After spending two weeks on St John (at Beach Garden Villa) we have several observations regarding our stay:
First, we'd like to say that St John still remains a lot of fun (especially for those never having been to the island before).. there are some growing (and what could be serious) issues.. but overall the time spent here was enjoyable.
In regards to the house, Beach Garden is typical of many vacation homes never truly 'lived-in'. It's a 'designer-home' with all the quirks that come with the territory. A nice house to look at, but it's drawbacks once you've spent some time in it are obvious.. and really disappointing in a high-end vacation home for the dollars charged.
It must first be mentioned... access to snorkeling right off from the house in Chocolate Hole Bay is it greatest asset.
But there several items some might look at negatively:
- For light sleepers the a/c handlers are excessively noisy.. going on and off all night you will at times have sleep disturbed by them... (and believe us, regardless of any 'breezes', when it's warm and humid, you want a/c).
- The hot water situation in the house is unsatisfactory, when the circulation pump's not in operation it takes all of a good several minutes for the showers to get hot... and it's considerably a worse situation on the upper level.
- The sole pc station is annoyingly isolated, located in an upper bedroom.. And internet wi-fi does not function beyond the walls of that same bedroom. In reality this house is not wi-fi capable (having it just in one room is ridiculous).
- When you return from the beach, the location of the outdoor shower outside an upper bedroom is practically useless. A centrally located outside shower is a must... what 'beach property' doesn't have a readily accessible outdoor shower?
- And one ceiling fan in the entire lower level common area is nowhere near enough. Any lamp above the DR table should have in addition a ceiling fan... and there should be another fan in the kitchen. When breezes die down there's not enough air movement in these areas to make them comfortable... and opening and closing all the numerous doors to use the a/c is impractical and a 'pitb'.
- The pool is a major disappointment, being no more than what amounts to an architectural design feature. Too shallow to be of much use other than a quick dip cool down.. ...and being on and raised up off the upper level, it really blocks a good portion of the view when you're sitting down. And views from the upper level are of increased importance, for the lower level view of the water is mostly blocked off by vegetation (little of the water is seen from any of the lower level common areas or from the downstairs shore-side bedroom).
And as for the hot-tub, it's location almost guarantees is doesn't get any use. It really should have been better planned for, with a good view of the water.
- There is allotted space for a built-in BBQ... it should have been used.. The inexpensive grill there now detracts from the setting.
- And this is the first home of it's caliber we've recently come across having absolutely no sound system in living/ dining/ or kitchen areas. Dragging iPod docking stations around the house is an added annoyance.
- And it still might be a work in progress, but the existing landscaping quality does not match the overall property, again detracting from the overall setting.
These are just a few of our comments regarding the property, there are several others (broken window latches, not enough bedroom drawer space, small & awkward location for a media area, step-down stairs to the lower level common areas that are a real nuisance, et al).
And we feel we must mention, we found ourselves to be exceptionally fortunate the Pond Bay Development activity (only several hundred yards away) was temporarily suspended at the time of our visit.
As we discussed it amongst ourselves on more than one occasion, and we all believe there is no doubt it was so close to the house it would have been a major distraction to our overall vacation experience had it been actively under construction.
We've all been involved with varying forms of construction activity through the years... and know any project of the size of PBD creates substantial sound (from early in the morning straight through quitting time).
We firmly believe all potential renters of this property and others in the immediate vicinity should be adequately forewarned of the exact status of this construction activity prior to their committing to renting these properties. We got lucky... that's not the way you want to handle an important vacation decision.
While we had a good vacation on SJ, and we'll in all likelihood be coming back sometime... odds are it will not be to Beach Garden.. we'll leave that for others to potentially 'enjoy'.
The Arias & Ward Families, April, 2010
PS.. Just a heads-up on a new SJ night time activity... throwing eggs at tourist cars as they return to their accommodations using the South Shore Road.
Our two jeeps got hit... one they missed and hit the door (just below an open window).
Our friends in the other jeep (with kids along) were not as lucky, the driver was hit in the arm and wound up with egg all over his dress shirt.
They may be mindless teens looking for whatever, but get hit in the eye with the possibility of serious consequences, and it's not so frivolous an activity.
Calls to 911 reporting the incident were met simply with a 'we know about it already' reply.
This review was originally submitted by BJ.