St. Bart's is an amazing island with incredible people, wonderful food and a great sense of laissez-faire. On our first visit to the island we chose Hotel Christopher and although the property is superb and the staff attentive the villa experience seemed appealing.
After quite a bit of research and based on availability, we chose Villa Aurea which sells itself online as a "luxury retreat all its own." We deem this villa and the overall experience to be lacking as a luxury property and would not visit this villa again.
Style vs. substance. Looks pretty in pictures, but this amateur owner has missed to mark to make it a comfortable and unique villa. Here is what you should consider -
The owner [and/or family] is building another villa just below Villa Aurea so expect construction noise for some time [a screeching saw, hammering and other general noises] and a lovely crane swinging back and forth that blocks the view. Even in its stationary position the crane does block part of the view. Construction started at 7:00AM and continued until 6:00PM. Construction vehicles parked at the villa. The noise rendered the villa uninhabitable during the day. THE CONSTRUCTION WAS NOT DISCLOSED PRIOR TO RENTAL.
Evaluate privacy, views and noise once the new villa is complete since it is positioned close to Villa Aurea.
The listing notes: "it is not short on technology either; offering Wi-Fi, satellite TV, air conditioning and more”
(1) Although the island in general does not have the best Wifi, don’t expect to stream music or surf the web at this villa. Random one off speakers are placed throughout the rooms. They do provide an iPod/iPhone dock circa 2012, but no media system accepts a lightning cable.
(2) Satellite TV is French only [per the listing]. One doesn’t necessarily come to the island to watch television, but the lack of US programming and news in addition to no internet access was troublesome.
(3) Air conditioning in the bedrooms, but not the main living area is somewhat common on the island. This villa needs it desperately in the living area as no breeze exists at certain times of the year. Unused wiring is evident on the middle ceiling beam which could be for a future, but as of now non-existent ceiling fan. It does not offer relief from bugs.
The refrigerator is a nuisance. It is an afterthought in the kitchen design and requires opposing force to open. It requires an electricity converter which is exposed and bolted to the floor in the dining room and is EXTREMELY noisy and annoying.
The pool is quite small for such a large villa [even with only the completed three bedrooms]. More than four at a time in the pool and it may feel like you are sharing a bath tub with family or friends.
No shade on the deck. No deck umbrellas are provided and the limited awnings do not provide coverage. The deck loungers have no range of position and are not conducive to a relaxing environment.
No access to what looked like an outdoor shower room or a hose to rinse off after a beach visit.
The lower part of the villa is unfinished. While not entirely an issue for the main living area above it seems the lower area has been neglected and construction material is visible from the upper deck.
We personally cleaned the air conditioner unit filter in the bedroom the 2nd day after noticing a horrible stench. It was caked with dust and obviously had not been cleaned for some time, if ever.
The toilet water seems to be reclaimed since it was brackish. It creates a stench in the bathroom.
Poor kitchen design: Next to the cooktop is an inoperable faucet and what looks to be like an inoperable soap dispenser. The kitchen has an inoperable built in vacuum sealer. Go figure. We noticed this exact same kitchen design [cabinets & appliances] in another villa.
The road leading to the villa is very steep as are some roads in St. Bart's and requires a suitable vehicle with enough power to power up the hill.
Even though the villa sit moderately up the hill you do get some road noise from the busy thoroughfare below.
This villa may not be suitable for families with children.
General notes –
St Barts has been experiencing a building boom of late. Always ask about nearby construction and determine what works for you. Ask your broker if they have visited the property recently.
Not the ideal villa experience, but with St. Barts Blue and Ici et La’s assistance we were able to relocate to Villa Grande Large in Lurin mid stay. This villa offered many of the things Villa Aurea did not. We enjoyed the villa and the remainder of our stay.