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

Kalorama 04/18/2009
Reviewers Rating: Excellent
My wife and I recently stayed at Villa Kalorama on the island of St. John for the first two weeks in December, 2008. This was our first visit to the island and it was one of the best vacations of our lives. It was made more perfect by the accommodations at Villa Kalorama.

Picking a Villa for your vacation on St. John can be a difficult task; everyone has different expectations when they rent a vacation home. My goal is to give you a detailed review of Kalorama to help you decide if this house is right for your vacation plans. I am not associated with Kalorama in any way. I am just a detail- orientated traveler that wanted to share my thoughts about this beautiful home and the time we enjoyed there.

We wanted to stay in a modern, contemporary style home in the Caribbean islands for a couple of weeks, so I started searching for a house on the Internet. I looked at hundreds of villas on line and that is how I found Kalorama. If you have been searching for modern contemporary style villas on St. John, then you already know that there are not many choices.

My wife and I pay a lot of attention to detail; it is very important to us and Kalorama is all about attention to detail. Both inside and outside, Kalorama looks like something that stepped off the pages of Architectural Digest; the house is like a piece of art. I would categorize Kalorama as having very clean lines.

There are a couple of web sites that rent Kalorama; one has great pictures of the house and the other has a great video of the house. I listed both web sites at the end of this post. Even after you look at pictures and a video, it is still nice to read a first hand account from someone that has recently stayed there. I can tell you that Kalorama is even nicer than the pictures and video represent.

Here are the highlights of Kalorama:

The House is brand new (about 1 year old) - The house and its furnishings are in pristine condition inside and out. Nothing is broken, scratched, dirty or damaged. It looks and feels like you walked into a brand new model home. All the furniture and decorations in the house are new and well coordinated with each other.

The View – Kalorama means beautiful view--that name is completely appropriate for this house. This is not some partial view of the ocean with trees or other homes in the way. This house has a wide, completely unobstructed view of the ocean and the island of St. Thomas (and other islands) from the great room, outside decks/pool area and every bedroom in the house except the kid’s bedroom. Kalorama faces west so the sunsets are spectacular and at night you can see all the lights from St. Thomas and the surrounding islands.

Privacy – The house and outside decks are completely private from other homes being able to see you. Clothing optional sunbathing would be no problem. There are only 3 other homes on this street. There was virtually no traffic going by the house and there was no road noise at all.

Great Location – We had never been to St. John before so we did not know the layout of the island as it relates to the location of Kalorama. Kalorama is in Virgin Grand Estates which is a small group of multi-million dollar homes overlooking Greater Cruz Bay. It is 6 minutes from the Westin, (great water sports and boat excursions) 8 minutes to the grocery market, 11 minutes to downtown Cruz Bay. I thought it was very convenient to get to Cruz Bay and I was happy to drive 11 minutes for total privacy and the view that Kalorama affords.

Great Room - The best feature of this house is the great room. The room is 60’ long and over 20’ wide. Two of the walls in the great room are 10’ tall Fleetwood sliding window walls. The walls are all glass and they roll completely out of the way on large tracks. The end result is that the great room is completely open on two sides to the large patio and outdoor living area. When they are rolled away, it is like being in a large room with no walls. With the large doric columns reaching up from the deck, this room reminds me of being in a beautiful hotel lobby.

Kitchen - This is truly a gourmet kitchen, set up similar to a professional restaurant layout. Almost every villa I looked at indicated that it had a gourmet kitchen--what does that mean? In the case of Kalorama it means having all the normal cooking utensils and specialty kitchen accessories that a chef would utilize to prepare a gourmet meal. From food processors to pizza stones to 4 sizes of melon ballers, this kitchen has it all, including two different styles of place settings. We had a private chef (Ted Robinson) come to the villa several times and he thought Kalorma had one of the best equipped kitchens of any villa he has cooked in.

Stereo System – The 5 speaker surround sound stereo system in this house with an Ipod docking station is fantastic. You can hear the music clearly (and very loud) throughout the entire house and on the outside deck/pool area. I read a review about this house on one of the villa rental web sites listed below, which said they gave the stereo the full Bon Jovi test; they were not kidding.

Lighting and Fans – The house has very bright halogen lighting in almost every light fixture in every room. Most of the lights (and there are a lot of them, about 45 in the great room/kitchen alone) have light switches that allow you to adjust the brightness of each set of lights. You can control the brightness of the lighting in the entire house to create a wide variety of moods depending on the evening’s events. There are 11 or 12 ceiling fans in the house, including two outside under the covered area next to the pool, which are very nice.

4 Master Suites - There are 4 very large master suites, each with their own private bathrooms attached. There is also a 5th bedroom with 2 beds for children. The beds and pillows in the rooms are very high quality and are extremely comfortable. All 4 master bedrooms also have the same glass window walls that are in the great room. In the main house you can roll two glass walls open in each of the master suites. This is not like opening a 3 foot sliding glass door, this is rolling a 12 foot section of the glass wall away from floor to ceiling. All the window walls in the 4 bedrooms have a very elegant vertical blind system installed so you can close them off and have complete privacy. Every bedroom has a large flat panel LCD television with service from dish network. Each bedroom has a fantastic air conditioning system. This isn’t your typical built into the wall unit, it is a normal central air conditioning with LCD thermostat controls in each of the 5 bedrooms. The air conditioning can cool a room down to 70 degrees in about 10 minutes.

Bathroom Showers – All 4 showers attached to each master suite are outside showers. I was a little concerned about the showers being outside before I arrived since I was unfamiliar with this outdoor style; they turned out to be great. The showers are attached to each of the 4 bathrooms, again using another set of the giant sliding window walls. The showers are completely covered overhead, and they are all done in a beautiful contemporary tile layout from floor to ceiling.

5th bathroom – There is a very large 5th ˝ bathroom located off the great room. You access the bathroom from inside the house, but there is also a second door in the bathroom that leads to the outside dinning/pool deck area.

Size of the Rooms - It is often difficult to get a clear understanding of the size of the rooms from pictures on the Internet. Every bedroom, bathroom and living space including the laundry room is oversized; there is nothing small about Kalorma, the rooms are large. The ceilings in every room of this house are very high and much taller in the great room/kitchen area. These extremely tall ceilings make all the rooms seem very open. All the interior doors are 8’ tall architectural wood doors mounted on 4 hinges. Everything in this house was done on a grand scale.

Nice Outside Dining Area – There is an outdoor table with benches just outside the kitchen near the pool. Calling it a table and bench is an understatement; it is really a beautiful piece of contemporary furniture made from wood and steel. There is a large stainless steel gas BBQ built into an outdoor cooking area a few feet away. Beside the outside dining area is another one of the large sliding window walls, which opens above the sink counter in the kitchen, linking the two areas together.

Laundry Room – There is an extremely large laundry room with brand new front loading washer and dryer with a large sink and counter top area. You access the laundry room from inside the house, but it also has a second door that opens to the exterior of the house just off the main front entry courtyard. This is very convenient when you come back from the beach with all your wet cloths and towels and you don’t want to bring them into the house.

Pool – The pool is perfect; one of nicest features is the large 30’ bench that runs the entire length of the pool, about 18” underwater. You can sit on the bench submerged in the water and watch the ocean in front of you as you sip on your favorite cold beverage. The pool has a glass waterfall feature that circulates water into the pool, which looks cool; it also creates a great background sound of water falling throughout the house.

Two Large Decks – The house has a large lower deck that warps around the great room, outside dinning area and pool area. It also has a very large upper deck that can be accessed from inside the house or outside via a tile stairway from the lower deck. Both decks are made from beautiful travertine tile on the floor, and both are populated with a wide variety of lounge chairs and other comfortable seating

Tile Floor – The floor is covered with beautiful travertine tile. The tiles are laid very close together with almost no visible grout seems between the tiles. I personally prefer this look as compared to large terracotta type tiles with large grout seems that I saw in most other villas. This tile flooring is in every room of the house (except 2 bedrooms in the main house and the upstairs hallway, these are done in a beautiful wood flooring that matches the unique wooden stair case) and on every outside deck surface and the entry courtyard. This gives Kalorama a very clean look when the flooring is the same in the house and then continues out onto all the outside decks and pool area, especially when the window walls are open.

Safe – There is an easy to use fire proof safe in the house for your valuables, which is always nice when you are on vacation.

WiFi Internet Access – The house has hi speed WiFi internet access. This worked fine and connecting to the Kalorama network was automatic and easy.

Favorite Feature – Without a doubt my favorite feature is the giant window walls (great room, kitchen and every master bedroom) that roll away and make the house open to the outside area. The first thing we did every morning was open every window wall and door in the house and let the cool breezes flow though Kalorama.

This house was designed with entertaining in mind; you could host a dinner party or small wedding reception at Kalorama that would be very spectacular. We stayed at Kalorama by ourselves, but we talked about how fun it would be to get together with some of our friends and have a party at this house.

Private Chef - My last suggestion to make this a perfect vacation is to hire a private chef at least one night. It is very affordable, about the same price as going out for a nice dinner, desert and drinks. We hired Ted Robinson from Ted’s Supper Club for several meals. You can read about our experiences with Ted on other posts that I have made. He was fantastic and he made our stay at Kalorama even more enjoyable.

I hope I have provided you with a first-hand description of Kalorama to go along with the web site information, so you can decide if Kalorama is the right fit for you. As you can tell, we loved the place and we are looking forward to going back again.

If you have any questions about Kalorama, send me an email and I will be happy to respond.

Here are the two websites that rent Kalorama, one has great pictures and the other has a great video. I would recommend that you rent Kalorma from St. John Ultimate Villas. Kristen is the owner of the company and she is very professional and knowledgeable. St. John Ultimate Villas only represents a handful of high end homes and they provide very personalized service. They will reserve your rental car for you in advance. They pick you at the dock when you arrive and get you to the rental car company. They take you to Kalorama and show you how everything works. Kristen gives you her home phone number in case you have a concern after hours or on a weekend.

Hers is a site with a video showing Kalorama.

Here is a site that shows great pictures of Kalorama.

Here is the web site for the private chef, Ted’s Supper Club.

Bryan Cates

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