2018: New Year, New Owners
After visiting St. John more than 50 weeks over the last 16 years (with 10 stays at Great Expectations), Steve & Carrie Butcher purchased Great Expectations on January 4, 2018 from original designers, developers, and owners Charles Atkins and Kristin Demong.
Carrie first saw the villa online back in 2001 (imagine how small the photos were). We had just gotten engaged and knew we wanted to have an intimate island wedding. We spent 5 nights on St. John and met with Chuck & Kristin. We planned a wedding and 37 people came down for a week on St. John the following October – 14 of the ‘wedding party’ stayed with us at Great Expectations.
We returned to the villa for our 1st anniversary, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. We couldn’t get enough of St. John or Great Expectations.
Steve started working for Great Expectations during another stay by taking over their website marketing and shooting 360VR photos of the villa (this was WAY before drones and iPhones). After another few visits, in 2012 we returned for our 10th anniversary with 20 friends & family. Steve even installed a new HD webcam on the villa. It was during that trip that we made the decision to start coming down more than once a year, and were hell bent on trying to move down (at least 1/3 of the year) before we turned 50 in 2021.
Spring and fall trips of 2 weeks each turned into 3.5 spring weeks and 3 fall weeks respectively. Then, in mid 2017, we came for an off-season trip to see what things would be like around Labor Day. Long story short, we made it off island on Monday, September 4th before Irma hit with a wallop. Chuck and Kristin couldn’t make it back to take care of the villa, and the island communications were virtually non-existent. Steve volunteered to go down the week after Irma and check on the villa. He left on a 4-day trip and was then stuck on St. John through Hurricane Maria for 17 days. The villa survived wonderfully, and he worked to clean up the property, help others on island, and even built a website for visitors and locals to inform about recovery and rebuild. He then returned 3 more times in 2017 (once with Carrie). During that trip together, we both talked about moving down ahead of schedule and putting down some roots… the next thing you know, we bought Great Expectations from Chuck & Kristin.
We plan on keeping our day jobs in Vermont, but will be onsite frequently throughout the coming years.
We look forward to helping you plan your next family vacation, group trip, or wedding on St. John, hopefully with Great Expectations as your villa choice.
Steve & Carrie Butcher
Jan 4, 2018
1989 – to – 2017: Dreamt, Built, Grown by Chuck & Kristin
Chuck & Kristin first visited St. John in the 1970s and fell in love with the island. They stayed at Caneel Bay and discovered they could rent a villa for 2 for the cost of one night at Caneel Bay.
They returned every year since and for many years brought their favorite chocolate labrador, Caneel, who loved to swim after coconuts in Hart Bay each afternoon.
In 1989, they arrived on island with a plan to purchase a piece of land to build our their dream villa on – preferably with sunrise & sunset views and of course visuals of water as much as possible. They also wanted to make sure they found a place with plenty of breezes (which meant an easterly exposure) and wanted it convenient to Cruz Bay, but not too close to be bothered by the late night noise. Secondarily they hoped for a short walk to the water and enough land to build and have some privacy. In short, they were set on finding the ultimate piece of land that no one else had discovered yet!
They looked at dozens and dozens of properties, climbed trees to see what the view would be like, and stood and tried to get a sense of the breezes. When they got to the parcel that is now Great Expectations, they knew it was it! Great breezes, great views of the water, a sunrise right out of the movies, and although they didn’t know it when they bought the property because of bushes – sunset views! They made an offer that same day, flew their architect friend and his wife down from Boston for 2 weeks to design the Villa, got a construction loan from a friendly banker – spending over $1 Million over two years to build Great Expectations.
They were long-term members of the St John Accommodations Council and were committed to many of the St. John community initiatives such as the St. John Community Foundation, St. John Animal Care Center and the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park.
Great Expectations was their dream, their passion, and love, and we are proud to have taken the reins!
Steve and Carrie Butcher
How to move to Paradise in 10 not-so-easy steps (twice)
1975Chuck & Kristin (C&K): First Visit to St. JohnOur first vacation on St. John was at Caneel Bay; we haven't miss a year since!
1976C&K: Our first villa rentalWe figure out there's more value, privacy, and ease when renting a villa than staying in a resort, even one as wonderful as Caneel Bay
1980 - 1990 C&K: Staying in Chocolate HoleWe fall in love with the south shore of St. John, particularly the spur of land between Chocolate Hole and Hart Bay and rent many different villas
1991C&K: Deciding to buy a piece of paradiseWe hunt for land, with and without a realtor, with the literal 'big picture' in mind. After looking at many sites we purchase our piece of paradise. We bring our very good friend and architect to St John, walk the land, and during a two week stay design what is now Great Expectations.
1998C&K: Great Expectations completedAfter 2 years and many re-readings of "Don't Stop the Carnival," we finally complete our dream villa and move in to the owner's quarters for the 1st winter.
1999C&K: The first vacation rentalsBack in 1999, while we already had a website many did not so when someone inquired (usually as a result from a magazine ad, we often had to send them a letter (remember those days) which would take several days to arrive in their mailbox. Our very first rentals were pioneers in that our tennis court was not yet ready and our landscaping was still very, very fresh and we really still looked like a construction site. Well, some of our very early rentals have become long time repeat guests!
2001Steve & Carrie (S&C): Engaged in Vermont and set on Beach WeddingSteve proposed to Carrie on their Vermont doorstep as she was about to move in. We immediately figured out we wanted a beach wedding with 50-60 invited.
2005C&K: A Property Manager!The best way to ensure a great guest experience when not on the island is to find a property manager that goes above and beyond and we have just that person and great team of dedicated people who work hard to ensure your expectations are met and exceeded!
2001S&C: We stay on St. John for the 1st time and meet Chuck & KristinWe looked at various places online and finally decided that we should check out St. John. Chuck & Kristin were living on island that winter in the Owner's Suite, so we got a room at the Westin and looked at various options. After meeting C&K, it was a no brainer. We'd get married on Gibney with a beach party after and have our wedding party stay at Great Expectations. Little did we know...
2002S&C: The WeddingAmazing week, 39 person wedding on Gibney Beach with a dinner party at Oppenheimer house after. The wedding party stayed at Great Expectations and we had a blast. To this day, those 14 'wedding party' people still say "Best vacation and best wedding ever!'
2003S&C: We return to the Owner's Suite for our 1st AnniversaryYep, we celebrated our first of many anniversaries in October on St. John and at Great Expectations
2004S&C: 2nd anniversaryYep, we're hooked.
2007S&C: Return to Great ExpectationsWe missed an anniversary on St. John, then made 2 more anniversaries back staying at a B&B and Cinnamon Bay. Didn't compare to staying at the villa, so we came back for our 5th.
2008S&C: Could we buy Great Expectations?We spent many months researching, planning, and trying to figure out a way to buy the property from Chuck & Kristin. Family life changes put that on hold.
2012C&K: A Pool to InfinityWith our groups getting larger and larger, we decide to invest in expansion of our patio area and build a beautiful infinity pool for future guests
2013C&K: Adding a Sunroom gives us more spaceWe convert a large storage area under the owner's apartment into a Sunroom. The villa now sleeps 16 adults comfortably!
2012S&C: Steve surprises Carrie for their 10th anniversaryWith a year of secretive planning, Steve organizes 20 of their closest family and friends to come back to St. John after 10 years of marriage. We rent Calypso del Sol for the 6 extra people and return to Gibney for a catered party on our Anniversary by our original caterer, Passion Fruit. And yes, Steve even had them make the cake they had at their wedding!
2015C&K: Building a new BBQ areaWe engaged a local artist to design a wonderful tiled mural as the centerpiece for our new BBQ area
2016C&K and Steve: Responsive WebsiteNew photos to show off what we have and a website that works well on smaller screens
Aug 2017S&C: Off-Season 'research'; tripSteve & Carrie returned for a stay through Labor Day in August/September to see how they'd like St. John in summer. For 2 years they've been making plans to move down before they turn 50. The end of the trip is spent watching friends and villa neighbors frantically prepare for a storm named Irma.
September 2017Narrow Escape, Unknown Results, Steve returns to helpirma hits, communication is down everywhere, no one knows anything. Chuck & Kristin are in California and can't make it to St. John. Steve offers to go down and find rescue boat ride to help maintain/rescue the villa. He arrives on Puerto Rico rescue boat 10 days after the storm, and then is caught for 17 days through Maria and beyond.
January 2018 New OwnersSteve & Carrie Butcher buy Great Expectations from Chuck & Kristin and start a new chapter in their lives and the life of St. John rental villa Great Expectations.