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

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LisaH

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Just saw your post...
For MFC, you have full access to the hotel amenities. However, the hotel is quite a distance from MFC so, instead of walking, you may need to wait for the free shuttles to get there. I have done both.
For kids activities, I think Coral World, Megan's Beach would be interesting to visit. I was going to say that you could take the kids to St John but they will be going there anyway...:)

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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LOL - Happy wife = Happy Life.

Haha. Yes. How do I forget that.

In her defense we do have to get the kids up at 4 AM to make our 8 o'clock flight. She took a long look at me and said, "are you serious? You want to try to lug the kids and the luggage on a taxi and the ferry and back to another taxi and then wait in line to check in?"

I think next year, and if not, you're after, but only need two small car seats, so renting from Amalie and taking the ferry over is going to be our best option.

I'm hoping to set something up with the island roots, and instead of the money we would pay for the rental car, spend some time out on the water with the family.
 

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.

Dave thanks for the tip. Jason got in touch with me tonight. Booking is tight even in the "off season!" But we're going to do a morning 1/2 day trip around St. John's North Shore with the option to extend to full day of the kids are into it. Psyched. Good use of our car rental money and the money I'd have spent on a large group snorkel tour :)
 

DavidnRobin

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Seasonal Closings - 2014

Seasonal Closings (2014)
http://newsofstjohn.com/2014/08/13/2014-seasonal-closings/

Staying Open:
Across the Street Bar
Asolare
Baked in the Sun
Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Beach Bar
Cafe Livin’ (May close one week for maintenance)
Castaway’s Tavern
Chateau Bordeaux
Chester’s
Cruz Bay Landing
da Livio’s
Deli Grotto
Driftwood Dave’s: Opening at 1 p.m. (though dinner) Monday through Friday until November 1
Etta’s West Indian Cuisine
High Tide
Jake’s
P & P’s: Open Tuesday through Saturday. Must call (340) 693-8587 for reservations.
Quiet Mon (May close the last week of September for maintenance)
Sam and Jack’s Deli (Hours may vary depending on demand; visit their website for more info)
Sogo’s
St. John Scoops
Sun Dog Cafe – (They will be open throughout, with a brief maintenance period in early October. During that time, they will serve lunch and use the bar at Virgin Fire.)
Tap Room
Uncle Joe’s
West Indies Delight
Westin
Woody’s
X on St. John

Closing:
Aqua Bistro: Closed September 6 through September 11
Banana Deck: Closed September 1 through October 15
Cafe Concordia: Closed September and October
Cafe Roma: Closing September 1; Reopening October 3
Caneel Bay Resort (including restaurants): Closing August 26; Reopening November 1
Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis: Closed; Reopening September 1
Fatty Crab: Closing this Saturday: Tentatively reopening October 15
Joe’s Rum Hut: Closing September 2 for three weeks
La Tapa: Closed as of August 23; Will reopen either October 11th or 17th
Lime Inn: Closed as of August 24th – They’re holding a pig roast at Oppenheimer that day and all are invited; Bar reopens bar September 23 with food; Restaurant will reopen in early November; Exact date to be determined by weather
Margarita Phil’s: Closed for September
Miss Lucy’s: Closed September and October
Morgan’s Mango: Will close 1-2 weeks in October – Dates Undecided
Motu Bar: Closing August 15; Reopening in October
Ocean 362: Closed August 25 through October 15
Ocean Grill: Closing August 31; Reopening September 29
Pickles (Tentatively)
Rhumb Lines: Closed September 16 – October 18
Ronnie’s Pizza Closed; Reopening September 15
Shipwreck Landing: Closed September and October
Skinny Legs: Closed September 1st -27th except for NFL Sundays (the 7th,14th,and 21st); Will be open 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. then with a limited menu. Reopening September 28
Tamarind Inn: Closed August 27 to September 9 for maintenance
The Fish Trap: Closing August 22 through October 7
The Terrace: Closing October 1 through October 25
Tourist Trap: Closing August 23; Reopening September 23
T’ree Lizards Restaurant (Cinnamon Bay Campground): Closed September and October
Vie’s Snack Shack: Closed September and October
Virgin Fire: Will celebrate the end of season with a party on August 30; Reopening October 1.
Waterfront Bistro: Closed September 1 through October 9
Zozo’s Ristorante: Closing August 26; Reopening November 1
 

ferndale

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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,
I may be too late to be of help, but we have used several companies for diving and snorkeling on St. John. We usually spend 6 out of 7 days on the island out on a boat!! Feel free to pm me if you want more info!
 

czar

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Czar,
I may be too late to be of help, but we have used several companies for diving and snorkeling on St. John. We usually spend 6 out of 7 days on the island out on a boat!! Feel free to pm me if you want more info!

THanks so much for the offer. I booked cap'n jason for 1/2 day trip and I think that's probbaly all we'll do this round.
 

czar

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T -minus 14 hours and counting.

Two quick questions.

First, can you bring your own alcohol in the form of canned beer to the main resort pool?

Second, do they have a model of the new Coral Vista to show? Just curious about going on the owners update.
 

TDS

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I can't say for sure about bringing beer to the pool, but I would expect its discouraged. I've been here several days and I've only seen one person at the pool with what appeared to be items they brought themselves.

Yes, there is a model of Coral Vista available for viewing. If you don't want to do an update, you might be able to view it at night. We noticed a couple of nights ago that they had the lights on in the model after dark - it of course wasn't open, but we could see most of it from the window. I would imagine that leaving the lights was to encourage viewing from the patio for sales purposes.
 

czar

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I can't say for sure about bringing beer to the pool, but I would expect its discouraged. I've been here several days and I've only seen one person at the pool with what appeared to be items they brought themselves.

Yes, there is a model of Coral Vista available for viewing. If you don't want to do an update, you might be able to view it at night. We noticed a couple of nights ago that they had the lights on in the model after dark - it of course wasn't open, but we could see most of it from the window. I would imagine that leaving the lights was to encourage viewing from the patio for sales purposes.

Ok thanks. I just couldn't remember from last summer. Our trick at other places is usually to find out what kind of canned beers they serve and then buy some and trade off ordering and then bringing a few of our own.

Good to know about the model. Will definitely sign up for the owners update then!
 
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suzannesimon

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This is our home away from home. There shouldn't be a problem bringing your own drinks if that is your choice. We take soft drinks to Frenchman's Cove pool area and sometimes beer. I much prefer their rum drinks to mine, however.
 

czar

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This is our home away from home. There shouldn't be a problem bringing your own drinks if that is your choice. We take soft drinks to Frenchman's Cove pool area and sometimes beer. I much prefer their rum drinks to mine, however.

Haha. Thanks! Yes, I agree. I leave the real drink making to he professionals. Looking forward to a couple painkillers! And some Guava wata from Rhumb Lines.
 

DavidnRobin

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Beer in cans is fine. Starfish and StJ Market has (had) Sierra Nevade Pale Ale in 16oz cans - in case you like real beer.
No bottles allowed on StJ beaches.
 

Politico

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Red Hook ferry and weather

We are scheduled to arrive tomorrow afternoon. The weather forecast for tomorrow is calling for 20-30 mph winds. Does anyone know if winds at that rate will delay or cancel the car ferry?
 

czar

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Beer in cans is fine. Starfish and StJ Market has (had) Sierra Nevade Pale Ale in 16oz cans - in case you like real beer.
No bottles allowed on StJ beaches.

I think I Remeber you mentioning SN. Right now Lagunitas takes the #1 spot. But that's a close 2nd.
 

czar

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Just landed

Breezy and 90°. Flight got in about 20 minutes early (scheduled for 12:16) so we're already on the shuttle, about to depart for the 12:45 ferry we didn't think we'd make!

Surprised at the completely full flight over!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t8udYOwmhU
 
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DavidnRobin

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I think I Remeber you mentioning SN. Right now Lagunitas takes the #1 spot. But that's a close 2nd.

Of course we prefer Lagunitas - but can only get SN in cans. Plus, it is a bit lighter for the hotter temps.
de8aaadc592807f4c7e72ecfbeccee99_zps1f9c8c3f.jpg

{Denis Bay}
 
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czar

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Resort Update

So a little less than 24 hours on site. There are some frustrations and annoyances, like the noise and reroutes, but the work being done is really nice and will make WSJ nice for years to come so worth it.

Super nice check in experience. About 1000x smoother as compared to last year and even though our room wasn't ready they took my number and called within the hour they promised and actually came and found me when the call went to VM. I really love the staff here.

The Marketplace is a huge improvement and there is some delicious looking prepared food in the case. Such a nice spot and more convenient.

Internet in BV is definitely faster. Last year was barely getting 1 meg download. Getting 3+ consistently. Can actually stream content for my kids which is a great thing at 6:00am.

We ended up taking the Breeze, and with our little kids and the 4:30 wake up yesterday, that was definitely the right decision. Someone else on the Breeze, who has been coming for about 9 years, told me that the car rental agency here has car seats, so I'm going to check into that. Either way we're headed out for an am charter on Thursday so we'll get to snorkel!

So excited to be back. Headed to owners update Tuesday or Wednesday. The CV units look nice and the demo units had the lights burning last night!

PS: decided last night that we are coming for a minimum 9-10 days next trip. Too hard to travel here, decompress, and then re enter civilization all within 7 days.
 
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DavidnRobin

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PS: decided last night that we are coming for a minimum 9-10 days next trip. Too hard to travel here, decompress, and then re enter civilization all within 7 days.

Color me jealous.
We use a combo of StJ Market and Starfish - but we have a car. Make sure you look at price and expiration date on the foods. I saw some dating back to last year.
If we hadn't bought our adjacent 2nd week from owners that we got our 1st week - we would have sold (given away...) our single week. It was just too much to travel all the way there, acclimate, and have to turn around and come home. Even 2 weeks seem too short. I would really like to spend 4-6 months there - if I could just hit the lottery... (or get adopted by W5* ;))
 
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bobpark56

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Look at port closures, not ferry cancelations

We are scheduled to arrive tomorrow afternoon. The weather forecast for tomorrow is calling for 20-30 mph winds. Does anyone know if winds at that rate will delay or cancel the car ferry?

Our experience is that is not the ferry that gets canceled, rather it's the port captain's (port authority's) decision to close his port.

We had an experience with an approaching hurricane where the port at Charlotte Amalie was closed, but Red Hook was still open...for a bit. So the Westin Ferry took us to Red Hook, where we were placed on buses for the trip to the airport.
 

YYJMSP

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It was just too much to travel all the way there, acclimate, and have to turn around and come home.

I was under the impression there were relatively simple flights from SFO to STT? Or is it just the length/timing of the flights, etc?

We haven't worked out the logistics yet for next summer, as flight schedules are just starting to come out, but I'm sure from Victoria, BC it's going to be a large number of connections to get there (as we can only get to a very small number of hubs from here).
 

DavidnRobin

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Generally we go SFO-MIA then MIA-STT on AA. Either as a red-eye from SFO-MIA, or over nite in MIA at the airport Sheraton on points. Then rent from Amalie and car-barge over.
The biggest issues are the time-change and the heat/humidity, and food shopping. We have a Fri-Fri, so all in not really copacetic until Sunday - and then having to pack-up Thur nite to leave on Friday - only really gives Sun-Thurs. 5 full days in reality with time to adjust (being from chilly SF Peninsula - relatively). Added a week gives us much better vacation experience - 5/7 vs. 12/14 - a 20% increase LOL.
 

czar

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More on tax bills

835EC499-20FB-497D-989F-B49E132D6B01.jpg


VI property owners are about to get their 2013 property tax bills which will be the first issued under the new tax structure. going to bet that David has posted specifics on this before, and he certainly knows more about it, but quick recap of article is that there was a 0.75% property tax rate on all properties in the Virgin Islands since 1936 and that's been overturned. Apparently it was a huge legal battle. Now, they are variable rates, from .38% for residential owners to 1.4% for timeshare owners.

It also seems from the article that they've changed the responsibility for billing taxes based on ownership as of January 1 of the current tax year. So, it seems like that would make transfers easier since the new owner would not be responsible for taxes from the previous tax year.
 

DavidnRobin

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USVI Property Tax Update

As czar mentioned (surprised I saw nothing from StJ blogs/FB)
Timeshares taxed at 1.41% - ouch. Local governments again screwing TS owners (e.g. Maui...) 2x higher than the next level (commercial) and 3x higher than residential (even though many are used for short-term rentals). The prior TS tax rate was 1.25% (iirc) - so that is a 13% increase. For example - our tax bill is ~$130 - so expect it to go to $147.
At one point it was doubling (a few years back), but got struck down.

Property tax bills to be issued soon
{from VI Daily News}

The Division of Real Property Tax issued a statement Friday that it plans to begin issuing the 2013 property tax bills to Virgin Islands property owners in coming weeks.

The division also is offering a discount to property owners who pay their bills within 30 days of their being issued.

The bills are issued to all property owners of record as of January 1, 2013. The 2013 property tax assessments are based on new property values reflecting recent assessments that were conducted by the Tax Assessor's Office.

"Some property owners will see an increase in their property tax bills, while some will see a decrease," Tax Assessor Ira Mills said in a prepared statement.

The factors that affect each taxpayer's property tax bill include market value, the tax rate and statutory exemptions, according to Mills.

Exemptions, or credits, are available in the following categories: general homestead; veterans; seniors; disabled; Class 1 inheritance; visitable home; and tax credit circuit breaker. Although taxpayers can no longer apply for credits against the 2013 or 2014 bills, they can do so in advance of the 2015 bills.

The tax rates for the 2013 property bills, as outlined in Act 6991, are:
- 0.004946 - Unimproved non-commercial real property.
- 0.003770 - Residential real property.
- 0.007110 - Commercial real property.
- 0.014070 - Timeshare real property.

The 2013 bill also will include information about unpaid tax years, and property owners who have not paid their 2012 or prior tax year bills can contact the Tax Collector's Office to make arrangements for payment.

Payments can be made at:

- St. John: Islandia Building.
- St. Thomas: Builders Emporium.
- St. Croix: 1105 King Street (Government House, Christiansted); 1131 King Street, Suite 101 (Christiansted); 4008 Estate Diamond (Dept. of Finance, Sunny Isles); and Lagoon Street Commercial Building No. 1 (Frederiksted).

The Tax Collector's Office accepts checks, cash, money orders, Visa, MasterCard, ATM and debit cards.

Questions about delinquencies can be addressed to the Tax Collector's office at 776-8505 on St. Thomas; 776-6737 on St. John; 773-1105 in Christiansted; or 772-0120 in Frederiksted.
 
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