Skyflower: Mountaintop Gem

Rating: (Excellent)

First of all, let me say that the breathless reviews posted on the VRBO site for this property are all 100% accurate. This is a beautiful villa, impeccably maintained, in a fantastic location. The view is spectacular, the road is paved, the driveway is flat, and the location is 100% private. It looks just like the pictures on the VRBO site. Since this song has been sung before in 4-part harmony, I'm going to adopt an FAQ format and answer the questions that I had when I was looking at this listing.

What is Skyflower Suite?
It's the 1BR apartment downstairs. In the winter months the owners live in the upstairs and rent out the downstairs as "Skyflower Suite." The rest of the time, it's just the optional 2nd bedroom. If you rent "Skyflower Villa" and only need 1 BR, the lower level will be locked. It will not be rented to somebody else. The lower level is lovely, with a private staircase from the parking area, a small kitchen, its own mahogany balcony, and the nicest of the 3 outdoor showers. It's a wonderful arrangement for 2 couples or families with teenagers.

Is the view as spectacular as it looks online?
Yes. Even better. Cameras just don't do it justice. I know, everyone says this about mountain villas in St. John, but it's true.

How private is it? Is it quiet?
Clothing optional private if you swing that way. It's fairly close to the road, but completely screened by vegetation. You can hear vehicles go past, but there's almost no traffic up there (although if they ever pave that last stretch of Bordeaux Mountain Rd there might be more). No nearby roosters, but the tree frogs do achieve a remarkable volume level at night. If you think that might bother you, bring earplugs or a white noise generator.

Is it hard to get to? Do you need 4-wheel drive?
Unless you have a crippling fear of heights, this villa is incredibly easy to get to. The road up from Coral Bay is steep, but less than a mile and paved all the way. Alternatively, you can drive up and over the mountain peak from Centerline Road. This is the shortest route from Cruz Bay, but not necessarily the fastest because of a short unpaved stretch (not difficult, just bumpy). You might need 4WD in a pouring rain, but otherwise no. There is a large flat parking area with room for multiple vehicles, which is an enormous value-add in this neighborhood.

How's the connectivity?
Variable. Internet was fast and steady upstairs, but the wireless signal was weak in the downstairs suite. AT&T cell service was spotty, but T-Mobile was good. Entertainment centers on both floors have CD/DVD player. There is a way to connect a USB MP3 player in the main floor unit, not sure about downstairs. Ask the greeter to show you how that works - it isn't obvious. Or look in the drawer of the coffee table for the instructions I wrote up.

There's no A/C. Will that be a problem?
We were there in July, and it was not an issue. Villa is 1000' up, and the air is noticeably cooler than at sea level. Every room opens directly to the balcony via fully screened sliding doors, and there is a constant breeze. House gets stuffy when all the sliders are closed, but within a minute or two of opening even one slider the breeze has swept through the house and aired it out. We slept under blankets at night.

How are the bugs?
Bugs? What bugs? Flying insects like mosquitoes and no-see-ums are swept away by the ceaseless wind. The owners employ a regular pest control service, which apparently works - we saw no ants, roaches or anything of that sort. We had a few moths in the house at night, and that's about it.

Everything has pros and cons. What are the cons?
There aren't too many, frankly. It can get pretty windy up there, enough to blow things off the clothesline and drive rain under the balcony roof. But there's still a great view from inside if it's too windy to sit outside. I was disappointed in the book selection - way too many paperback thrillers, but not a single fish, bird, or star guide! The entertainment system was powerful but inscrutable (call Roy if you can't figure it out). But those are nitpicks - mostly it was pretty perfect.

Does the villa have ....?
* screens? YES
* a coffee grinder? NO. Bring ground coffee.
* St. John guide books. Surprisingly, NO. Not even a fish guide or bird book.
* A land-line telephone? YES
* vacuum cleaner that reaches the parking area for cleaning sand out of jeep? YES
* bug spray? YES. (put some on before dinner at Aqua Bistro!)
* clothesline? YES. Retractable lines. Have the greeter show you how they work.
* plenty of towels? YES indeed. Towels of every size, everywhere!
* soap, shampoo, conditioner? YES - little hotel sized bottles
* Enough storage space? YES. I've never stayed anywhere with so many drawers.
* Outdoor showers? YES! (3 of them)
* Light blocking curtains on the windows? NO. Just embrace it and enjoy the sunrise.

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