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

Casa Luna 07/16/2008
Reviewers Rating: Great
We rented Casa Luna through VIVA for the week of June 17-25, 2008. We had a large group of 11 and from our research, this house seemed to fit the bill in terms of sleeping space/arrangements and cost per family. I think the photos on the website were pretty accurate. We verified some information (like the size of the pool, whether the beds were true kings or twins pushed together, etc.) before we went, and there were no big surprises. Sometimes you have to worry about what might be just out of the frame of the photo, or what kind of noise there might be (e.g., construction) but all of that checked out fine. We did get serenaded by braying donkeys one night and one morning. It was pretty startling and funny. The best things about the house were the amazing views to the BVI’s and Coral Bay, and the spaciousness. The mid-week maid service was nice too!

Corinne from VIVA Vacations met us in town (Cruz Bay) and led us out to the property. She gave us a thorough orientation of the house and was very helpful.
It’s very easy to get to from the main road into Coral Bay. That statement is relative depending on if you’ve been to St. John before and what kind of rentals you may have had before. There were several switchbacks, but it was all paved and easy to navigate. If you’ve never been in a place like this, it might be intimidating, but all you have to do is try to imagine construction vehicles going up and down these roads and you’ll realize what a piece of cake it is for you!

The house was a little unusual in that the stairs from one level to the next were all outside, with one side having stairs to all levels and the other side having stairs only from the pool to the first level. After a day at the beach, sometimes we would jump in the pool or hot tub, since it was right next to the driveway area. But oftentimes, the kids would hit the pool and the adults would head upstairs to unwind, shower and have a cocktail or three. In other homes we have rented here in the past, the pool area was on the same level of the house as the main living and kitchen areas, so we would spend time in the pool well into the night. At Casa Luna, the pool was pretty inconvenient for that, since we all tended to gather on the uppermost (3rd) level, where the main kitchen and the best porch area are, and the pool was two levels down. The three boys in our group (ages 9, 11 and 12) got the most use out of the pool and hot tub.

Next to the pool deck and hot tub was a bar area built in under the house (“the Gecko Bar”). It seemed cute on the website and we thought we would get a lot of use out of it but didn’t. It actually became a bit of a joke – how bad business was at the Gecko Bar. Maybe if it had a small refrigerator, we might have used it a bit more. In that same bar area, adjacent to the pool deck and carport, there are cabinets which store pool toys for guests to use. The pool toys were kind of sparse, but we brought a few of our own inflatables, which we left behind for others to use after we left. The carport parking area is built in under the 1st floor with an outdoor shower for rinsing off. That was helpful at the end of the day before dragging sand into the house or the pool/hot tub. There was also space for two additional cars in the driveway. There were some Styrofoam coolers available to use, but we had our own collapsible cooler and never touched the Styrofoam ones.

The 2nd level of the house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, a kitchen area and a screened in porch. We never used that lower screened in porch area. The views from the upper deck always won out with regard to where we should hang out. There wasn’t much of a view from that lower screened porch. At times, someone or other would hang out in that lower living area, if they wanted a little quiet time, but most of the social activity was on the uppermost floor.

There are two bedrooms (both with A/C) and two bathrooms on this floor. One of the bedrooms has an “en suite” bathroom, and the other one has their bathroom just outside the bedroom door. The “en suite” bathroom also houses the washer and dryer. It wasn’t super convenient and could have been a privacy issue for the person/people using that bedroom. But the person in our group that had that room didn’t mind at all, so we could go in and out of there almost any time. Too bad we couldn’t convince him to do our laundry.

The upstairs level (3rd level) has decking that goes all the way around the house. Our 9-12 year old boys loved playing tag and running laps around that deck. This level has three bedrooms (all with A/C) and two bathrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen. The porch is well furnished and has amazing views. This is the level where the bulk of the group did the bulk of our hanging out. There are sliding doors/screens on opposite ends of the main living/dining area, which was great for almost constant breezes. However, be mindful of the breezes because one day, there was a nice gust that toppled over a couple of wine glasses (which broke) and one of those landed on a plate (which broke). The kitchen had plenty of cookware and a cabinet FULL of herbs and spices. So check there before you buy anything. You probably won’t need to. They seemed a little short on glasses, but we survived.

One day, a little tropical wave came through and it wasn’t a true beach day. It was cloudy with a lot of passing showers – more than normal. By evening, the storm had whipped up quite a bit. Lots of thunder, lightning and rain. We had to keep the sliders closed due to the rain blowing in. Then the power went out. On the day we arrived, Corinne from VIVA had shown us where there were flashlights in every bedroom and the living rooms, as well as many candles and plenty of matches available. However, when it came time to put these to use, we found that several of the flashlights had dead batteries, and many of the candles had useless wicks (burned down into the wax) or were non existent. So hopefully those items have been replenished. The amazing thing was that the power was back on within an hour and a half! Where we live in a suburb of a major metropolitan area, it would have been 6-12 hours!! Way to go, St. John!

Overall, this villa worked for what we needed in order to please the whole group. VIVA Vacations did a great job working with us throughout our year of planning and there were no big surprises.

Dale and Greg

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