The Westin St. John - Virgin Grand Villas
Cruz Bay, St. John (USVI)
Reviews of The Westin St. John - Virgin Grand Villas
Cruz Bay, St. John (USVI)
We stayed at the Westin in February 2016 and we loved it. It was our first time in St. John and it definitively won't be our last. In fact, we're looking to go back in February 2017.
The resort was beautiful and our villa was very nice. The Villa's can be a hike from the resort's beach, the lobby, etc but it's not a bad walk. You can always catch a ride on one of the resort's golf carts that the staff are continually driving around.
We would have liked more dining options at the resort but we managed just fine. Having a full kitchen in our villa helped. We made a few trips to the grocery store to get supplies.
Having a car rental on property was also very convenient. We were able to return our rental a day early as we just didn't need it and it was costing us around $100 a day.
The taxis at the resort are very convenient but they do add up if you use them often. Most likely less than a rental car but it all depends on what you plan on doing while there and how many people you're traveling with.
All in all, we loved the Westin. The location is convenient, the amenities are great and the atmosphere is very relaxing.
I've been an owner at Westin St. John for about 10 years or so, but have been vacationing at the resort for over 20 years... First laid eyes on it when on a day trip while staying in St. Thomas. From that point, I knew this island was for me, and this was THE resort.
My kids learned to swim in the quarter-acre pool and they've been fortunate enough to come back most every winter of their lives. That's why I bought here. This is home away from home and there's no other place like it. I've been fortunate to travel to over 50 countries and dozens of Caribbean islands large and small. St. John has my heart.
The resort has improved so many times over the years. If you're looking at older posts, then quite frankly: ignore them.
There have been $30 million in renovations and improvements taking place 2014 to 2016.
It's great. You're on the most beautiful island in the Caribbean -- a real island with no stoplights, no airports, and no cruise ships. And you're at the nicest place on the island. Don't get me wrong, Caneel Bay is awesome, and their beaches are spectacular as are most throughout the island, but the Westin has the total package.
You can't go wrong with any of the Westin timeshare phases (Virgin Grand Villas, Bay Vista, and Coral Vista) but having figured this out over the course of a couple of decades, my preference is the Virgin Grand Villas. They are newly renovated with granite/marble/etc. All of them have private balconies. The views are spectacular. There are private "villa only" pools steps from the units (and private pools for each 3-bedroom unit). And there is parking at your door. The reason I find this appealing is that if you come to St. John, you should get out an experience St. John. It's a "tiny" island, but I make it a point to discover something new every time I come back. There are spectacular and famous beaches, and then there are other spectacular beaches that are off the beaten path. And there are the trails and restaurants, and other things to do around the island. I always rent a car on St. Thomas and bring it over on the car ferry. The cost of the car rental and the car ferry round trip is often not much more than it would be for 4 passengers on the Westin passenger ferry, and then we have a car available to use 100% of the trip. Don't get me wrong, I love also just lounging around the villa pool, or main pool, or Westin beach, but it's great to get out and explore, and then come back to heavenly showers, air-conditioning and cold drinks on the balcony overlooking Great Cruise Bay and Little St. James.
Everything about the resort is top notch. The employees are friendly, the beds are heavenly, and the experience is out of this world -- something for the privileged few.
This is the island to get a break from the hustle and bustle of the US mainland! The beaches are remote. The pressure is low. The expectation is to slow down and enjoy not the moment but each second. We have been regular visitor to The Westin, St John. I agree with Andrea (posting) the ferry is the way to go! It is worth, literally the couple extra bucks, not to have to deal with taxis and luggage in the hot Caribbean sun! This is vacation right! THe staff could be a bit friendlier. That being said, I am thankful that the hotel is not hounding me to buy food,excursions and watered down drinks. I have had that experience at other properties! ALL the amenities are at The Westin, St John you may just need to get off your lounge chair every once in a awhile to enjoy them!!
This island is paradise and this resort is as good as management can make that paradise! There are always remarks- someone didn't come fast enough to fix something - or someone did, but in the 12 years or so that we have been owners, it is the vacation spot that my kids adore (and they have been to many, many high quality and different places - in the US and outside).
The Westin ferry (from when one lands at the airport) is about $100 per peron, But it also includes unlimited r/ts all week to St. Thomas - and is door to door, with no concern about ever touching your luggage -- and a welcome drink and ride to your lodging awaiting you upon disembarkation.
We always have some minor issue with service, but we also love arriving to a great resort and great accommodations in one of the best islands in the world - with exceptional restaurants, people, beaches and natural wonders.
It is safe, well-maintained, beautiful and a haven and privileged respite from an otherwise beleaguered world (and, of course, it can be beleaguered by hurricanes, so when that happens - or you are there in the aftermath - happened to us once in 12 years - but, it certainly happens -- just have some patience! There will be some extra water and bugs! But everyone will also be working as hard as they can to make it right).
Our family of 6 are in the middle of our 2-week stay here at the beautiful Westin St. John! We are staying in a 3 bedroom bay vista unit (the ones without the private pool) and are absolutely loving this place! No-we are NOT owners here..we own over at the Westin Maui and traded in.
First of all let me tell you everybody here, from the check-in staff to the concierge and the restaurant staff has been extremely pleasant and helpful throughout our stay. Workout room is great and ..yes...we have used it! Our unit is relatively new and absolutely spotlless. We had a couple of loose fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen and when we called a maintenance person was at our door in moments. We have a beautiful view of the bay and have been enjoying the balmy "hurrricane season" weather out on each of our 3 balconies.
The beach and pool are fantastic! We spent our whole first day with the kids (ages 12,9,7 & 6) swimming between the 3 ocean trampolines and climbing the wall that floats in the center of their beautiful beach. We then headed over to the pool bar with some newly found friends and enjoyed a great lunch with reasonably priced kids meals ($9) and tasty tropical drinks.
The next day we boarded the "Bad Kitty" Catamaran that was nice to pick us up right here on the beach and motored off to the British Virgin Islands (Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke & Cooper Island) a "must do"!
We also were able to rent an SUV right here at the resort for a day and were able to take a beautiful drive up to Waterlemon Cay for some great sea turtle, starfish, and stingray sightings . On our return back to the Westin we stopped by at the Caneel Bay Resort (also a beautiful spot) enjoyed a lovely dinner (great fish & chips!) and the kids all got to jump off the end of their dock!! (watch out for boats!!) Exiting Caneel Bay we all got to see , pet & name the islands famous donkeys...don't know if the names will stick, but do know that wonderful memories of our stay here will!
We stayed in one of the "renovated" villas. The Westin ground are beautiful and the staff are very friendly and eager to help. When we arrived, the villa was FULL of mosquitos because the weather stripping on the french doors was gone. We had a private pool and hot tub which was nice, but were instructed to fill the hot tub daily because it leaked! The 3 drains were clogged on the patio deck and had standing water on the patio at all times - great for mosquitos. Decking around pool was broken in several places. Air conditioning was not working and we had to call for repairs. Internet connection cable was broken and we called for repairs. Internet, cell phones and tv did not work because of storms in area. We were able to get internet in villa 3 days later. The lock on our villa gate was broken 1 day after we arrived and we had to go back to the main lobby to get a repairman which was a 7 minute walk. Many of the light bulbs in the villa were burned out and we called to get them replaced. Bathroom tiles had recently been regrouted but had not been wiped off of tiles. A closet door had the pins missing from it's hinges and fell off when opened. Lovely island with stunning beaches but we won't be staying at The Westin.
Just returned from a two week stay at the Westin St. John and can't wait to return. This is absolutely one of the nicest resorts in the Caribbean. The island itself is stunning and offers one beautiful beach after another. For the very best in locally prepared food, visit Sheila's stand across from the ferry in Cruz Bay. She's there for lunch only and you don't want to miss her offerings. Zozo's is an excellent choice for your evening meal and won't disappoint.
Let me start out by saying that I've stayed at this location many times and fully understand that the level of service is several notches below what one would expect to receive at Westin in the states although one needs to remind themselves that they're on vacation and this is the Caribbean, so be a bit more patient and/or tolerant. The employees at the resort are friendly and the food is average and priced accordingly with the exception of the restaurant located above the main lobby where prices tend to be much more. Restaurants in town are your best bet and shuttles can take you directly there for $4.00 per person each way. I recently stayed in one of the new Vista 2bdrm Lofts which is a great setup and is wonderful for families with children since both bedrooms are separated by a large space in the loft area which has a table and computer desk. Both bedrooms are large with full baths and the master has a separate living area as well which also includes a foldout sofa and flat screen televsion. There are 4 flats screens throughout the unit. Closet space is plentiful in this unit although in the 3bdrm units, there is hardly any storage and the layout is poor in 2 of the 3 bdrms. I ended up moving into one of the 3bdrm units since the A/C wasn't working properly in my lofted unit and that was all that was available at the time. In regards to the new Vista Units, if I were an owner, I would be disappointed with the quality of the buildings both interior and exterior as it appears that construction was rushed to meet demand and problems with electrical, A/C fit and finish is very obvious throughout. From shower door handles coming off, floor tiles with grout lines that are so far off that it looks as though someone installed them with the lights out, floors in showers that weren't graded propery to allow water to flow towards drain etc etc. To think that some people are paying $50K or more plus yearly maint. fees for such shoddy work is just rediculous. I was able to rent this week from an owner for under $2000. That's right for under $2000 I ended up with a new Vista 2bdrm loft for approx what this owner is paying in maint fees alone. It just goes to show that timeshare is one of the worst investments and should one wish to visit this location, ebay often times is your best bet, especially when ones schedule is flexible. Best recommendation is to rent a car on St. Thomas and take ferry from Red Hook. Westin charges nearly $100 round trip for each passenger and its approx $50 roundtrip for the vehicle on the ferry and there's no charge for it's passengers. (GREAT DEAL) Also, rental cars are less on St. Thomas but be sure to rent a 4X4 as a standard car just doesn't prove wise on St. John. Lastly, I don't own at this location nor would I with the ability to easily rent from an owner from $200-300 per night for 2 to 3 bdrm and for $125 to $200 for a studio or 1 bdrm..(expect to pay slightly more during peak periods) I would be wary of many of these reviews as there's no doubt many if not most were written by owners at this resort.
The Westin St. John is a great resort...we just returned last night and plan to return again next year!
The resort is beautiful. Yes, there are some minor maintenance issues, but given that it is a laid back island, the facilities are great, the staff and people are warm and friendly (laid back is also a great descriptor). I am discriminating and appreciate it for what it is, but with tighter management the resort would easily be a 9 or 10, but as is it would be a notch below The Ritz in St. Thomas, so realistically an 8.5-9 out of 10. For St. John and anywhere else on St. Thomas except The Ritz , it is the best kept, with better grounds and amenities than Caneel Bay on St. John.
We chose to rent a car in St. Thomas and take the car ferry over. Yes, the Westin Breeze is a treat, but as we like the mobility of tooling around, we enjoyed the drive to Red Hook and the car ferry over, plus the cost of the rental jeep for the week was less than the cost of the 4 of us to just take the Westin Breeze, so we saved several hundred dollars (although there is a time savings with the Westin's ferry).
We had a studio suite hillside villa with a kitchen, and it had a beautiful view of the bay from the nicely sized balcony. We used Starfish Market and the Pine Peace Minimart for provisions (the latter is less expensive plus more local users) and enjoyed all breakfasts and some lunches and dinners in our suite. The small satellite pool was nice for a late night dip, but not a replacement for the phenomenal main pool! For those who didn't rent a car, the shuttle comes by every 15-20 minutes, or if you call then they send someone right up.
In terms of the main grounds, they are beautifully kept overall. The gardens are lovely and well maintained, with iguanas lounging on the grass, in the bushes and in the trees (no worries...they won't bother you). The pool is amazing! It is the largest pool we have ever been in, pristine, and has 2 islands with large palm trees to provide some shade. There area dozens of chairs and numerous umbrellas at the pool along with a towel service and rentable cabanas (with TVs!) and hammocks. The pool bar was great! My family came to love daily virgin coladas and coconut smoothies, and the servers were delightful.
The beach is also pristine. There are dozens of lounges, several umbrellas (the number could definitely be increased) and trees. You can use the floats and non-motorized equipment from the marina without cost, but they would never let out the sunfish/aquacats, stating it was because the wind was weird, which was disappointing, but the kayaking was fun. The water is perfect, there are some patches of seaweed but not a problem for us. The kids loved the 3 trampolines just offshore along with the inflatable iceburg float!
The Beachclub restaurant, next to the marina, is very, very good and fairly priced. I know that some complain about the costs, but we did alot of our own cooking and prices on the island are 2-3 times more than here in the northeast, so I would expect to pay more for food as a result.
We used the tennis courts several times, mostly at night as they are available until 10 PM, which was great! They are turf with sand on it to replicate a cross between a clay and grass court surface. We enjoyed it.
The spa and workout center were very, very good, although I only entered there for the first time on day 5 of our vacation.
The iguana feeding at 3 PM most days is a must-see...iguanas come from all around to eat left over salad fixings. We enjoyed it so much that we brought our left-over heads of lettuce to their feeding area in the morning, and after I through out the first leaves, they started to come down from the trees and up the cliff at record speed.
If you go, be sure to check out the phenomenal north shore beaches in the park...Trunk has remarkably good snorkeling for such a well-populated beach when the tours arrive, Honeymoon and Cinnamon were our favorites. And Mongoose Junction for some very nice shopping, plus a few of the local restaurants.
We enjoyed ourselves at the Westin St. John so much that we may even buy one of their timeshares next year!
Westin St. John is a fabulous resort and the island is truly paradise.
RESORT: Plenty to do, concierge was excellent and very helpful and arranging dinners, making suggestions and giving practical advise for the island. Power boat rental and jet ski rentals are a must (jet ski required a guide but power boat you were on your own). Maid service is only twice a week (the norm for timeshare resorts) but getting new towels was never an issue. Staff was very responsive and never had a problem with any requests. Iguana feeding was out of this world (bring your camera!!) Resort store was well stocked but expect resort prices. Personally did not eat at the Westin except for the beach side restaurant. Too many other options for food in town to eat at the resort.
ISLAND: Everything is within relatively short driving distance and stores to stock your refridgerator are not within walking distance. Plenty of taxis (not New York style but "island" style). Snorkeling is awesome with excellent visibility and abundant marine life. Some beaches were crowded but concierge gave us directions to "off the beaten path" beaches. Visiting other islands (via powerboat rental) was excellent but bring cash if visiting British Virgin Island for visa fee. Snorkeling at other islands was also awesome.
TRANSPORTATION: Took the Westin Ferry as it allowed us to go back and forth to St. Thomas as we desired. Short wait from St. Thomas side but dockside restaurant was fine (not much else there.) St. Thomas is alive and bustling when a cruise ships are docked but town is dead when they leave. St. John taxis very plentiful but didn't have much luck in negotiating price. If you want to explore more of the island, strongly recommend your own rental car as having the taxi take the whole family to the other side of the island would be expensive. Rental cars MUST be reserved early. We got lucky (after a dozen calls over a few days) and got one for two of the seven days we were there (did not reserve ahead of time...our own fault).
Things to remember: It's a vacation...relax. Don't nit pick at every little thing (like some of the other posts). Enjoy the resort and the island.
I have been all around the caribbean, this secluded resort tops them all
In response to jleone:
I well understand that everyone has different experiences at resorts and one bad experience certainly does mar a stay. However, in most timeshare resorts maid service only comes in once, maybe twice a week. This is standard in the industry and is not something that should be held against the Westin specifically. If anyone wants more frequent cleaning the opportunity exists to pay for it.
The experience at the deli (closed at 8:45 when it was supposed to be 9) is indeed bad. However, I am confused about a $16.00 taxi ride. I've never taken a taxi ride into town for more than $4.00. So something sounds off there... not sure what could have happened. Either way, yes, you are right to be annoyed about having to do it, no matter how much you spent.
The criticism of the island's taxis is unwarranted. Yes, it's different. And having gone with a toddler myself, I understand the safety concerns. But if you're going to travel to different places around the world, you're going to encounter different modes of transportation, different food, different ways of life. For many, that is the point of travel. Sure Cancun is nice, but as an Americanized version of a Mexican beach, it's not all that interesting.
Like others on here, I own at (and love) the Westin. Yes, the travel to get there is a bit of a pain. I would know - I got married there. But we factor it in and take it in stride, and figure that some of the best places in the world are the ones that are not so easy to get to. For a quick and easy vacation, this place may not be the destination. But I have rarely had service issues (indeed many of the staff remember us), the beaches are wonderful, we never tire of driving around the gorgeous island and appreciating its unspoiled beauty, and day trips to the BVI and St. Thomas can add some variety if needed. The restaurants are great, ranging from cheap Latin fare (Sosa's, I think it is) to great cuisine (we love La Tapa). As far as timeshare resorts go, this is one of the better ones out there by far, thanks in part to the Westin connection. I hope they continue to expand (they are building one in Cancun, coincidentally) and branch into more exciting destinations.
Added Jan 2008: We returned to the Westin last September and were rather dismayed to find that the resort seems to have taken a downturn from when we first purchased our unit. Service was definitely lacking - despite being notified well in advance of our arrival our unit was not ready when we got there and no one notified us when it WAS ready (although there was one person who said he would, he seemed to be more intent on promising service to people than actually delivering it, since more than once during our stay he said he would look into something for us, only to disappear and never return or call...). The staff behind the desk looked less professional and put-together, and there just seemed to be a general malaise. We never assumed this was the Ritz-Carlton, but did expect more from this resort, particularly since service seemed to be well done 5 years ago. Sadly, the main focus seems to be on selling new units - they have changed over several hotel units to timeshare units, and my suspicion is that they will ultimately turn this into a total timeshare resort and perhaps sell it. They have added cabanas by the pool, which we took advantage of given that I was nursing an infant, but that seemed to be the only big change (aside from the renovation of regular hotel rooms to timeshare units mentioned above).
We have stayed at other timeshares and still believe that this presents a good value for what is out there in the industry. Part of that is the Westin/Starwood connection - at least I know to whom I can complain. But our stay in 2007 was greatly diminished in relative happiness to what it was the first 2 or 3 years. This once great resort seems to have fallen in importance in Starwood's portfolio as they open up new hotels around the world; I wonder if that is why there seems to be a relatively high number of resales. I did mention this to someone who contacted us about an "owner survey" (which turned out to be a veiled attempt to get us to purchase another unit) and I can only hope that Starwood will once again invest in the staffing issues that would bring this resort back up to par.
St John is great, the Westin is nice, but it would be a lot better if it were well maintained.
Most of the staff were very friendly and helpful, and every time we called down to have something fixed, they were expedient in getting someone here to fix it, but every call was about something that was broken when we checked into the unit. They delivered a condensed New York Times on Monday and Tuesday, but none the rest of the week. If I called I'm sure they would have sent one up in a jiffy, but why is it that I have to call? Being responsive in fixing things are good, but fixing the stuff before we get there is definitely preferred.
I actually preferred being up on the hill rather than down at the hotel, I enjoyed the walks, although when a golf-cart shuttle was called, a 20-minute lead-time is often needed.
This resort seems to focus more on quantity than quality, they have lots of things, but outside of the gym, nothing else is even close to being first-rate (not the units, not the grounds, not the other facilities). One could argue the staff is friendly and are close to first rate, but with such poor maintenance the overall management/staff falls to about par. (and just think, the maintenance fees for Bay View start at $1,800 plus tax for a 2br - I think that's more than the Four Seasons Aviara).
We were very excited to stay at the Westin St John, and although we greatly enjoyed the island, the Westin however, neither enhanced nor detracted from our stay.
We have been to the Westin St John and the beautiful island of St John a few times now and we have loved it every time. I have to laugh at jleone's review and rebuttals - what bug do they have up their butt? And to call out people specifically who also gave their opinions only makes their review seem to be a very bias, and just shows where this person's demeaner lies (with 'lies' being the operative word here). Please jleone - stay away from this island and resort - you obviously are a 'downer' and the wonderful people of St John and those vacationing around you don't need the negative vibe. I am also a diver - along with 3 friends I have gone to STJ with (2 which are dive masters) - and we have absolutely no problem or issues with the dive operation at the Westin - this would include about 9-10 dives now. Are they perfect - no, but you make it sound as if you are taking your life in your hands in using them - what a joke. As to the rest - the 'proof is in the pudding' in looking at all of the reviews - you have to ask yourself - who to believe? Okay - enough.
I would recommend the Westin ferry over the taking a taxi and public ferrys - a bit more expensive, but worth it. The resort is beautiful and the people working there have always been polite and professional. Our units have been clean and everything worked fine - they have been a few missing items, but minor and nothing that we couldn't deal with. Our door card reader failed to work one time, and they came to fix it immediately - pretty minor stuff. The pools are great - both the main pool and the pools by the villas. We were able to have a few great meals using the BBQs by the pool (careful when lighting).
We loved all the pristine beaches on St John - the one at the Westin is a man made beach and not the best on the island - so make sure you get off the resort. The kids seemed like they were having a great time though - and it is nice to relax on the beach with a bar and restaurant close-by. The main pool is great.
We did not eat at the restaurants (except for the pool bar) - so i cannot comment here. The restaurants in town were all good - we especially liked Woody's - casual, but good.
We look forward to our next trip - can't wait to go back.
Susan and I have been going to the Westin St. John every other year for the past ten years. This is great resort with a very laid back atmosphere. We go to the Westin for the heavenly beds, the Mai Tai's, and all of the ameneties of a resort (pools, bars, workout room, snorkel gear, etc...). We rent a jeep and spend most of our days at the beaches and in town enjoying the island and the food. For anyone who has traveled a lot in the Caribian and gets sea sick on a sail boat, this is a great spot.
This was my husband and my first stay at the resort and on the island of St. John and often times we are ready to go home by the end of the week. Not this time!!! The staff at the Westin St. John go above and beyond their call of duty to accommodate their guests.
When we first arrived, they had accidently placed us in an efficiency and due to overbooking and a large convention on site, they did not have any other rooms available to place us. they immediately sent us a note of apology along with a beautiful gift basket and several coupons for breakfast and dinner. they next day, they moved us to a larger unit and they moved all of our luggage in addition to the food and provisions in the refridgerator.
We want to go back again very soon and we plan to stay longer than one week. Also, their beach and the gorgeous water is so relaxing. All in all, this is the best resort to stay for those looking for a quiet, relaxing place to read and get your mind off of work!
If you choose to travel to St. John, bring your patience with you and leave your watch at home. I highly recommend this amazing little island for a relaxing vacation, but you have to be in the right frame of mind upon arrival. Everything is on island time, which means that it will happen when it happens. If you have to sit around and wait for something, enjoy the opportunity to take in the scenery. The Westin is a slight exception. Their service is outstanding. Something will inevitably go wrong during your stay, but the staff tries so very hard to fix problems in record time. Further, they compensate you for your troubles. We were placed in a 2BR unit last year which had a washer leak. The staff immediately relocated us to a better unit, offered free breakfast buffet the following morning, and a few free lunch coupons, as well. You'll find The Westin service to be superior to that of nearly every other location (shop, restaurant, etc) on the island. While it doesn't feel like a 5 star resort to someone who expects pampering and perfection, it feels like an absolute dream come true for those who enjoy peace, solitude, and the beauty of nature. Those seeking convenience and luxury should look elsewhere for a dream vacation. St. John isn't it. Those seeking peace, exploration, and interaction with nature will fit in perfectly. It takes the better half of a day to get to the island, but for me that's part of the allure. Nothing is better than traveling for 12+ hours (from San Diego) and finally arriving on that ferry dock where a Rum Punch and a beautiful view await.
ps...if you can possibly do it, try to stay for more than just a week. Ten days to two weeks really is the perfect amount of time. You won't feel so rushed to do things and can completely relax during your visit.
I expected a lot more from the Westin. When going to this resort you must fly into St. Thomas and then take a ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. The Westin has its own ferry that will take you directly to the resort. You make arrangements in advance to use this ferry and once in the airport in St. Thomas you pick up your bags and proceed to the Westin Counter in the baggage claim area of the airport. The Westin Staff checks your bags and you, along with the other guests are herded into taxis. These taxis are actually pick-up trucks with benches in the pick-up bed, an awning for a covering and no seat belts, definitely not the safest mode of transportation. You are then shuttled to the dock where you have to wait for the ferry. There is a grocery store and a restaurant at the dock. The food at this restaurant was terrible, do not eat there. After waiting an hour and a half the ferry had finally arrived and during the wait, so had more Westin guests. Upon boarding the ferry it was discovered that there were not enough seats to accommodate all the guests and some people had to wait at the dock for the ferry to go to the Westin and come back to St. Thomas to pick them up. The ferry ride is about 45 minutes, so the people at the dock were waiting a good two hours before being able to board the ferry. An interesting thing happened on the ferry ride to the resort. There were two seagulls following the ferry and lets just say that more then one guest ended up with seagull feces on them. The rest of us spent the ride dodging it.
Once you arrive at the resort you are greeted by the staff with a complimentary rum punch. Not being a drinker, I passed on the punch and again the guests were herded along, this time into elongated golf carts that can hold 6 to 8 passengers, for the tour of the resort and the ride to your room. Your bags are brought up later. The resort sits at the bottom of a hill and the villas are on the hill. The golf carts not being very powerful slow down to a crawl upon trying to get up this fairly steep slope.
Now I will discuss the villa. We stayed in a studio villa and our unit was one of the older ones on property. The villa amenities were very good but the unit was a bit small. I would not suggest having more then two people stay in this villa. It did have a fantastic view and the washer and dryer were great. Other good things were the internet access and the fact that my cell phone worked on the island. The unit did not have a Heavenly Bed due to the fact that it was an older unit, but here I have to ask; how hard is it for the Westin to replace a mattress?
The biggest disappointment however was the staff. For starters, maid service only cleans the unit once while you are there. I found the staff to be unresponsive to requests, completely devoid of personality and resentful of having to assist a guest in any way. I will give one example of this and then move on. There is a deli on resort property (do not eat here, the sandwiches are horrible) which is supposed to close at 9 p.m., one night I arrived at the deli at 8:45 p.m. and the deli staff was still inside but they had the door locked. I only needed a couple of things and asked the staff to please let me in as it was not 9 oclock yet. I was told by the staff, through the locked door, that the registers were already turned off and they could not open for me. When I complained about this to the concierge I was told I could take a $16.00 (round trip) taxi (the pick-up trucks again) to the closest convenience store. I bit my tongue, thanked the concierge and boarded my $16.00 taxi to buy $5.00 worth of stuff at the convenience store.
In closing I will say if you have a choice between going here and going somewhere else. Go somewhere else. To come home from a vacation after spending thousands of dollars and feel dissatisfied and cheated sucks and so does the Westin St. John. I would like to let everyone know that Westin/Sheraton is my favorite hotel chain and I choose to stay at Westins or Sheratons just about everywhere I go. This resort is not up to their standard.
In terms of timeshare resorts, I suggest the Royal Resorts in Cancun. I have stayed at The Royal Islander twice and they get my highest marks.
The Following was added on January 8th 2007
I am posting this addition to my review in response to the comments made about my review of the Westin, St. John. Let me begin by saying I am not the prissy, complain about everything type. When out to dinner and a member of my party starts complaining about the service being slow, I am the one to point out how busy the restaurant is. Im the guy that always picks up the check and subsequently leaves the server a tip large enough to have the good majority of them return to the table wide eyed in surprise with profuse thanks. Im the guy who tips the bartender for keeping the ice cubes cold, even though I dont drink alcohol. I dont do these things for recognition or to feel superior by flashing cash. I do them because I know what its like to do menial work for low pay and I know what its like to struggle for every cent just to keep a roof over head. I take things as they come and all through out my life I have taken lemons and turned it into lemonade. That being said, I have never returned home from a vacation feeling cheated and saying I had a bad time with the exception of my stay at the Westin, St. John. To put this in perspective let me state that I have slept in neighborhoods that most people wouldnt want to fly over, more so, I have lived in neighborhoods most people wouldnt fly over and in my travels I have stayed in everything from the lowest bargain basement accommodations to some of the most luxurious available and upon my return from St. John I posted my opinion.
I am happy that other people have had considerably better experiences then I did. I would not wish a bad vacation upon anyone. I am however entitled to have my opinion as it pertains to my experience. Let me state clearly, that due to my experience at the Westin, St. John that I do not recommend it and will not return there. I am however returning to the Virgin Islands in November and I am choosing to stay somewhere else. Others may feel differently as they have had different experiences and I respect their opinion. What I do not have respect for are the comments made by robing19 and leian1 in which assumptions are made about my character or that any part of my opinion is as leain1 put it unwarranted.
As leain1s comments were the least condescending I will address those first. As far as maid service goes, I would have had no problem paying for additional visits to our room and at the Royal Resorts (where I am an owner) maids come everyday, except Sunday. As far as the taxi ride being $16.00, heres the math: $4.00 each way per person and as my fiancé accompanied me the taxi cost $16.00 for the two of us round trip. Further more I am completely aware of the fact that when you travel to different places you experience different modes of transportation and foods. I have stayed in parts of Puerto Rico where the predominant mode of transportation is a donkey and the iguana lizard is referred to as a tree chicken. The taxis are unsafe. The drivers fly through those narrow roads with 20 people in the bed of a pick up. My suggestion to anyone else going to the Virgin Islands is to rent a car. On one taxi ride from town back to the resort we were driving by a bar where a brawl had broken out. The taxi driver stopped the car and tried to intercede in the fight! This put EVERY passenger at risk to injury. I had to tell the driver to get back in the vehicle and drive us away from danger. Is Cancun a bit Americanized? Absolutely, but just as you can take trips to BVI or One of the other USVI Islands from St. John, you can take trips to Cozumel, Isla Mujares or jungle Tours from Cancun. My point is not that one location is better then the other, as I said I will be returning to the Virgin Islands, it is that my experience at the Westin was bad.
In response robing19, lets start with the idea that 5 Star is one thing in one place and something different somewhere else. This might be one of the dumbest things ever said. The whole point of a rating system is to give people something to compare. It is a form of measurement in a sense and measurement is uniform. An inch is an inch and a mile is a mile no matter where you go. Different people may have different opinions of what 5 Star is and that is what the review boards are, peoples opinions. Different measurement systems may be used, for example metric vs. imperial, but the measurements themselves do not change based on location. A meter is a meter, a yard is a yard. We may figure out ways to convert one form of measurement to another, pounds to kilos, but the actual weight does not change. Having been to many destinations in the Caribbean; Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cancun, Multiple Islands in the Bahamas, not to mention the Florida Keys and The Mediterranean Islands of Ibiza and Majorca, its safe to say I enjoy island vacations. I depart with no expectations for a destination I have never been to. I do however have expectations for a certain service level when going to a resort in The Westin/Sheraton chain. Westin is a brand and when you stay at a Westin you expect the service to hold up to the same standard at all locations. Do you expect Tide Laundry Soap to clean your clothes the same way every time? Yes you do! In my experience, and I reiterate IN MY EXPERIENCE at the Westin, St. John I found the service to be substandard based on my experience at other Westin Locations and other timeshare resorts I have stayed in. The bad experiences with the staff were many and I only stated a few to illustrate some of the reason for my opinion and I did not go into greater detail because I did not want to relive every bad experience I had at the Westin, St. John.
In addition I can state emphatically that the SCUBA operation at the Westin St. John is deplorable. To the inexperienced or untrained diver they may seem first rate, however as I am a Certified PADI Dive Master with 9 specialty certifications and over 150 logged dives in the last 5 years alone, I can view their operation through a significantly more qualified lens. I dove with them 4 times while I was there, thinking on each dive that tomorrow would be better and taking into account a bad day of diving beats a good day of working and really wanting to find something redeeming about the resort I kept returning. The shop staff had the personality of cardboard and the Dive Guides ignored many basic safety protocols. With the exception of one Dive Master named Rich, who was excellent, I would not dive with any of their so called professionals again.
In closing I would like to say that I thought the Virgin Islands were beautiful, the restaurants were excellent, the beaches (the ones away from the resort) breath taking and I look forward to returning in November 2007. I just wont be returning to or diving with the Westin, St. John.
We LOVE St. John! The best vacations we've ever had were at the Westin St. John. When we had our annual discussions of where to vacation, our memories of the Westin St. John always rated #1, so we couldn't resist returning, and ended up buying 3 weeks there.
We plan to go back yearly, with our grown kids and their spouses (aged 26 - 47) and grandkids (aged 1 - 19). It's ideal for all ages, from babies (had 2 with us last year) kids, teens, singles, marrieds, grandparents, etc. It's spacious and peaceful, you never feel overwhelmed or crowded out by kids like at many other resorts.
There's so much to love, and others have written about it. I like the ocean and pool temperature best - around 90 degrees. Even little kids (and their grandma) can stay in the pool or the ocean for several hours, snorkeling, swimming, or just resting.
With all the comments about the expensive restaurants, we like the small grocery/deli - The Simple Feast - just a block up the road from the villas (an easy walk). The deli has precooked dinners, your choice of one of 4-6 meat dishes (chicken, fish, meatloaf, etc) plus 2 side dishes for about $12 - $14 per dinner - which is enough to feed 2 adults. Just heat in the microwave and enjoy in your villa. Makes life easy and inexpensive. But get there early - because if you wait until 6 pm, many dinner selections are sold out. They also have a nice wine selection and groceries.
By the way, the Westin has sold either almost all or all of the timeshare villas on the hillside, and are in the process of pre-sales of timeshare villas in a building on the hotel grounds close to the beach that they are remodeling. I'm looking forward to seeing the new villas when we return in June.
We stayed at this resort in the 1 bedroom unit during July with 2 kids (ages 1 & 4). We used the babysitting service at the westin several times and our sitter was a native from St John and very good with kids. the kids loved her. The pool is very relaxing and people were very friendly. A favorite was feeding the Iguanas in the afternoon. We visited many of the beautiful beaches and loved them all. Try Frances Beach sometime, a little farther out and less crowded. The cost of food is pricey - $60 for lunch is a lot - but honestly the prices are similar at all resorts of this type. The weather was still nice in July though it did get humid. The shuttle carts to the pool were very convienient for us and most of the drivers were very nice. A vacation to remember and we will be back
St. John is by far the most relaxing vacation we have ever taken. My husband and I live in NJ and find ourselves getting caught up in a very fast paced life. We vacation frequently and find that in some locations it takes a few days to unwind. St. John is an instant escape from all of life's stressors and it has so much to offer.
We love the authenticity of the the island. You can walk right in town and find a small, no name place making local fair or a beach bar where you can enjoy yourself alongside the sailers and Carribean semi-residents. You feel like you are part of the mix rather than a tourist merely being tolerated.
One of our favorite things to do for dinner is to go to Zozo's (upper bar) for the best martini and sunset. You can also have your dinner in the bar area if you are interested in lively conversation and a casual evening.
As for the Westin Resort Villas, we could not ask for a more comfortable set up. We have access to the amenities of the hotel and the lovely beach area. We also have the option to relax on our own in our spacious villa and semi-private pool area. Several times we ordered room service and had it delived up to our Villa-side pool area.
We have returned to St. John every year since 2002. For the first time travellers I would advise that a little planning on your part will keep you from getting frustrated. First of all, take an extra bag with any goodies that you would like to have while you are there. That saves you from having to pay double for the items. (We usually will take along breakfast and lunch items and snack foods). We will than hit the starfish market for perishables and a few dinner ideas. Eating at your villa a few nights keeps your from feeling fed up by both rich food and high priced meals. Another tip----Always add 45 minutes to your anticipated delivery time. If you want to eat at 7pm go out at 5:30. If you are requesting an item from the resort, don't wait until you need it. Call early. Other than that ENJOY!
I won't comment on the beauty of the island or the wonderful amenities of the Westin Hotel as other people have already made these points.
However, with regard to the high cost of eating out on St. John, I would like to point out that that is why we love visiting in a timeshare with a full kitchen rather than a hotel room. We eat breakfast and lunch on our beautiful balcony and then go to one of the many great restaurants in Cruz Bay for dinner. You can provision at the deli at the marina in St. Thomas before boarding the boat for the trip to the Westin. Otherwise, take a cab to the Starfish Market on St. John. If you haven't been to the Starfish Market with the locals, you haven't experienced St. John. The choices for dinner restaurants range from expensive haute cuisine to cheap and casual. What a great variety for any vacation!!
First We are very easy going people, and because this is the USVI we set are expectations accordingly. This was our first visit to the Westin on St. John. Having just gotten back from our week we couldnt be happier except that we wish we were still there. As I am not the fastest typist I will let the other reviewers capture a lot of what I would write (well.. at least most of them... ) I must say in reading some reviews on other travel boards that I would disagree with what some have written my feeling is that perhaps the Caribbean is not the best place from them things definitely run on there own schedule there, and a 5* resort there is not quite the same as a 5* resort in other places.
We own a 2-story 2Bd/3Ba townhouse unit with a balcony overlooking Great Cruz Bay. Luckily, we listened to someone on TUG (Timeshare Users Group) and got a unit in building 34 we loved the view and the privacy. The unit is closest to the pool that is between buildings 33 &34 that is well- maintained and has 2 large BBQs. We liked being a short distance between our unit and the pool area. We bbqd two of the nights we were there.
The foyer of the unit was tiled with a full bath next to it (w/ tub) that was great to drop off our wet and sandy snorkel gear. The kitchen is next as you enter with a breakfast bar, full- size fridge and stove/oven, dishwasher, and stackable washer/dryer. Next, is a staircase that goes upstairs to the bedrooms. Then a dining area and then a good size living room (w/ overhead fans and section couch w/ queen-size pullout) with sliding glass doors leading to the balcony. Since we are on the end of the building, the staircase has a window that allows good light to come in. Upstairs are good size bedrooms (w/ fans) and large bathrooms and closet space. There are ACs controllers for both floors. The living room has an entertainment center with large TV. The bedrooms both have TVs and best of all king-size Heavenly Beds (fabulous ) The townhouse is large enough for 6 people, but four is ideal.
The resort is beautiful with great staff (repeat - GREAT STAFF) and accommodations/activities. The pool area is large with a good bar/food right next to it and adjacent to the beach/bay. Lots of toys to play with, and free availability of non-motor water toys (sailing, water bikes ), and rentals of motorized toys (dinghies, wave-runners ). We were not with kids, but there were tons of kid activities and they were having all sorts of fun. The bay had a trampoline, rock-climbing wall, raft, etc. The beach is likely the worst on St John, but that is relative since it is way better than many beaches elsewhere and the beaches on St John are some of the best in the world. We actually had a great time in Great Cruz Bay lounging/playing, and it was a short drive to many other world-class beaches.
There were tons of activities on and off resort the SCUBA outfit at the Westin was first class along with any other activities that you may want (except golf). I will not go into them all. The Westin ferry although more expensive than the other island ferry was likely worth it especially if one has lots of bags/kids. We took the island ferry from STT to STJ, and rented a car in Cruz Bay. However, the rental cars at the Westin were in better condition. (make sure you call well in advance) Also, the taxis at the Westin were way nicer than the other island Taxis. Next time we will use the Westin ferry and rent a 4WD from the Westin although the other way was okay after traveling from the SF Bay Area it would have been nice just to arrive in our villa with our bags waiting.
I had no problem driving on the island (stay left ) I can see how others would have a hard time (repeat: stay left). The food is expensive, and we only went to inexpensive places but everything we had was great. (Fish Trap, Rhumb Line, Woodys, Lime Inn, Morgans Mango and the Westin Pool cafe). Also did the NPS tour of the Reef Bay Trail (bargain), and a day excursion to the BVI (Baths, Pussers for lunch, Guana Island, JVD) on New Horizons II (very professional). We wanted to get to more snorkeling spots but we made it to Maho, Cinnamon, Caneel, Honeymoon, Trunk, - so many beaches so little time All were great in their own way we liked Trunk the best (go early)
Okay enough so much more too write, but it will need to wait until nest year we can'twait . One week was not enough. Enjoy and STAY LEFT!
I have to tell you, staying at Westin St John is by certain the best vacation I have ever had. I have stayed at dozens of 5 star hotels including Four Seasons Nevis.
I love the fact that there are great restaurants in the town, but yet most of the time I can wear extremely casual shorts and topsider shoes. There are a few restaurants where you would want to wear long pants and a nice button down shirt but for most it is not necessary. By the way, the restaurant where I dressed up I noticed the entire crew from The Sopranos was eating there. It was a nice surprise being a fan of the HBO show. What can I say I love great food while being relaxed. It was both casual and fine dining.
I will admit the restaurants are not inexpensive, but on the other hand I felt the price was worth the cost.
Three years ago I stayed at St Regis in Cancun Mexico. I believe I was spending $2000 dollars a day. Can you imagine how I felt when after getting 6 lounges for my familly we put our books, magazines, and towels there as to show we have not left. We then had a short breakfast at St Regis which of course cost us about $120. When we went back to our lounge we saw new people there. When asked didn't you see our things on the lounge they pretended not. Of course all the things were now now directly below them. If I wanted to be at a rat race war I could have traveled to Manhatten for vacation. So much for the 5 star hotel at our neigbors in the south.
Probably what I love the most is the fact that I do not have to FIGHT for a lounge at the beach and pools. More so I was there on President's week which is the 3rd busiest week of the year. Many a time I have spent major amounts of money at a 5 star hotel and still have found people stealing our lounge, not to mention having to get the lounge at 8:00 AM or not have it at all.
My wife specifically told me to share the enjoyment of the bed at St John Westin. My wife fell in love with it telling me that it was the best bed she has ever slept in. I'll take her word on it as I can sleep on asphalt. I have now stayed at Westin St John twice, and I plan on doing it every year or two for the rest of my life.
Just returned from Westin St. John. Though it was our 3rd visit to St. John, it was our first at the Westin. We will never stay in a hotel again when there is the options to rent a beautiful villa! The shuttle was always around when we were heading to the pool or lobby. Hit Woody's for happy hour almost every afternoon and then dined at some great restaurants: The Lime Inn, Stone Terrace, Chloe & Bernards. Definitely take advantage of the transportation the Westin offers. They shuttle you from the airport in St. Thomas to their ferry and then directly to the Westin. You don't see your luggage until it is in your room. It isn't cheap but worth it for the convenience. Can't wait to return to our favorite place on earth!!
We have a 2br villa that is absolutely fantastic. The Westin offers every amenity you could want...also beautiful grounds, beach, pool, etc. The staff is extremely friendly and very helpful. The timeshare villas also share their own pools that are very private and uncrowded. I must dispute a previous email about spending $200 per day for food on St. John. That may be if you eat at the most expensive restaurants everyday and have drinks and wine. There are several places from Uncle Joes....great bbque ribs and chicken for $9, to The Fish Trap where a nice dinner salad, coffee, and dessert will cost you $25. Chilly Billy's has a great breakfast special for $4.50.We have been to about 90% of the islands in the Caribbean and we don't think that any can compare to St. John. It is drop dead beautiful, incredible uncrowded beaches, hiking,snorkeling, diving, horesback riding, etc., etc.
It's no coincidence that all reviews are the same. This IS one of the most beautifull islands in the world. My wife and I have traveled extensively and compare St. John only to Bora Bora for it's beauty (although Bora Bora has no beaches that compare to St. John's). We honeymooned at Caneel Bay a few years back, and last year stayed in a 2 bedroom villa at the Westin. We found it extremely confortable (although the kitchen was small) and as far as the location (accross the street and up the hill), it was not a problem. I consider the tranquility at the villas and access to the private pool a plus. Complete access to the resort is just a phone call away. The shuttles come to pick you up at your villa upon request. We highly recomend purchasing this property because trading here is virtually impossible, even if you are a Starwood owner.
St John has to be the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. 2/3 of it is national park so it is so untouched by man. This resort is top
notch. After all, there are only 3 resorts on
whole island. It is a MUST to enjoy it at
least once in a lifetime. You can snorkel off
any bay and see the most beautifal fish. You
owe it to yourself to stay at such a GRAND
RESORT like the Westin St John.
I absolutley love St. John and this resort. We went once on vacation and came back the next year as owners. The grounds are beautiful, the people who work there are friendly and helpful. We have been there three years in a row and have never had a bad experience. We find it very difficult to go anywhere other then the Westin in St. John. If you get a chance to visit, DO! I am sure you will love it as much as we do.
St. John's natural beauty, wonderful people and casual but fine dining, make St. John the most special island you could ever find for your vacation. The Westin St. John is a five star resort on a ten star island, where you will be treated to the convenience and predictability that is a hallmark of the Westin resorts (their heavenly bed really is heavenly) We also own at Sunset Ridge on St. John, and while it is not plush like our unit at the Westin, Sunset has outstanding views and the spacious villas at Sunset are the best value for a family or two couples on St. John. Still, if a spa and resort is what you crave, you can't beat the Westin St. John, as a resort that absolutely deserves five stars.
A beautiful resort, with beautifully appointed rooms and timeshare units, excellent service, lots of amenities, lush landscaping on the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. Great dining experiences--try Woodys(local hangout for great food and prices, Limetree Inn-great lobsters and prices accomodate many pocketbooks, and don't forget to try Skinny Legs, Coral Bay for great sandwiches, good fun and great prices. Nice shopping there as well. The Bourdeau is one of those special treats, comparable to the Asolare.
My wife and I just got back and we had a great time. Staff were very friendly and helpful. We went scuba diving and had our own guide, I think it was because we were there during their slow season. The only negative was the cost of food. Plan on spending about $200 a day for 2 people. And if you plan on shopping over in St. Thomas, do your research, not everything is cheaper there. Although it is cheaper than St. John....I am editing this review to make myself clear: you can spend less than $200/day or more than $200/day but it was our average cost. Chilly Billys: breakfast choices are between $8-$12 add coffee & juice $2 each, plus tip=$15-$20/person depending on entree and tip. Their #340-693-8708. The Fish Trap: Entree's range from $12-$28. Apps, salads, desserts range from $6-$12. Add a drink and coffee plus tip=$38-$75/person. Their # 340-693- 9994. Margarita Phils: $22 for mahi mahi tacos. Their # 340-693-8400. And these were the places that the other 2 reviewers claimed were reasonable. The only one that was cheap is Uncle Joe's, but what do you expect when you dont use utensils. Call them up and find out for yourself.
I would have to say that I agree spending 200.00 a day is not the only way in St John. We also own a week at the Westin (week 5) and just returned from there!!! Uncle Joes is always excellent and priced the same, also ate at Margharita Phils one night which was also very good and reasonably priced as well. Ate at a new place called Tage one night, very good but a little pricey.Bottom line is if you look around and are not afraid to try something different your going to have a great time!!!! Also I might add that we went snorkeling one day with Cruz bay watersports on Island Spirit ( new catamaran)and had a great time and the best snorkeling in years (sea turtles, star fish, conch, eagle rays ) Larry, Troy and James were all great!!! Would love to buy another week at the westin in the future , one week is not enough!!!!!!!!!! Jim and Penny from Ct.
The 1 Bdrm timeshare was absolutely huge and the bed is to die for. My only problem with the timeshare units are that they are located across the street from the Westin Resort (the picture you see in II) which makes it very inconvenient to access the beach, restaurants, etc. They do have shuttle that comes by to pick you up but sometimes you are waiting for 20 min. The restaurants at the resort are VERY expensive.