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“A Recipe For Relaxation” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Crystal Cove Villas

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Crystal Cove Villas
St. Petersburg, Florida
Level Contributor
34 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 149 helpful votes
“A Recipe For Relaxation”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 January 2008

First of all, these are the condos formerly known as "Saphire Bay Condominiums West at Crystal Cove". It is a set of four, two-story buildings set in a semi-circle around a small lagoon facing the beach. It is next door to the "Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina", a newer (1980's) condo/hotel with much smaller apartments, slightly closer to the beach.

I have been visiting these late-1960s-built condo apartments for over 30 years. My parents owned one of these units (C-19) for three decades until they sold it last year. They just rented a different unit for six weeks (B-11) and I stayed there for a week in January 2008. There are several facts about these units you should know before deciding whether or not you will enjoy staying in them.

The units in the four buildings (A-D), all within 50 yards of a small sandy beach shaded by seagrape trees, are condos owned by someone else. Some owners live there year-round or during the winter; some rent them out privately or through Alice in the condo office (or some other agent). Norma is in charge of housekeeping services, which are optional during your stay. They are shotgun style apartments, with the living room in the "front" facing the beach, a galley kitchen, a bathroom, closets, another bathroom, and a master bedroom in the "back". Condos rented as "studios" have the rear bathroom and bedroom closed off, and the renter has access to the living area (with Murphy-style pull-down beds), kitchen, bathroom, and some closets. This is usually cheaper than renting the whole unit.

Many of the owners are somewhat older persons, which means you get less late-night partying and noise. You will meet some owner-residents, and quite a few renters, depending on what season you go there. The beach is small, and the previously mentioned condo/hotel adjoins the property, sharing the eastern end of the beach. The beach is small but extremely pleasant, sometimes quite windy, the water is lovely, and there is a small reef 100 yards away with nice snorkeling. Sea Turtles, clown fish, living coral and other interesting marine life can be observed. Beach chairs are free to residents and renters, and they are the expensive comfortable ones. The water is sparkling turquoise and you have great views of St. Johns (a 15 minute ferry ride away) and Tortola in the distance. There is plenty of shade if you burn easily.

Crystal Cove at Sapphire Beach has always been a place for me to completely unwind. The main activities are eating, sleeping, lounging on the beach, and chatting with other tenants. There is a salt-water swimming pool and tennis courts on the complex. There is a nice tiki bar next door, and a restaurant, which had fallen on some economic troubles, appears to be about to re-open. There used to be a fantastic boutique, which closed; now there is a seedy and expensive snack shop (avoid it). There is a small supermarket, a couple of restaurants and a few shops in Red Hook, a 2 minute drive. You can catch the frequent ferry to St John there. There are larger and cheaper supermarkets 10-15 minutes drive. You will want to cook most of your own meals. Many units have Weber grills available.

Understand that these condos units are all the same construction, but many have been updated, reburbished, or enhanced. My parents did very little to theirs over 30 years- it still had the original red tiled floor, tiny kitchen, etc. They did make a cut-out between the kitchen and living room, as did almost all the owners. However many of the condos have been made much more beautiful and comfortable, with white stone tile floors, expanded kitchen space and counters, leveling and
extending the patio or balcony into the unit to create a larger living space. Ask for photos before renting.

This is not a fancy, "modern" place. This is a spot to immerse yourself in relaxation. Your biggest worry should be what type of sandwich to have for lunch, and when to start your cocktail hour. Some people run their air-conditioning all the time, missing the point of being in the tropics in the winter. It's in the 80s during the day and around 70 at night, and the breeze is nearly constant. Why have A/C when you can breathe soothing salt-sea air and hang out in shorts 24 hours a day?

If you are looking for lots of activities, this is not the place. If you want all the modern conveniences of home, this ain't it. If you can't shift from Type A to Total Relaxation, you might not enjoy this place. It's a "manana" culture, and you have to go with the flow. Depending on which condo unit you rent, your surroundings may be very dated but comfortable, or modern and stylish. The main focus is the chance to wake up 50 yards (more or less from the beach, go to sleep with the sound of the surf in your ears, and wander around in a bathing suit all the time in mid winter. It's also pretty darn nice any time you go (fewer tourists in the off and shoulder seasons).

So think about it, investigate, talk to some owners, get photos, and go. You will probably never regret it, and the price is quite reasonable, considering the nature of the surroundings. Many people, my parents included, rented for two weeks, and then bought and stayed for several decades.

  • Liked — Proximity to beach, relaxing atmosphere, friendly neighbors
  • Disliked — Possibility of slightly dated accomodations
  • Stayed January 2008, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
Helpful?
14 Thank MrNuz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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40 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    18
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    3
    4
    1
See reviews for
7
19
1
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Texas
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 March 2007

We stayed in building A. 100 ft from the beach. Good value, for family of four in high season. All friendly staff - beach and water just great. Best to have a car - but taxis are available. Little cruise ship beach traffic compared to other beaches. offshore reef gives great snorkerling. Very little beach service beyond condo specific chairs loungers etc, there is a cafe and small store. The condos are from the 70s, a little old fashioned but clean and large.

  • Liked — location near to beach
  • Disliked — old
  • Stayed March 2007, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Geobrit1955
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 October 2005

After searching for an affordable, romantic stay in St. Thomas, my girlfriend and I came accross Crystal Cove and decided to get more information on the rentals. We had heard and read in previous posts that A building was the place to rent from, however after further research we learned that there were some incredible deals and brand new renovations in D building, which is where we ended up. The D5 condo blew us away. It was spacious, clean with some great ammenities including:

king size bed
brand new washer/dryer
two large tvs
central air conditioning
two murphy twin beds
sun room with a view of the beach
internet access

It had all the comforts of home and reminded us of a home in the Hamptons.

As in many of the other postings, Norma is the property manager and she keeps it in excellent condition, coming in each day to clean, as well as helping us with questions we had.

Sapphire Beach was our favorite beach on St. Thomas and we really feel we got our moneys worth.

The only negative we would have would be the little sand fleas on the beach, but since they're everywhere in the islands, it really can't be avoided. Make sure to wear lots of bug spray, it really helps. Grin, scratch and bear it.

  • Stayed September 2005
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
tampa
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2005

The accomodations were great. You must get Building A. We booked through bestbeach. Dave was a great help. He answered all questions quickly and efficiently. He even called during our stay to make sure all was going well. Norma the housekeeper was excellent. She even folded our laundry! She also helped with info on things to do.

As far as the view it couldn't be beat. We were only steps from the beach. Great snorkeling right off the beach.

Also, we recommend a day sail with Winifred Sails. They will take you out for a full day of snorkeling and sailing. You may contact them at ------. Tommy the first mate knows all about the island and was very helpful in letting us know the ins and outs of the island.

You had to go through some pretty rough spots to get to the condo. But once there it was beautiful.

Would recommend these accomodations to anyone who just wants to get away and spend some relavxing time in the sun.

  • Stayed June 2005
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank dbaird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Midlothian, VA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 April 2005

We stayed at the Crystal Cove Villas (bulding D) for 1 week and will have to say in spite of the 'dated' facilities we have agreed that Sapphire Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in St Thomas/St John and it made for an awesome vacation! After reading the reviews on tripadvisor I was lucky enough to contact David and make arrangements to stay in building D. David performed miracles in getting my family a condo in building D with such short notice for our Spring Break trip. We were fortunate enough to change rooms the last night of our stay to a condo that I would request if I stayed there again - David/Norma wanted my family to enjoy one of their nicer units that we had heard about - it was well worth the move. My understanding is there are units in building D that are renovated and others that are not. The only real complaint I had with Crystal Cove was when we arrived and were 'dropped off' by our taxi at the gate there were no luggage carts or any means of helping us transport our 12 bags of luggage across the parking lot/yard to our building, which wasn't just a stone's throw away.

Not only is Sapphire Beach one of the most beautiful it is near a small town, Red Hook, that has good restaurants and shops. I'd recommend taking the ferry to St John for at least a day or two, the shops and beaches are worth it.

My family rented a car, which made traveling much easier but you have to be comfortable driving in St Thomas/St John (on the left). It was adventurous and made getting around more affordable for a family of 4.

Norma was everything everyone says she is, very helpful, friendly and concerned that her guests are happy! I want to thank David and Norma for doing all they could to make this a pleasant trip for me & my family. We would return again and recommend it to a friend, of course requesting an 'updated' condo in building D.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Sheri C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 March 2005

Crystal Cove is older but clean enough for a beach property with a full kitchen in each unit. We had a one bedroom, 2 Bath unit in the A building. It's close to the beach and the neighbors were generally friendly. They do not have a true concierge though, and the staff running the office is rarely on time. This caused problems our last day because we had booked leisurely tour through the office itself the day we were supposed to check out, but the tour arrived before anyone working the office did, although both were late. Consequently we had no one to hold our bags and check us out, even though it was 9:15 in the morning, and couldn't do our tour. There was another incident involving the fact that we were not given all the keys for each lock on the apartment. We got locked out one morning because they won't really tell you that you don't have all the keys you need unless you ask, and again they were late to work to help us. If you decide to stay here, either just stay on that very lovely beach, or book whatever you want to do without the help of their office, because they are entirely unreilable, and are too laid back to care if you are troubled. Sapphire is a great beach though, and you have access to everything at the Resort and Marina next door. The New Horizons I and II excursions are superb, along with several other Sail boats and charters in the harbor there. Don't expect too much service. Just do your research and do everything yourself.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
10 Thank worldsuzandy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 September 2004

I gave the Crystal Cove Deluxe Suites an "excellent" rating because having been there and viewed some of the other resorts, I believe that Dave Paresky's "A" building suites are the best value on the island. 1) Are they the fanciest? -- No, but plenty nice and well maintained (realistically, in that salt sea environment, there will always be something that needs a little work). And, I didn't see any snobs on the beach trying to impress us there, either. Between Crystal Cove and the resort next door, there were people at the beach of all ages. 2) Is the help good? -- Definitely. Norma is terrific and one of the best assets you'll have while there. She'll come daily, except Sunday, to take care of your room for you. If you have any issues with your room, tell her and she will work to take care of it. Try to find her on your first morning there and spend a few minutes getting to know her (she's very personable). She will help you know where to get the groceries/supplies you need and also provide very helpful suggestions to get your vacation started in the right direction. All during your stay, you'll find that she is a great sounding board for formulating or fine tuning your plans for the day or week. 3) Is Crystal Cove an "excellent" location? -- from my perspective, the best beach location I saw on the island -- and the whole island is beautiful.

Like many of you, I researched the options as well as I could because I wanted to make the right choice for our experience. I can say I have no regrets. If you want to impress your wife/family with the best building on the island and desire to be waited on hand and foot, then Crystal Cove is not for you. But if you're wife/family can handle a couple of trips to the grocery store, washing clothes once or twice, doing without a video arcade or room service at midnight, then they will be impressed with you when you choose this place! We stayed in two of the Deluxe Suites while there due to scheduling, but both of them were very nice and are as described on the web.

For perspective, my wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary there between August 14-22. We rented a car and traveled to various parts of the island daily during our stay, did the shopping trips 2-3 times in different areas of Charlotte Amalie, ate out at least once a day somewhere on the island, etc., which was all great and part of the adventure. Before the trip, I expected us to use the Crystal Cove area as a place mainly to keep our things and spend the night. I expected to spend much of our waking hours touristing elsewhere, but the plan quickly evolved so that we spent at least 50% of our day at Crystal Cove because we enjoyed the beach and snorkeling there so much (the "why go anywhere else" mentality set in after a while) and the "on the beach" (seemed like about 200 feet away) convenience of our condo was a great asset.

We rented a car and like others have said, the driving there is an exciting experience in and of itself. I thought I would see several accidents while there (maybe even my own), but I did not see a one. I think renting a car is the way to go and if you do, consider renting from some place other than Hertz. Not because of the cars themselves, but because a day trip or two to St. John by ferry is recommended and you cannot take a Hertz rental car over there. However, taking a car is the best way to go (see Norma about this).

There is a resort next to Crystal Cove on the same beach and there is an open air restaurant (I know at least for buffet breakfast and it probably has something for lunch and dinner as well) that's probably only about 2 minute walk from the condo down the beach. Great for coffee in the morning and sitting out on the beach with it. The resort also has a little souvenir shop next store to the restaurant as well as a place to rent kayaks, snorkeling gear, etc. I would recommend bringing your own snorkeling gear or buying it at a store on St. Thomas if you are going to snorkel daily.

Oh, yeah. Did I tell you that my wife was completely satisfied with my selection? What else do I need to say?

Hal Martin

Helpful?
13 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Crystal Cove Villas

Property: Crystal Cove Villas
Address: 6345 Estate Smith Bay | Adjacent to Sapphire Beach Resort, 00802-1341, St. Thomas
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. Thomas
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 28 Speciality Lodging in St. Thomas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3 star — Crystal Cove Villas 3*
Number of rooms: 31
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Crystal Cove Villas luxury resort will be your home away from home in the Caribbean. Escape to your own private retreat when you stay in one of our fully equipped condo villas with spectacular beach and ocean views. Whether you're relaxing by the pool or gazing upon a gorgeous sunset as you dine on fresh seafood, your experience here will leave you wanting more. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Crystal Cove Villas Hotel St. Thomas
Crystal Cove Villas St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

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