First of all, I've never stayed at either....
We drove by the retreat when we were there in September. It is also for sale, and since I frequent real estate websites for St. John, I recognized it immediately. The house is funky and pretty cool IMHO. There are huge garage doors which open and make you feel like you're outside. It is pretty much off by itself WAY out on the east end of St. John. So, you'd be pretty isolated from civilization if that's what you're looking for. Love the fact that it has a pool. Nothing like rinsing off with fresh water after a day of sand and salt. One little caveat: The reason we drove by it was that there was a new development going in...I want to call it Privateer Bay...and we noticed a paved road. So, being adventurous, we followed the road and that's how we came upon the Retreat. It went on forever it seemed. There's extensive stone work lining the road to keep the hills from collapsing on it. Stonework is expensive, though, so I imaging the development will be quite upscale. Anyhoo, the Retreat was about the only house we passed on this winding, hilly miles long stretch of road. My concern would be that since the road was not yet finished at that time your peace and solitude might be interrupted by heavy vehicles either completing the road or beginning to build villas. It is up a steep incline from a lovely beach...not sure I'd be up for the hike, but I'm not you.
I've also seen Spindrift from the water. While also isolated, it is closer to Coral Bay and civilization. Doesn't have a pool though which I always want. Huge plus is that it's right on a beach, albeit it full of pebbles. Still, that's a rare commodity on STJ. Don't know if I've helped or further complicated things... I'd advise writing down your questions and concerns and discussing them with the rental agencies. They'll be honest wth you because they want you to return and go with them again.
Thanks, that was a huge help. I did notice on the Retreat website that there would be construction starting winter '06.
I think we are partial to Spindrift, if it is available. I would like a pool, but I would prefer to have a beach close by and also be away from civilization.