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.
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
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
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.