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Villa rental agenices

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(@berkfamily)
Posts: 1
 

Thinking of renting through Villas Caribe, Great Caribbean Getaways or Vivacations. Anyone have experience with any of them. Considering Hummingbird Hill, A Day Dream, Sundancer, Lost Horizon and Palladio's View: any experience with any of these villas? Thanks for the help.

 
Posted : July 19, 2006 4:55 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

I have personal experience with both Villascaribe and Vivacation.

I have rented from Viva and been very satisfied. I did have a major problem with the villa that I rented from them, but they were attentive. The villa's toilet had a problem that kept it running all the time. Nobody realized it until we ran out of water one evening after a day at the beach and we wanted to shower for dinner. No water - no showers. Viva came while we were at dinner and I think they switched us to the back-up cistern and said they would fix the toilet next day. They came the next day and did something to the toilet. It obviously didn't work because we ran out of water again and the house was dry when we woke up the next morning (our departure). We had to wait for the water truck, then wait while they hauled this long, thick hose across the living room and it must have taken like 40 minutes to get the cisterns full. By then, we had to catch the ferry. No showers on departure day 🙁 Viva was, however, there each and every time we called them. That running toilet must have cost them a fortune in water bills.

I have not rented from Villas Caribe but have corresponded with them a great deal. They are really good about getting right back to me with answers to questions. I know they travel around and check out villas. They're not just a website. Janis, the owner, has a reputation for being very demanding - I've hear that from others in the industry who think she's too pushy. If you are a villa traveler, that would be a good thing, I would think. Why is it that men always think that professional, aggressive women are "pushy"? I want my agent to be pushy!

I have no personal experience with Great Caribbean Getaways, but I believe they've not had a good review by some posters on a couple of VI forums. I don't recall the details, but I am always reminded because I mix them up with Carefree and I usually have to go back and check to see which one of them was badly reviewed, and it was GCG. I have, in the past, emailed them about the negative reviews to get their feedback, but they have not responded to me.

Viva is a managing agent to some of the villas on their site and they are only the rental agent to some others. Villas Caribe is a wholesaler, but a big one.

I have not visited any of the villas in your post.

 
Posted : July 19, 2006 6:05 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Bluwater,

Thanks so much. Have you ever had issues dealing with wholesalers? Do you know who VIllasCaribe uses on-island? Your experience is invaluable as this is the first time we will be renting a villa..on St. John or anywhere. We are experienced travelers, but our kids are older (21,19,17) so we thought a villa would be more fun and cost effective than 2 hotel rooms. Again, thanks.

Leslie

 
Posted : July 19, 2006 7:53 pm
(@coden)
Posts: 112
Estimable Member
 

We are using Great Caribbean Getaways for our villa in Dec. and they have been nothing but nice and professional to me from the get go. I booked with Pam last March and I've called and e-mailed numerous times, about numerous different things, and I have always been treated very well from the renting of the villa, which was a very lengthy call because I had never done this before and I wanted to talk about the lay of the land so to speak and what would be best for us, etc., to getting our rental car reserved and the confirmation for that, to making the arrangements for them to pick us up at the ferry, etc.

I contacted many different rental agencies requesting info. on villas, and spoke to some agents via phone and some via e-mail...some were on island and some were off...they were all nice and answered all of my questions and I would go with any of them in the future. I would probably stick to the ones on island though. Just gives me a warm fuzzy.

Good luck in your rental and your time on STJ!!

 
Posted : July 19, 2006 8:27 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

lwbe,

I am guessing that Villas Caribe "VC" uses whomever is assigned to the particular villa you are considering, in each individual case. I do not know if VC has their own island manager. I suspect they partner up with the villa's own manager.

I know that a good number of the VC listed villas are managed by Nancy Anderson at McLaughlin Anderson. I also believe that Nancy only lists villas she represents on her own site. So, if you see a villa on th VC site, and you also see it on Nancy's site, that is Nancy's villa to manage. I wouldn't wory about any villa that is in her portfolio because she is so well regarded.

As for the other villas on the VC site, I do not know who manages them.....probably a few......maybe DSJ, maybe VIVA? I haven't done a stare and compare across the sites to see who really manages what.

I don't think it would be inappropriate for you to ask VC who manages each of the villas you are considering. Then you can see which agent will make the most of your vacation dollars for you, if that is something that matters to you.

Once you get the prices on an even playing field, the difference is in the details.....the greeter, the welcome package, car rental convenience (Nancy has your car waiting for you at your villa if you rent from her directly), a discount for repeat business, excursion coordination, etc..... You might feel uneasy about asking about these things, but it really is part of the normal course of doing business with villas.

Have a great time. Keep us posted on your progress.

Coden, so glad you have a good experience to report about Great Caribbean Getaways and all of the other agents. Would you share which villa you have selected?

 
Posted : July 19, 2006 10:32 pm
(@coden)
Posts: 112
Estimable Member
 

Blu - We are booked into the Bay House. It has everything we need, a pool and an awesome view and was within walking distant to restaurants and bars. Which is important to us as our son is 23 and won't be able to be a driver of our jeep since the rental age is 25. This way he and his friend can walk down and grab a beer if they want to and then they don't have to be tied to our hips. They'll feel like they have some freedom. Our son lives away from home while at college and it is horrible all of a sudden to be tied to the apron string again. Know what I mean! LOL

Before choosing our rental we looked at all of the different locations and in the long run, for our 1st stay on the island (we've been twice before on day sails) we felt that this was the best area for us. Maybe the next time when our son can help drive the car we can stay elsewhere.

We day dream of lazy mornings by the pool and then heading to the hiking trails and beaches...woo-hoo!!!!

 
Posted : July 20, 2006 6:37 am
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Adding a few more villas to the list..any opinions or information? Mayan Sky, Sea Blossom, SUndancer,Lost Horizon, STarlit Escape, Sunrise or Brisa Del mar.

Also, I'm told that though A Day Dream is rented through VIVA, it is managed by its owners, on-island. Has anyone ever had that situation and how did it work out. VIVA informed me that the owner would meet us etc., not their reps. Also, the price seems to be substantially less through the owner listed sites than through VIVA...like between $800-$1300 less. Would you risk going through the owner directly?

Again, thanks so much for the help.

 
Posted : July 20, 2006 11:04 am
 Jen
(@jen)
Posts: 36
Eminent Member
 

Iwbe,

We stayed at Sunrise through Great Caribbean Getaways in January of this year (just 2 of us). The views from the villa are stunning from the Calabash Boom area - the pictures on the website don't do it justice. I have stayed on Hart Bay before, and love the Coral Bay/Calabash Boom views so much more. The downside is that the road up to the villa to be able to get that view is not for the faint of heart - it is not paved and the dropoffs seem very steep! My husband was fine with it (he was the driver), but I feared for our lives each time we went up and down that hill. It was definitely worth it, though, to get that view, but it did limit the number of times we went to and from the villa in a day.

The villa has 2 bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs with the kitchen and living area. There is a third bedroom/bathroom/small kitchen accessible outside downstairs. Since there were only 2 of us, the downstairs area was locked and we didn't go in. The washer and dryer are also downstairs in a covered/lattice enclosed area - both worked great for washing beach towels mid-week. There is a hot tub outside that was wonderful - perfect for watching the glow of the sunset and the moonrise in the evening. We wondered ahead of time if we would miss the pool, but the villa is high enough that it would have been too chilly to enjoy, especially in the evenings. The villa doesn't have a/c, but it's not necessary because of the altitude and the breezes - we were never hot in the villa while we were there.

Our only complaint about the villa itself was the lack of ability to cook while we were there. There are a number of great restaurants on St. John that we enjoy, but we like to stay home and cook for ourselves a few nights during the week. There is a grill outside, but it would not get hot enough to cook anything. The oven and stove are both gas and the smell of gas was so overpowering when we used it one night, that we didn't want to use it again and just ate out the rest of the week. We didn't report either problem to Great Caribbean Getaways, though - it was easier and more relaxing for us to just roll with it and eat out that complain or be upset about it.

One of the people from Great Caribbean Getaways met us at the ferry dock when we arrived, took us to the jeep rental office, and led us to the villa. He was very nice and we didn't have any more contact with GCG after that. Our only issue with the agency was that on our last morning, the maid service showed up an hour before we were supposed to be out of the villa and rushed us out because the next guests were arriving early that day. Again, we didn't say anything to GCG, so I don't know what there response would have been, but when you're trying to soak up your last sunrise and morning in the villa, that didn't leave us with the best impression of the agency. Not sure if it was really GCG's fault, though.

 
Posted : July 20, 2006 11:48 am
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Blu,

Moving this up a bit..any ideas?

Adding a few more villas to the list..any opinions or information? Mayan Sky, Sea Blossom, SUndancer,Lost Horizon, STarlit Escape, Sunrise or Brisa Del mar.

Also, I'm told that though A Day Dream is rented through VIVA, it is managed by its owners, on-island. Has anyone ever had that situation and how did it work out. VIVA informed me that the owner would meet us etc., not their reps. Also, the price seems to be substantially less through the owner listed sites than through VIVA...like between $800-$1300 less. Would you risk going through the owner directly?

Again, thanks so much for the help.

 
Posted : July 20, 2006 7:47 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

hi lwbe,

I haven't stayed at any of these and don't recall dealing with anyone who has. I wouldn't mind looking them up for you and giving my opinion of what I see and read, but I've got some kind of fever and sore throat thing going on and I've recently indulged in my favorite cure - NyQuil....so my mind is less than sharp right now. I promise to check these out tomorrow if I'm feeling more competent.

I can say that I would, in fact, go through the owner directly and have achieved some of the best discounts by going that route. I do find it interesting that the owner is offering it on a site (is that FRBO?) for so much less than VIVA. Always, in my rentals that went directly through owners, the deal was done behind the scenes. I am surprised that this owner is advertising for so much less.

When I get the deals via the owners directly, I keep the deal confidential so that I am not hurting his/her business from others who may not need or shop for deals. I am surprised that this owner is openly advertising his great deal.

 
Posted : July 20, 2006 9:04 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Thanks..and I hope you feel better. Summer colds stink.

 
Posted : July 20, 2006 10:15 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Blu,

Hope you're feeling better. If you could lend any insight to the villas I listed when you're feeling better it would be much appreciated. I'm totally confused. Can't decide it it's better to be in Carolina/Coral Bay area:-A Day Dream, Mayan Sky; Calabash Boom/Coral Bay: -Palladio's View; Point Rendezvous:-Sea Blossom,Lost Horizon; Fish Bay:-Sundancer or Gifft Hill:-Hummingbird Hill. All have sufficient beds for us, pools, and views of varying degrees. For a first time villa renter I don't know if I should focus on one area versus another, or if anywhere will be fine. Prices are relatively comparable...given the amenities in the villas.

thanks,
leslie

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 3:34 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

hi lwbe,

I am looking at these villas and the choices are, indeed, tough.

Please tell us about your group. Who are you traveling with? If children, what ages? What are everyone's favorite things to do while away? That will help with recommendations that suit your group.

I really can't make recommendations on the areas. I go with the Cruz Bay area because of the ease of nights out, taxis back to the villa after a night of drinking ;), convenience, etc.

I know that Papabou has experience with the other areas, as do some of the other posters here.

Papabou and others, any suggestions on the area: Fish Bay, Coral Bay, Hummingbird Hill, Rendezvous?

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 5:00 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Hi!

We are a family of 5 and my kids are 2 boys, 21,19 and my daughter 17. This is the "if we don't go away we never spend any time together" trip...If you have college kids who disappear with their friends the minute they get home youknow what i mean! So, though I would have preferred to stay near Cruz Bay so the kids could go out at night and taxi back, my indecision (we've been working on this since march) has eliminated most of the villas in our price range for the Christmas holiday. We are going from 12/22-12/29 and all the villas I've listed have availability for those dates and will rent for 7 nights.

My kids are sleepers, especially the boys, so I want a villa that my husband, daughter and I will be comfortable hanging out in the the mornings just having coffee, reading and chilling on the deck. Once the boys join the land of the living I foresee many beach days for snorkeling and diving. We'll definitely hike as well...we like active stuff. We will probably use the kitchens for breakfast and to make take-along lunches for the beach. I doubt we'll cook dinner in, since this is my vacation too(!) and we like to eat out. CLearly, if we were close enough to Cruz Bay for the kids to taxi home we'd assume they'd hit the bars in the evenings, but maybe we'll just chill on the deck with some drinks and some music.

I hope this helps give you some flavor of our family. We don't need luxury, but we also don't want dated or falling apart. Cleanliness is most important as to the interiors, plus enough room for what is basically 5 adults.

I totally appreciate the help of you and the other denizens of this board. I know I'll be able to make a decision soon.

Leslie

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 5:22 pm
(@papabou)
Posts: 159
Estimable Member
 

iwbe,

the bride & i and those who have traveled with us like the higher elevations on the west end of stj; as chrisn headlined on her recent travel posts, "it's all about the view". while i have never stayed at hummingbird we have stayed on upper gifft hill twice and about 600 ft up once. the sunsets, the cruise ships leaving stt, and the lighting of stt are absolutely fantastic. a truly moving experience for me. hummingbird is on my watch list, we have driven by her gated entrance numerous times, i visit her website everytime we start planning a trip since she meets our family's needs, including a bunk area for the grandkids. only 2 negs from my propspective are: queen in master and bride likes her space (from me) - must have king or twins, and no ac in greatroom which should NOT be impt in late dec due to the great breezes on the hill.

that said, with two young adults and a senior female, you need to be closer to action for night trips. sunrises of coral bay wasted on late sleepers (but you and dad might enjoy the tranquility and the view), fish bay (as is gifft hill) drive into cruz bay is not easy after dark, but is paved. seems to me pt rendezvous is just short of fish bay but there is a villa by that name thats closer in overlooking hart bay but i don't believe she has our obligatory sunsets but the water views are quite soothing. that villa is off east chocolate hole rd and short easy drive to cruz bay and very close to westin (never been there in 5 trips to stj, but i do slow down for her speed breakers).

caribbean villas has a villa i also track that is close in with plenty of room and close to cruz bay, bluerock, shows availability not sure of how pricing fits your budget. not familar with coral bay night life but foods good at skinny legs (famous for guaranteed same day service), ship wreck, and the bistro behind crabbies. are any of cb villas available far enough down the hillside, drive home at night will not be a concern? if you're like the bride, when our kids (only 38 & 36) are at their own home, you don't question where and what? however if they are staying overnite with us (at home, family vacation or lake place), when they walk out the door the bride's question is always "what time will you be home?" she walks floor till they are back. ringing any bells?

enough of my rambling, no real answers today. oh well.

papabou

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 6:18 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

Thanks Leslie. That helps. I totally understand what you mean about organizing vacations so that you'll be able to spend time with college aged kids. I have one of those myself - rising sophomore, 19 - and I was surprised to see that he came home on his first break, dropped a dozen bags in the middle of the living room, gave hugs, and went out with his friends! Don't they miss us at all?

Ok, back to your vacation. You did, indeed, choose the most expensive time to visit. It is good to know that these villas offer availability on your dates. Now that you've shared that, we need to get you booked before the "lurkers" on this board snatch up your idea and book one of these.

I assume your daughter will have her own room, and your boys will share. In that case, the villas with the twin beds are appealing (my son would sleep on a floor before he would share a bed with anyone who isn't female, beautiful and in his age range). If your boys won't mind sharing the bed, let us know.
Villas:
Mayan Sky - I have always liked this villa. Never stayed there, but have admired the pics and the layout.
It has 3 kings and it says they are almost equal. That is a plus for Mayan. Each has its own bath. It has a decent sized pool and a pool deck that seem ample for grilling and hanging out. The living room furniture doesn't look so comfy. However, I am not sure if this is the furniture they have today. It just doesn't seem to invite a family to come and sit to talk and enjoy each other. But, you can do that on the pool deck anyway. The outside shower is a plus.

Day Dream - King master on upper level, twin beds on pool deck level, another king in a separate guest cottage. I would be tempted to putthe kids in the house and put you and hubby in the guest cottage - thinking that kids that age like to stay up late (all night!) and the cottage might afford you and hubby some privacy and sleep. I can't really tell how large the pool is. It looks larger than a plunge (dipping) pool, but not as large as some of the other pools. There is a spa, which you may enjoy using at that time of year. Living room is very inviting and comfy looking. I like this villa's furniture. Kitchen looks wonderful!

Palladio's View - Comfy Looking furniture. Do the two bedrooms in the main house share a bath? Seems so. There is a guest house, so I assume that has its own bath. The website says 2 baths, so there must only be one in the main house since I am assuming the guest house has its own. The site I found doesn't show pics of the guest rooms. It says there are extra long twin beds. I can't tell which bedroom they are in. The boys are likely to want the guest cottage, right (my son always wants the guest cottage) ? I wonder if that is where the twin beds are. The pool here appears to definitely be a dipping pool. I would seek a larger pool for a family with teens.

Sea Blossom - hmmmm, pics not doing anything for me - too much white? Pool seems nice. View leaves much to be desired. House seems to sit back and kind of low. Where's the view? I don't like this one from the pics. Maybe I would need to see it "live". I don't get the feeling of much character.

Lost Horizon - Oooooh! I hadn't seen this one before. I like it very much! It is more $ than the others. But, lots of character, design elements, mahogany, the view!! Lovely pool, 2 king beds, 2 twins. Very spacious looking and nice furnishings. Spa. I like this one!!!! From the website "This highly unusual three-bedroom/six-bath dream house features a unique blend of Far Eastern and Caribbean design, from its massive Early Ching Dynasty entrance doors (1650 AD) and authentic Japanese tile roof to its luscious fruit trees and 270 degree view of the Caribbean Sea." Leslie, this one has marble and stone floors, custom made furniture from Thailand, etc. These are the things that I like in a villa - something unique that I don't have at home - a touch of exotic and luxury. More from the website "The octagonal Great Room, with custom made teak and water hyacinth furniture, affords no fewer than five distinctly different views of the Caribbean Sea, the island and the endless horizon. The wet bar and entertainment area have a full stereo system. A glass-topped dining table seats ten, and the mahogany-topped breakfast bar connects the Great Room to a gourmet's fully-equipped marble and granite kitchen."
And, the master suite feature TWO marble bathrooms. Your own bath! Don't have that at home, do ya?

Sundancer - no king beds - only 2 queens and twins. Do you and hubby have a king at home? Do couples who share a a king each night want to have a king when away? I think I would. There is such a thing as too close for comfort. Very small plunge pool - again, I would seek a larger pool for a family with teens. Furniture seems downright sparse. This is an "island home" for sure. Kind of rustic, so I am not sure it would feel good it for your Christmas family vacation.

Hummingbird hill - again, no king beds. But, I do love the layout and the large pool. I only found one site with pics of the interior LR area, which seemed ok..not bad, not the comfiest (is that a word? surely not). This is a nice villa and I would consider this one, but when you stack it against some of the others, it doesn't rise to the top.

If I had to rank these villas for YOUR vacation:

1. Lost Horizon
2. Mayan Sky
3. Day Dream

Day Dream and Mayan Sky are neck in neck in my mind.

I would go with Lost Horizon for you.

BTW, I agree with papabou about being near Cruz Bay. My teen and the friends he has brought with him to STJ have always wanted to spend evenings in Cruz Bay. However, if that isn't possible for you on this trip, getting a house that affords them some "free" space seems to be the best alternative.

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 6:49 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Thanks everyone. If we can swing it financially , i too am partial to Lost Horizon. It's A GCG property and I'm just a little concerned about some of the comments I've read on this board. We don't have a king size bed at home, so that's not an issue for us, and one of the kids would have to use the futon at Mayan Sky because no way, no0 how will the boys ever share a bed again..at least with each other!! Son 2 is 6'3" and all legs that kick and flail all night. Pity the girl he ends up with! Anyway, my kids are used to sharing rooms on vacation so I doubt they would let their sister have a room to herself if it was a "better" room than the twin-bedded room. They'll probably switch around. When all the clothes needed are shorts and bathing suits it doesn't really matter what room they're in.

Now Blu, you seemed to like Hummingbird, but it didn't make your top 3...was it the bedding or the size of the pool? Given that most of the pools don't seem to be heated, do you think we'll use them a lot in December? I do like the layout however. The guest house is now the master and has a bathroom.

Any more opinions on location would be greatly appreciated. I think we'll bite the bullet and decide this weekend. Air is still available from NYC (though it too costs an arm and a leg at this time of year), but I want to be sure we'll be able to get a jeep on-island. Again, many thanks.

Leslie

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 8:38 pm
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

Leslie-

Hummingbord probably would have made my top 3 if I could have seen more of it in the pics. I am always skeptical when they show tons of pics of the exterior and none or just a couple of the interior. Given your point about Mayan and the need to use the futon, I would see if you can get more feedback on Hummingbird in hopes os easing any concerns about the interior. Have you searched the various forums for reports on Hummingbird?

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 8:46 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

Papabou,

Thanks for your insights..I too like the look of Hummingbird and feel like the house may be enough to keep them from needing to be out late at night. They don't mind hanging with us either, so we might hit a few bars with them after dinner (with a designated driver, of course!) and all head in. It's a week, they can live without going out every night. And i know exactly how your dear bride feels...when they're at school I never (well, almost never) think twice about what they're doing...but when they're home.......

I checked Bluerock and it looks available and definitely in our price range. The living room area doesn't look too inviting to me. But the pool and bedding situation, as well as the location, seems great. I'll pursue it. Thanks for the insight. I love the look of the west end houses, but maybe its too far out for our first villa trip..maybe not. I feel like I'm going around in circles. Pleasse tell me it gets easier!!!

Leslie

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 8:55 pm
 lwbe
(@lwbe)
Posts: 29
Trusted Member
 

I agree regarding the interior. I haven't been able to find much, but Janis from Villas Caribe assures me that it's in good shape, and if I remember your earlier post you said she's pretty on top of things. I was very worried about the use of the word "charming"....always raises a red flag for me, but she assured me it was in good shape.

i haven't been able to find much about the villa on any of the forums...here, Virgin-Islands-On-lin or Tripadvisor. Only thing i found was that it's directly above/behind Villa Capiz and about 1/4 mile of f 104....does that mean something to you. Same review said it was only really 10 minutes from Cruz Bay. Another quick comment on Tripadvisor said it was geat and she loved the pool....locations good, price is good...I'm thinking it might be between this and Lost Horizon..and there is a pretty significant price difference. Decisions, decisions.....

 
Posted : July 21, 2006 9:32 pm
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