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virgin islands on line : st. john : hotel & villa reviews

Villa Wind Chime 01/01/2006
Reviewers Rating: Stars Excellent
I swore I would write a very detailed villa review for Wind Chime when we got back, because I couldn't find much info at all about it when planning our trip. Here it is!

Wind Chime was wonderful--what amazing views! It is located in a pretty secluded location on top of Gift Hill. Away from crowds, but only a 10-minute drive to Cruz Bay. We were there for Christmas with our family group of 7 from Dec. 22-30. We rented through Suite St. John, the same folks who manage Gallows Point, and I can't say enough good things about them. The house itself is exactly as pictured on the websites, with a couple of exceptions: there really is no sunset view at all, since the trees have grown too tall for you to see St. Thomas from even the hot tub deck. That said, the sunrise views are so spectacular, we didnít care about missing the sunset view. I did walk down to the end of the dirt road one night and saw the sunset and St. Thomas from there. Also, there is some construction going on just adjacent to the villa, on the hillside to the left of the house. They are building Bellevue Village, which is a nice-looking housing development. It looks like they are almost finished, so I would think by spring/summer it will be done. However, the "clothing optional" privacy advertised on the sites isn't really true anymore, since these houses have a good view of the decks of Wind Chime! They'd need binoculars to get a detailed view, though. Maybe since we were there over the holidays, the construction didnít bother us at all. They werenít working until the 27th or so (had the holidays off, I assume). They start at 7 AM sharp and I think they work until 5 PM or so. The only noises I could hear from the villa were the beeping noise the trucks made when they backed up, and some faint hammering. And we always slept with the windows closed and the AC turned on (nice to have!), so it didnít wake us up in the morning. I woke up on my own most days at around 6:30 anyway, which was great since the sunrises were SO incredibly beautiful.

We didnít swim in the (unheated) pool since the water was a bit too cold (colder than the ocean water!), and we went to beaches every day, so we didnít spend a lot of time outdoors on the decks during the daytime. We did use the hot tub on the roof of the master bedroom once or twice, although the jets were really weak.

The kitchen had everything we needed. We prepared many meals there, and had lots of storage room. Dishwasher, washer, and dryer all worked great, we never ran out of hot water, and there were tons of dishes, glasses, and pots and pans. The grill didnít work the first night we tried, and we realized it was out of propane. We called Suite St. John, and Tommy (very nice!), brought up a new tank at the time we requested. There is DSL/WiFi access which worked great, although we had to unplug the phone to use it. Not really a problem since we werenít expecting many calls, but it means that while you are using a laptop the answering machine wonít work. We spent a lot of time in the living area in the evenings, and our group of 7 had plenty of room. TV and stereo system were used a lot. I brought my iPod and adapter, and got it to work with the stereo with no problems. The lounge chair near the TV is THE comfiest chair. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and I saw lots of hummingbirds and bananaquits flying around. There is a lime tree on the side of the house near the shed. We picked limes and used them in our drinks, and they were delicious. Be careful, thoughóI never knew that lime trees have BIG thorns, and got stuck while trying to pick one! LOTS of lizards all around the villa, which are cute and sometimes get in the house, but my 10 year old son loved them. Plus, they eat the bugs. Speaking of which, some in our group were really bothered by mosquitos and no-see-ums (they slept in the twin bedded room), but I didnít get a single biteógo figure!

Bedrooms: the two bedrooms with gorgeous views are the master bedroom (separate building), and the twin-bedded room, both of which are on the ďviewĒ side of the house. The full-sized bedroom (and I do think itís a full, not queen as advertised on some of the sites) doesnít have a great viewójust the driveway and the foliage on the side of the house. The great room and dining area also have gorgeous views of the hills and sea in the distance, and the stars at night from the sundeck are just amazing. In the master bedroom, there is a ďgardenĒ shower. The bathroom has a door to the bedroom, and a door to the shower, and bewareómy husband got locked in the outdoor shower for about half an hour while the rest of us were in the main house, and we couldnít hear him yelling! Be sure the door to the shower is unlocked! The outdoor shower was kind of cool, but we found it hard to take showers after dark. Thereís a light, but itís really dim and it was hard to see. There was a hair dryer in the master bedroom and I think in the full-bedded room as well, so you donít need to bring one. The other two bedrooms have full baths, and there is also an outdoor shower with no walls by the pool, which was great for washing off sand when we got back from the beach and rinsing our snorkel gear. There was soap in the bathrooms, toilet paper, and lots of bath towels. In the house, there were packets of dishwashing powder, paper towels, and sponges.

There are 6 beach chairs, two coolers, and cooler packs in the freezer. We used them all. There is some snorkeling equipment, but itís not greatóbring your own if you want good stuff. There are also tons of beach towels.

Getting there: I have some words of advice on driving to the villa: take Centerline up from Cruz Bay, and make a right on 104 (Gift Hill Road) at Tony's Kitchen. Do NOT take the South Shore Rd. and turn left on 104 unless you really like roller coaster rides, and have a new rental car with really good tires! Our rental was NOT new (beat up Montero from Denzil Clyne, but it worked!). The switchbacks on Gift Hill Rd from South Shore are quite astounding, and a few times our wheels smoked (!) while trying to get up the hill. I think the Centerline route takes a tad longer, but it was worth it in my book since I was one of the designated drivers. Not nearly as steep, but watch the speed bumps near the St. John School (one is marked, the other isnít). Also, the little dirt path (it is one lane for sure) which takes you to the villa from Gift Hill Rd. is really bumpy, so go slow! This dirt road is shared with 2 other houses, so you may meet another car coming or going. Somebody has to back up if this happens (happened once to us during the week). Even though one of these houses was right next door, we couldnít see them at all from the Wind Chime due to the dense foliage, and we never heard them, either, except when one of their cars went in or out.

Overall, we thought Wind Chime was perfect, and I would highly recommend it. Great location, lovely house, and best of all the views are tremendous.

Amy





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