Reviewers Rating: Great
THE COTTAGE NEAR FRANCIS BAY – On previous trips we had stayed at luxurious villas, such as Cloud Nine and Villa Serenity (See our previous reviews). This trip we made the tradeoff to stay longer on St. John vs. some of the luxury we had previously enjoyed. From our previous stays at Villa Serenity, we were aware of two neighboring houses, which are also rented by Terry Witham. The Cottage is not described on any website, but through e-mails with Terry we decided that it was exactly what we were looking for – it offers proximity to Francis Bay, it offers seclusion, and it provided the essentials, but no more, at a rate that would allow us to plan a multi-week stay.
The first advantage of The Cottage is its proximity to the Francis Beach. On our first three visits to St. John, we had stayed Cloud Nine on Gifft Hill, overlooking Cruz Bay. This is a nice location for first-timers, since it is close to town, centrally located, and provides a great view of St. Thomas. However, whenever we wanted to go to the beach, we always had a 20 minute jeep ride. Prior to our fourth visit we discovered Villa Serenity, which is located at Mary Point, at the end of the North Shore Road, and is about a 5 minute/ ¼ mile walk to the beach at Francis Bay. We often walked to Francis Bay at 8:00 am and would be the only ones there for an hour or two. Villa Serenity is also about a 1 mile walk to the Annaberg Ruins and about a 1 1/2 mi walk to Waterlemon Cay, another great snorkeling spot.
However Villa Serenity is a four bedroom house, and much more than the two of us needed. The Cottage is located in the same cluster of three houses as Villa Serenity on a little driveway above the road to Francis Bay. However, because of the vegetation, you can not see either the road nor the other houses from The Cottage. (The nearest houses you can see looking eastward are on Tortola, BVI.) (Since no one can see you, the only things you need wear on the deck at The Cottage are a smile, suntan lotion, and a hat (unless you're bald its really tough to rub suntan lotion onto your scalp!)
The Cottage itself is about 20 ft by 20 ft, and of exposed beam wood frame construction. With the exception of the bathroom, it is one big room. The kitchen area includes all of the essentials we needed to prepare our meals – a full size refrigerator, a microwave, a two-burner hotplate, toaster, blender, coffeepot, and a full set of utensils. It currently has a small deck and an outdoor shower. The east wall, facing Tortola, has three huge windows, and every morning we were awakened by the sun rising (at approximately 6:00 am) over Tortola. This is a great way to start each day. There is no TV, but it does have a nice CD/radio. Furnishings are a bed, an eating table and a couple of chairs. Its not luxury by any means, but we think it is much better than staying at Harmony Studios in Maho Bay Campground! Originally, we were supposed to vacate The Cottage on 2 May and move to Harmony Studios, as remodeling of The Cottage was scheduled for 3 May. Fortunately for us, the scheduled renovations were on “Island Time,” so we were able to extend our stay there until 8 May. Actually, the only
significant remodeling we would recommend for The Cottage is the addition of a large deck on the North side to take advantage of the great views from that location. We are not sure how extensive the remodeling will be, nor when the remodeling will be finished, but we sure are looking forward to returning to The Cottage.
We rented The Cottage from Terry Witham. We found renting from Terry (who lives on St. John) to be a big advantage over renting from a realty company. Furthermore, Terry must know every resident of St. John, so if you have any questions about snorkeling, or beaches, or what boats to rent, Terry either knows or can find out.
The Cottage or Villa Serenity - Terry Witham - (340) 777-6867
Sandy & Dave
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