Francis Bay Estate: Secluded elegance on St. John's North Shore

Rating: (Excellent)

Francis Bay Estate is a 5-bedroom 5.5 bath home located within easy walking distance to Francis Bay beach. All of the bedrooms are equal in size, with full attached baths, very comfortable king beds (one room has two twins that can be converted to a king) air conditioning, and rolling interior shutters to block the morning sunshine. The two bedrooms on the upper level have water views, and the lower bedrooms have views of the large pool and grounds. The attached bathrooms are of good size, with double sinks, ample storage, and beautiful stone showers.

The main room consists of a gourmet-style kitchen that is adequately stocked with equipment, a large pantry, a dining area, and the living room. The (literally) coolest feature in the kitchen is a large seperate ice maker. The machine makes enough ice to load up your cooler every morning with enough leftover to fill up the ice bucket in the evening. This room has wifi (it worked very well), wall-mounted Bose speakers, and a TV/DVD system (we never turned it on). This room has no AC but there are ample ceiling fans as well as floor fans. The room was occasionally a little warm but never uncomfortable. There is a large covered deck off this room with seating for 10 and sun shades that can be lowered in the afternoon to keep the temperature down in the great room. There is also a half bath and laundry room off the upper deck.

The lower level consists of three bedrooms/bathrooms, a storage space with an extra full size fridge, and a large pool deck with another dining table and additional seating. The pool is quite large and is surrounded by loungers and pool umbrellas.

We really enjoyed this house. The layout was good--the bedrooms felt private, and there was enough seating that we could gather in various locations. The grounds are lushly landscaped with flowering plants and fruit trees. The pool was refreshing and enjoyed by all.

The lush setting led to a lot of wildlife on the property: bats visited us in the pool every night (we thought of them as built in mosquito zappers!), and there were frogs, lizards, and bugs of various types. If you are squeamish about bugs, this might not be the house for you.

Another quirk: the property is fenced and the exterior gate locks, but the house itself does not. There is a safe on the property and it was large enough to fit all of the cameras, ipads, ipods, phones etc that my group brought with us. We were careful about keeping everything of value in the safe and had no problems.

We rented Francis Bay Estate from Catered To, and they were excellent to work with. We had to call them twice for maintenance issues (a failing fridge, a broken pool light), and both times they had someone out to the house promptly to fix the issue. Catered To also provides weekly maid service in the rental fee, and it was really nice to have the sheets changed, sand swept out etc. by someone else once in a while!

The walking access to Francis Bay beach is what makes this house truly special. We spent a lot more time at the beach than we normally do on this trip, and I am sure that it was because of the ease of access. Not having to constantly load and unload the jeep was a real luxury. I will defnitely keep this house in mind for future trips.

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