Blue Sky Challenges St. John Businesses to Help Island’s Animals

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PuppyIf you know me, you know I love animals, and I’m always looking for ways to help them. My yellow lab Dakota was my constant companion on St. John for over a decade, and I just adopted an adorable shelter puppy named Bobo Blue. For years, I’ve supported The Animal Care Center of St. John, and this year I’m taking it up a notch with a big donation, and challenging other businesses to do the same.

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The Animal Care Center of St. John is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being and care of homeless, abandoned and abused animals on the island of St. John. This nonprofit started back in the 1960’s when concerned citizens united to find solutions to wild dog packs and feral cats on the island. At that time, there weren’t facilities for spaying and neutering, so both animals and people were suffering. Over time, the Animal Care Center of St. John has grown to provide a no-kill shelter for homeless animals. I love volunteering at the shelter’s adoption drives and I also help with their unique program that escorts homeless animals to the mainland United States, where they are adopted by families.

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Way back in 2013, I took Twix all the way from St. John to Chicago to join her new family.  She was so well behaved while flying, and I loved bringing her to her new home. About 5 years ago I was walking into Starfish Market in St. John.  Every Tuesday the Animal Care Center of St. John holds an adoption clinic outside the market to spotlight a dog and a few kitties. I was in ZERO need of another dog as I had Dakota who was getting very old and needed my full attention. But when I walked by the adoption clinic on this day I saw this sweet old dog named Ophelia. I asked her story. Denise Walker, who is “Mrs. Save All Animals” (and one of the many reasons I ❤️her so much) was in charge of the clinic. She said Ophelia was around 10-15 years old, had an owner for her whole life, but for some reason he didn’t want her anymore so dropped her off at the ACC. It absolutely broke my heart.

So a trip to get groceries quickly turned into taking home another dog. She and Dakota got along right away and so I then began my search for her forever home since I couldn’t keep her long term. My friend, Ted Sheer, had just lost his little dog so when he came to the villa I lived at they immediately bonded. Yay!! He said, “I’ll take her!” Fast forward 5 years and they are inseparable. I ran into the both of them a few years later and seeing Ophelia so happy and healthy made my heart smile. These are just a couple of stories of sweet dogs and cats getting a second chance at life through the ACC.

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This year, I’ve decided to dig deeper and give a little more to my favorite charity.

I’ve donated $10,000 to  the Animal Care Center of St. John (ACC) Wagapalooza Fundraiser, and launched the “Blue Sky & ACC Matching Challenge!” The plan is to encourage other businesses, who understand the plight of the ACC, to join Blue Sky in matching this $10,000 donation. If $10,000 could grow to $20,000 it would help the shelter greatly in so many ways.

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The ACC has been struggling since the hurricanes of 2017 with three times the volume of rescues, as people left the island and surrendered their pets to the ACC. I believe that the lives of furry orphans matter too, and I’d like to challenge my friends, clients, and colleagues to join me in supporting the ACC. The shelter has already received a $5,000 matching donation from a gentleman on St. Thomas, but my goal is $20,000.

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I’m a HUGE fan of the ACC as it is the only no-kill shelter in the Virgin Islands. The kindness and hard work that their staff gives every day is beyond wonderful. When I wrote that $10,000 check it brought happy tears. There were a lot of emotions going on at that moment. When the hurricanes destroyed the Virgin Islands my business also took a major hit. Since the storms, I have poured everything I have into this company to rebuild it so to be able to write this check to one of my favorite non-profits is the best feeling on the planet. My goal with this Matching Challenge is to help as many shelter animals as possible on St. John. This wonderful little island has been in my life for 25 years. It feels so great to give back to an organization that I’m so passionate about. So, who’s going to join me and turn $10,000 into $20,000?

 

For a complete list of St. John villa accommodations, please visit our page – http://blueskyconcierge.com/st-john-villas/

Recommended St. John Villas

A La Mer
Caribbean Palm Villa
Estate Solenborg

Five Hotspots for Fine Dining on St. John

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Of all the Caribbean islands, I spend most of my time on St. John. It’s where I started my business, and this lush, verdant island with drop-dead gorgeous beaches will always have a piece of my heart. It’s a relatively small island, with just a couple of public resorts and a small town, Cruz Bay, where most of the restaurants are located. Most of our Blue Sky Luxury Travels clients stay in private villas on the island, and our team makes all of the arrangements for provisioning and private chefs so they can enjoy their meals without lifting a finger. We love helping clients find that special place for a big night out, and fine dining restaurants in St. John are perfect for anniversary, birthday and wedding celebrations. Here are some of my best restaurant recommendations for fine dining on St. John. One thing to remember with all of these establishments is that they fill up quickly, especially on weekends. Our team here at Blue Sky Luxury Travels can help you make your reservations in advance to secure your celebration destination.

extravirginExtra Virgin Bistro

Extra Virgin Bistro is perched on a hillside overlooking Cruz Bay, and it’s a bit away from the hustle and bustle of town. The chefs are dedicated to locally grown, and sourced products and they cure their own meats, make fresh pasta daily and grow their own herbs on their rooftop garden. They purchase fish from local fishermen and print their names on the daily menu with the fish they catch each day. I love Extra Virgin Bistro’s tasty, original cocktails with house-made infusions and bitters, especially the Bird of Paradise and the Green Thumb. And the food is truly inventive, with unique dishes like Tempura-battered Pumpkin Leaf. The menu changes daily, so there’s always something new to discover, and they tempt the palate with amuses bouches between courses.

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La Tapa

With a romantic atmosphere, creative, upscale menu, and personalized service from the best in the business, La Tapa is my go-to for a special meal out. La Tapa offers a contemporary Mediterranean vibe with a variety of delicious tapas and personalized service that creates a warm atmosphere. La Tapa’s chefs prepare unique creations with local fish and vegetables from St. John fisherman and farmers. The menu changes nightly to reflect the best ingredients available locally. I especially love the wine at La Tapa, they serve mostly Spanish wine and have a more extensive selection than most island spots, with 25 wines by the glass on most evenings.

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The Terrace

Located in the heart of Cruz Bay, the Terrace offers outdoor dining on the terrace with a sweeping view of the harbor. Watch the boats come and go and admire the sparkling turquoise water while you enjoy fine dining with a view. Chef Erica Miner transforms local ingredients into contemporary dishes like Pan Roasted Wahoo and Tuna Nicoise. I love how they bring warm bread and roasted garlic butter to start the evening. The Terrace serves fun cocktails and offers an extensive wine list, including some of my Napa and Burgundy favorites. Don’t miss the desserts, especially the decadent Lemon Lavender Crème Brûlée!

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Ocean 362

OCEAN 362 is right in the heart of Cruz Bay, and the best seats in the house are at the upstairs bar overlooking the harbor. Start your evening with drinks with a view, perhaps timed to experience the sunset, and enjoy Ocean362’s Happy Hour menu from 5-7. Then, proceed downstairs for your divine meal.  Ocean 362 offers contemporary twists on traditional Caribbean dishes with ingredients that are fresh, local and sustainably sourced.  Daily specials on a recent visit included Saffron Smashed Potato, Asparagus, and Citrus Beurre Blanc Lobster Tail, and I’m always happy to celebrate with their Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake.

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Morgan’s Mango

Morgan’s Mango is housed in a pretty British colonial style building in Cruz Bay, adorned with graceful porches and billowy curtains that lend a relaxing air. The menu is focused on Caribbean and South American cuisines—Creole, Bahamian, Cuban, Jamaican, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Argentinian and Mayan. Their dishes show the influence of the original inhabitants of the islands, the Arawak and Carib Indians, as well as the Africans, East Indians, and Chinese who arrived later. Morgan’s Mango brings history to the table, sharing how these early cultures blended with Spanish, French, British and Danish settlers to create classic Caribbean cuisine. Tuesdays and Saturdays are Lobster Night at Morgan’s Mango, and they serve it Caribbean style for an authentic taste of the islands.

Here at Blue Blue Sky Luxury Travels, we make sure to sample a variety of restaurants and experiences so that our clients can look forward to the very best. Fine dining in St. John has gotten better over the years, and now there are many places to enjoy a special meal out. Looking for a villa, yacht charter, private chef or dining on St. John? We’ll be glad to help you plan your next escape!

Recommended St. John Villas

Ardisia
Mare Blu
Villa Sunspot

Five Questions to Ask Before Your Next Luxury Yacht Charter

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Many of our clients choose to spend all or part of their island vacation aboard a luxury yacht. Here at Blue Sky Luxury Travels, we are experts in yacht charters, so we know how to pair our clients with the perfect luxury yacht. We consider the age makeup of the group: whether it’s all adults, families with kids, or a multigenerational family reunion. Your ideal level of vacation activity is also important: some people just want to lay in the sun relaxing with a beautiful view, while others look for adrenaline-filled days of diving, fishing, jet-skiing, and kayaking. We always ask our clients how high a priority they place on fine dining, since some yacht charters offer elegant meals in refined dining rooms, while others focus on grilling up the catch of the day and taking meals on the deck. We present our clients with a curated selection of ideally matched luxury yachts for their consideration. When you’re making the decision of what yacht charter is right for your island vacation, here are the 5 most important questions to consider:

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1. Where do you want to go?
The Riviera, Italy, Fiji, The Greek Isles, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas are all hotspots for luxury yacht vacations. One benefit of chartering your own yacht vs. taking a cruise ship is that you don’t have to stick to a fixed schedule. You can choose the timing and location of where you want to begin and finish your voyage. Blue Sky Luxury Travels can help you find the right luxury yacht charter for the destinations you choose.

2. Do you prefer a motor or sailing yacht?
If you have a large group and want an experience that’s more like a private cruise voyage, you may prefer a motor yacht. They travel faster so you can cover more ground and are suitable for larger groups seeking elegance and luxury. Sailing yachts, including catamarans and trimarans, are also luxurious but can be available for smaller groups at a lower price point. They offer a closer to the sea experience and are wonderful for family and couples vacations. Often with sailing yacht charters, the price includes your fuel and meals. Gratuity is additional and is usually around 15%.  For motor yacht charters, they typically charge for meals and fuel in addition to the base yacht charter fee.
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3. What does the crew do?
Both motor yacht and sailing yacht charters include the services of a crew unless you order a bareboat charter. Crews typically stay with the boat for several years at a time, so they know the vessel and itineraries well. Your yacht charter crew will be made up of a captain and additional trained crew including a chef, a concierge, deckhands, housekeepers, engineers, and sometimes even masseuses and beauticians on some larger yachts. Their goal is to make sure you don’t have to lift a finger while you enjoy your luxury yacht vacation.

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4. Do you get to choose the food?
Provisioning is a vital part of the yacht charter experience. Your yacht chef will prepare meals for your group throughout your vacation, but since there’s no grocery store in the water, everything has to be purchased in advance. Prior to your luxury yacht vacation, you’ll fill out a questionnaire where you can provide the chef with your food and beverage preferences along with any dietary or medical conditions in your party. Then the yacht chef will work their magic to prepare gourmet meals for you to enjoy!

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5. What should you pack?
Planning for your yacht charter vacation is half the fun! Your yacht will come fully provisioned with everything needed for sailing, safety, and meal preparations. It’s a good idea to pack your things in a soft-sided bag, ideally something collapsible like a duffle, since closet space is at a premium. Of course, you’ll want to remember the basics like passport, prescription medication, reef safe sunblock (we can recommend some great ones as well as chemical free if you like), lip balm, and insect repellent. “Dry Bags” are super useful for keeping your money and electronics dry and safe. Bring along some seasickness pills or patches just in case.
When it comes to clothing, of course, you’ll want several cute swimsuits with coverups, and casual clothes for days on the water, sunglasses, a hat, and a light raincoat. Guests are usually asked to go barefoot on the boat to keep it clean, but you’ll want a pair of shoes with non-marking soles and a good grip that you can wear either onboard or ashore. Flip-flops are always good for beach excursions and bring along some water shoes for diving.

Here at Blue Sky Luxury Travels, we are at your service to create the ultimate yacht charter vacation. We personally visit several yachts in charter destinations worldwide to make sure we know what’s out there. Let us help you choose the perfect luxury yacht charter for your next dream vacation!

 

Recommended Sailing Catamarans

All Inclusive Crewed Yacht Charter 77 Feet
Lagoon 620 Crewed Yacht Charter BVI 67 Feet
Luxury Crewed Catamaran Charter 60 Feet

A Day In the Life: What Does a Luxury Concierge Service Actually DO?

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Blue Sky Luxury Travels is based in the Caribbean and creating vacation experiences for clients in stunning destinations all over the world. We make a point of visiting each property that we represent, and we love to share our discoveries so we post photos every day of beautiful destinations and luxury experiences. We know it may all look like fun and games, island-hopping in Fiji, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, but we promise, we are actually hard at work! Since so many people have asked, we wanted to share what a day in the life is for Shanna Dickerson, the CEO of Blue Sky Luxury Travels. Shanna stays in different islands and towns all over the world, but wherever she is, she makes sure to keep to her schedule and make sure that all of her clients’ needs are cared for.

So here’s what a day in the life of Shanna really looks like:

6am    

Shanna rises early and meditates for twenty minutes to get her head straight for the day. Next, she heads straight for the coffee machine for a nice hot cup of coffee. She checks her phone for any urgent client messages and looks over her schedule for the day, always making a point of picking a beautiful spot with a view to start the day off right.

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6:30am      

Workout time! It’s so important to keep energy high and muscles strong, so Shanna gets her exercise done, either with a hike in the hills, a trip to the local gym, or her 25-minute at-home workout routine.

8:00am

Client messages. Clients and vendors communicate with Shanna through many different means: text messages, Facebook and Instagram direct messages, emails and phone calls. When a new client comes in, Shanna sends them a Concierge document outlining the services that Blue Sky Luxury Travels has available, and clients usually email her with their specific needs. Shanna keeps track of client requests for upcoming trips on a gigantic spreadsheet, so she refers to that and fills in details as she gets new requests. She makes notes of what needs to be done for the day and answers questions for clients who are coming to the islands.

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10:00am

Vendor phone calls. In the Virgin Islands, most car rental services, grocery delivery services, and BVI Yacht Charters operate primarily by phone. This is why it’s so essential to have a travel concierge service handle planning when you’re visiting St. John, St. Thomas, St. Lucia or the Bahamas- it’s hard to get in touch with someone who can set things up. It’s not like other trip planning where you can just go online and do it all yourself. Internet service can be spotty on the islands, so Shanna makes most of her arrangements with vendors over the phone. They’re all accustomed to hearing her cheerful voice and she makes sure they stay organized and keep to the arrangements she’s made for her clients coming to the islands. Shanna makes arrangements for Caribbean villa rentals, yacht rentals, catamarans, fishing trips, grocery delivery, snorkel gear rental, kayak and paddleboard tours, and dining reservations so her clients can relax and enjoy their Caribbean vacations.

12:00pm

Shanna takes a break for lunch, usually a big salad or veggie bowl, at a restaurant on the island. She makes sure to try all the different dining options on each Caribbean island where she stays, so she can offer the best recommendations.

1:00pm

Back to work on emails and phone calls, making arrangements with clients and vendors.

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2:00pm

Client meetings. Shanna handles housing for hundreds of hurricane recovery workers through her Blue Sky Global Logistics division. She often meets with top-level officials to understand their needs and find the appropriate solutions. Some days, she’ll take a boat to another island to meet with visiting corporate clients to plan their upcoming corporate events on the islands. Other times, she’ll offer a quick island tour to visiting friends, to show off her favorite spots for paddleboarding and beach time. Face to face is always best, so Shanna makes the time to meet in person with her clients.
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6:00pm

Dinner time. Sometimes it’s a dinner meeting with clients, or a meetup with friends staying in a Caribbean villa nearby, or even a quick sandwich at home when the work schedule is intense.

8:00pm

Shanna checks her messages one more time to make sure everything is handled, then the phone goes OFF for a little meditation and quiet time before bed.

9:00pm

Bedtime! Early to bed, and early to rise, keeps Shanna energized, cheerful and ready for anything!

We hope this window into Shanna’s world has helped you understand a little more of what Blue Sky Luxury Travels really does. We take care of every trip planning detail for you from start to finish. Our goal is to make your vacation relaxing, fun and incredibly memorable. If you’d like to put our concierge team to work for your next vacation, please email us at info@blueskyconcierge.com.

 

Recommended Caribbean Villas

Jade Mountain Resort
Triton Villa
Villa Carissa

Three Romantic Caribbean Villas for Your Caribbean Getaway

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When planning your romantic Caribbean getaway, you want to have best of all. As experts in Caribbean travel and accommodations, let us help you choose the most romantic place with an intimate atmosphere, where you can spend unforgettable moments with your loved one. Here are our top three Caribbean luxury villa picks:

The Suites at Paradise Ridge, St. Lucia

The Suites at Paradise Ridge is the place to go if you are planning a honeymoon or are celebrating any other romantic occasion. It is one of the most romantic places in the world, home to the ultimate getaway for honeymooners, couples celebrating an anniversary, or renewing their wedding vows. The location is spectacular – 1,100 feet above sea level overlooking the Pitons. Each villa is 1,400 square feet in size and has a private pool with drop-dead views of the dramatic Piton Mountains and the Caribbean Sea. The villa’s décor has a romantic appeal and features porch swings for two over the pools, tree branches fashioned into lamps, vivid mosaic tile work covering the shower walls, and elaborate carvings in the support columns. If you don’t feel like leaving your suite, you will have the option to be pampered with additional services, such as massage therapy, in-room dining, private butler and more.

The Peter Bay Gatehouse, St. John

The Gatehouse at Peter Bay in St. John is situated in one of the most romantic locations overlooking Peter Bay. The villa features two suites – the Honeymoon Suite and the Penthouse Suite, both ideal for romantic occasions. Each suite is 1,200 square feet in size and has a large balcony surrounded by the splendor of virgin Caribbean panoramas. They both have private entrances and come with upscale amenities and spacious living rooms, air-conditioned bedrooms with king size beds, spacious bathrooms and ceiling fans. The Penthouse Suite has a private spa area with a hot tub overlooking Peter Bay.

The Beach House, Turks & Caicos

This is a luxurious beachfront villa just steps from the award-winning Grace Bay Beach. What makes The Beach House ideal for romantic occasions is the magnificent views featured from its direct oceanfront location. The open floor layout of the living room boasts scenic views of the pool and the sea. The pool is just a few steps away from the sandy beach and has plenty of seating and lounging space, perfect for romantic gatherings and entertainment. When you book this home, you can do custom upgrades for an additional fee, such as villa pre-stocking, a private butler and chef, restaurant reservations, arrange tours and activities and more.

If you are interested in these properties or any other in the Caribbean, please let us know :) info@blueskyconcierge.com

 

Recommended Caribbean Villas

The Suites at Paradise Ridge
The Peter Bay Gatehouse
The Beach House

Blue Sky Luxury Travels Expands in 2019

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Blue Sky is expanding and we want you to be the first to know! In addition to our full-service luxury concierge and event company, we now offer housing logistics for corporate clients and luxury villa rentals. Blue Sky Global Logistics is our newest division, providing corporate and workforce housing for disaster relief staff. We are currently at work in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico housing workers who are helping to rebuild and restore areas affected by natural disaster. We’ve also expanded our villa rental portfolio throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Every day, we spotlight a different villa on our Blue Sky Luxury Villas Facebook page.

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Our blog has expanded, and we now provide articles each month with all types of information, travel tips, memories and suggestions to make you a more informed luxury traveler.

2019 is shaping up to be an amazing year, and this is just the beginning! We look forward to serving our clients with boutique attention and exceptional service. We are here for all your travel needs, simplifying everything for individuals, families, weddings, and corporations. Feel free to contact us if you need some help planning your next vacation!

Want to keep in touch with all the latest news from Blue Sky? Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter through email.

New Hot December Additions to our St. John Island Villas Collection

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As St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands comes back to life after the devastating hurricane in 2017, more and more luxury villas come back to life as well. Here are three top choices that entered our villa collections in December. We have personally checked these villas out, and we highly recommend them to our visitors looking for new and luxurious Caribbean vacation rental villas.

A La Mer

A La Mer is located on Cruz Bay Beach. This is one of the largest villas in the area that accommodates 19 guests in its nine luxurious bedrooms. The setting is resort-like, right on the water with a large swimming pool, sun loungers, swim-up bar, pool toys and tons of other amenities to entertain you and your party. This Caribbean villa is a perfect destination for a family reunion, anniversary celebration or business gathering. There is a private white-sand beach in front of the villa, perfect for beachfront gatherings and relaxation. The villa features custom furniture. It has a very large great room and fully-equipped kitchen with breakfast bar and warm mahogany cabinets. Seven of the bedrooms are in the main house and two are in the guest cottage. All bedrooms are air-conditioned. If you want to go out and play, the villa is only a 10-minute walk from the beach at the Westin Resort and only a short drive from Cruz Bay, where you will find shops and restaurants.

Caribbean Palm Villa

The Caribbean Palm Villa is the perfect place to stay at if you want to be near town. It is only a 5-minute drive from Cruz Bay, where you can enjoy all the island has to offer in terms of entertainment. The villa features spectacular 270-degree ocean views from all three master suites, an en-suite bath, private outdoor shower and private balconies. The villa has a fully-stocked gourmet kitchen with granite and stainless steel appliances. The villa’s décor is a mixture of Mediterranean and Caribbean, which results in a very elegant touch all around. Features include travertine floors, reclaimed Chicago brick pavers on the veranda and pool patio and reclaimed barn wood custom cabinetry. All three guest rooms have vintage vanities with high-end finishes.

Villa La Vita

Looking for ultra luxury villas in the Caribbean? This is one of the best and newest ultra luxury villas on St. John, located in the prestigious Peter Bay community. So come and check it out! The villa has five ultra-luxurious bedrooms and can accommodate groups of up to 10 people. The five bedrooms feature unique Caribbean décor and beds consist of 2 kings, 2 queens and 2 twins. Villa La Vita has a nice infinity pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the magnificent Peter Bay and Peter Bay Beach. You will find plenty of room to do outdoor entertainment, including alfresco dinners overlooking spectacular Caribbean vistas.

For a complete list of luxury St. John villa accommodations, please visit our page – http://blueskyconcierge.com/st-john-villas/

 

Recommended St. John Villas

A La Mer
Caribbean Palm Villa
Villa La Vita
Blue Sky Concierge