CONFUSED - LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT VILLA? YOUR NOT ALONE!
I would have expected someone a whole lot smarter than me would have already addressed this issue. So for those that have been to St. John please bear with me, or if it's been a while you just might learn a thing or two. This Newsletter is directed primarily toward that individual, couple, group or lurker that has never been to St. John.
You ever watch Caribbean Life Style on TV? That's when the ideal, holding hands, peck on the cheek couple must chose between three different villas on a Caribbean Island. In fact, St. John has been featured at least twice on this program. Anyway, what you don't see is the fact this "In Love" couple over the last week had looked at probably twenty properties with a realtor until the producer/director screams "CHOOSE THREE DA** VILLAS AND LET'S GET THIS SEGMENT WRAPPED UP - FOR G** SAKES, IT'S COSTING ME A FORTUNE!
The single biggest mistake a couple or for that matter, four couples make is starting out with twenty villas under consideration for a St. John holiday. Right now there are over 800 lodging choices on the island as listed with VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). It's simply no wonder there is total confusion in selecting the exact place for you.
This is my attempt to aid you in this selection process and maybe have a little fun along the way. Oh, I'm not saying it's perfect but it provides an analytical base approach and takes out a lot of the subjective decision making for people looking to rent on St. John.
No matter if it's two couples or five it all works the same. Let's assume it's four couples, which in my opinion is like trying to "herd cats." But that's your choice. All couples choose three or four places separately. Then some Saturday night over a couple of bottles of cheap wine each couple throws their choices into the fishbowl. Now start voting until you have three or four places you all can agree upon.
Ok, your first decision is to choose between Coral Bay and Cruz Bay both are unique, so a little about each:
The "Laid" back funky end of the island. Four or five restaurants, a couple of mini marts and no gas station. It's normally pretty quiet. But you are at least 30 minutes to Cruz Bay, ok during the daytime but driving back from Cruz Bay at night after a couple of drinks can be a challenge. Some nice villas here and at less money that Cruz Bay; however, make sure theaccess road is fully paved to the villa - many are not.
This is the main town of the island and where you will land when you arrive. It has lots of restaurants, bars, shopping, grocery stores and a couple of gas stations. Most of the day boat tripsincluding snorkeling, scuba and BVI's go from here. This is where the action is and lots of great villas within five to ten minutes of town. Also, the villas will be more expensive here as they are most convenient to everything the island has to offer.
So, let's get started! Below is a spreadsheet with nine categories alphabetically and points assigned to each with explanations regarding points assigned. Across the header are villas A, B, C, and D. For the purpose of this analysis I have used four real villas in the Greater Cruz Bay Area. Each is a two bedroom as I'm most familiar with all the two bedrooms in Cruz Bay. These are villas not timeshares, hotels or condos. Below the spreadsheet is each category with points for scoring. I believe if you use this chart it will go a long way to identify your holiday island paradise villa.
1. Age - Total of 10 Points
A villa less than eight years old
A villa more than eight less than twelve years
A villa more than twelve years old
Yes, the villa could be in great condition after twelve years but the chances are the appliances, air conditioning, pool likely require some major work. Which "could" happen at the exact moment you rented the place.
2. Air Conditioning (A/C) - Total of 10 Points
A villa with full house air conditioning all rooms
A villa with only bedroom air conditioning
A villa with ceiling fans only
A villa with no fans or A/C and believe me there are some
3. Response - Total of 15 Points
This is an extremely important category and covers a lot of ground when interacting with owners and management companies . Look if a manager/owner doesn't respond to your initial request for information or to book in an hour, consider what will happen when your a/c craps out or the refrigerator isn't cooling and you need help immediately. This is where an owner has it hands down over a management company. That owner needs "you" so he/she can pay the mortgage, electric, insurance and taxes. The management company really couldn't care it's just "Next Man Up" with them. They really don't have a dog in the fight when it comes to paying the villa bills. Management companies are in solely for their fee. This is why Response Category is so important.
A mgmt company/owner that gets back to you within one hour and has updated there calendar in the last 72 hours
A mgmt company/owner that gets back to you in 12 hours
A mgmt company/owner that does/or doesn't not respond promptly to all your questions and hasn't updated their web calendar
4. Pool - Total of 10 Points
A villa pool fits your size requirements and looks inviting (adjust from 5 to 10 points) for things like infinity edge, colored light show, swim up table and stools
A villa pool/hot tub which is "ok" but older
A villa without a pool or hot tub
5. Location - Total of 10 Points
Another difficult category but we can analyze it as follows:
A villa with easy paved access right up to the front door
A villa with access that's a little steep but you'll be fine
A villa with unpaved roads and villa access is more than 10 steps
6. Reviews - Total of 10 Points
Every villa owner wants reviews or at least they should. While reviews generally put the property in good light. If you carefully read all of them you will possibly gleam some small hints of problems.
More than 25 Reviews
More than 15 and less than 25
More than 5 and Less than 15 Reviews
No Reviews within the last two years
7. Sleeping - Total of 10 Points
All bedrooms on the same level in the villa
Bedrooms are in Pods and separate
Bedrooms are unequal and at different levels and maybe outside access
8. Town Access - Total of 10 Points
Villas located from 5 to 7 minutes to center of Cruz Bay. This would include those located in Chocolate Hole, town center and along the North Shore before Honeymoon Beach.
Villas located 7 to 12 minutes from Cruz Bay. This would include Hart Bay, Point Rendevous, Klien Bay, Virgin Grand, Centerline Road
Villas located 12 or more minutes to town. Including Sky Top, Fish Bay and Reef Bay
Further out from above locations
9. Views - Total of 15 Points
Next to coming for the beaches, sunshine and Pain Killers is the view your going to get while relaxing with a frosty cold one in your hand after a hard day at the beach. So this is an extremely important category.
Totally unobstructed view of the ocean evening lights and/or cruise ships at night
Partially obstructed views including roofs, power lines other obstacles
Totally obstructed ocean views - you cannot see ocean from your villa
Well there you have it. Play around with the spreadsheet enter your dream villas and see how they score. As I said at the outset, it's not perfect and a lot of things were not included intentionally for example:
Price - This is a personal decision how much you and/or your group chooses to spend for your island vacation home. But generally, I've found, the more points an individual villa has on the point matrix I've developed, the more it will cost. That is what happened when I scored the four villas used for my spreadsheet. If price is your only consideration then you will miss a lot of other amenities some of which will add a greater island experience.
Furniture - Pictures of interiors can be very misleading and old. In the case of one of the villas I used, the furniture has not been updated in more than ten years and that includes the beds.
I am slowing moving away from VRBO and now have my own website www.stjohnoceanfrontvillas.com where of course you can book either Sopra Mare or Bordo Mare without any "Service Fees" as charged by VRBO, Flip Key or Airbnb. However, both villas are listed are still with VRBO for Bordo Mare 465589 for Sopra Mare 251854. Lot's of summer specials especially during the later part of August and all of September.
If I sent this newsletter to you twice just email me back and put duplicate in subject line and of course, if you don't want to receive future newsletter do the same and put "delete" in the subject line.
Until Next Time!
Mike Mullen - But everyone just calls me "Mulley"