Historical Traveller Reviews of Caneel Bay A Rosewood Resort Hotel
from A TripAdvisor Member
I first visited the resort on my honeymoon 10+ years ago - the marriage ended but my love for the island didn't. The resort was rebuilt after a hurricane in the mid-90s - I was afraid that the rustic elegance would have given way to the conventional 5-star hotel way but was more than pleasantly surprised. The staff is wonderful - we visited on the Explorer package and thoroughly enjoyed all the activities included (Couples Yoga was an experience). We met couples that had just married, some that were there to be married and others returning to enjoy a life distant from the every day. Children were new from the previous visit but the resort is so vast that the only time we really saw them was at breakfast. We dined at all the restaurants - the Equator was my favorite - it wasn't dressy as Turtle Bay but for me, being in the Caribbean & dining at a restaurant where men were required to wear slacks (with jacket in the winter) just didn't seem right. I can't say enough good things about Caneel Bay - it is pricey - but as with anything, you get what you pay for.
Best 50th Wedding Anniversary!!!!
I highly recommend a combined stay at Caneel Bay and Little Dix Bay for a family anniversary or celebration. My family and I have been going to both resorts since the early 1980s, and I am happy to report they are both better than ever. The Caneel property remains the most beautiful in the Caribbean and LDB (with the new spa) is better than ever!I just accompanied my parents (ages 73 and 75) on a 50th wedding anniversary celebration trip to Caneel Bay and Little Dix Bay. My parents have trouble climbing stairs. The Reservations staff are immensely helpful and knowleagable about the property. If you havent been to Caneel before, just dont pick a room catergory- ask about a room for your needs-ultra private, a childrens beach, or convenient to dining rooms. They were able to tell me exactly what rooms would suit my parents needs.Upon arrival, anniversary touches included upgraded room category, champagne, flowers and fruit baskets and personal letter from manager. But it was the personal touches, such as the Assistant Manager taking the time to drive us from the restaurant to the room during a shower, and the Managers meeting the ferry on arrival, that really made us feel we were in good hands.Some TripReport reviewers say the food is overpriced, but the meal plans are actually a bargain. Everything must be imported to St. John and dinner entrees in Cruz Bay generally start at $25 and up. We enjoyed the FAP ($100/day) which entitled us to everything. Caneel dinners are great-steaks and seafood are outstanding. The $20 breakfast might sound high, but the $25 lunch ($20 on plan) is the best bargain on St. John, and includes a full cold buffet lunch with grilled to order specialties (best fresh grilled grouper, tuna, or mahi-mahi anywhere), desserts, iced tea and coffee. Dinner portions are only small at Turtle Bay.The rooms have been updated recently and the bathrooms are all very nicely updated. The ceiling fans kept us very comfortable, although we ran the airconditioner midday in June.The Caneel transfer to Little Dix on Virgin Gorda was seamless. I especially appreciated this as I know how hard it can be to get from St. John to Virgin Gorda on public ferries. After leaving Caneel at 8:00 am, we were settled in our LDB room at 10:30 am-so we did not lose a day of travel.The new Spa at Little Dix Bay is not to be missed-we enjoyed the spa package of daily treatments. Suprisingly, we found the Spa to be our favorite part of the property. What the Spa staff lack in experience they make up for in enthusiasm. Take the spa package but call ahead to reserve appointments.I can't imagine a better 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration. I highly recommend splitting a week or ten days between Caneel and LDB. You'll be glad you did. The other hotels in the VI are not even in the same league.
We spent the first week of July at Caneel Bay with our two children, 9 and 12, in adjoining rooms on Caneel Beach. We'd read extensively about the island and decided on Caneel over the Westin for the beaches. We snorkelled at 2 different beaches each day, and saw an amazing array of sea life from turtles to stunning coral, giant puffer fish, massive schools of dazzling fish, and even an octopus. The rooms are nothing special, as everyone will say. You go to Caneel for access to the beaches. We rented a jeep for a day and drove around the island, but found the beaches at the resort to be the best. Water is crystal clear, beaches pure white sand . . . We requested a fridge in our room and went to a grocery in town to stock up for breakfast and picnic lunches: $25/head for the breakfast buffet was unnecessary! We went into town most nights for dinner - loved Morgan's Mango and Mongoose Deli. Service was fine - the beach bar restaurant was pretty good. We weren't that impressed with the Equator or the seafood buffet. I also don't know that we needed the beachfront rooms - we walked to the different beaches throughout the resort so we probably could have saved a few dollars by staying in the tennis rooms. Although, if it were just the 2 of us - I'd opt for private, beautiful Scott beach. Bottom line: this is a quiet, peaceful resort with beautiful beaches: perfect for reconnecting with your family and/or your spouse. Also, if you can be there for July 4th the carnival and parade in Cruz Bay are amazing!
A Little Slice of Heaven - Caneel Bay
from A TripAdvisor Member
Arrived at Caneel Bay Resort to begin our Honeymoon on June 9th. Leaving one week later was difficult because we had just experienced the most wonderful vacation. Caneel is expensive but you get what you pay for and this was magical. The service was genuine and friendly. The locals were warm and relaxed. The island of St. John exuded charm and revitalised our minds, souls, and bodies. We loved this place.......don't go there......We want it to ourselves!
The most amazing wedding experience
Caneel Bay was the most beautiful wonderful place to have a wedding. First of all, Jennifer and Kristen, the event coordinators, are top notch and I have never met there match even in New York. They put effort into every detail of my wedding. We got married in a church in Cruz Bay, and they arranged transportation in an open air bus for all the guests. Upon arrival to the Estate House, we found a beautifully arranged table for our dinner with candlelight and flowers of the tropics. The food was phenominal and the waitstaff put attention to every detail.Weddings aside, I was at Caneel Bay for 11 days. The private beaches are the most beautiful I have ever seen and the water is calm and relaxing. Yes the resort is expensive, but thank goodness because this is not a place to have crazy parties and wild kids running around at discount price. It is upscale, luxurious, and lovely. Worth every penny. You get what you pay for.
Great for snorkeling, rest and relaxation
May, 2003 We booked the Explore 7 Day Package to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was worth every penny. We loved it, but it's not for everyone. Be sure you're ready to spend 7 nights with no television or radio. It didn't bother us, but it could be tough for others. There's zero night life, but we were so exhausted each night, we were ready for bed early. The room was very comfortable and air conditioned. The views were awesome. The snorkeling was fantastic, right off the Caneel Bay beaches. We didn't even get to all 7 beaches on the property. The food was wonderful, especially the Monday night buffet which featured seafood. What a feast! Service was very good. If you were polite and friendly, the staff was very accomodating. The highlight for me was the two hour guided snorkeling tour. The one day trip to Virgin Gorda with lunch at Little Dix Bay Resort was great fun. My husband started his scuba diving certification and was thrilled with the opportunity to actually do a 40 foot dive. We rented a jeep to tour the island one day which was a lot of fun. I'd definitely recommend Caneel Bay. It's truly the most beautiful resort we've even been to. My husband said it was the best vacation he's ever had. Enjoy!
from A TripAdvisor Member
I just got back yesterday from my honeymoon. I wanted a magical place...a serene place..a special place. Caneel Bay was it....The place is WONDERFUL. Heaven on Earth. Definitely spring for a beachfront room...or an oceanview room.It was worth every penny!!!
As good as I hoped it would be
from A TripAdvisor Member
I've wanted to go to Caneel Bay for a very long time, but until recently they did not have air conditioning - a must for my husband. Now that they do I was so happy that we were able to go. Since I've wanted to go for so long I was a little afraid it wouldn't be as nice as I hoped. Well I was wrong is was. We both loved the place and the beaches. We really hope we can get back there soon. We have very busy hectic lives, like I'm sure millions due. This place was the most peaceful, relaxing and beautiful place I have ever been.
not for everyone
from A TripAdvisor Member
Caneel Bay is nice but not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination. The snorkeling and the grounds of the resort are pretty special, particularly the Cottage 7 room we stayed in. But the food is very average and the customer service is atrocious. It's nice and quaint that there are no phones in any of the rooms...unless you actually need something like a towel, some ice or anything. Then you're screwed. Also, the place is crawling with kids so if it's peace and quiet and your own private (or even semi-private) beach you are looking for, Caneel is not the spot. Probably a great place for a family vacation, but for a honey moon, it kinda sucked to be honest, especially for the prices they charge.
Wonderful, beautiful beaches, very unique resort
from A TripAdvisor Member
I was motivated to offer our experiences after reading Caneel reviews, both good and bad, on several web sites. This review is lengthy but there are many points to cover on why or why not Caneel Bay may be a place you would like to visit. My husband and I have vacationed at Caneel Bay three times in seven years. Our first trip was our honeymoon in June 1995. We returned again in May 1999 over the long Memorial Day weekend. Our last trip was over the 4th of July week in 2002. My husband and I absolutely love Caneel Bay. It is a very unique place. ON-ISLAND OPTIONS As far as resort options St. John really only has two, the Westin (formerly the Hyatt) and Caneel Bay. The Westin is like Disney World and Caneel Bay is like a deserted island. They could not be more different. If your idea of a dream vacation is pool bars and cable TV, stay at the Westin and leave Caneel Bay to the travelers that desire peace, quiet, and beautiful beaches. THE JOURNEYUpon arrival at the St. Thomas Airport, you are taken to downtown Charlotte Amalie. Depending on the Caneel ferry schedule, you may have time to walk around town. Check the resorts ferry schedule, which may be helpful when you arrange flight times in and out of St. Thomas. We liked the opportunity to have a chance to wind down for an hour or two before catching the Caneel ferry. There are many waterfront cafes where you can enjoy the atmosphere. We always look forward to the Caneel ferry. The ride is so relaxing and there are so many things to see along the way. If you are interested, one of the ship's mates will be happy to play tour guide by pointing out areas of interest along the way. They serve punches, both rum and non-alcoholic, on the trip to the resort. After a greeting of cold facial towels at Caneels dock, we were immediately transported to our room. Take your bathing suits in your carry-on or purse. While the luggage arrives within a reasonable time, you will want to hit the beach as soon as possible. THE RESORT Caneel Bay is spread out over nearly 200 acres. The rooms are scattered around the resort and I dont think there is a room that is more than a five-minute walk from one of the beaches. We walked every path on the resort and all room categories certainly had their positive points. Anyone considering Caneel Bay should be fully aware that this resort is quiet. No congo lines or limbo bars here. There is evening entertainment at The Caneel Bar, which usually consisted of live island-type music. The breakfast buffet is wonderful. We rarely each lunch because it carries us through to dinner. I believe they also have a complimentary continental breakfast but it may end too early for some people. I read in reviews varying opinions on service at Caneel. Our experiences were positive. Just remember, on St. John, it is island time. The restaurants are good. Eat at the Equator on the first night, preferably before sunset, as the view is great. On our first trip, we included meals with the package. The second and third time, we dined both on and off the resort. Cruz Bay is a short taxi ride away and we liked the variety in town. The grounds are stunning. The resort runs little jitney buses around the resort but we prefer to walk. If you are a walker, take sneakers along, as there are many paved paths and dirt trails to explore. THE ROOMS We stayed on the same beach all three trips and in the same room twice. (Why mess with a good thing?) Buildings are either one or two stories and all rooms have patios or balconies furnished with chairs and loungers. The rooms are tiled with nice furnishings. Air conditioning is a recent addition. We were there in July and didnt use it. There is a mini-bar in the room with the typical mini-bar prices. If requested, the resort will bring in a small refrigerator. On all three trips, we went to town the first day and purchased refreshments for the beach. There are no TVs or phones in the rooms. There are phone stands in close proximity to all the rooms and the main resort building has a nice business center. THE BEACHES All are unique and beautiful. The resort provides great beach towels. There are more than enough beach chairs and rafts. At times, we were the only ones on the beach. The resort also provides snorkeling equipment for use during your stay trip. Being that St. John has many places to snorkel, this is a very nice feature. Pick it up at the dock. OFF THE RESORT If you like to explore rent a Jeep either at the resort or in town. The taxi buses are convenient and reasonable but we like the freedom to roam the island. St. John is stunning; each bend in the road brings a view more beautiful than the last.Trunk Bay is a popular snorkeling beach. Skip it. All the St. Thomas cruise ships run day trips to this spot. On the day we visited, it was packed. We couldnt swim without getting a fin in the face from the person in front of you. You are paying Caneel prices to be on Caneel beaches, enjoy them. The town of Cruz Bay is the main town on St. John. Bars and restaurants range from the predictable tourist-type traps to local establishments. Because we chose local seafood, we always had good food wherever we ate.
Top Local Tips for St. John
While there is good snorkeling at Caneel at the point between Caneel and Scott's Beach, I found better snorkeling at Leinster Bay (when I rented a car). In addition, go on snorkel with Jake, who is on-site at Caneel. He's an excellent guide and will take you to uninhabited cays, where the reefs are pretty healthy. He's married to a marine biologist, and has extensive knowledge to share.
The hotel ferry service is well worth the fee--by the time you pay for taxi's
St. John Restaurants
We love to go in to Cruz Bay for dinner & drinks - Rhumb Lines, Pizza on the waterfront, Fish Trap and Lime Inn are all excellent restaurants.