What We Did on our Summer Vacation
Bonnie Todman leads the annual villa tour excursion
It's back to school time and why should the kids have all the fun?! Over the summer we worked, but it was almost like play. And we'd like to share our summer villa adventure with you. First off, please know that during the slow summer months, we take the time to inspect our villas and get to know the newer ones. It's all subject to what's open at the time, but we also get to catch up with our island managers and relax a bit.
Luanda and I went over to the British Virgin Islands and started with Tortola. Gun Point and Sade are still an excellent combo for those larger groups wanting quick access to the beach. From Sade's driveway with its built-in stairs, you can stroll to Smuggler's Cove in about 200 yards, while you can access that same beach from Gun Point via a path... or just take a dip off the pier at the water's edge at Gun Point. The landscaping at both properties is excellent, with lots of colorful flora and lush greenery.
Golden Pavilion is a study in harmony, looking very much on point with lovingly kept gardens and the gracious attentions of managers Tony and Kate for our rental guests. Summer Heights has added a 6th bedroom as well as a cool innovation: a special device that is attached to the A/C units in all the bedrooms that really helps to regulate their use. The device detects body heat in the room and turns on when detected. It turns off if no body heat or motion are detected after 10 minutes. The ones in use are manufactured in England, where the owners are from.
At Arundel, Luanda and I were mesmerized as the owner told us about various pieces of art - where they were purchased during many travels. His pride and love for the villa were strong and definitely felt by us. The villa looks really great - I was actually surprised at how good it looked (as it has been in our program for many years). Luanda found the villa to be very "Zen." She felt that it re-centers you and is very calming. She loved it!
Over on Virgin Gorda, we went to Symbio, which is very new to our portfolio. We have seen two successful rentals thus far, and expect to send many more - it's modern, very comfortable and we felt at ease and peaceful - "Zen" again, LOL! We also visited Mon Repos. This villa is about 15 years old. This was a shocker to me as it does not look a day over 3 years. It's in excellent condition, it's well-kept and cared for - that's for sure! Love the tortoise family!
Then it was on to 100 Pond Bay - the villa is lovely, 5 big stars!!! SUPER DUPER HINT - I would like a weekend stay here - I'm serious! Mr. McSheene (the manager) was very friendly and was happy to show us around. You can walk down to the Pond Bay beach via a path, definitely a plus! The owners are adding a 6th bedroom, too!
We also paid a visit to nearby Mahoe Bay, dropping by Sandcastle, where we had actually stayed years before on a similar tour - this villa remains as beautiful as ever. It was pin-clean and seemed to be in good shape. And of course you cannot beat being right there on the white sand beach of Mahoe Bay.
Later that weekend, Luanda and I were joined by Anita and Angela, our Concierge and Guest Services Director, to see more villas and, of course, have more fun. These days generally start early and we are up and at 'em by 7am - and this was no exception. Together we headed to St. John via ferry from Red Hook, St. Thomas... then laughed and joked our way across the sound on the way to Cruz Bay.
Hightailing it out to the East End to see the Retreat, we took in the beautiful scenery that our guests get to see for the first time when they arrive. Pointing out all the National Park beaches along the north shore to Luanda, we arrived to meet the managers, Todd and Dena. Even in the calmest of the summer months, the ocean breezes cool the villa quite well. A feeling of open space and tranquility mark this well-kept villa; no wonder it's called "Retreat".
In nearby Coral Bay, we were treated to a first look for all of us at Almost Heaven. Again, the name fits the villa. It really is close to heaven to be in this lovingly-built home that is family friendly and designed with all you could want, including fully-screened verandahs! The stonework, the local art, and a stunning view of the British Virgin Islands will make this one a hit.
Then it was off to Chez Shell, a romantic nest for up to 5 persons located in Great Cruz Bay. With equal bedrooms to satisfy two couples (+ sleeper sofa), this villa is also perfect for a small family or close friends with its intriguing views and elegant antique furnishings. The pool is brand new, too - the owners had it built before they entered our rental program. Read a recent review of Chez Shell on our blog!
While on St. John, we decided to take a stroll through Cruz Bay and its wonderful collection of shops at Mongoose Junction and Wharfside Village... Angela spotted an African mask at a quaint little shop called Now & Zen as we were driving out of Cruz Bay, and it called to her as we went strolling; she actually purchased it and had it mailed to herself! The shop has no web site, but we found a neat article about it online at the Old Town Crier in Alexandria, VA.
A bit 'peckish', we stopped to have lunch at the Ocean Grill. The service was exceptional, and the food even moreso. Refreshing cold drinks quenched our thirst and the atmosphere cheered us through the break.
Back on St. Thomas, we took a quick turn through Great View, a very popular vacation rental. This family-style 6-BR villa is located just a short drive away from Red Hook and its ferry services to and from the BVI and St. John, the American Yacht Harbor with its shops and restaurants, and surrounding shopping, dining and nightlife.
CalypsoBlu (formerly Villa Morningstar) has been revived and rejuvenated, with a fresh color palette, vibrant plantings, and an updated kitchen. It's convenient to the Bolongo Bay Beach and shopping, dining and nightlife in Havensite, Yacht Haven Grande, and Port of $ale Mall. Read more about CalypsoBlu's style upgrade on our blog. Another villa that has been renewed is Bella Vida (formerly Maison Veldkamp), which now has new owners and has been re-decorated by wonderful Twila Wilson. Secreted behind an electronic gate, this villa is convenient to town or direct access to the vibrant East End, as it's right on the Skyline Drive.
Luanda and I really enjoyed our little "working vacation", and we feel blessed to enjoy the islands as they were meant to be enjoyed. With lots of laughter and fun. Hope your summer vacation was just as good! If not, I've got a few great villas to show ya!