Reviewers Rating: Excellent
Villa Bijou – 2/20/09-2/27/09
This is our 3rd trip to St John and the 3rd different villa we’ve stayed in. We were traveling as a family of four - my husband, me and our 2 kids (ages 2 & 5). In general, the villa, pool, and surroundings are all excellent. Villa Bijou is an older villa that used to have a different name (which escapes me) and was gutted completely in 2007 and refinished in its entirety. The furnishings all appear to be new and are in great condition.
Layout: You enter the villa on the upper level from a parking area that could easily accommodate 3 or 4 cars (in tandem). The entry of the villa is flanked on either side by equal sized bedrooms. Straight ahead of you is the great room (kitchen, dining, living) with massive sliding doors that open to a view of Great Cruz Bay. There is a deck off the kitchen with a grill and table. Exterior stairs lead to the lower/pool level. The pool and deck are both quite large and there is a gazebo. There’s also a 3rd bedroom/bath on this level that can only be accessed by the exterior stairway.
Bedrooms: All three bedrooms are nearly identical in size. While they aren’t massive, they certainly are more than roomy enough. All are air conditioned, have king size beds, and their own en suite bathrooms with large stone shower areas. The beds were comfortable and the a/c cooled each room nicely within about 10 minutes of being turned on. None of the bedrooms have ocean views – the two upstairs look at the driveway area and the lower one overlooks the pool. The layout of the bedrooms might not be desirable for couples looking for a lot of privacy since the two on the main floor are directly across the hall from one another. However, it was a great setup with our kids as they shared the room across from us and we left the downstairs bedroom unused.
Kitchen: We cooked all our breakfasts at the villa and about ½ our dinners. The kitchen was very well equipped and all the appliances functioned properly. There is a nice Weber gas grill right outside which also worked perfectly and had a nice full propane tank. Our only challenge was that we left the large sliding doors open all day (and night) so we had to be extremely careful about leaving food out. We didn’t have any bugs or ants that tracked us down, but we did have a pesky bird or two that made off with a banana and hacked into our bread inside the bag.
Living Area: We frankly didn’t spend much time here. Not because it wasn’t nice, but just that we preferred to be outside. There is a TV (which we never tested) and DVD player along with a selection of games, books, etc. The furniture was comfortable and clean.
Pool: The pool area is a highlight of this villa. The deck is very large. There’s a covered gazebo complete with a fan (great for keeping the bugs at bay – even at dusk), a wet bar, and another dining table off to the side of the pool area. There were several lounge chairs that were in excellent shape. The pool itself is also very large. The shallow end was 5’ and the deep end was 9’. There is a ledge about 2’ deep that runs the length of the pool on one side. The pool is heated, although it was a little on the chillier side during our stay. The pool deck has a combination of sun and shade at nearly all hours of the day so just about everyone can get what they want. Because there’s some pretty mature landscaping around the pool, my husband had to be “pool boy” about twice a day but it wasn’t a problem. There is also a family of iguanas that live in the trees surrounding the pool deck. They ventured onto the deck – and into the pool (top step) – more than once, much to the chagrin of my 5 year old.
Location: The villa is located right on Great Cruz Bay Road. It is directly above Oceana (barely visible) and next to Blue Skies (somewhat visible from the gazebo). You can see, and hear, the road from the gazebo but it wasn’t disturbing. At the time we were there (Feb 2009) there wasn’t any significant construction that was close enough to bother us. On the other hand, we did have some very noisy neighbors at Blue Skies during our trip and weren’t able to enjoy the solitude of the evenings as we prefer to do. Blue Skies must have an outdoor sound system as their music (and their voices) were quite loud and felt very close. However, if you were looking for two villas together, it might be a great set up!
General: There were plenty of beach towels, beach chairs, extra linens, etc. The coolers for the beach weren’t in such great shape and could probably use upgrading at some point. We considered contributing to the cause, but couldn’t track down a good one on the island.
Vacation Vistas: We had a great experience with Lisa at Vacation Vistas. Honestly, we pretty much did the entire rental over email since I was working on the trip planning late at night my time – even later STJ time. She was very responsive. The website photos are accurate and don’t do the place justice.
The place was impeccably clean and there was a welcome plate of fruit, chocolate, cookies, wine, beer upon our arrival! We only had to contact her once during our trip. We didn’t have any water after a power outage that lasted for a couple of hours. Within 30 minutes of our first call, the maintenance guy (Steve – awesome guy!) was there and had it all fixed.
I would definitely stay at the house again and use Vacation Vistas again. Our only complaint was the noisy neighbors – which is just luck of the draw I suppose! If we could pick this villa up and drop it in a slightly less congested area, it would be our ideal spot.
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