This is what the Caribbean looked like 50 years ago, when the demands of wealthy Northern vacations were few but non-negotiable: total privacy, excellent service, and the world’s most exquisite beaches. Though it’s been upgraded many times since then (today, for example, you’ll find air conditioning in the guest rooms–thank goodness), the overall atmosphere is still that of a silk stocking hideaway. You won’t find boatloads of tourists popping in for a look round the joint; you will find fellow guests who consider themselves part of a very special club.
St. John is a small, uncrowded island, and though wedding coordinator Vera Payne can bring in outside talent (musicians, florists) from St. Thomas, it’s probably best if you’re happy with the offerings at hand. You’ve got 170 acres in which to find a suitable ceremony site, though most couples choose Turtle Bay Point, a grassy bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, tranquil save for the steady criss-cross of white sails and a dramatically descending sun. For receptions, the Turtle Bay Estate House provides plenty of elbow room and a doozy of a veranda for cocktails; there’s also an 18th-century sugar mill that can be illuminated by candles for a dinner that’s beyond romantic. And a party in the sand? Say the word and it’s yours.
You’ll fly first to St. Thomas (lots of direct service from the U.S. mainland), then meet up with a Caneel Bay representative who’ll take you by van to a private ferry dock. From there, it’s a breezy boa ride to Caneel’s dock. For most guests it makes sense to taxi into the shops and bistros of the town of Cruz Bay.
Keep in mind
Prices here are definitely of the blue-blood variety; even in summer season a two-night stay will cost $1,000, and that’s before a single pastry from the breakfast buffet. Rather than bankrupt your friends, you can suggest they look into the island’s assortment of rental villas, of which there are plenty in the affordable category.