Vacation Home Rental versus Luxury Resort Hotel on St. John, USVI

St. John is a jewel in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and like a good jewel, you can enjoy it from a variety of settings. Two luxurious lodging options to consider for St. John visits are a vacation home and a resort hotel. Here’s a comparison analyzing these choices for three adult couples visiting St. John, USVI for one week, from May 18 to May 25, 2014 (rates were valid in early April 2014).

Option 1: Vacation Home

There are many firms renting St. John houses but I checked Villas Caribe since I previously rented through them. I selected St. John, my dates (5/18 – 5/24), and 6 people. On the results page, I set a max of $1,000 per night and set Order By to Price Low to High.

I decided to look closely at Blue Agave because I liked the name.



Blue Agave has three king bed suites and one queen bed suite.

Blue Agave, St. John, USVI

Blue Agave, St. John, USVI

This beautiful home costs $3,970 for the week. ($3,600 + $360 tax + $10 service charge)

Option 2: Luxury Resort

Caneel Bay is a luxury Caribbean resort right on the beach. In fact, Caneel Bay has seven beaches on 170 acres.

A Premium Beach Front room (with breakfast buffet) is $679 for 2 adults. The lowest possible rate is $449 for a Garden View room.

Caneel Bay, St. John, USVI

Caneel Bay, St. John, USVI

Total hotel cost would be $14,259 ($679 x 7 days x 3 rooms).

If You Choose the Luxury Hotel

Caneel Bay is a top Caribbean resort offering a luxurious pampering experience.

  • Getting There: Caneel Bay operates a private ferry between St. Thomas and Caneel Bay. A rate of $110 per adult includes unlimited ferry trips, dedicated lounge at St. Thomas airport, baggage handling, and safari bus transfer between St. Thomas airport and the ferry.
  • Getting Around: Jeeps can be rented from the Caneel Bay concierge. A taxi ride to Cruz Bay is about $5-10 per person.
  • Dining: Daily breakfast buffet is included in the room rate. Many other on-property dining options are available. Cruz Bay has many restaurants and is 5-10 minutes away.
  • Shopping: Onsite shopping options include gift, dive, and tennis pro shops.
  • Activities: Complimentary resort activities include pool, tennis, fitness center, movies, recreation equipment (snorkel gear, kayaks, sailboats, SUP), a children’s program, and more. Other services include tours and cruises, massage, and classes (fitness, art, SCUBA).
  • Sleep: If you want to sleep steps from the beach, this location cannot be beat.
  • Other amenities include afternoon tea, housekeeping, wifi, laundry, concierge, and 24 resort service.

If You Choose the Vacation Home

Blue Agave is a luxury 2,500 square foot vacation home with open gathering areas and private sanctuaries. It has magnificent views, private small pool and deck, a covered deck, and two outside dining areas; included are washer/dryer, grill, TV with cable/satellite, movies, games, and other home amenities.

  • Getting There: One way trips on the public ferry cost $7. The taxi between St. Thomas airport and the Charlotte Amalie ferry will be $7-10 per person. A property manager will meet you at the dock or be easily reachable by telephone. S/he will escort you to the property after you rent your Jeep or find a taxi.
  • Getting Around: Jeeps can be rented from several rental firms or (perhaps) the property manager. Home renters can get by with taxi transportation as mentioned in the reviews.
  • Dining: Flexibility of shopping and preparing food, ordering takeout/delivery, or eating in restaurants. For a splurge, Blue Sky delivers groceries and East West delivers prepared gourmet meals. Cruz Bay has many restaurants and is 5-10 minutes away.
  • Shopping: Cruz Bay is a 5-10 minute drive or taxi ride.
  • Activities: This is an ideal setting for private suntanning and relaxation. More time can be devoted to meals and socializing. Blue Agave’s pool is small but many houses have larger pools and some have hot tubs.
  • Sleep: Three master suites with king beds allow plenty of space for everyone. Comfortable couches, deck area, and a spare room with a queen bed offer extra room to spread out.

No Matter Where You Stay

  1. Jeep Rental. In my opinion, renting a Jeep turns a St. John visit into a memorable experience.
  2. Lunch and Dinner. St. John has incredible restaurants. Even if you stay at Caneel Bay, I suggest leaving the property grounds to have at least one meal in Cruz Bay.
  3. Activities. Water activities should be at the top of your to-do list. While there are outfits offering tours, you can simply rent your own snorkel gear and do it yourself. Much of St. John is a National Park and hiking trails are plentiful. Information and maps are available at the visitor center. A ferry ride to British Virgin Islands is really nice.
  4. Shopping. Coral Bay, on the other side of St. John, is the quiet, eccentric cousin of Cruz Bay. More shopping options are available on St. Thomas.


For privacy, independent spirit, and cost savings, select the vacation home, especially when traveling with a group. Even if hiring a caterer for meals, renting a Jeep, and paying extra for activities, a vacationing group can save thousands of dollars by renting a house.

For pampering and an unbeatable location, select the luxury resort. The resort may also be a better choice for one couple or a small family.


NOTE: As much as I wish I was compensated by the companies mentioned in this article, I am NOT.

Previous McCool Travel post ====> Save Money on Lodging With University Rates

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© 2014, Charles McCool

5 thoughts on “Vacation Home Rental versus Luxury Resort Hotel on St. John, USVI

  1. Pingback: World’s Smallest Park, Portland, Oregon | McCool Travel

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