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PARADISE AWAITS YOU AT CANEEL BAY
ST. JOHN, USVI

Alese & Morton Pechter

Fantasy island beaches, vodka clear waters, fish the colors of Joseph's coat and accommodations for every pocketbook. A water lover's dream world that has breathtaking dive sites, fantastic wreck diving and exciting water oriented activities for the non-diving spouse and the children as well as great tennis facilities. That's what we were searching for.

 

Caneel Bay is not only a Caribbean paradise, it is also an ideal tennis destination for players of every level. Ranked one of the top 10 tennis resorts in the Caribbean and Bahamas according to Tennis Magazine, Caneel Bay has emerged as more than just one of the world’s top resorts, Caneel Bay is a tennis destination. With eleven all weather outdoor championship courts in its Tennis Garden Park, and managed by the respected firm of Peter Burwash International, tennis at Caneel Bay is a tennis enthusiasts paradise.

Once you’ve had your fix on the beach, stroll over to the courts for an afternoon game. There is a certain elegance in the way the courts are terraced into the hillside, as though they have been there all along, some fortuitous extension of the plateaus of St. John. As the courts overlook the rolling lawns of Caneel Bay and provide stunning vistas of the azure Caribbean, it can be difficult to concentrate on the game. Even the most dedicated players can miss a shot ruminating on what the rest of the day might bring. There is a professional staff on hand to keep players focused with complimentary tennis clinics, round-robin tournaments, private lessons and special tennis packages. The Tennis Pro Shop is fully stocked with the latest tennis apparel and equipment so there are no worries if you forgot something at home.

Caneel Bay’s temperate Caribbean climate is perfect for tennis, with a languid breeze from a tropical trade wind coming along at just the right moment to cool you down. Even in the so called off-season from April through October, the temperature only averages about five degrees higher than in winter months. So, go ahead, it’s not who wins that matters, but where you play the game.

Florida, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Caymans all have resorts that might fill our needs but only a handful of places in the world provide the kind of sensational viewing that snorkelers can experience on the island of St. John, United States Virgin Islands. Nowhere can you surpass the magnificence of the magic of this island. Everything is at your fingertips, but most exciting for the "macho" diver as well as the timid water sprite, is the availability of good-old-reliable beach snorkeling...an easy jump from mainland USA, a shopper's delight as a free port and no passports are necessary.

For many of us the enthusiasm for the underwater world developed from a beginning encounter with snorkeling. With simply mask, fins and snorkel some of the beauties of Cousteau's world were made visible. Today, with so many of our young divers becoming family oriented, snorkeling is having a rebirth...even among avid divers. The need to find vacation spots that will satisfy these new family needs has led us to a search for a unique type of resort area.

St. John is an island of unbelievable virginal beauty, accessible only by boat, a short ride from St. Thomas. Over two thirds of the island's 19 square miles has been designated a national park, which means that its peaceful beauty will remain untouched.

The beaches of St. John are flawless powder white sand, the waters clear as crystal and the fish life abundant. If you want to go out on the dive boat there is lots to see, but what is most exciting about St. John is the magnificence of its beach snorkeling.

Snorkeling is an easy and relaxing way to see nature's wonders if you remain floating on your stomach in calm waters,... certainly possible to do in this area. However, it can be a very physical, body-building activity when the snorkeling technique is employed to its fullest.

Propelling yourself against a mild or strong current using only your legs, while carrying your camera gear, can be hard work. Add to that an infinite number of free dives to ten, fifteen or twenty feet and you have burned up enough calories to be entitled to a gourmet meal.

One big advantage over SCUBA is that you do not have to worry about bottom time, decompression and the air tank running dry. You do have to worry about sunburn. Serious snorkelers remain in the water, sometimes for hours on end. Unaware, first-timers end up with sunburned scalps, backs and legs.

For this reason it is best to use lotions and wear a cover-up in the water. The new light weight lycra bodysuits are perfect for snorkeling, but they do add slightly more buoyancy and if you intend to do much free diving and photography you might want to add some weight. A t-shirt can give some protection. If booties are not worn with the fins, a pair of socks is advisable as the fins may rub after awhile. You will be amazed at how long you spend in the water.

Camera gear, too, can be slightly different. Many of the new 110 waterproof cameras are ideal for this type of snorkel photography. Sea & Sea has a 35 mm MX10 that can photograph on land and under the water. Photos can be taken so near the surface that available light is sufficient but for those who go deeper or want to shoot into crevices, a strobe is required. In this case, a lighter weight, smaller strobe is the best choice as it is difficult not only to swim with the heavier ones but also more cumbersome and tiring to free dive with them. Also available are the new, inexpensive disposable underwater cameras that can be great fun for capturing a photo of that parrot fish swimming below.

St. John is noted for its beach snorkeling and beautiful queen angelfish. Trunk Bay, one of the island's most well-known beaches, on the northern side of the island, has a marked underwater trail that is non-threatening for novice snorkelers and fascinating enough for old pros. Cinnamon Bay and Francis Bay each offer its unique fish life, with Francis Bay being noted for its abundance of turtles.

Cinnamon Bay Camp is part of the National Park and has bare site and one-room beach units available. Privately owned Maho Bay also has fine camping, with 96 units available. There are also guest houses, housekeeping cottages and rental homes on the island.

The piece-de-resistance of the island is the Caneel Bay Resort, a former Rockresort now run by Rosewood Hotels. It is situated on 170 private acres within the boundaries of the Virgin Islands National Park. Though classified among the resorts for the "rich and famous," Caneel Bay, off season and during the summer has special packages and rates that make it within reach of most. For years Caneel Bay was off-limits to families with children, except at Christmas. Now, however, they have opened their doors and are looking to encourage family visits.

At Caneel, grapetrees line the beachfront providing natural shade from the sun and National Geographic views of the waters and boats that sit serenely at anchor, apparently motionless in the calm waters. The peaceful quiet of the chirping birds and lapping waters lulls you to sleep and wakes you in the morning. An occasional early morning snorkeler ripples the waters.

Caneel has seven beaches, each with special snorkeling excitement. In addition to the beautiful elkhorn, brain and pillar corals there are an abundance of tropical fish found at all the beaches....parrots of all sizes, wrasses, french and blue-striped grunts, sergeant majors, blueheads, hamlets, banded butterflies, four-eyed butterflies, squirrelfish, lizardfish, blue tangs, needlefish and ballyhoo, etc. Thousands of tiny, silvery tadpole-like baitfish swarm all around and part like the Biblical Red Sea as you swim through, to regroup again as you depart.

Turtle Beach is at the northernmost end of the resort and its beach is very secluded. At its north end, in about three feet of water, there are several huge boulders which serve as a meeting place for visitor and fish. Used to being fed by the guests, the fish cluster as soon as there is a ripple in the water. On the southern end of the beach you can find large porcupine or pufferfish and an occasional barracuda.

Catch the current right and you are in for the ride of your life. Circle the southern side of Turtle Beach around the peninsula to the north end of Scott Beach and watch the majestic sea fans, corals, sea whips, and fish life flash by.

Snorkel the length of Scott Beach out at the swim line and you will glide over patches of sea grass with turtles grazing. If you are lucky, as we were, you will spot one or two huge spotted eagle rays with a wing spread of at least four feet.

At the southern end of Scott is Paradise Beach. There you will find white spotted trunkfish as well as smooth trunkfish, jacknife, goatfish, sea urchins and lots of feather dusters. Here, too, you can swim all around the peninsula right onto Caneel Beach.

Caneel Beach has it all plus several beautiful queen angels, juvenile and intermediate french and gray angels, doctorfish, scrawled cowfish, trumpetfish, turtles and barracudas. Special at Caneel are the stingrays with their ever present jacks and blue runners, hovering waiting to snatch a meal from the rays foraging in the sand. Fin slowly over the reef and you will catch a glimpse of a large, resident octopus who makes his home in the coral in only two feet of water.

It is possible to walk to each beach individually and snorkel it as you see fit. The possibilities are endless for exploring new areas...to swim, snorkel or just relax and eat. Meals at Caneel are a gourmet's delight and a dieter's nemesis, unless you take those long swims.

The Park also offers all kinds of boating opportunities, and has beautiful walking trails for hikers, complete with detailed maps. A fitness center and Spa also grace the grounds. That fabulous free port shopping is available in Cruz Bay on St. John or via a fifteen minute boat ride to St. Thomas.

If you are a die-hard deep water diver, dive boats pull in to all the resort areas to pick up and return divers or they may be boarded at the dock in Cruz Bay. Storybook divesites such as Cow and Calf and the wreck of The Rhone are readily available.

The young, upward mobile families of today seem to ferret out the best of all worlds. With the return to family oriented vacations the increased popularity of snorkeling is becoming evident. Snorkeling is fun, exciting, exhilarating, an adjunct to diving and stands by itself. It can be a passive exercise or be physically demanding. Snorkeling is a way to introduce the newest generation to the wonders in our oceans while still enjoying these wonders yourself.

Caneel Bay offers an extensive Children’s Program for young guests, with the focus on making learning fun. The resorts Turtle Town children’s center is the hub of activities which include nature walks, search for turtle nests, arts and crafts, magic shows, pirate treasure hunts, a playground fish hunt and much, much more. All activities take place under the guidance of caring, knowledgeable and fully trained supervisors. Parents may join their children for some or all Turtle Town activities if they desire. Registration can be in advance, or upon arrival.

The grounds of the resort are a naturalist's wonderland where the landscape is an attraction in itself. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which manages Caneel Bay, recently upgraded the resort to meet its exacting standards of luxury and service via a multi-million dollar refurbishment project. They are dedicated to continuing the high standards of respect for the land and natural resources of Caneel Bay, as initiated by its founder, Laurance Rockefeller, also the benefactor of the adjacent National Park land.

A new program is the Self Centre at Caneel Bay. This new program, exclusive to this Caribbean resort, enables guests to benefit from strategies of personal renewal in the setting of this Caneel Bay low-key luxury paradise in St. John, USVI. At the helm of the resort's Self Centre is Ms. Jan Kinder, a registered nurse and educator for Dr. Deepak Chopra, renowned mind/body expert and author. The premise is to teach guests methods for quieting the mind, deep relaxation and stress relief. Daily sessions on breath work, meditation, yoga and imagery are designed to enhance individual well being, and Ms. Kinder teaches these proven mind/body techniques so that participants may utilize them at home and derive long term benefit. The pristine natural surroundings of Caneel Bay are conducive to the tranquil aura of these group sessions, which are held in areas that capitalize on the sensory value of the resort's numerous beaches, open air facilities and expansive, lush grounds.

Another first for Caneel ... and for us as we do not know of any other resort that offers this ... is their new and convenient bridal registry! They have put together a list of exciting gifts that will make the bride and groom's stay more enjoyable, and will also make their special day unforgettable.... From a romantic private sunset sail to an original watercolor painting of the ceremony, your gift will make a lasting impression and create special memories.

As you can tell, we love this resort. If you have ever dreamed of running away to that special island where you can be as active as you want or have the peace and quiet to unwind and read that special book ... while enjoying some of life’s many luxuries ... this is the place to visit.

Year 2001 AWARDS & HONORS:

Travel & Leisure

"2001 World's Best Service"The Caribbean, Bermuda, and The Bahamas
Condé Nast Traveler:
The Americas 2001 Gold List
Atlantic & Caribbean Islands

Information about St. John and the other USVI can be obtained from:

USVI Division of Tourism

P.O. Box 6400
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 00804
Phone: (340) 774-8784
Fax: (340) 774-4390
Toll Free: 1-800-372-USVI
http://www.usvi.org

Rosewood Sales & Reservations
214-880-4300 888-ROSEWOOD (888-767-3966)
http://www.rosewood?hotels.com

Caneel Bay
St. John, USVI, 00830.
800-928-8889 340-776-6111

Maho Bay Camps, Inc.
17-A East 73rd Street
New York, New York 10021
800-392-9004

 

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