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Caribbean Villa Rental - which island??? please help

Caribbean Villa Rental - which island??? please help

Old Jul 13th, 2005, 07:54 PM
  #1  
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Caribbean Villa Rental - which island??? please help

would love a little insight from more experienced Caribbean travelers about a private villa rental. Here is a list of criteria:
** Would not like to be on an island that cruise ships visit.
** Would like nice beaches and snorkeling and the possibility to rent a boat for island hopping / snorkeling / fishing.
** Must be a newer or updated villa with pool and preferably beach access (would hope for something nicely appointed and not dated).
** Needn't be staffed although maid service would be nice. We don't mind cooking for ourselves - particularly if the kitchen is well equipped.
** Minimum of 3 bedrooms, with 2 having king sized beds.

The islands I have been focusing on are Tortola, and Virgin Gorda, however, the beach access issue is a sticking point and has made the search difficult. I am open to other islands although we have stayed in villas on St. John and Turks and Caicos and would prefer to try someplace new (also, personally I didn't find Turks and Caicos to be lush, tropical feeling or beautiful - a little too scrubby and flat for my tastes).

My sincere appreciation for any advice and in particular names of villas that might fit the bill. I have been scouring the various villa websites and have come close a couple of times to finding the right thing but no cigar.
thanks!!!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2005, 05:38 AM
  #2  
Sunnyboy
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You've given us a tall order because there are numerous islands that offer what you are seeking and on those islands there are literally thousands of villas. So to help narrow your choice you should first select your island as finding a villa on that island will be easy.

You mentioned Virgin Gorda as a possible destination and I think that is an excellent choice. It has great beaches, which for the most part, are virtually uncrowded. FYI - the Baths gets lots of day trippers but if you visit that area early in the day you can easily avoid the crowds. On the other beaches you are likely to be alone or one of only a handful of people on the beach. There is great off-beach snorkeling and you can rent boats but bear in mind if you are not experienced boaters you'll be limited to trips to near-by cays as islands such as Tortola, Jost Van Dyke are a bit of a trip and the waters between islands can get rough at times (you'll pretty much find this true no matter which island you visit).

As for chosing a villa, if you do a google seach with a topic such as "Villa Rental, Virgin Gorda" (or whatever island you choose) you'll finds listings for almost every villa available on the island. The listing are very detailed with lots of pictures and descriptions of the villas amenities as well as prices. Look at villas on Virgin Gorda's Mahoe Bay. They are all upscale, well maintained, either beachfront or beach access (no more than 2 or 3 minute walk), have great views of neighboring islands and the setting sun, there's a terrific snorkeling reef that spans the entire length of the bay starting about 150' off shore. As for spoecific villas, look at Beach Dreams, Beachcomber, Santori, Santori-II, and several others who's name escape me right now (google villas, Virgin Gorda, Mahoe Bay). You won't be disappointed.
 
Old Jul 15th, 2005, 12:35 PM
  #3  
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thanks Sunnyboy for your reply. I have been researching and thinking quite a lot about the trip. We will be travelling with two young children (from Boston) and so I am starting to think that BVI might add another component of hassle to our travels that might be best when the children are older. As such we are focusing on islands that easiest to get to and that leaves: St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and St. John. I took a non-stop flight to Turks and Caicos two years ago from Boston, but I just checked expedia and there apparently isn't a direct flight being offered anymore.

We are paying the way for my in-laws to join us on the trip as they will be the baby sitters when we want to snorkel or go out for dinner. As such the trip can easily get to be very pricey if the villa is expensive.

Since it is a celebration for my 40th birthday and since young children will be with us and we will be in the villa for extended periods of time I would like it to be high luxury, however, the places I like are well beyond our budget (which for the villa is $10K including tax).

I am concerned about cruise ship crowds and crime on St. Thomas, but it certainly seems to be the island where your dollar goes the furthest. Also it would be the easiest to fly to.

I wish my tastes weren't running so high-end... I am looking on the internet at places like Kismet in St. John and Bajacu in Turks and Caicos, Alang Aland Bay in Barbados -- makes you wish you were a movie star.

Anyway, am I missing any islands that should be under consideration for ease of travel and possibilities for a fabulous villa that would fall within the budget??

As mentioned decent beaches, not too crowded, and some water related activities would be nice, and primarily a REALLY nice place to stay.

Any advise is greatly appreciated.
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Old Jul 15th, 2005, 12:37 PM
  #4  
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Also, I have looked on the internet extensively for villa rental companies that focus on Puerto Rico, but am drawing a blank. Are villa rentals less common in Puerto Rico - if not can anyone recommend a website where I can peruse the listings for rentals? THANKS
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Old Jul 15th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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One more thought....
I just checked Delta's website (we have tons of miles that we could possibly use toward tickets to free up money for the villa). They have a non-stop flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

I hadn't thought of travelling to Jamaica as I have heard much about armed guards, safety issues, and not being able to leave your complex to explore. Is this perception true? or should I add Jamaica to my list of possible destinations give the ease of flights. Thanks.
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Old Jul 15th, 2005, 01:41 PM
  #6  
Sunnyboy
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The problem (which you are already finding out) is that most islands that are easy to get non-stop from a major US gateway city are pretty the same islands that are frequented by cruise ships and that means crowds. That's one of the major trade-offs in the caribbean - the smaller less crowded islands are the ones that are more difficult to get to. I'm not sure there is any way to get around that fact.

I agree with your assessment of St. Thomas, you'll find plenty of rental villas there but it is just too crowded for my tastes and many people are concerned with safety issues but I think it's a little over reactive. If you use common sence St. thomas can be a safe destination.

Puerto Rice is not known for it's rental villas - you'll have better luck on the neighboring island of Culebra but that entails the island hopping hasel you find objectional.

You might want to check out St. Martin as that island has lots of rental villas and can be reached non-stop from many east coast US locations (not sure if you can get there N/S from Boston).

There are lots of rental villas in the Dominican Republic and that island is also reachable non-stop from many US gateways (again not sure about Boston). Many are more reasonably priced than other areas of the Caribbean but hear again some people feel that the island is not as safe as others. You'd have to do your own research to figure out if you and your family would be comfortable there.

As far a pricing is concerned, there's hardly any of us who don't have the proverbial champagne taste and beer budget so don't feel too bad. You don't say when you are going but you can save considerable money if you plan your trip in the "off-season" (usually after Easter until the end of October) when rental prices are at their lowest. If that's not feasible or if that's the time your are planning to travel and you are having difficulty finding "the ideal place" in your budget then your only alternative is to make some compromises. Actually $10,000 should get you a selection of fairly nice villas. Consider getting a villa that's a little further from the beach. Quite often hillside villas have much better views than beachfront villas and they are usually less expensive and no less luxurious than beachfront villas. Yes, it is nice to be able to walk out the door and step on to the beach but ask yourself isn't a 5 or 10 minute car ride worth saving a few $1,000's. Besides if you stayed in a beachfront villa you'd still want to get out and explore other beaches and sights on the island so you'd be driving around anyway. Of course, only you know what will satisfy you and your family.

Personally, I'd choose my island first, then I'd find a suitable villa that fit my budget - I would not worry if it was beachfront or super-luxurious if that were going to strain my budget. After all, the fond memories of time spent with your family on a tropical island are more meaningful and last longer than how luxurious or close to the beach the villa was.

I really hope you find the island and villa that is right for you and your family.
 
Old Jul 15th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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Definitely take a look at Jamaica if you can get by without really good snorkeling for your trip. Fully staffed, luxurious villas are more economical there than just about anywhere else. You have direct flights from Boston to Montego Bay on both Delta and their partner Air Jamaica for choice of frequent flyer mile redeeming.

I used www.jamaicaescapes.com to help plan my first trip to Jamaica last year. We ended up at Mar Blue Verandah in the Treasure Beach area-it was brand new, featured truly outstanding food, and a low-key atmosphere for island exploration. The area doesn't have any good beach snorkeling, however, though I did read about snorkeling trips by boat one could book. If you want to get off the beaten path, check out www.treasurebeach.net for info about that area on the south coast of Jamaica. on our short trip we did a boat ride up the coast to the Black River to see the crocodiles. On the way there and on the way home we idled in the water while wild dolphins played around us. We stopped at the iconic Pelican Bar on the way home. There are also distilleries, a day spa, and waterfalls for day trips in addition to spending some time in Negril.

You should also go a search for Golfguy and MarionCK, who have great things to say about renting villas from Linda Smith in Jamaica. It's my impression that these places are fairly upscale.

As for safety issues, my husband and I walked everywhere both during the day and at night and felt perfectly safe. It's really a neighborhood-based destination with the closest resort being about 30 miles away--every few hundred yards along the road we stopped to chat at a rum stand or tiny open shops with the locals--we loved it and can't wait to return.
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Old Jul 15th, 2005, 07:18 PM
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thanks for your replies. much appreciated. I am now focusing on Jamaica. I loved Linda Smith's website. Tons of really nice options for villa rentals.

There are two in particular that caught my eye and are in our price range. They are near Round Hill - not on the property, but apparently you have the ability to use Round Hill facilities if you stay at either of these villas. The ones I am looking at are not beach front so we would rely on the beach at Round Hill. I read other posts on this site that mention that the beach at Round Hill is so-so. Given that these villas would work so well for us I am reluctant to pass them by but would appreciate any feedback as to the beaches in this area and what the options are.

Also, Montego Bay doesn't seem to garner much praise on these boards, seems people really like Negril and Treasure Beach. I didn't find anything there, however, I really only looked at Linda Smith's site and really liked what I saw.

Thanks in advance for advise.
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Old Jul 15th, 2005, 07:29 PM
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One more question: there were many very nice villas for rent in Discovery Bay. This appear to be on the North Shore half way between ocho rios and montego bay. Does this location make it difficult for exploring the island (waterfalls, beaches, etc..). Having never been to Jamaica it is difficult to have any sense of how big it is or how driveable. thanks!
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 12:34 AM
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Distances in Jamaica are deceptive, given the paucity of roads, terrain and the fact one drives Brit-style, on the left. For first time visit, a PPV insured/certified guide/driver is recommended over car rental.
Somewhere midpoint btw Discovery Bay and MoBay - recommend GOOD HOPE PLANTATION -- would give you more of a sense of island, while still luxe, than Round Hill or Discovery Bay or Ochie --largely urban/tourist only resortlands. Logan to MoBay is quick and easy, but until Air Jamaica works out its current kinks, would fly American via Miami rather than US Air/cheaper/thru Phily or Charlotte. Fly midweek to save on airfare. Goldeneye villa in Orcabessa is also a great if pricier option.
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 12:45 AM
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The North Coast/Discovery Bay area was developed in the 50s. If you're beach focus, Silver Sands,40 min.drive from MoBay, has arguably the best beach on the coast/gated beach community and private -- and is a good family choice with some stoosh villas Round Hill style like Villa Kelso offering the luxe factor. Villas attached to the HALF MOON resort complex just outside MoBay might serve you well.
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 04:57 AM
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Might want to also look into the Grenadines. Little commercialism,islands are fairly close together for island hopping and day trips are reasonable. People are the most friendliest and helpful I have ever encountered in the Caribbean. Because they remain yet unspoiled or discovered by the mainstream you may luck out on the accomodations available. Caribbean Travel Forums seems like a good site to research. Also Bequia in the Grenadines would most likely have what you seem to be looking for. Travel to the Grenadines does take some time but very well worth it. Beautiful mountains with lush green vegetation. Beaches are a mix of black sand, white or tan as well as salt and pepper. If I was traveling with small children would fly to San Juan stay overnight then travel onward the next day. That way no one is to tired or cranky and you won't be starting your vacation under duress. Have fun.
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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thanks TivertonHouse! I absolutley loved good hope plantation. what a beautiful property - unfortunately in high season beyond our price range, but i do intend to check out half moon villas.

we will definitely have a tour guide take us around. i had read on another post where you recommend Barrett Adventures - are they still a good way to go? and would it be appropriate to take a 4 year old touring with us? I'd like my daughter to be able to do as much with us as possible. Thanks!
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 07:30 AM
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You might want to take a look at Sea Island on Linda's site.

I stayed there for nine days at the end of my month in April.

The staff is wonderful and love having children around. Brenda is a first-class cook.

There is a bedroom decorated especially for a little girl that is a delight ! Think teddy bears and tea parties

If I can answer any specific questions about villas you're considering, I'll be happy to do so.

I toured quite a few during my stay.

Marion

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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 07:39 AM
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MarionCK: Amazing!! Sea Island is one of the two villas on our list. Just curious if you would know the answer to this question: On Linda Smith's website it states that if you use a bedroom in the new wing that you must pay the full house rate. We only need 3 bedrooms, however we need 2 king size beds. The South Wing only has one king sized bed. Do you think if we used a king sized bed from the New Wing we could still rent the house at the 3 bedroom price? (otherwise it falls outside of our price limit - $10K including taxes).

I think my daughter would love the pink bedroom. The house is available for all three of the weeks that we are able to go.

Was the food good? I love to cook, but it will be nice to have someone cook for me for a change!
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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I'll try not to ramble ;-) Although the new wing is quite lovely, I wouldn't spend the money for the additional space. You will still have access to the outdoor showers, which they have, without the expense.

I stayed in the Yellow bedroom, which was the master, before the new wing.

I believe there is at least one other bedroom that has a king bed.

All of the bathrooms have been redone with lovely fixtures and just incredible artistic details that provide a surprise and a smile.

The photos on Linda's site were taken right after the renovation and the landscaping, particularly around the pool, has matured nicely since then.

The entire staff is amazing and the owners provide lovely staff quarters for them which I was pleased to see.

Brenda's food is just wonderful. And I imagine she would enjoy cooking for a family far more than just *picky* me ;-)

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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 08:22 AM
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I just checked and the other bedrooms in the original wing have queen size beds...sorry.

What villa is your other choice ?

Marion
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Mild to wild,Carolyn Barrett will really customize your touring to what you want (which does mean you have to speak up...)And by all means your 4 year old should come along every time, probably half-day trips being the max time. We do both Villa Kelso and Miss P's Place at Silver Sands, which might price out better than Good Hope. And it's a great child-friendly private beach. Figure 2-3 MAX trips out for a one week/7 night stay. MAYFIELDS FALLS and BROWNS TOWN markets on the North Coast; feeding doctor/hummingbirds by hand AND gentle rafting trips in MobAY-fALMOUTH environs; and, leaving your child behind with the able babysitters at your villa, PELICAN BAR and BLACK RIVER on the South (a full day for this). Carolyn's a very savvy/been on island years white expat type who does the gamut from cruiseshippers doing Dunn's River and shopping to Indiana Jones-style. See barrettadventures.com and e-mail:
adventures. [email protected]

For first-timers, I'd not play it TOO safe by going with obvious A-I resorts
or decorator-out=of-a-box villas since
the cleaning costs alone for the white livery/silver salvers goes on your tab.

Find something mid-range with character, good location and at least a good cook;then, put your money into touring/daytripping outside the tourist norm.
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Old Jul 16th, 2005, 06:54 PM
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thanks for all of the touring info. nice to know that they will adapt to our particular situation.

Marion - the other villa seems to be nearly booked for my timing. i am waiting to hear from Linda Smith to see if it is still available. i also left her a message to see if we can use 2 king sized bedrooms at sea island for the 3 bedroom price. if the answer is yes, than we are there!!!

sort of funny to think that we started out planning for bvi, then moved to usvi, now we are in jamaica.... I hadn't thought of travelling to jamaica before but i am truly excited at the prospect.

thanks again for the advise.
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Old Jul 17th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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I'll keep my fingers crossed for you with regard to Sea Island. However, I wanted the use of only 1 bedroom when I rented there, and wanted the new wing. I would have had to pay the full villa rate, which is why I was in the Yellow bedroom ;-) Maybe it will be different in High season, but suggest you continue to research other villas. Tiverton had some great suggestions for you.

Please let us know how your plans progress.

Marion
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