Trip Report From St Thomas To Westin St John

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This year we took a trip to St John, USVI as part of our “Year of the B” travel theme. In this post I’ll share our trip from St Thomas over to the Westin on St John. We flew down to STT on Delta in First class using a Delta SkyMiles low level award. For our return flight we booked a one way United flight from STT to SJU then the Delta flight from SJU back to ATL. We rented a car at the St Thomas airport and took the ferry over to St John. Our plan was to spend 6 nights at the Westin and two nights at the Ritz Carlton in Puerto Rico. If you are planning a trip to St John, check out my interview with My Virgin Island App, it is a great resource to help plan your trip.

Trip Report

  1. Trip From St Thomas To Westin St John Resort & Villas
  2. Favorite St John Beaches
  3. Ritz Carlton San Juan Puerto Rico

View Of Virgin Islands On Descent

Approach

There are a few ferry options to get to St John by ferry. Depending on the option you choose you will depart from Charlotte Amalie (closest to the airport) or Red Hook on St Thomas and arrive at Cruz Bay on St John. Hotel operators offer their own ferry service from Charlotte Amalie (port closest to the airport) directly to the hotels. The Westin hotel offers ferry transportation from Charlotte Amalie directly to the resort for $110 per person round trip. Alternatively you can take a passenger ferry or car ferry from Red Hook directly to St John. I’ll provide some information on the car ferry and passenger ferry as we’ve taken both. If you get sea sick like me, don’t worry, the ferry ride is a very brief 30 minute journey across a channel.

Car Ferry From St Thomas To St John

You will pick up your car directly from the airport in St Thomas. The drive over to Red Hook is a 15 km drive and takes about about 25 minutes. Be sure to look at the latest ferry schedule to make sure you correctly align your airport to ferry connection. By selecting this option you can realize savings on the lower car rental rates in St Thomas. In high season St John rentals are high priced and not always available. By renting a car on St Thomas instead of St John you can save about $200-250 USD a week on average. The car ferry ride costs about $40 – $50 USD roundtrip depending on operator.

Looking North When Departing Red Hook

Car Ferry

View Looking Back at Red Hook

Ferry To St John

Passenger Ferry

There are a number of passenger ferry options to fit different arrival times. The passenger ferrys charges a flat per person rate and then a smaller fee per piece of luggage. Average all in pricing will be about $10 – $15 USD per person assuming one piece of luggage. A taxi from the airport to Red Hook is in the neighborhood of $30 USD. If you add in a few taxis while on St John the rental car from St Thomas starts to look like a better option.

View Facing St John

Ferry Ride

View Of Cruz Bay

Bay

Passenger Ferry Arrival Dock In Cruz Bay

Welcome Docks

Arrival

The car and passenger ferry both arrive at Cruz Bay although on alternate sides. Both options are about a 10 minute drive to the Westin. The taxis on St John are open aired modified pick up trucks. They take multiple passengers and try to arrange the trips by location but multiple stops commonly occur. On the way to the Westin there is a small grocery and liquor store to pick up on the necessities. The trip from the dock to the Westin can be walked but I would advise against it, especially with a very steep hill just before you get to the Westin.

Taxi

Island Transportation

We arrived at the Westin for a 6 night award stay over New Years Eve. I was a platinum member at the time and was offered no upgrade or platinum amenity. We had stayed here a few years ago at 12k points per night and the hotel was in decent shape on that trip so we had set our expectations accordingly.

Our initial room was on the bottom floor with a very bad moldy smell and visible mold on the furniture. This was because they had recently experienced flooding from a Hurricane late last year. Having mold in the room and on furniture is completely unacceptable in our book.

We went back to the front desk and were offered a top floor (2nd floor) room which we accepted for the moment. We kept in mind this hotel was old and the only point redemption option on St John. After 4 days of horrible service and trying to avoid the worn down room at all costs, we checked out and as the value proposition was simply not present. I called the SPG platinum desk from my iPhone on the car ferry back to St Thomas to request a refund. Initially the front desk manager declined our refund request but the SPG platinum desk secured a two night refund (16k points per night) after I mentioned I could send in pictures from the worn down rooms to both parties for verification of my claim.

The hotel also has time shares on site which are completely different from the hotel. The timeshares are very modern and nice. Sometimes the hotel will upgrade platinum members to the timeshare rooms when there is low occupancy. Starwood really needs to invest money in the Westin “hotel” on St John through a renovation. Otherwise the hotel needs to be downgraded in category.

The island has very nice beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. We still had a great time for the four days we were on the island.

View From Room

Room View

Looking Up Towards Room

Room

Bottom Line

St John has great beaches and restaurants. I didn’t find value in the Westin hotel, but YMMV. Next time we go to St John we’ll likely rent a private family villa. In my next post, I’ll share some pictures and details from our favorite beaches and restaurants.


Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way. Feel free to reach me at theweeklyflyer@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. @ Jenn – I checked all of my backup pictures from the trip, but unfortunately it’s been 11 months since the trip and the mold / room pictures were deleted.

    Here were the issues:
    Room 1:
    – Mold on desk chair
    – Mold creeping up dry wall in bathroom
    – Broken toilet handle
    – Horrible smell in room
    Room 2:
    – Torn wall paper in bathroom
    – Very moldy shower head
    – Lack of room cleaning on 2 days
    – Mold from air vent
    – Broken phone in room that was not repaired for 4 days and they tried to charge a resort fee which included the phone in room (broken) and wifi (platinum amenity). They ended up discounting the resort charge by 50%, but we were just glad to get out of there.

  2. Thanks for the honest trip report. That hotel has needed a major overhaul for years — perhaps the high costs and lack of real competition allow the status quo. I’m really glad that you were able to get a (partial) refund.

  3. @Joel – Thanks for the feedback. Agree, this hotel needs some serious work. I really like St John, but I wish there was a different hotel that participates in a loyalty program. There is the Ritz on St Thomas which is nice, but I haven’t stayed there yet, only visited.

    I try to call it like I see it with hotel reviews. I have not had a hotel sponsor a trip (other than using hotel program points that I earned of course). I’ll always try to mention how the room was paid for to keep everything transparent.

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