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A choice destination for families; bustling during the day but quiet after the kids go to bed.
The Westin St. John Resort & Villas
Save the occasional misguided honeymooners, guests at the Westin consist mainly of families. As such, most of the activities -- iguana feedings, aqua-trampolines, movie night by the pool -- are targeted toward children.
The Westin -- with its 175 rooms and suites and 146 villas spread across 47 acres -- is a busy resort, whether it's endless golf cart traffic, rollicking children, or the football play-by-play on the poolside cabana flat-screens. It's not a tranquil escape from modern life that the smaller Caneel Bay promises, but once the kids go to bed, the whole place quiets down.
Subpar service; below Westin's standards
Like most resorts in the Virgin Islands, the service is below brand standards -- the same is true at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, for example -- though the consistent excuse seems to be "island time." Basically this means that the staff is friendly, but very relaxed, so you might get stuck waiting to check in, waiting for most meals, and waiting for any other requests, be it bags to your room or extra towels. Comparatively, Caneel Bay offers far more attentive service, but even the less-expensive Wyndham in St. Thomas has the Westin beat.
- You can order groceries to your room prior to your stay; just fax a requst.
- 24-hour room service
- Food and drink service at the pool
- No beachside drink service
Large resort on its own stretch of beach, a five-minute drive from great dining
Located on the western coast of St. John, not too far from Caneel Bay, the Westin is one of only two major resorts on the island. But the slow-paced, undeveloped beauty of St. John does have one downside -- there is no airport, so guests must fly into the airport on St. Thomas and take a ferry over to the island. The Westin resort welcomes its guests at the St. Thomas airport and offers private round-trip ferry and transportation service directly to the resort for $100 per adult, $80 per child (ages four to 12), and free for children three or younger. You can take a public ferries, which is significantly cheaper ($6 to $10), but once you take into account all of the additional taxi costs on St. Thomas and St. John, as well as all of the additional travel time (traffic on St. Thomas can be a nightmare), the $20 or $30 saved on the round-trip cost hardly seems worth the hassle.
- Five-minute, $6 cab ride from the shopping, dining, and drinking hub of Cruz Bay
- Taxis routinely waiting outside the resort
Big, beautiful beach that's great for swimming
- Two trampolines and an inflatable iceberg floating in the water, both huge draws for kids
- Kayaks, small sailboats, and other water toys all included in the $40-per-day resort fee
- No beachside drink service, but guests can get refreshments at Snorkel's, just off the sand
- Various cafés, shops, and water-sports rental companies line the walkway next to the beach.
- Not a great beach for snorkeling -- the water is clear, but there's not much to see
- Jet Skiing, parasailing, sailing, and scuba diving can all be arranged at the hotel for an extra fee.
Standard guest rooms are clean, but look worn; villas have full kitchens, washing machines, and balconies.
The guest rooms are showing their age -- there was a hole in the wall of the bathroom in my room, and a lamp shade that looked pretty distressed. But overall, the rooms are clean and very comfortable, thanks to Westin's trademark "Heavenly" beds.
- Standard rooms start at a very comfortable 440 square feet for the Garden Room and Ocean View Rooms (or 370 square feet for the Pool Side Room).
- Villas (either studios or two- or three-bedroom units) are huge (ranging from 600 to 2,870 square feet) and all of them include a complete kitchen -- with full-size fridge, range, oven, microwave oven, dishwasher, dishes, and blender -- as well as a washing machine and dryer and a large balcony.
- Ideal outdoor patio with two chairs and a table on the ground floor rooms, or a balcony on the higher floors.
- Excellent bed: pillow-top mattress; down pillows and comforter; high-quality sheets
- In-room Wi-Fi (included in the $40 resort fee) but the speed is sometimes slow
- Flat-panel LG TV
- Two dual-line phones
- In-room coffeemaker and a minibar with a modest selection of soft drinks, beer, and liquor
- Cramped bathroom in the standard rooms, though all rooms have a tub (good for bath time); one- and two-bedroom suites have Jacuzzi tubs in addition to tub-shower combos
- All rooms are nonsmoking.
Great pool and lots of family-friendly activities
- Whopping $40-per-night resort fee to cover the cost of water sports, in-room Internet, and other services.
- Huge, quarter-acre pool with two adjacent Jacuzzis; always enough lounge chairs and towels to go around
- The on-site spa provides massage, body treatments, facials, and some salon services, making it much more complete than the limited services provided at Caneel Bay.
- Fitness center with extensive cardio equipment and weight machines; maps of running routes also available
- Six tennis courts; on-site instructors offer private lessons and clinics.
Families abound -- plenty of activities for kids and teens
In terms of its features for the family, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas bests every other resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, the Marriott, and the Wyndham.
- Younger children, ages three to 12, can participate in supervised all-day or half-day kids' club programs that include arts and crafts, sandcastle contests, foosball, swimming and movies. Prices range from $15 per hour, to $30 for a half-day, to $60 for a full day (including lunch), to $50 for dinner/evening programs.
- Private babysitting available
- Activities suited to teens abound, such as parasailing, kayaking, tennis, and salsa lessons.
- The 1,200-square-foot Westin Teen Center, located in the Courtyard Mall, offers teens a safe space away from their parents or younger siblings.
- Standard guest rooms can accomodate two parents and two children, up to age 18; there's no charge for rollaway beds.
The rooms are showing some wear and tear, but they're generally very clean. As for the rest of the grounds -- I never saw dishes left at the pool or on the beach, as I did at most other resorts in the Caribbean.
Reasonable food on-site, but many great options are just a short drive away
A dish at Chloe & Bernard's
With the exception of Chloe and Bernard's restaurant -- which is nearby, but not directly affiliated with the hotel -- dining at the Westin is best suited to families looking for simple, crowd-pleasing fare.
- Snorkels has basics like burgers and turkey sandwiches, and the cuisine at the Beach Café and Bar is equally mundane.
- The Mango Deli -- also on site -- has similar sandwiches, snacks, and booze.
- For more dining options, Cruz Bay is a five-minute, $6 cab ride away.
Arguably the best family resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the 175-room Westin has a huge pool, a fun beach with trampolines, great kids' camp, and kitchen-equipped villas in addition to its standard rooms. But for the price, its worn rooms and lackadaisical staff don't compare to the Wyndham on St. Thomas.
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Things You Should Know About The Westin St. John Resort & Villas
- P.O. Box 8310, St. John, VI
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Cruz Bay Westin
- St John Westin
- Westin Cruz Bay
- Westin St John
- Westin St John Resort
- Beach Front Room
- Garden View Room
- Marina Suite
- Ocean View Room
- One Bedroom King Suite
- Poolside Room
- Three Bedroom Bay Villa
- Three Bedroom King Suite
- Two Bedroom Bay Vista Villa
- Two Bedroom King Suite
- Villa Studio