra reservations they made but don't need, etc. There was still a decent amount of turnover 3-5 months out from June 2021 and I was able to snag some reservations.

St. John (and the Westin) is perfect for a honeymoon; you can make it anything from unwinding on resort with drinks at the pool/beach, to excellent dining & shopping downtown Cruz Bay only 5 min away, to exploring the incredible beaches and hiking trails (to name just a few things). I'd hold out til 8 months if that was your plan. The uncertainties with covid and international travel make USVI even more attractive.
 

gnipgnop

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I recently sent my granddaughter and husband to an Aruba honeymoon and they said they found paradise. They loved it even though there were restrictions. They stayed at the Marriott Ocean Club.
 

tamu_bu

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To maximize your chances I'd try at midnight ET. You could even check now, it should show you the inventory available when the reservation window opens."
Thanks for the feedback. Specifically on your comment above.... Is this an exact science? Example, if the Vistana dashboard currently indicates that the reservation window for the desired dates opens on Oct. 12, is the earliest request 1 second after midnight (Eastern) on October 12? I don't mind doing that at all btw

Is that the absolute earliest method and timing one can score a reservation?

A side question. Does requesting a Sunday arrival make the reservation less likely? Would Friday and Saturday reservations block out most of the Sunday arrival days?
 

sharr7

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A side question. Does requesting a Sunday arrival make the reservation less likely? Would Friday and Saturday reservations block out most of the Sunday arrival days?
I see why you'd think that, and I don't know for sure. In my somewhat limited experience, availability doesn't seem to just go away completely on Saturday each week at the most-in-demand destinations. But it makes sense if they're down to 1 room and it's available for 14 days, and someone grabs it Saturday, you can no longer grab it Sunday. However, there's likely a good number of rooms that were reserved Sunday to Sunday that won't show up as available when people look for Saturday to Saturday. So I wouldn't worry too much.

If you have the points to play with you could reserve 8 days, Sat-Sun, and then just ask Vistana to change it to 7 days at a later date. Or you could make the 7 day Sat-Sat reservation and then try to make the 7 day Sun-Sun reservation. When you're successful the Sat-Sat could be cancelled.

But I really don't think you need to get too creative...St. John got extremely in demand and busy during the pandemic given the ease of travel to US territories and relative safety; but I think a lot of people are hopeful to return to international travel again by next summer. That may not end up happening, but no one will know for sure by next month. So right now there's plenty of availability even in early May (8mo window already open), at least for 2+BR. A lot of kids are still in school the week of 6/12 so that also knocks out some demand.

Assuming you are able to get it reserved, make a car rental reservation soon after. Those are also in constant demand too.
 

tamu_bu

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Thank you to those who helped me understand the process better. Last night at 11 Central, I was able to break a WSJ week for the kids!

Used 51,700 SO. According to the SO chart, that puts them in the Virgin Grand Villas 1 bedroom townhouses. I've never been to WSJ. Looks like it's set back away from the beach in the property. Will they have a view? What are some of the other positives?
 

sharr7

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It's back form the beach but up a hill so the views are very nice. Biggest positives are the pools next to each of the hillside units and the ability to park right outside your unit. I also think the units are generally larger, though these are the only 1BR units on property I believe. The hillside pools are less used so quieter and more private. There's grills in the pool area too and the views there are great as well.

It's easy to walk back and forth from the main resort area, but when tired or lazy you can always call a golf kart and they will drive you around. Like I mentioned in a prior comment, and especially since they'll be in a location where having a car is convenient, the next month or two is a good time to reserve a rental car. They can really make the most of exploring the island and all the beaches and trails and history. Though while some will tell you it's absolutely necessary to have a car, for 1 week your first time there, you could probably spend 4-5 days just between the resort and short taxi to Cruz Bay, 1-2 days taxis to north shore beaches, and maybe 1 day car rental from the place on-resort (O'Connor) to do a longer trip - highly recommend Lime Out floating taco bar in Coral Bay.

Anyway, hope they enjoy; very nice of you to figure it all out and get it reserved for them!
 

tamu_bu

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Thanks Sharr7. The extras insight are appreciated. In their case, I don't think they will be able to rent a car since the are going to be 22 years old. They plan to taxi around some. Probably relax time at WSJ, Cruz Bay, and tacos for them. Poor kids. Oh to be young!
 

Henry M.

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The beach at WSJ is not all that nice compared to the other beaches on the island. We always went to one of the beaches that are only a few minutes by car from the resort. You could take a taxi over there, but make sure you don't stay too late and the taxis stop running. The taxis are more like a bus and you can get on one whenever it comes by.

We went to the the WSJ beach once or twice during our stays, but never spent any time there. It is man-made and the bay is full of boats. We enjoyed going to the national park, taking a boat to the Baths at BVI, and other activities outside the resort.

Also, be careful with cell phones and turn roaming off. At some of the beaches you end up hitting cell towers in the British Virgin Islands, and now you are roaming internationally at obscene rates, unless you get an international plan for your phone. Charges for data usage are as bad or worse than making a phone call. Most smartphones have a lot of data transferring in the background, without the user realizing it. They check for e-mail, update information, send location information to different places, etc.
 
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tamu_bu

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Thoughts about whether paying for the WSJ airport baggage and boat transfer is worth the cost (with unlimited trips to and from STT)? It's north of $100 per person.
 
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Dawnwrey

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Thoughts about whether paying for the WSJ airport baggage and boat transfer is worth the cost (with unlinked trips to and from STT)? It's north of $100 per person.
Yes, it is pricey, but for their honeymoon I would say do it! It is just so convenient, and after a day of travel, arriving in a new place and not knowing exactly how to get around, it is just nice to betaken care of. Sometimes we use it and sometimes we don’t.
 

tamu_bu

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Confirming... it appears that there is no option to convert SO's into resort credit at WSJ. Is that correct?
 

sharr7

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Yes, it is pricey, but for their honeymoon I would say do it! It is just so convenient, and after a day of travel, arriving in a new place and not knowing exactly how to get around, it is just nice to betaken care of. Sometimes we use it and sometimes we don’t.
Agree. Take the Westin ferry. Especially for first-timers. It's an all-in price, round trip, door to door. I have taken the Crown Bay Ferry a couple times but it's more a location preference than a cost-saving strategy. With the other ferries you're paying for taxis on both ends, per-bag fees, tips, etc. You'll probably still end up paying 80% of the Westin cost. And Westin really is just so convenient. Unfortunately St. John is not a cheap destination
 

Henry M.

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I prefer to take the Westin ferry if I am not renting a car in St. Thomas. It takes you right to the dock at WSJ. The other ferries land in Cruz Bay and you have to get a taxi or other transportation to get to WSJ. It isn't hard, but getting to the timeshare directly is more comfortable. I think you also have unlimited transfer to St.Thomas during your stay, though I've never taken advantage of that.

Do check the flight times. The Westin ferry has limited runs.

I have taken a different ferry when I rented a car from Amalie Car Rental. It is a bit cheaper than renting in St. John, but a little more effort to drive across the island and catch a ferry over. For a first time trip, and a honeymoon at that, I'd just take the Westin ferry. You already said a car rental is not in the picture.

FYI, the Westin ferry docks near the airport. The other ferries are maybe 45 minutes away so it is a bit of a trek between the airport and them.
 

Dawnwrey

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FYI, the Westin ferry docks near the airport. The other ferries are maybe 45 minutes away so it is a bit of a trek between the airport and them.
The last couple of times we have been (most recently in May 2021) the Westin ferry leaves from Red Hook. They have nice, air conditioned vans to take you there.
 

sharr7

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Yes sometime between like 2015 and 2019 the Westin ferry changed from Crown Bay to Red Hook. If it still left from Crown Bay, there'd be no reason to ever take a different ferry (IMO).
 

carpie99

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Yes sometime between like 2015 and 2019 the Westin ferry changed from Crown Bay to Red Hook. If it still left from Crown Bay, there'd be no reason to ever take a different ferry (IMO).
I can think of one reason $$$$$$ - as a family of 6 we usually send Mom with all of the bags and the rest of us go the people ferry. Plus I can pick up the car in Cruz Bay on the way.
 

aland0524

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If your son will consider another option other than St. John's, it may be easier for you to get a studio or 1 bedroom at Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resorts - South or North. (If getting a studio - make sure you get North as the studios in the South have basically no lanais.) I just went into the Vistana system and I found 2 studios (premium) for 67,100 for 7 nights starting June 10. 2022. We've found KOR to be relatively easy to secure even at the 8th month (we own at the Nanea), and as I just did now, there were availabilities at KOR North and South. Hawaii's a great place to honeymoon. Don't know where your son and new daughter in law will be coming from but getting to Maui from anywhere in the US is relatively easy and straightforward and no ferries to worry about. I've been to St. John's but not the Westin facility there but I think Maui would have as much if not more to offer two lovebirds...congratulations on gaining a new daughter and good luck to the new couple!
 

tamu_bu

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If your son will consider another option other than St. John's, it may be easier for you to get a studio or 1 bedroom at Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resorts
I was successful is securing a WSJ reservation!
 
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