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“Don't stay here!”

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Battery Hill Condominiums
Sonoma, CA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Don't stay here!”
Reviewed 12 May 2009

We have been to St John many times and we have always loved it. We even like the funky & wild aspects, although the traffic & congestion can get a little overwhelming sometimes. This year we decided to try to save a little money and so booked "The Cottage" at Battery Hill. Not a good decision. The word is dingy. I could also say grimy, or shabby or soiled. The bedding was old, torn and worn out. I didn't even sit down on the cushions on the two chairs because they looked awfully dirty and yucky. The curtains were inadequate and so the room was lit up all night by exterior lighting. The Cottage was billed as a studio, but it was truly tiny. The bathroom wasn't clean, the fixtures were old and worn out. The floor was dirty, the corners had residue in them which might be remedied by a good cleaning, but it was disconcerting to live in. The towels were shabby and were not changed on the day they were supposed to be refreshed. The landscaping was lovely, the pool was very nice, and the walk up a steep hill from Cruz Bay was tough but invigorating. However, this place is a great advertisement for Gallows Point. Next time we will stay there and spend the extra money. It'll be worth it!

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank cinviv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Denver, Colorado
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 June 2008

Overall, our experience was good at Suite St. John. We stayed in the Sea Breeze unit for a few days in May 2008. While the units imply a luxury experience, we wouldn't put it that way. While the staff was helpful and very friendly, there were problems with our experience in terms of cleanliness and furnishings that would make us unlikely to stay there again.

As I said, the staff were great and for the most part tried hard to make things nice. Several times a week a grounds keeper swept the grounds and took care of things and the unit manger, Tommy, was always available if we needed any help.

The Sea Breeze unit has a great deck overlooking Cruz Bay. We spent many evenings and mornings there just gazing at the spectacular view of the town below.

When we were there, only some of the units were full, so we had a very peaceful and refreshing experience at the property. The pool was always kept spotless and inviting both day and night.

The pictures that you see on the Suite St. John web site make the units look wider than they are. I think this is because they put two separate pictures next to each other making the unit look wider. The living room is acceptable size, but much smaller in person.

I've read many glowing accounts of people's time there, so I'm thinking some of the issues I will bring up won't concern some visitors. Be that as it may, when we're paying the prices they charge and their claiming that it is a "luxury" experience, I thought it better I describe what we saw and see if that's your definition of luxury.

The unit was basically clean, but lacked that very clean feeling you get in a good hotel room. It's like the corners aren't clean, if you know what I mean. Like someone did a fast cleaning after the last guest left but not the real thing. You could see some crumbs here and there and spots where there shouldn't be spots, like in the bathroom. One of the main faults I would say is that the units don't get a good "spring cleaning" where all the corners are swept and mopped.

Another disappointing thing was the feeling of "second hand" or a "garage sale" feeling to some of the items in the unit. At these prices, I would think they could afford to go to a department store and buy a proper matching knife collection or a pair of kitchen scissors. The knives were just a random collection of knives from different sets, almost like someone scooped up a whole set at a garage sale. "15 Knives for $1.00" Other things like pots, plates and glasses were a lot better, but it was like no one thought about an overall complete approach to the kitchen collection. Again, not exactly our idea of luxury. More like your Uncle Ralph's fishing cabin collection.

In this same vein, the toaster, while it worked, was missing the slider to indicate darkness. Again, a visit to Target would fix this for less than $30, but someone doesn't care about that kind of thing.

I thought about safety when I saw a lamp or two with some exposed electric pieces. I was at first relieved when I saw a smoke alarm (especially since you're perched on a hill in a tinder-dry environment in a wooden structure), but I was shocked when I noticed there were no batteries in the smoke alarm at all.

Even though the unit was billed as air conditioned, that was only partially true. There were window-air-conditioning units, of vary ages, in the bedrooms, but none in the living room. I know some people don't care because they would prefer to just keep the windows open for the breeze, but know lots of folks want air conditioning throughout. So in this unit you could have cool bedrooms but the living room wouldn't get cool really.

The internet was painfully slow. There was a wireless connection, and we could barely get a streaming connection for music like iTunes. Forget about streaming video or video chat and things like that. If you want email you’re OK, but you have to wait even to see the CNN page get loaded. It's always on, but acted more like dial up speed.

The decorations are from the unit owner, so it's a mixed bag there. The only problem I have is that things like cushions and rugs have seen better days. If you are moving 4 - 6 people though your unit, every week, all year long, go ahead a visit Target, say, every 3 years or so, and just replace the rugs, cushions, lamps and things that are fraying around the edges. Again, this depends on your definition of luxury, but it would be nice if they had a checklist of highly utilized items that they would just replace on a regular schedule.

There is a convenience store (called a "gourmet store" for some reason) about a 10 minute walk down a small hill. You can get things like coffee, milk, water, cheese, beer and liquor there. If you wanted to really cook, as we did, you will need to either take a 20-minute walk to one of the real grocery stores down at the bottom of the hill (Starfish or Dolphin markets). The incline is very steep, so unless you are in good shape, I wouldn't do it on foot and definitely not try to get back up with groceries unless you want a real workout. So if you don't walk, you can either drive your rental car, or walk down and take a taxi back up for about $5.00 per person one way.

The tap water is apparently rain water collected in cisterns. I'm sure that would put some folks off. We are more particular than most, and were always wondering about things like, should we cook spaghetti in collected rain water? Never totally figured that out, but we survived. There was a faucet in the kitchen labeled, "pure" which appeared to be filtered water. Given the relaxed attitude towards cleaning, fire safety etc, I figured the water filter hadn’t been replaced on schedule and wasn't truly filtering, so I didn’t trust that the water was actually pure. We bought 2 gallon containers of water every day to make coffee, soup, etc. This made our daily walks to the store quite a workout but we actually enjoyed it.

There are cockroach traps scattered around the kitchen. We only saw one live cockroach in a whole week, so they appear to have that fairly under control. Still, I associate seeing cockroach traps in the kitchen with my $300/month college apartment and not a "luxury" condo on vacation.

If mosquitoes like you, then bring some repellent. Even inside the unit we had a hard time keeping all of them out. We got more bites inside during dinner and hanging out than out on the deck for some reason. We kept killing the ones we found inside, but somehow one or two more always got in for a feast on our feet and legs in the evening. We ended up just spraying our legs with repellent when we got home in the evening.

We were lucky to be able to see some of the other units during our visit. I would say, as disappointed as we were with the Sea Breeze kitchen etc, some of the other units looked worse. In one unit there was a handle missing from the fridge and there was some yellow "schmutz" on the outside of the fridge. We counted ourselves lucky to have gotten as much "luxury" as we did in the Sea Breeze.

I think the casual attitude towards cleanliness could be fixed if they hired a maid with some kind of a work ethic. She seemed a bit over the top relaxed. I know this is the Caribbean, but I would think they could find someone on St. John who doesn't want to be a chicken farmer and needs the money and was willing to actually scrub all the corners to keep her job.

We walked by many houses with signs of "Villa xxxx" in the front on our strolls. Many of these places looked like cheap efficiency apartments to us: tangled weeds around the grounds, in need of repairs and basic painting. We even passed one with a plastic "Heineken Beer" table and plastic chairs plopped on a run-down deck amidst the tangled woods next to the house. That looked pathetic. At least at Suite St. John grounds are kept very nice and clean and it doesn't look like an abandoned Motel 6. It appears you can go pretty far wrong renting a "villa" sight unseen on St. John.

We did visit Gallows Point just to check out the rooms. Now that place looked like someone kept up with the maintenance and cleaning! Of course, it depends on the unit as those are individually owned too. I saw some bad reviews on that as well. There are very different levels of professionalism in places that are quite close by, so it would best to match the place to your specific needs. There are some luxury condos now under construction at the bottom of Battery Hill. I hope these will spur the Suite St. John staff to new heights of cleanliness or staff changes so they can compete.

After everything, we came here for the beaches, and only partially for a "luxury" experience. We were 1000% happy with Honeymoon beach and Trunk Bay beach which made us forget all our concerns noted above. Every day we walked 10 minutes down to Cruz Bay and took a taxi for about $5.00 each person to a beach with our picnic lunch and just enjoyed every minute till 5:30 when we returned back to the condo. I had no idea beaches could be that perfect, but it's for real.

In terms of a rental car, if you're just going to the national park beaches (out as far as Cinnamon Bay), you can skip the car rental and catch taxis. We were afraid we would spend all our time waiting for taxis but they were almost always around. You will most likely need them to go to beaches and shopping. Write down the Taxi Dispatch number from the condo info book and you can call them any time to get picked up.

My only hope is that next time we can find another place in St. John that has the peaceful feeling of Suite St. John but with less of the negatives noted above.

  • Liked — Peaceful, nice views
  • Disliked — Garage sale kitchen accessories, some threadbare furniture, fire hazard
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
7 Thank IslandLuxe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VA
1 review
Reviewed 7 February 2008

Battery Hill proved the perfect spot for our family of 4. Property is comprised of only 9 condo units, so has a cozy feel; it is very well maintained and only a short walk to downtown Cruz Bay. Bedrooms have air conditioners, but, being January, there was no need for them. The pool area was a great place to relax after a "tough" day at the beach. We stayed in "Tropical Breeze" which is the largest unit. The kids loved the loft bedroom and we were mesmerized by the awesome views from the deck. Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed January 2008
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank VaSnowbird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NJ
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 April 2007

We stayed at Battery Hill this January and had a wonderful time. "We" included myself, hubby, our 12 year old daughter and 13 year old niece. We booked "Palm Breezes" because it has a large loft bedroom upstairs as well as the downstairs master which gave everyone room to spread out. The decor is tropical, and the condo is very well equipped. This condo has beautiful views in almost every direction, especially from the covered balcony. We spent the days doing the beach thing, and then came back "home" in the afternoons. The kids hung out at the pool until dinnertime while we adults enjoyed our freshly blended frozen margaritas on the balcony, taking in the views of the busy little harbor and open sound. The unit is fully AC, and the kids did use it at night. We never turned it on downstairs as we loved the breezes. You can either grill poolside, eat in or take a short walk downtown for dinner; we did all three. This is a fine family spot; we would come back.

  • Liked — views, convenient loction, well furnished kitchen
  • Stayed January 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank map55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
58 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 June 2006

We moved to Battery Hill to avoid construction noise but were sorry to see that construction is alive and well with Grande Bay Resort right next door to Battery Hill! Luckily the noise was minimal but it will be a few months before it is finished. The new complex (right next to Stone Terrace and the Beach Bar) blocks the views across Pillsbury Sound and St. Thomas but luckily the views of Cruz Bay remain unobstructed--for now. Our unit was 'Rainbow's End' and we loved it, nice and airy, quiet air conditioning and cool breezes depending on time of day, and a wonderful outdoor living area, complete with house cat. Right next to the pool, which was nice as we had it to ourselves most of the time. We had heard about noise from the Beach Bar on party nights but since were there during the week it didn't bother us. Might be loud on big weekends or during Carnival. Tom from Suite St. John rental agency was great. We enjoyed the stock of books and games for days when it rained. We would definitely stay here again.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank PK&TK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 2 April 2006

My wife, three kids and I spent a wonderful week in St. John and THOROUGHLY enjoyed staying at the Palm Breezes condo. The unit was spacious enough to handle the five of us with room to spare. The main level was open, well furnished, clean and comfortable. We cooked all our meals in the condo and the kitchen was well stocked with all the necessities. Our kids LOVED sleeping in the loft, while the master bedroom downstairs was perfect for the "old folks". The views from the balcony of St. John and Cruz Bay are stunning (see posted pics). We enjoyed the majority of our meals on the balcony trying to soak in as much as possible. The entire condo was air conditioned, but most of the week we just opened up the windows and enjoyed the constant breeze.

The entire Battery Hill complex was very clean and provides use of the pool, gas grill, beach chairs, beach toys and snorkel gear. Its location is only minutes from Cruz Bay and all it has to offer. The locals are very nice, eager to please tourists and just generally love telling about their beautiful island.

The local Battery Hill contact was attentive to any/all of our needs. We had a WONDERFUL time and will DEFINITELY stay there again.

  • Stayed March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
home
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2006

The location is good if you want to walk into town, but the town isn't very nice and doesn't feel very safe. There is no meaningful beach to walk to. This is not a scenic place by any means

Stayed March 2006
Helpful?
5 Thank bdeheff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Battery Hill Condominiums

Property: Battery Hill Condominiums
Address: Frangipani Lane | Of Route 105, Cruz Bay 00831, St. John
Region: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. John > Cruz Bay
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 17 Speciality Lodging in Cruz Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 8
Also Known As:
Battery Hill Condominiums Hotel Cruz Bay
Battery Hill Condominiums St. John/Cruz Bay

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