Soon Come:  Caneel Bay Beach Club!!!

Soon Come: Caneel Bay Beach Club!!!

I hope that the headline got your attention because THIS is some very exciting stuff! A new way to spend your beach day is coming soon to Honeymoon Beach and, no, not in the way that you are thinking. The focus of the Caneel Bay Beach Club will be to bring back that “Caneel Bay feel” of peace, connection with nature and luxury with inclusion of the local population and a reignition of the past…of what this coveted resort once was many years ago…

I had an absolutely riveting conversation with Mark Snyder (no, not Mark Snider of Lovango!) last week who has taken over the concessions lease on Honeymoon Beach and hired a management team of local St. Johnians to get this concept off the ground. He reiterated more than once that he is very hands off with his on-the-ground team that will be running the new Beach Club which will feature luxurious cabanas, beach chairs, shuttle service from Caneel Bay to the beach, and a broad spectrum of premium food and beverages.

I want to very quickly mention two things about this new endeavor. First, this is not a “Caneel Bay” project perse. Mark and his team are in a landlord/tenant relationship with the management of the resort and took over the lease after it was dissolved with the former tenant (Bikini’s/VI Eco Tours). The entire grounds received a thorough cleanup of what was left behind before moving into landscaping the existing vegetation in a protective way with local contractors, landscapers and artists. The snippets I have seen of the property are tasteful and enhance the natural landscape.

Soon Come: Caneel Bay Beach Club!!! 1

Soon Come: Caneel Bay Beach Club!!! 2

Second, an emphasis will be placed on relaxing and enjoying the natural landscape and local hospitality at Honeymoon. Rowdy behavior, speakers and disrespect for mother nature will not be allowed.

As a long-time guest at Caneel Bay Resort, Mark remembers the times on St. John that many of you out there have a fond sense of nostalgia for. He was married at the resort in 2016 and the celebration of the couples’ one-year anniversary in 2017 would be the last celebration that the ill-fated resort would see.

“When I got on the boat on August 30 (2017), I didn’t know I would be one of the last guests to be on the property,” Mark told me.

Now, Mark, in my opinion, is an absolutely fascinating guy! He started a company called Island Hope Wines with local support in 2018 with the intent of sending all of the profits back to St. John based non-profit organizations. And never taking a single dollar off of the island. I could hear in his voice how much he adores this place, the culture and the local people he grew to know well in his years of visiting Caneel Bay.

He longs for the old days of a deep respect for nature on a peaceful beach with only the sounds of the winds and the waves. And that is the goal with this beachfront establishment.

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Sunset on the Caneel Dock – 2014 – Image courtesy of Samantha-Brown.com

Mark has a specific intent for the new Beach Club, which should be open by early November; to bring back as many Caneel Bay employees as possible and put an emphasis on bringing on St. John residents and locals to run, manage and operate the entire establishment. Currently, ten Caneel Bay employees are committed to working at the Beach Club at Honeymoon. They are still seeking various staffers to assist in day-to-day operations as well though!

One of the goals is to host rotation of local chefs serving Caribbean Cuisine for breakfast and lunch. Higher end options will be available and details on those are forthcoming. As far as beverages go, the cocktail menu will feature local herbs and fruit juices and the wine list will be approachable to everyone, offering everything from an $8 glass of wine to a $300 bottle of champagne. Ultra-filtered sparkling and flat water will be served on tap.

Oh, and plastic? You’ll find none of that here! Bamboo and stainless steel were two of the alternatives Mark mentioned during our call.

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He told me a short story about seeing a piece of trash on the ocean floor here one time. It was about twenty feet down and it took him about an hour’s worth of attempts to retrieve it in order to dispose of it properly. An emphasis will be kept on keeping the beach clean and limiting the use of disposables on site.

Also, there will be no watersports rentals. His intent is to offer a “quiet, peaceful, high-end experience” with priority access and discounts for locals and St. John residents. Therefore, speakers and outside food and beverages will not be permitted. Also, although they cannot monitor the number of guests arriving via trail or boat, they will be moderating the number of people that are able to take the shuttle from the Caneel Bay parking lot on a daily basis with a cap in place to avoid overcrowding on the beach and at the facilities.

Shuttle prices have not yet been determined but the hours of operation will span from 9AM to sunset, daily.

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Donkeys grazing at Honeymoon Beach – 2016 – the goal of the beach club is to be inclusive of the natural beauty of St. John

Now, what will be permitted? Relaxation! Top notch beach service similar to the kind the resort used to offer. Respect for the sea and the land. And reservations so that your chair will be waiting for you in the sand when you arrive.

Oh, and they have updated the bathroom facilities and added showers so that you can rinse the sand off at the end of the day.

Doesn’t this sound fantastic? I have A LOT more info to share with all of you on this new beach concession and the stories behind it and I will be doing a private tour soon so I can share some more images with you. But, in the meantime, let’s all get excited for this new project and the added beachfront relaxation in luxury we will see very soon!

The original date for opening was November 1. But, you know how island time works 😉 They are hopeful to be open by mid-month but I’ll let you know as soon as I do!Soon Come: Caneel Bay Beach Club!!! 6

44 thoughts on “Soon Come: Caneel Bay Beach Club!!!”

  1. This sounds promising! Our last visit to Honeymoon was in March 2021 and was a disappointment as it was *packed* with people. I suppose some of that was Covid-related, but we will be reluctant to go back when we’re on island in December. This makes me think we should reconsider.

    • My question is when you come to the parking lot and park do you have to take the shuttle and pay $10 because that’s the way it used to be? Or can you just walk from the parking lot to the beach? Or when they mentioned trails are they talking about walking from 3 miles away on the trail that goes to the woods to arrive at honeymoon?I would be interested in knowing the situation we’ve been there for 20 years in a row and love the area but we’re very disappointed to find out you could park for free and then $10 for the shuttle a real bait and switch

  2. Interesting … am I reading this correctly that I would not be able to bring in a picnic lunch and drinks from home if I hike to Honeymoon???

    • Easy enough, don’t go onto resort property. Honeymoon beach is big enough. I’m not into paying $80 a piece for a beach chair. I bring my own chairs and backpack cooler full of drinks and food.

  3. Oh this sounds wonderful! Honeymoon Beach is a favorite. I would hope there is some way to discourage all the snorkel boat trips that dump boat loads of people onto the beach to preserve this concept.

  4. “…outside food and beverages will not be permitted”. Does that mean we can’t bring our sandwich and beverage with us to Honeymoon?

  5. Honeymoon was always a favorite….20 years ago. Commercializing a beach is just wrong for St John….leave that to Mexico! I was looking forward to hiking down this December….guess not because we are not “high end”.

  6. “speakers and outside food and beverages will not be allowed” can you please elaborate? I can’t talk to my sister’s? I can’t hike in with water and snacks?

  7. Honeymoon is one of our favorite beaches! This sounds like the peace and beauty of the beach will be gone and a high end resort will be in its place. The idea that we can’t bring a sandwich and a cooler to Honeymoon is really upsetting! Are we sure we want this?

  8. All good news for those of us who saw Honeymoon Beach overrun with loud disruptive behaviors. We loved the beach for the peacefulness and exclusiveness. We look forward to a return to those sands.

  9. Thrilled to hear this news. We have stayed at Caneel Bay many times and are so happy to hear that Honeymoon Beach will retain some of the old time experience. Is there anyway I could get a gift certificate to the Beach Club?

  10. This sounds wonderful! We are coming to St John November 9th for a week. Is there currently access to Honeymoon Beach by the trails, or is it closed for the renovation? Thank you!

  11. This is wonderful news ❤️ I worked at Caneel Bay in the late 70’s.&80’s. This was a awesome place to work. Very happy to hear your bring back this special place. Remember waiting on Lawrence Rockefeller back in the day. They were very nice people.

  12. This makes me sad. There are plenty of other islands to go to if you need a reserved chair, a restaurant and a bar. Was hoping Honeymoon would go back to the way it was before the water sports, tacky gift shop and bar.

  13. I am thrilled to hear this news! We honeymooned on Caneel 30th years ago and visited both Honeymoon Beach and Zozo’s. So happy that the initiative has been taken to restore some of the beauty and feeling of old time Caneel. Ironically we are on island for our 30th wedding anniversary! Sadly we leave Nov. 6th and we will miss not being able to experience Caneel Bay Beach Club! We will be back!

  14. It will be disappointing to not be able to bring water and a trail lunch. Some of us don’t necessarily want a fancy lunch.

    We shall see. There are many other beaches on St.John that are essentially free.

  15. “ Therefore, speakers and outside food and beverages will not be permitted.” I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to bring my beach chair and my cooler to the beach.
    Very sad.

  16. Outside food and beverage not allowed? That’s ridiculous. I don’t want to buy high end food and wine or a $6.00 bottle of water. What are they going to do , monitor this and throw people out ? I love the beach, but i wont go if i cant bring my own drinks and snacks. I hope the owner reconsiders his thinking on this.

  17. I’ve been hiking to Honeymoon Beach with my own food, drinks, and chairs for over 25 years. I find it hard to believe that someone can police the no outside food and drink regulation. If that’s the case I guess I’ll divorce myself from a hike to Honeymoon.

  18. Fabulous info! I’ll be making reservations. Mark sounds like a thoughtful and caring person. I’m all about this type of tenant. It will feel like a little piece of Caneel. Fabulous that no speakers are allowed and no water sports. Just enjoying the beach, view and water. I’ll be sure to book ASAP. Thanks for the update!

  19. Just another temporary money-making scheme with present leaseholders at the helm. Nothing at Honeymoon Beach would be in keeping with the solitude and natural beauty of the setting.

  20. This sounds great to me….I like the no speakers, no watersports approach. And the no outside f and b rule is completely understandable to me. On a one-week trip I will go to Honeymoon one or two days and buy a nice lunch; the other days I will go to Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon and bring my lunch.

  21. Ask most locals, this writer not withstanding, and they will tell you that the tourists are different now. There has been a demographic shift in recent years and I think that this ill conceived project will please these folks greatly. I will cherish my memories of this spectacular beach and that will have to suffice.

    • Well said Charlie M. My husband and I have been visiting St John for over 30 years and totally agree with your assessment of the tourists that are now visiting the island. We are so sad to see the direction the island is going.

  22. I don’t think this sounds awesome in the least! it sounds as if they have found a way to take a national park beach,once accessible to all who cared to hike in, and make it only accessible to a few for a premium. let’s face it this will benefit the new St. John gentry, wealthy tourists and that’s about it.
    Reservations, fees forced to pay for food and beverages this is the direction those who gave feedback wanted? Pre 2017 hurricanes Honeymoon and Salomon where accessible to hikers and boaters, caneel did not even charge or stop people from using them.
    Let them tell try to tell me I can’t hike in with my lunch cooler as I have done for years, smdh.

  23. Love the idea of trying to get it back to nature, quiet, peaceful respect & enjoyment of this beach. All sounds great in theory but in practicality a lot to effectively achieve. Who will be monitoring & enforcing the no speakers/party-type atmosphere that will more than likely happen? Why can’t someone bring in a sandwich/waters from their own villa for a day at this beach? ( We do this but never leave anything on any beach….we take any ‘trash’/empties back to our villa with us in our cooler). What if too many people from trails/boats come ashore & leave “limited” space for those who come by car? How do you determine who is “high end” enough? I hope it works out like they see it in theory.

  24. Wow. Where is the beloved St John that I have been visiting since the 70 ‘s? You had to hike to the beautiful Honeymoon Beach. It was well worth it. I know things change BUT not always for the better.

  25. sounds like another Western resort beach club , that will get to busy with cruise ship day trippers . hope for the best to keep crowds down .i have been to St JOHN for past 24 yrs . tough to except change . love the island

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