Ristaba - 1/26/11 - 2/5/11
This is our 5th trip to St John and the 5th different villa we've stayed in. We were traveling as a family of four - my husband, me and our 2 kids (ages 4 & 7). In general, the villa, pool, and surroundings are all excellent. Ristaba is a somewhat older but well-maintained villa located above Great Cruz Bay on Rock Ridge Road. The reviews I could find of the villa were a few years old so I thought I'd update based on our visit.
Layout: You enter the villa on the upper level from a parking area that could easily accommodate 2 - maybe 3 cars. There are actually two entries on the driveway side of the villa. One enters through the kitchen, the other into the great room. There are massive sliding doors on the other three sides of the villa that open and allow excellent breezes and beautiful sunset views (no a/c on this level). There is a deck that surrounds the villa on all sides and has a grill, a good sized outdoor dining table and a couple additional outdoor seating areas. Most of the deck receives shade until late afternoon. Interior and exterior stairs access the lower level where there are four bedrooms and the pool - along with another very large deck (some well shaded areas and some sunny spots). The pool is quite large and quite deep. There is also a 2 bedroom cottage that sits behind the villa that we did not use so I can't comment on it.
Bedrooms: All four bedrooms are nearly identical in size and are more than roomy enough with ample dressers and closets. All are air conditioned, have king size beds (a couple of them with can be made as twins or king), and their own en suite bathrooms with shower areas. Two have outdoor showers and two are interior. The beds were comfortable and the a/c cooled each room nicely within about 10 minutes of being turned on. Two of the bedrooms have views of the pool and toward St Thomas and the other two have more "garden" views. The layout of the bedrooms might not be desirable for couples looking for a lot of privacy since they are all directly across the hall from one another. However, it was a great setup with our kids as they shared the room across from us and we left the other two bedrooms unused.
Kitchen: We cooked all our breakfasts at the villa and about ½ our dinners. The kitchen was very well equipped and all the appliances functioned properly. There is a nice gas grill right outside which also worked perfectly and had a nice full propane tank. There is a good sized laundry area off the kitchen as well.
Living Area: We frankly didn't spend much time here. Not because it wasn't nice, but just that we preferred to be outside. There is a TV (which we never tested) and DVD player along with a nice selection of games, books, etc. The furniture was comfortable and clean and would comfortably seat 6.
Pool: The pool area is a highlight of this villa. The deck is very large with a wet bar and another dining table off to the side of the pool area. There were several (8 or 10) lounge chairs that were in excellent shape. The pool itself is also very large. The pool is not heated and we found it "refreshing" during our Jan/Feb stay but it wasn't too cold to enjoy by any means. The pool deck has a combination of sun and shade at nearly all hours of the day so just about everyone can get what they want. Because there's some pretty mature landscaping around the pool which makes it quite private. There is also a hot tub on the side deck of the pool. When we were there the hot tub wasn't working properly (wasn't heating). It was serviced while we were there but they had to order parts so we didn't' really use the tub.
Location: The villa is located right on Rock Ridge Road. It is directly above a couple villas - you can see their roofline and hear them just a bit but can't see into the villas (and they can't see into Ristaba). The location is very close to town and grocery stores - we mainly went to Starfish and St John Market (in the strip mall by the Westin) since they were so close (less than 5 minutes). Depending on where we were going, we either headed up Gifft Hill Road or through town to reach the beaches and restaurants.
General: There were plenty of beach towels, beach chairs, extra linens, etc. There were three coolers for the beach and they were in okay condition but probably use upgrading at some point.
Vacation Vistas: We had a great experience with Lisa at Vacation Vistas. It was our 2nd time renting through her. The website photos are accurate and Lisa was great about answering questions. She even dealt with our delayed flight and arranged for us to be able to pick up our Jeep after hours, etc.
The place was decently clean and there was a welcome plate of fruit, cold cuts, chocolate, cookies, wine, beer upon our arrival! I would definitely stay at the house again and use Vacation Vistas again.
This review was originally submitted by Christy.