Reviewers Rating: Excellent
For the last week of February 2007, we rented Splendore from Lisa at Vacation Vistas. A little background so you can take (or leave!) my opinions with a grain of salt -
1. This was our 6th trip to St. John, third time in a private rental. Prior rentals were on the North Shore. Pre-villa trips were to Caneel.
2. Two adult couples. Grandma and boyfriend in their 50s, mom (me) and dad in mid-30s, toddler son on his second trip to St. John.
3. We (mom/dad/toddler) eat out most meals. Grandma and friend cooked in all meals.
4. We have visited a number of different Caribbean islands as well as Florida, the Outerbanks, and several New England destinations. To put it mildly, we like the beach. I am not bragging, just letting the forum know that this is not our first house rental and we have experience in other markets.
Overall, we were very pleased with the villa.
It is located in the Maria Bluff area of Chocolate Hole, just past the Westin. Paved roads all the way to town and not a roaster to be seen or heard! (Not that I have anything against birds but the North Shore roasters like everyone to start their day at 3 am.) The neighborhood seemed to be a mix of year-round and vacation home uses. We saw lots of walkers each morning. We could do a nice 45 minute loop in either direction. The views from the house are very open, mostly water with St. Thomas off to the right.
The water side of the house can be as open to the water/outside as you would like it to be. The living area has large glass and screen sliders, the kind that disappear into the walls. Both bedrooms have sliders (both glass and screens) flanked by crank out windows. As a result, you have excellent views of the water from the KING beds. The king beds were a pleasant feature of the house as I noticed many rentals have queens.
Each bedroom had a full bath with double sinks and lovely garden showers. The showers had plantings around the tiled shower area and screening around the top to let in breezes. These are not open showers; the sides are walls just like the rest of the house. Privacy is not an issue.
In our opinion, both bedrooms are equal. The bedroom to the right (facing the water) had a private balcony with table and chairs. The left bedroom opened to the pool deck. Both have ample storage areas for both clothing and luggage. There is a large half-bath off the entry area.
There is a third room on the second floor, which is access via a spiral staircase, furnished with a pull-out sofa. It is a lovely area that appears to be used as a study by the owners. It would be a good sleeping area for an older child or teenage.
Speaking of the owners, it is obvious they love this home. We have rented at least 15 villas/vacation homes (not all on STJ) and Splendore ranks at the top in terms of cleanliness and maintenance.
The furniture and soft fixtures (sheets, towels, etc.) were of good quality and in good condition.
The kitchen was large and well-equipment with a 5 burner flat surface cook top, double-oven including convection and microwave, and dishwasher. Appliances were GE Profile and appeared to be just a few years old. The quality of the dish and cookware was what I expected in this price range.
The house was well-stocked with trash bags, detergent, and paper products. There is a panty closet in the kitchen, which is a feature I really liked as it was great for storing water and beverages out of the way. The washer and dryer were newer and worked well. The laundry area is looked off of the kitchen, in the pass-through to the bedroom.
The layout of the house makes it nice for two couples as the bedrooms are removed from each other and private.
The outside patio has table seating for six, lounge chairs for four, and a Weber gas grill that appears to be nearly brand new.
The pool gets lots of sun; the water was quite warm for our entire stay. We were charmed by the waterfall feature. The hot tub was broken for six of our seven-night stay. It was repaired by the last night and was very warm.
The lot and exterior were well-maintained. Lovely plantings along the driveway and entry area.
The house exceeded our expectations. We wanted for nothing (besides a working hot tub but I understand things breakdown, even in paradise!) during the week.
Some of the “little” things that appealed to me:
1. Ample storage in bedrooms and kitchen. It was nice to be able to settle in and not be tripping over baggage, cases of water, beach gear, etc. The half-bath served as our snorkel gear storage area.
2. A first floor laundry area. Traveling with a toddler resulted in a need to do more laundry than usual. Having a laundry area right off the kitchen was so convenient.
3. One floor layout. Good for keeping an eye on an active toddler.
4. Large kitchen. Four adults could prepare their own breakfasts without too much trouble.
5. King beds, as previously mentioned.
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