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Westin St John [Master Thread] - Part 2 (June 2014 and forward)

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Henry M.

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I have never dealt with the people ferry. The car ferry was pretty simple. You just back your car in and sit in it until you get to Cruz Bay. You can also step out of the car if you wish.

With small children, I'd be willing to pay more for convenience and if I didn't need a car, I'd take the Westin ferry and be done with it.
 

DavidnRobin

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Car pickup at STT is way to go - even if you are not using it everyday. $30 1-way on car. Barge at RedHook. I have taken taxi-ferry-taxi - drag... And fess add up.
If you need to get something at the market (etc) - one person can just run and get it. Quick...
Speed limit is 20mph - go slow.
Do not overthink this - do not forget to account for the convenience.
 

bobpark56

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This advice does not apply to everyone

Car pickup at STT is way to go - even if you are not using it everyday. $30 1-way on car. Barge at RedHook. I have taken taxi-ferry-taxi - drag... And fess add up.
If you need to get something at the market (etc) - one person can just run and get it. Quick...
Speed limit is 20mph - go slow.
Do not overthink this - do not forget to account for the convenience.

Lest other readers take this a blanket advice, it is possible to underthink this. For example, we typically stay on St J for more than a week. We don't need a car for the first days when we arrive, and we don't need one for the day we depart. By renting our car on St J, we save on the order of $80/day for those days, compared to renting on St T. It adds up. And because of the length of our stay, we can still get the 10 percent off-season weekly discount with Courtesy Car rentals on St J...along with a place to park when we drive to town. YMMV
 

bobpark56

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Good advice, but it's not universal

Car pickup at STT is way to go - even if you are not using it everyday. $30 1-way on car. Barge at RedHook. I have taken taxi-ferry-taxi - drag... And fess add up.
If you need to get something at the market (etc) - one person can just run and get it. Quick...
Speed limit is 20mph - go slow.
Do not overthink this - do not forget to account for the convenience.

Lest other readers take this a blanket advice, it is possible to underthink this.

For example, we typically stay on St J for more than a week. We don't need a car for the first days when we arrive, and we don't need one for the day we depart. By renting our car on St J, we save on the order of $80/day for those days, compared to renting on St T. It adds up. And because of the length of our stay, we can still get the 10 percent off-season weekly discount with Courtesy Car rentals on St J...along with a place to park when we drive to town. YMMV
 

DavidnRobin

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Just saying - it is not just about the cost. Do not underestimate the convenience and freedom.
 

czar

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Just saying - it is not just about the cost. Do not underestimate the convenience and freedom.

I agree with renting the car from Amalie car and taking over if we'd pan to use it but based on our trip last year, the walk to the market was quick, parking for BV is inconvenient, and our kids are still too young to make spending a full day off site enjoyable. We also don't want to deal with the car seat issue. In 2 years, we'll only need 1 small seat and our kids will be old enough to explore. At that point the cost of renting a car will be less than taking the ferry for all 5 of us.

In the meantime, no car seats, no rental car so trying to figure out whether it's worth the extra $200 (and is that accurate?) to take the Breeze. I'm thinking it might be but hard to justify that amount of money for short-term convenience. But last year we had to wait a few hours to get into our unit and methinks we'll be behjnd everyone else in the line since they'll all be checked in at the airport.

As an aside - can we, and is it worth, trying to make a villa request? Water view is most important to us.
 

LisaRex

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Czar, I think you should go ahead and request a water view, though I believe that this is one case where the villa is actually assigned at the time you book it (because so many owners own fixed weeks).

As far as the ferry goes, your arrival time (12:15pm) will be very tight to make the 12:45pm ferry to St. John, and the next one doesn't leave until 3pm. So take that into consideration when you are deciding.

WESTIN BREEZE
FOR TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 1 - DECEMBER 21, 2014

FERRY DEPARTURE TIMES: MONDAY - THURSDAY

DEPART WESTIN DEPART CROWN BAY MARINA
5:15 AM* ----------------------
11:00 AM 4:00 PM

*24 hour notice required

FERRY DEPARTURE TIMES: FRIDAY - SUNDAY

DEPART WESTIN DEPART CROWN BAY MARINA
6:00 AM (To Redhook) ------------------------
7:00 AM (To Redhook) ------------------------
9:00 AM 10:00 AM
11:00 AM 12:45 PM
1:45 PM* 3:00 PM
------------------- 5:30 PM

*Water taxi for arrivals after 7:30 PM

PUBLIC FERRY

Below are the public ferry schedules. Note that there is a public ferry that departs from Charlotte Amalie at 1pm (highlighted in red below), which sounds like it could be a great option for you. The timing seems doable and since it's near the airport, it would save you from an expensive cab ride to Red Hook.

Public Ferry departing from Red Hook
Transportation Services and Varlack Ventures
(340) 776-6282/(340) 776-6412

20 Minutes
One Way/Round Trip
Adult (Resident) $6.00 $12.00
Adult (Non-Resident) $7.00 $14.00
Kids (2-11) $1.00 $2.00
Seniors * $1.50 $3.00
Luggage/Boxes $4.00 piece

Red Hook → Cruz Bay
5:30 am ** | 6:30 | 7:30 | 8:00 | 9:00 | 10:00 | 11:00 | Noon | 1:00 | 2:00 | 3:00 | 4:00 | 5:00 | 6:00 | 7:00 | 8:00 | 9:00 | 10:00 | 11:00 | Midnight

Cruz Bay → Red Hook
6:00 am | 7:00 | 8:00 | 9:00 | 10:00 | 11:00 | Noon | 1:00 | 2:00 | 3:00 | 4:00 | 5:00 | 6:00 | 7:00 | 8:00 | 9:00 | 10:00 | 11:00 pm

Public Ferry departing from Charlotte Amalie
Transportation Services and Varlack Ventures
(340) 776-6282/(340) 776-6412

45 Minutes
One Way Round Trip
Adult (Resident) $12.00 $24.00
Adult (Non-Resident) $13.00 $26.00
Kids (2-11) $3.50 $7.00
Seniors * $6.00 $12.00
Luggage/Boxes $4.00 piece

Charlotte Amalie → Cruz Bay
10:00 am | 1:00 | 5:30 pm


Cruz Bay → Charlotte Amalie
8:45 am | 11:15 | 3:45 pm

* VI residents only, proof of age required (62+).

** Not on Weekends.
 

OKPACIFIC

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In particular, what should I expect for the fitness center. I saw the notes from the BoD meeting about the fitness center work going on now. Also, the website states that the fitness scrente/spa have been relocated. I'm curious to know what to expect?

Also, since this is our first time, are there any requests that I should add to the reservation? I'm just really glad to go and will be pretty happy with anything. But if there is anything construction oriented to consider.

The fitness center is operational in its current location in the courtyard mall. I asked the employees today when they were moving and they said "in a couple of weeks". The new location will be in the old conference center area.

Coral Vista constuction continues, so it might be noisy in Bay Vista buildings 25 to 27. Also they are jackhammering around the closed hot tub by the main pool so it might be noisy in some of the hotel units in buildings 10 and 11. Hillside and the Pool Villas are nice and quiet.

Enjoy your stay!
 

tomandrobin

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The fitness center is operational in its current location in the courtyard mall. I asked the employees today when they were moving and they said "in a couple of weeks". The new location will be in the old conference center area.

Coral Vista constuction continues, so it might be noisy in Bay Vista buildings 25 to 27. Also they are jackhammering around the closed hot tub by the main pool so it might be noisy in some of the hotel units in buildings 10 and 11. Hillside and the Pool Villas are nice and quiet.

Enjoy your stay!

Last week we were in Building 27 and our friends were in building 26. You can not hear the construction when the doors are closed.
 

Bob808

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TripAdvisor currently showing some not so great reviews of the property. Would someone please take a look at these reviews and share some comments?
 

tomandrobin

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TripAdvisor currently showing some not so great reviews of the property. Would someone please take a look at these reviews and share some comments?

We just got back last week from the resort. Its still in the middle of a major renovation and those are the type of comments you usually see under those circumstances.

The work that is complete looks fantastic. The Lemongrass and Marketplace just opened two weeks ago....both are great improvements over the previous versions. (ps-get the Red snapper at Lemongrass, its fantastic! ). The temporary lobby is inconvenient, and having the whole area around the existing lobby tedious for getting to the new lobby.

We did not experience any bad or rude service. We did have a hiccup with getting new shampoo mid-week......certainly not something to scathe the hotel on. Every time we called for a shuttle, one was at the villa in under 5 minutes.

The costs of staying at the hotel are what they are......people complaining about that do not understand the expense of staying at the Westin in St John.
 

bubfn

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New Owners at Westin

We just completed a purchase of a week at the Westin, a 3BR pool unit. Our first use is July, 2015! We spent a week on St Thomas in April and 1 day on St John. We loved it so much when we got back I bought a week there, and went back for a week this month! We just got back from our week there so I thought I'd add a few comments.
There we 7 of us, my wife and myself, 2 adult children and 3 small kids (9,7,7). We took a cab from the airport to Red Hook, I pre-arranged pickup with Christopher Taxi and Limo service on St John. He was prompt in responding to texts and phone calls and was waiting for us at the airport. We were happy enough with his service that we used him on the way back, and I will use him next time as well. Very clean vehicle, professional driver. The advantage of a private taxi is that you don't have to wait until it fills, no additional stops and he is there waiting for you. The cost was about 125$ for the 7 of us I believe, including tip. At the people ferry in Red Hook there are porters that will help you with your bags onto the ferry, just remember to not over pack (pack, and then take half out and leave that at home) and you should be able to get by with 1 or 2 checked bags for a large family!
We rented a car on St John. I would recommend this over getting on St Thomas for a couple of reasons.
I think it is good to support the business on St. John.
I have driven on St Thomas and St John. Neither is a big deal, however it is much easier to adjust (a few miles under your belt should be enough) to driving with the less traffic on St John. It is easy to find your way from STT to Red Hook, after you have driven it a time or two, but if it is your 1st time, it may be a little exciting finding you way.If you have car issues it will be easier to deal with it if you rent the car on St John.
If you do only want a car for a couple of days of your trip, it will be much easier renting a car on St John than at STT and then returning it. Although I don't have any specific complaints about the car rental company on St Thomas (Discount), I did have better/easier service getting the car on St John. Not as busy, easier to refuel car, easier to find and get to rental agency, etc. I can't think of one reason that I would ever rent a car on St Thomas a take it to St John.
This trip we rented a Villa and drove by the Westin everyday at least once. There is a grocery store within easy walking distance to the Westin but I would not plan on walking into town. That store has everything you will need for your stay. We went to a different beach everyday, sometimes 2/day. We went to the far end of the island (east) and to the southern end. For us, we will always have a car whenever we go St John.

If anybody has any questions I will be happy to answer if I can!
 

bubfn

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New owners at Westin

One other thing I was going to mention was the parking issue in town. Parking is difficult to find except for 2 options. We used Slim Man's parking every day. They always provided very good, friendly service. It cost us $5-10 to park there but for the convenience it was well worth it (cheaper than most ramps/lots I've used in most cities!). It is located right behind the build where the Beach Bar/High Tide/Joe's are located, on your left as you are driving down the 1 way street. The other lot we used was the one next door to the police station. No problems there either.
There is a free public lot that you drive by on your way to town from the Westin, may be a 5 minute walk to town. We never parked there, but during our stay there were always spaces available.
 

DavidnRobin

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Welcome to the WSJ Thread and TUG, and congrats on becoming an Owner.

I can think of many good reasons to rent to StT and take the car barge (as we do) - this has been discussed here often - so I won't rehash. But too each their own...
Of course, the number of people (adults/children), length of stay, arrival/departure times, and vehicle use while on StJ matters in the decision.

If you ever do rent on StT - I recommend Amalie (brand new vehicles, and great service).

It is about 3 mins from the public lot to Woody's - it just seems longer in the heat/humidity... ;)
 

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We are scheduled for a Wednesday Owners Update at WSJ. We own a 2BR LO resale at Harborside and wanted to get some input from WSJ Tug members before our "update" this Wednesday. Does the Explorer package they might offer make economic sense? We live in Southern California to making the trek out to SJU or STT takes a day. We usually fly Southwest Airlines to San Juan using SWA points. Sadly, Southwest doesn't fly to STT.
THanks in advance for any tips. Dan
 

DavidnRobin

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Just say 'No'...

You can rent from Owners at the MFsas long as you don't go during peak season

Spirit flys from LAX to STT via Ft Lauderdale - if you can stand it...
 

LisaRex

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I've been to WSJ twice, and both times I took the Westin ferry and rented a car on site on O'Connors. Didn't regret it. In fact, for first time visitors, I still recommend this path. But for our January '15 trip, we will go with Amalie. Why?

1) They meet you at the airport with your car, so no waiting on a shuttle. You just walk out with your luggage, and load up. That is super convenient.

2) I'm now familiar enough with both islands that I feel comfortable navigating to Red Hook.

3) The friends who are joining us have been there before, so I'm not taking anything away from their "wow" factor of taking the Westin Breeze over.

4) Renting a car for the week gives us the option of coming and going as we please. With daily rentals, you have to work around their 8am-5pm hours (with an hour+ for lunch).

5) The main reason is that we can stop by the Food Center (a grocery store) near Red Hook and load up with groceries before we head over to St. John. Prices there are much more reasonable than on St. John.
 

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Anyone stayed at Frenchman's Cove?

Tuggers,

I am tacking four nights at the Frenchman's Cove in St. Thomas onto the end of our week on St. John. Will be there August 16-20. Travelling with wife and two kids, a girl 9 and a boy 6.

I posted this in Marriott but thought I would ask here as well. If you have ever stayed at MFC, please feel free to weigh in on the following:

First off, my assumption has been that guests in a Cove villa have full access to the Frenchman's Reef amenities. Please confirm or dispel my assumption.

Second, looking for some experienced owners' insight into must do's with the kids on and off the property. We will have my niece to babysit one night, so if there is a kid-free evening must do, we would love to hear that too.

Thanks,

Rich
 

czar

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Anyone use LowKey Dives? http://www.divelowkey.com/

I was looking around for snorkel options instead of the one at the Westin, and they offer a bunch. They also offer a discover scuba package that includes 2 shallow dives, which is be interested in trying.

Any experiences?
 

DavidnRobin

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Anyone use LowKey Dives? http://www.divelowkey.com/

I was looking around for snorkel options instead of the one at the Westin, and they offer a bunch. They also offer a discover scuba package that includes 2 shallow dives, which is be interested in trying.

Any experiences?

I haven't, but many I know have. I would contact Jason at Island Roots - and ask who he would recommend? Also, I think Steve Simonsen (StJ UW photo/video-grapher) uses LowKey. Also, ask Tugger ferndale - but you will need to PM as I do not think she reads the forum regularly (unlike some of us with nothing better to do...;)). My neighbor in B33 also dives (Tugger EricAndCarol) - you can try a PM, but not sure he pays attn.

I never got around to my 'trip report' - yet - but I would highly recommend Island Roots (if you can find an available reservation that is...) - not for diving, but for an adventurous water day - no matter what is your thing...
The Circumvent St John was one of best water days ever.
 

czar

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I haven't, but many I know have. I would contact Jason at Island Roots - and ask who he would recommend? Also, I think Steve Simonsen (StJ UW photo/video-grapher) uses LowKey. Also, ask Tugger ferndale - but you will need to PM as I do not think she reads the forum regularly (unlike some of us with nothing better to do...;)). My neighbor in B33 also dives (Tugger EricAndCarol) - you can try a PM, but not sure he pays attn.

I never got around to my 'trip report' - yet - but I would highly recommend Island Roots (if you can find an available reservation that is...) - not for diving, but for an adventurous water day - no matter what is your thing...
The Circumvent St John was one of best water days ever.

Thank you. Emailed Island Roots. Looks like a great option since perhaps my wife and kids could join me. I'm fine wig just snorkeling, and in fact, I'd be fine with finding some shallow water spots my kids could play in. Mentioned your referral. Didn't think you'd mind since you referred us to Amalie, too. Hope that was OK!
 

czar

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We're in the midst of trying to figure out what to do this year. Our 2nd oldest is now 4, so the cost for the 5 of us (we have a 2 yo who ships for free) is $420. Last year, we only rented a car for one day - the kids are still a little young to last going out for more than a few hours and still really prefer the pool. Would be nice to get out 1-2 days to see some of the beaches again and go visit the other side of the island, but we may not even do that depensing on temperaments ;) But at the very least, I know we don't need a car for the week, and we'd have to rent at least 2 days from O'Connor's to break even on renting in STT and taking ferry compared to WSJ ferry and then renting from O'Connors.

The big issue trying to grapple with is what to do with the ferry. If we can somehow navigate the public ferry with our 3 kids and luggage, we'll save quite a bit of $$. I'm guessing we'd save ~ $300; however, not sure what that would be like (are they helpful with luggage once you get out of taxi; do they store it somewhere for the ride over)? If it's not a huge ordeal, we'd be better off (financially) taking a taxi to red hook and then the public ferry and taxi into WSJ from there.

Our flight arrives (delta) 12:16pm and departs 1:29pm Friday-Friday.

Any advice?

EDIT: Actually, I think I underpriced the cost of a taxi for 2 adults and 3 kids. I'm guessing the taxi to the dock from airport likely costs $40-$50 for all of us incl luggage? Plys another $25 or so on the other side (StJ)? So conservatively I am thinking $150 for taxis R/T plus the ferry cost of ~ $60 with luggage R/T. So maybe $210 versus $420. Plus, talking with wife, sh'ed really prefer NOT ro drag car seats like last time, so thinking we won't even rent a car this trip - we can always taxi it to beach if we want to go.

Well we ended up booking the Westin ferry. Took a 60 second conversation with my wife. Should have started there :wall:
 
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