Experience Caribbean 8/25/15, 12:25 PM (reprinted from USA Travel: Caribbean)
Who doesn’t dream of a vacation home in the Caribbean? Envision sipping a cold drink while breezes rustle a flower garden in front of an azure Caribbean Sea. That dream can become a reality by renting one of the many unique and stylish private villas on St. John.
From multi-family compounds to adorable seaside cottages, renting a villa on St. John is like finding a home away from home. Villas are privately-owned homes that are run like a business. Similar to a bed and breakfast minus the host. You are simply given the keys to a multi-million dollar Caribbean dream house for the most relaxing and peaceful vacation you’ve ever had.
Many privately-owned villas are maintained by a property management company that advertises and rents out the homes. Several of these companies are based on St. John and are available 24/7 if needed.
The larger luxury villas may have caretakers living on the property to ensure everything is in working order and address any problems immediately.
Villas are fully equipped with everything you need to enjoy your stay, from pots and pans to pool floats. At some villas, the property manager will arrange for a private chef to cook a gourmet meal at the house, or for a masseuse to give you a massage while you gaze out over the ocean.
These homes are perfect for a destination wedding or honeymoon. Many specialize in nuptials and have areas set up for an intimate ceremony and reception.
Case in point: Great Expectations. With four master bedrooms, two bedroom suites, and two additional rooms that can be transformed into bedrooms, the villa has a maximum capacity of 15 people, making it ideal for small weddings or family reunions. Each bedroom has a private bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers and a patio with stunning views. The villa has several pools and hot tubs, including a wading pool for small children, basketball and tennis courts, Wi-Fi, Netflix-streaming and many other amenities. The rate is based on the number of bedrooms used, so despite its size, it’s affordable for a couple as well as a large party.
An affordable villa rental on the east end of St. John is Estate Zootenvall, comprised of four cottages located on the water’s edge at Hurricane Hole. Recently redecorated in seaglass colors complementing a crisp interior design, all four units blend in seamlessly with the natural wonder of the coral reef just outside the door.
Mangrove Cottage and Spinnaker Cottage are both one-bedroom, one-bath units with two day beds. Each cottage can sleep four. Sunrise House is actually two one-bedroom units, each with their own bathroom, connected by a breezeway. It is perfect for two couples vacationing together. Turtle Watch House is a one-bedroom, one-bath, house with a sleeping alcove containing two twin beds — the ideal vacation home for a family of four. All four units at Estate Zootenvall are located just steps away from a private beach with excellent snorkeling.
Peter Bay is a gated community where almost all the multi-million dollar homes are vacation rentals. Newly renovated, The Cliff House is perched 100 feet above the water overlooking the neighboring British Virgin Islands, the Sir Francis Drake Channel and the Virgin Islands National Park. A fourbedroom villa that sleeps eight, The Cliff House is just steps away from a private beach but the property also has a heated pool and comes with a boat and kayaks to explore out on the water.
Peter Bay Beach House is the only villa with a private white-sand beach on Great Cinnamon Bay. Just walk out of the house and down to a pocket-size beach with chairs and a hammock strung up and waiting for you. The opulent private home has three bedrooms and can house up to 10 guests. A number of celebrities have stayed there, including Peyton Manning, Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney. One highlight of the beach house villa is the Balinese four-poster “mating bed.” This enormous bed, draped with white mosquito nets, is outside under the stars — a romantic place to spend your honeymoon or an anniversary.
For a couple, Isla Vista is the perfect villa. With only two bedrooms and a maximum of four guests, it is an intimate retreat on the north shore of St. John. Surrounded by the national park and just 10 minutes outside of Cruz Bay, Isla Vista is private and secluded while still convenient to shopping, dining and activities.
Literally meaning “on the sea,” A La Mer is a spectacular villa designed for large parties. With nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms, 22 people can stay at this exquisite property on Great Cruz Bay. Custom details like hand-carved mahogany staircases, beautiful tile work, and classy island décor delight the eye at every turn. The one-acre beachfront property has a large main villa and a garden cottage, which are always rented together. A pool cabana flanks a crystal clear swimming pool, fully equipped with pool toys and floats.
Many St. John villas have websites that detail the accommodations and amenities and show photos of the villa and its views. Some villas are rented through an agency like McLaughlin Anderson, VIVA! Villas and St. John Ultimate Villas, and others are rented directly from the owners.
If you want to arrive to your villa with full fringe, fill it with your favorite things by hiring someone to do the shopping and deliver it to the villa. Contact Blue Sky Provisioning and Concierge for more information. Just because a villa has a gorgeous kitchen, does not mean you need to cook: it’s your vacation, hire someone to do it. Passionfruit chefs provides personal cooking, catering and provisioning.
Villa rentals may seem expensive — ranging from about $1,500 a week to upwards of $50,000 — but if you are traveling with a large party, it may be more cost-effective and enjoyable than staying at a resort.