Best warm weather spot for birthday in Jan 2019

Old Apr 22, 18, 3:21 pm
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Question Best warm weather spot for birthday in Jan 2019

Hello all,

I am putting together a birthday party in January in 2019. I've got people who will be coming from all over the States (SFO/LAX, DEN, MSP, EWR/JFK, and MIA). I'm trying to find a great warm locale that is easy to fly into where flights are relatively inexpensive (think $600 rtrp or less). I did my research and found the following spots:

Saint Maarten.
St Thomas (perhaps St John). Avg weather in Jan 84/73.
Cabo San Lucas. Avg weather in Jan 77/57.
Cancun/Playa del Carmen. Avg weather in Jan 82/73.

I'm immediately removing Cancun/Playa del Carmen since it is having issues with safety at the moment. As an avid traveler I'm not worried but the gathering will include many people who don't go out of country often and their spouses.

That leaves the other 3 locales. Saint Maarten and St. Thomas/St John, were all hit by Hurricane Irma. I don't know how the rebuilding is going in these areas. If restaurants and activities won't be rebuilt by Jan 2019... I'd rather avoid. However, Cabo seems a little cold for "beach" weather and related activities compared to the others.

I'm going to try to get a large villa for the group (8-12 bedrooms), hire a chef for a one or two of the 3/4 nights. And the other nights we'll all go out to some local restaurants, and during the day do some activities in the area.

Based on all this - should I have a preference? Or should I just let villa price/availability decide?
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Old Apr 24, 18, 7:45 pm
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What about flying directly into Cozumel (CZM)? Lots of great villas and rather removed from the safety problems of the mainland. Tons of great, inexpensive restaurants, too.
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Old Apr 25, 18, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by backprop View Post
What about flying directly into Cozumel (CZM)? Lots of great villas and rather removed from the safety problems of the mainland. Tons of great, inexpensive restaurants, too.
Interesting thought. I have been to Cozumel before... I just assumed it wasn't removed from the safety problems. I shall look into it in more detail, thanks for the idea.
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Old May 6, 18, 2:21 pm
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Personally-I am biased against St. Maarten. We stayed once on the French side and enjoyed walking to Grand Case for the food (and those restaurants were demolished by the hurricanes). But the island is not our favorite. We had a stop there last month on a transatlantic cruise and there is still significant damage. Be aware that St. Maarten has a busy cruise port, casinos, heaps of shopping and legalized prostitution. Read up on which parts of the island will be safe for villa stays. If you are renting a villa ask about night-time security and also think through the driving arrangements (times of day for airport transfers)--there are parts of the island that you should not be passing through at night. We did not rent a car for this reason.
We have stayed on Cozumel but at an AI several years ago. I have not recently looked into the safety of Cozumel and did not stay at a villa. Our All-Inclusive featured armed guards on the beach, which is standard in Mexico in my experience. What would be the security at a villa?
Have not been to any USVI.

What is important to your group--nightlife, snorkeling/diving, shopping, historical sites, nature, etc?
You are trying to gather up less-travelled folks from many regions--is there another location that makes sense? A cruise? Maybe the Bahamas?
What about a luxury rental in a US beach location--that would remove a lot of the safety concerns and reduce flying time and costs.
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Old May 8, 18, 7:36 pm
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A lot of villas in Cozumel have concrete walls all around, with the only entrance being a locking door in the wall. I'm surprised you had armed guards on the beach; that is a rather rare sight on the island. It's nothing like Cancun or PDC. I've felt safer there during visits over the past 15 years or so than I have in a number of beach areas in the USA.
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Old May 9, 18, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by AA_ORDlady View Post
Personally-I am biased against St. Maarten. We stayed once on the French side and enjoyed walking to Grand Case for the food (and those restaurants were demolished by the hurricanes). But the island is not our favorite. We had a stop there last month on a transatlantic cruise and there is still significant damage. Be aware that St. Maarten has a busy cruise port, casinos, heaps of shopping and legalized prostitution. Read up on which parts of the island will be safe for villa stays. If you are renting a villa ask about night-time security and also think through the driving arrangements (times of day for airport transfers)--there are parts of the island that you should not be passing through at night. We did not rent a car for this reason.
We have stayed on Cozumel but at an AI several years ago. I have not recently looked into the safety of Cozumel and did not stay at a villa. Our All-Inclusive featured armed guards on the beach, which is standard in Mexico in my experience. What would be the security at a villa?
Have not been to any USVI.

What is important to your group--nightlife, snorkeling/diving, shopping, historical sites, nature, etc?
You are trying to gather up less-travelled folks from many regions--is there another location that makes sense? A cruise? Maybe the Bahamas?
What about a luxury rental in a US beach location--that would remove a lot of the safety concerns and reduce flying time and costs.
Important things are... snorkeling/diving, beaches. We plan on hiring a chef and having a villa centric holiday - so primarily seeking to be in a "gorgeous" and safe locale where we can hire a Catamaran to explore and/or go to lovely beaches.
Perhaps one day we go see historical or nature sites (if any) and go to a nice local restaurant for dinner one of the eves for the bday celebration dinner.

I'd much prefer to avoid cruise ship locales but need to balance that with ease and cost of people arriving from all over US. I'd also like to leave US as warmth is the #1 component to the trip and it being January solely leaves Florida for as that option (and since that is my backyard, I'd really rather go away).
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Old May 15, 18, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by TravelinSperry View Post
Hello all,

I am putting together a birthday party in January in 2019. I've got people who will be coming from all over the States (SFO/LAX, DEN, MSP, EWR/JFK, and MIA). I'm trying to find a great warm locale that is easy to fly into where flights are relatively inexpensive (think $600 rtrp or less). I did my research and found the following spots:

Saint Maarten.
St Thomas (perhaps St John). Avg weather in Jan 84/73.
Cabo San Lucas. Avg weather in Jan 77/57.
Cancun/Playa del Carmen. Avg weather in Jan 82/73.

I'm immediately removing Cancun/Playa del Carmen since it is having issues with safety at the moment. As an avid traveler I'm not worried but the gathering will include many people who don't go out of country often and their spouses.

That leaves the other 3 locales. Saint Maarten and St. Thomas/St John, were all hit by Hurricane Irma. I don't know how the rebuilding is going in these areas. If restaurants and activities won't be rebuilt by Jan 2019... I'd rather avoid. However, Cabo seems a little cold for "beach" weather and related activities compared to the others.

I'm going to try to get a large villa for the group (8-12 bedrooms), hire a chef for a one or two of the 3/4 nights. And the other nights we'll all go out to some local restaurants, and during the day do some activities in the area.

Based on all this - should I have a preference? Or should I just let villa price/availability decide?
Saint Marteen is not what it used to be, obviously, but there are certain places that can currently be used without problems and that is sure to improve even more for 2019. Try to stay near Maho Beach, Mullet Bay, Simpson Bay. Good luck

Last edited by tdave19; May 15, 18 at 8:05 am Reason: Wrote something wrong
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Old Jun 3, 18, 8:55 am
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St. John may tick all your boxes, but depends on how easy you'd consider taking a ferry from St. Thomas to get there (it's actually pretty easy). We stayed at the Westin and felt perfectly safe on St. John--there are lots of villas there. With that said, once I got there I did read about some issues with safety for people staying at villas; that was a few years ago, so you might want to research safety now (they keep it quiet). St. Thomas might not tick the good first impression box, IMO.

Cozumel is good, felt very safe (had to talk my husband into that destination) but I'm not sure I'd classify the beaches as "beautiful". Again we stayed at a hotel, IC, that had a really nice beach. Pretty sure the IC "created" that nice beach. In traveling to other beaches on Cozumel, they weren't anywhere near as nice. Lots of "beach clubs" which weren't to my liking, but others find them fun.

Those two places should provide a good impression for people who don't travel much. I would consider Florida, but get why you're looking for something else.. Flying to the Caribbean from the west coast is a long, tiring, all day trek for just for 3-4 nights, We rarely run into anyone from California when we vacation in those spots. But maybe your guests are younger and more resilient than us--sounds like you're planning a very nice, special holiday for them!
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Last edited by Steph58; Jun 3, 18 at 9:00 am
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Old Jun 19, 18, 12:24 pm
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Take a good look at Bonaire. Great weather, No hassles while lounging on the beaches. Lots of great diving and snorkeling. Had a blast this past February for my birthday week.

ALso consider Cayman islands. Daily flights from most airlines, and relatively inexpensive as well. Another option is Turks & Caicos, but am unsure of the recovery from the hurricanes.
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Old Jun 19, 18, 12:26 pm
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Grand Cayman.
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Old Jun 19, 18, 4:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Djlawman View Post
Grand Cayman.
My birthday is mid-January. I have been trying to get to the Cayman Cookout every year since the Ritz Carlton credit card sent me a flyer for it about 5 years ago. Unfortunately it is always a little too soon after getting back from our winter vacation to get away again, but might be something really cool for your birthday (the link is to the Ritz site -- but you could rent a villa and can buy tickets independently). May be a little sad this year with Anthony Bourdain's passing as he was a big part of it, but it could also be a big celebration of him as well.

My in-laws have a place on St. John and we visited there and St. Thomas this past January. They were still recovering but enough restaurants and shops were open to make it a fine trip - and in some ways a really nice visit as we had the beaches almost to ourselves. Assuming this year's hurricane season is more kind, the USVI would probably be great -- perhaps renting a villa around the Red Hook area on St. Thomas to make getting there simpler and then a day trip over to St. John. Weather in January was perfect last year - only one day of rain during our week there and warm temperatures.

Before heading to St. John we did a cruise that included a visit to St. Marteen. This island was wrecked - way more that the USVI. I could see what it used to be, and I am sure they are trying to rebuild as quick as they can. But I might give it another year.
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Old Jun 19, 18, 11:14 pm
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Originally Posted by RacingJunkie View Post
Take a good look at Bonaire. Great weather, No hassles while lounging on the beaches. Lots of great diving and snorkeling. Had a blast this past February for my birthday week.

ALso consider Cayman islands. Daily flights from most airlines, and relatively inexpensive as well. Another option is Turks & Caicos, but am unsure of the recovery from the hurricanes.
Thanks all - I decided to go with Turks & Caicos. Some friends have been and said it is excellent and it should be back to normal by Jan 19.
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