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Chicago Daily Herald

Think Spring And An Island Getaway

By Jacky Runice Daily Herald Correspondent

November 16, 2003
Copyright ©2003
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

I know you bend your kids' ears with old saws such as "Procrastination is the thief of time" and "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." Perhaps the first snowflake hasn't fallen yet, but you need to think spring right now while there are still seats left on aircraft heading out of Chicago between mid- March and mid-April.

Just about 1,000 miles off the coast of Florida, the island of St. John offers 31 of the world's most pristine beaches from Trunk Bay to Cinnamon Bay. The Westin Resort St. John is set on St. John's Great Cruz Bay with a private white-sand beach and surrounded by lush green hills. The resort is just minutes from the unspoiled Virgin Islands National Park that envelops more than two- thirds of the island.

St. John is the remedy for stress America style and the Westin might be the ideal uncrowded, so-not-Cancun, non-collegiate spring- break getaway that caters to families with kids and teenagers. There's a special teen center, and Westin Kids Club is one of the only hotel children's programs that offers special services and amenities for infants.

Some of the resort's newest activities include dive-in movies, evening astronomy chats, diving for sodas in the pool, the U.S. Virgin Islands' largest crab races and a pirate treasure hunt. The crystalline waters of St. John are ideal for sport fishing, diving, parasailing, boating and snorkeling or you can rent jet skis, sailboats, Hobie Cats and sailboards. Play tennis, sweat in the fitness center or hike the famed plantation ruins.

Call (800) 228-3000 or visit for more information.

English is one of the official languages (Spanish is the other) and the island of Puerto Rico uses the U.S. dollar as currency, so families should feel right at home in this self-governing commonwealth of the West Indies, in union with the United States. Some might not realize that Puerto Rico is a mountainous island with beautiful coastal plains.

An active, upscale choice for a spring-break excursion is the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa, which features a championship golf course, lighted tennis courts and a state-of-the- art fitness center as well as a private island, Palomino Island, for wave running, parasailing, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Little Nemos will like the five swimming pools and the Camp Coqui program that offers myriad educational, cultural and fun diversions from Spanish lessons to mini-windsurfing.

The resort also features 12 restaurants, a casino and a disco. Teens can lower the adolescent anxiety level at the Golden Door Spa at the Wyndham El Conquistador, a 26,000-square-foot facility that features treatments for men, women and teens.

Check the Web site for Web specials. Call (877) 999-3223 for details about this Puerto Rican paradise perched on cliffs overlooking both the Atlantic and Caribbean.

If the El Conquistador sounds like sensory overload, families might consider the serene Wyndham Martineau Bay in Vieques, just off the coast of Puerto Rico. The resort features spacious rooms with private terraces, three private beaches as well as a freshwater pool with a swim-up bar/cafe and a newly opened spa with treatments for women, men and teens.

Explore Vieques, which was until just recently a U.S. Navy base, and sample water sports, including snorkeling, scuba and parasailing. The highlight of your stay could be an evening adventure during which bioluminescent organisms called dinoflagellates emerge. The organisms release energy in the form of light in much the same way as fireflies do. Take the nighttime Bio Bay tour, learn all about the cove and swim in the blue-green glowing waters after a brief cruise in an electrically powered boat.

Overlooking three secluded beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, the new resort offers plantation-style, tropical guest rooms that are at least 600 square feet with spectacular views. When you need a bit of activity, check out the tennis courts, infinity-style pool, horseback ride, snorkel or explore the three pristine beaches right on the property.

Vieques is a virtually undiscovered island and it might be one of the Caribbean's best-kept vacation surprises. Take a look at or call (877) 999-3223.

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