Executive summary: immaculately clean, ideally located, spacious, nicely appointed, on site caretaker, stunning view of Rodney Bay and surrounding hills, great pool and deck.
To clarify, this was our first extended trip to the Caribbean. We have been briefly to the Bahamas and to Bermuda a couple of times (I know, not in the Caribbean) but historically, our winter holiday has been to Maui, so that forms the basis of comparison in our minds.
To echo another reviewer, Marina Haven exceeded our expectations. The first thing was the wonderful view of the harbour and Pigeon Island from our balcony. We spent many hours surveying the tall ships, sailboats and super yachts cruising the harbour and watching numerous sunsets, moonsets and sunrises while drinking coffee on the balcony. Virtually this same view could be seen from the pool deck or the pool itself. On many evenings, we would take a swim around sunset, hang on to the edge of the pool and look out over the landscape taking in the beauty of it all. For the uninitiated, St. Lucia is mountainous terraine and the location takes full advantage for those who like a view.
This also means that the setting is a little ways away off the beaten track in a residential area so guests won't be subjected to noise from traffic or the partiers of Rodney Bay. However, it is not so far out that grocery shopping or banking cannot be done walking. On a number of occasions, we walked to the grocery store to stock our pantry, which was about an hour round trip.
There is maid service six days per week, beach towel service, hi speed wireless internet, sharp knives (!), four poster king sized beds, two full bathrooms (one for each bedroom), nice tiles throughout, granite counters (my wife and I debated about whether or not it was "real" granite or "manufactured" granite; either way, it looked nice in the kitchen) and a propane barbeque. As of this writing, there was no land line in the room but a cell phone with a $20 credit was provided and there was no charge to phone any of the staff or office numbers.
All this would have been enough for me to give an exemplary rating. However, where Marina Haven excels is that they seem to have an understanding of service which seems to be generally overlooked in the Caribbean. This is not in any way a criticism of the Caribbean but we discovered that they make a little extra effort that you might not expect. These things were subtle and not immediately apparent upon our arrival but rather, were more obvious in hindsight. For example, we were picked up at the airport and there was a cooler with iced cold drinks in the vehicle. When we arrived at the villa, I found two trays of ice in the freezer. I had just assumed that these were left behind by the prior guests but I later learned that the refrigerators are turned off when the suites are unoccupied, so the on-site caretaker had made the ice for our arrival. With spring water. The air conditioners in the two bedrooms were on and the temperature was a frosty 17 Celsius. Cool for my liking but after all, it is a hot country. And there would be a fresh filter in the coffee pot every day.
Lastly, I cannot say enough about the staff looking after the villas. We saw two different housekeepers come and go (two and four days per week respectively) and both were efficient, kind and genuinely interested in our well being. The on-site caretaker was hard working, polite to a fault, gracious and an absolute joy to have on the premises. On the day of our arrival, we were dog tired and he accompanied us to the grocery store to get a few basics for dinner, carried our groceries, navigated thankfully, helped us with our luggage. He also allowed us to use the laundry facilities on the premises; not sure if this is standard or not but it was certainly appreciated.
There were not many things to find fault at Marina Haven. I found the driveway up to the villa a little intimidating. If you have been to St. Lucia, you will know of what I am talking. As a couple who like to cook, we would like to see an upgrade in the cookware at some time. Our personal preference would be to sleep with the bedroom doors to the outside open rather than air conditioning however, there are not screens on the doors and we learned that just like home, we are mosquito magnets. Though all the windows have screens, it would have been a nice bonus to have screens on the doors. (I understand that it is very uncommon to have screened doors there.)
We definitely see Marina Haven in our future.
On another note, if you are going to St. Lucia for your first time, you would be crazy to pick up a rental car at the airport. The villa is a good ninety minute drive unless you arrive at rush hour, maps are a little rudimentary, Google Maps does not show the location, driving is on the left hand side (not a problem for everybody, I realize), streets are only sporadically marked, roads are generally quite narrow and while pretty much everything moves quite slowly in St. Lucia, driving is not one of them. Marina Haven will deliver a rental vehicle to the villa. Take it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Our villas offer one of the most breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and the Historical Pigeon Island. Each villa provides complete tranquility and privacy. Each villa has 2 bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, living and dining area and kitchen designed in its unique style. The views from the bedroom balcony is breath taking. Come to Marina Haven Villas...Your Home Away From Home! ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Marina Haven Villas St. Lucia/Gros Islet