St John: Hotel or Villa?

Old Oct 19th, 2002, 11:55 AM
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St John: Hotel or Villa?

We are planning a trip to St John for summer 2003 and are seriously considering the Westin St John; however, I've noticed a lot of folks staying at villas. Anyone have any thoughts on this hotel versus a villa on St John? Are there nice villas at reasonable prices or are most pretty basic? This is a much anticipated vacation without our little ones so we'd like to live it up, and I worry about booking a villa so far away and then arriving and finding it inadequate. What do you think?
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 12:17 PM
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If your choices are between the Westin and a villa, I'd choose a villa without even thinking about it. Here is my reasoning:
1) It's easy to find a reputable villa agency that will match your needs to a perfect villa. You won't have to worry about it not being adequate, it will be spectacular. Try Artistic Villas by Donald Schnell, Vacation Vistas, Lime and Da Coconut Villas or Catered To.
The only caveat I'd give you is that there are very few beachfront villas on St John. If that's a problem, then opt for the Westin. Be aware however that the beach at the Westin is manmade and is adequate but doesn't compare to the other beaches on the island.
2) You say this is a vacation without your little ones. The Westin is a very family oriented resort. There will be lots and lots of kids there in the summer. The pool and the trampoline in the water off the beach attract lots of families. If you want some time away from the kids, the Westin is not the place.
3) At a villa, you can have privacy, spectacular views, a pool, a jacuzzi etc. You do give up, the resort services that are important to some people. Daily maid service etc.
We like our privacy so it's no contest for me. I like to get up in the morning and be able to take my coffee out on the deck and enjoy the view. Though villas all have full kitchens, we don't generally cook, except maybe breakfast. I cook plenty at home and like to try different restaurants when on vacation. You can cook if you choose.
In the summer time, you can get a gorgeously appointed villa for less than $1500 for a week. Probably about the same as you'd pay at the Westin but with 3 or 4 times the space, a private pool, views to die for etc etc.
Have fun whatever you choose.
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 12:29 PM
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Sophie - Thanks for the great feedback. I'm going to try to find websites for the villa realtors you mentioned. Sounds like something definitely worth considering. We like to snorkel so we'd probably be driving to beaches from the Westin anyway.

Anyone have thoughts of whether renting a car is a good idea on St John? We like to explore a lot so I'm thinking it would make sense to have our own transportation, however our budget is somewhat tight.

Old Oct 19th, 2002, 01:02 PM
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Yeah. You have to rent a car on St. John. There is really no other way to go about it than renting a vehicle to explore the whole island. The island has so many beautiful beaches and places to get to that you won't be able to see without your own car. Have fun! Also, I'd reccomend Catered To as far as Realty companies with the best villas.
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 02:00 PM
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There are other ways to get around. The Vitran bus runs between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay and there are taxis but they are not always cost efficient or reliable. Taxis don't go to many of the villas so you would have to rent a vehicle if you stayed in a villa or walk down to the road.
try for an overview and good selection of villas and at you will find reduced air for many of the villas on many different islands.
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 03:53 PM
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I'm happy to help. I would suggest going to There is lots of info on there, reviews of hotels, villas restaurants and a very active, informative forum dedicated specifically to the USVI.
Villa companies that I've worked with are, and
I would definitely suggest renting a car. If you're on a budget (and I've always been on a budget!), taxis will rapidly break the bank. A jeep rental will run you around $325 to $350 for a week. The four wheel drive will make getting around much easier, not just for off roading but for just negotiating the steep, curvy roads. It's a confidence booster to know you've got a vehicle designed to drive under those conditions. Don't worry about driving on the left, after about 30 minutes you'll be acclimated.
You can rent a car for less on St Thomas and bring it over on the car barge. There are a few companies that will allow it but if you run into trouble while on St John (dead battery, flat tire, lose your keys etc) it can take a very long time to get help from the rental company on St Thomas. For me it's not worth the hassle.
If I can suggest one more thing it would be to get a copy of "Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive" by Pam Gaffin. You can get it on It's a great guide to St John and will help tremendously with your planning.
Hope all my long windedness helps!
Have fun!
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 05:49 PM
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I agree the villa is the way to go but if price is really an issue - you can get the Westin for $80 a night via priceline (I just did!). That'll give you the extra funds to get the mandatory car rental...
Old Oct 20th, 2002, 05:06 PM
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Here is a detailed trip report with plenty of advice about choosing a St. John villa.
Old Oct 20th, 2002, 06:32 PM
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I would also go with a villa for all the reasons Lisa mentioned. You really can't get around St. John without a rental vehicle and you would miss so much of the island's beauty if you were confined to areas that taxis will service. Definitely get something with 4-wheel drive and I'd also suggest A/C if you're going in the summer.

Regardless of where you stay, be aware that food on St. John can be expensive. It's tough to find dinner entrees for less than $17 or so.

We used and were pleased both with their service and selection of nice properties. Our villa looked exactly as pictured on the web, if not better.
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