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virgin islands on line : St. John : hotel & villa reviews

Villa Catalina 07/22/2007
Reviewers Rating: Good
Villa Catalina: 7/14/07-7/21/07

We rented Villa Catalina directly from its owners Claudia and Javier Cividini. They were easy to deal with, very good at communication, fast responses to inquiries and helpful. They employ an on island property manager, Myrtle Penn who was great... and as it turns out we needed her. In general I rate the villa as good. It is located in Chocolate Hole with very nice south facing views. We were two couples and a 19 year old. The lay out of the villa was Ok for our group although it began to feel a little small as the week went by. Catalina is on two levels. The main floor is at the top of a steep driveway. I heard it described as "nearly vertical". I wouldn't go so far, but it was steep with a sharp left a the top. During the week numerous large trucks came up the driveway so I never felt it was difficult to navigate. There is ample parking at the top of the driveway, at least when there isn't a large load of rocks delivered for the construction of a wall around the pool. The main floor has one large great room, combination living and dinning and a smallish, but well stocked open kitchen. I've read that the Villa was built in 2002 for rental only and it shows the wear and tear. The living room and dining room furniture is very worn, couches with cushions that have some tears, not very comfortable, pieces broken off of the dining room chairs. Seating is tight in the LR, five barely fit on the couch and love seat combo. The deck furniture is similarly worn, a number of the chairs were broken, or about to go.

To the left of the main room is the master bedroom. Both main floor bedrooms are equally sized and very large with king sized beds, very nice Ralph Lauren towels and liens. Plenty of good quality beach towels were also provided and there were extra bath towels in the closets. The A/C in the bedroom worked very well as did the ceiling fans. The only difference between the two main bedrooms is the master has the bath in the room and the other is just outside the door. Both bedrooms open up on to the covered porch which runs the length of the south side of the house. The second bedroom on the first floor overlooks the pool deck which is on the west side of the house. The pool is on the small side, but perfectly fine for lounging and cooling off.

The villa layout makes privacy and issue. The covered porch is a great congregating area but it's directly outside the windows of the mater bedroom which are covered only by sheer curtains. The same holds true for the second bedroom over looking the pool deck.

The lower level looks like it was conceived as an owners apartment. It is completely separate from the main floor and accessed only by an exterior stone stair case which runs along side the house and has direct access to the lower driveway. It's a little exposed and I had some trepidation about letting the 19 year sleep down there. The lower level is a very large bedroom set up with two twins and a large bath. A/C and a porch, with a view of only the foliage which surrounds the villa.

The lower level also contains a work out room with some rudimentary equipment. If you re seriously into working out, its not much, a walk in the hills would serve you better, but there was a weight bench and a good assortment of hand weights, and a mat for ab work.

The utility room is on this level as well. Its really just an unfinished space housing the pumps and water tanks with a washer/dryer squeezed into one corner. Its very dark in there and a little creepy. I would have liked to see the washer dryer in a more accessible location.

We had a couple of issues with the house and the manager was accessible and made an effort to remedy them. Some issues were small, the toaster didn't work, the DVD cables were broken, the beach chairs were in bad condition with only three that were usable and there was only one very small cooler. A new toaster was delivered the next day, we found a usable beach chair under the house and cleaned it up, but replacements were not provided, an attempt was made to get cables for the DVD, but not available on St. John. No cooler ever arrived.

Some larger issues, the pool has a leak which were told about so the water level dropped daily. We were instructed to refill and on day two we woke to no water. One call fixed it and it turned out to be a pump issue rather than lack of water.

The day after the rock was delivered the workers arrived to construct the wall. Four guys on the pool deck all day. Needless to say not too happy. The manager came by to check on the water situation and agreed to put a stop to the work while we were here. Other than the on site construction activity, the surrounding activity was not bad. A lot of houses are going up, but it's mostly hammering going on, nothing too extensive.

On balance I would recommend this villa with certain caveats. Its on the lower end of the price point, but given the condition of the house I wouldn't characterize it as a bargain. It has good access to town, nice views, cooling breezes, but feels a bit small. I would recommend it for a family unit with maybe older kids (the lower bedroom would not work for little ones) rather than two couples traveling together.

Fran





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