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“Amazing!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of House of Open Arms

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House of Open Arms
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Amazing!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 1, 2011

The House of Open Arms is an amazing, peaceful place to stay. Catherine is a gracious host and has truly created something special in the hills of Hurricane Hole on St John. My wife and I rented the villa for a week and enjoyed every minute of our stay. We love hiking, kayaking and swimming at the beach, so St John was a perfect place for us.

We awoke every morning to a beautiful sunrise over the water and went to bed each night to the open air and sounds of nature - as other reviewers have said - a tranquil and serene setting. I can't say enough about our host, Catherine, who met us at the ferry dock and went out of her way to pick up our rental car keys for us since our flight had arrived late to St Thomas. As many others have mentioned, she also prepared a delicious welcome meal for us that started a wonderful week.

Coral Bay and the surrounding areas are laid back, fun and a natural paradise. Any beach or hike on the island is worth doing, but we really enjoyed the hike on Rams Head Trail, the Reef Bay Trail and the Lind Point Trail. On beaches - they're all great - visit Francis Bay or Salt Pond Bay though if you're looking for some great snorkeling and something a little off the beaten path.

Overall, our stay at A House of Open Arms was amazing and we will be back.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank gotoadventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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161 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 28, 2011

House of Open Arms is the best lodging experience on St. John bar none. The units (Villa and Cottage) offer tranquility, exquisite beauty, and unique amenities that are tough to find in such a perfect, affordable package anywhere else. The house is built into a cliff with breathtaking views overlooking Coral Bay. Catherine's artistic touch and customer focus make any stay here a decadent experience.

You need a healthy sense of adventure to get the most out of a St. John vacation--the House of Open Arms is no exception. The geography makes any outdoor activity (hiking, snorkeling, swimming, sailing, etc) a highly enjoyable experience, but if you are looking for an "all-inclusive" type of experience this is not the place for you. The drive to the house will require a 4x4 and folks who have off-roading experience will get a kick out of the uphill climbs, but you probably won't need to do more than shift into first or second gear to navigate the rugged island roads.

People who lead active lifestyles and have an environmental streak will get the most out of a vacation at House of Open Arms. There are some stairs and you will need to be able to carry your own luggage at least once, but the welcome dinner and a dip in the soaking pool (Villa) or a bathe in the fabulously wonderful outdoor shower (Cottage) will cure whatever ails you. The green energy features of the house make you feel good about your carbon footprint while enjoying an unforgettable vacation. Catherine relented this past year and installed high-speed internet at the behest of some guests. I preferred to remain disconnected on my stay.

I've had the privilege of staying in the Villa and the Cottage. Each unit has its own appeal and I hope to spend more time in both on future vacations. Here is a synopsis of what appealed to me about each unit:
Cottage: is well-suited for couples who enjoy snuggling in a cozy setting... showcases the most amazing outdoor shower with views of the bay and outlying island arms... features a quaint wrap-around porch for breakfast bird-watching, afternoon reading, or evening wine sipping... displays an amazing mermaid mosaic adjacent to the outdoor grill... has an efficiency kitchen perfect for those with measured vacation cooking ambitions... offers comfortable living quarters with the utmost privacy and solitude.
Villa: is well-suited for couples who want a little more space and intend to spend their entire vacation on site... offers luxurious and spacious living quarters including a soaking pool... hosts a full kitchen for the ambitious vacation chef... features a quaint wrap-around porch (including a hammock) for breakfast bird-watching, afternoon reading, or evening wine sipping... has slightly less privacy than the Cottage by virtue of its proximity to the walkway (you may see Catherine or other guests once or twice a day).

For those interested in activities away from the house Catherine is by far your best source of information about anything on the island. I chose to structure my days by hiking in the morning, lunching on the beach (packed sandwiches, water, and fruit), swimming and sunbathing in the afternoon, and dining out most evenings. There is more than enough variety in terms of the island's outdoor activities to keep you occupied for a week. Dining options are not comparable to those in a big city, but they are more than enough to keep you well-fed and happy. My personal favorite is Aqua Bistro. There are several bars on the bay that offer light appetizers and sandwiches if that is more your speed.

Please be sure to pack plenty of 50 SPF sunscreen--Neutrogena Helioplex is a lifesaver. St. John is the closest I've ever been to the Equator and learned that lesson the hard way during my first stay.

I hope you all treasure House of Open Arms as much as I do. Happy vacationing!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
6 Thank Andrea L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Metuchen
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 21, 2011

The temperature was comfortably warm. Gasps could be heard from revelers' mouths aboard the Red Hook Ferry as images of the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands slowly appeared in our field of vision, one by one, as the ferry glided through the water towards the shores of St. John. Our first glimpse of Catherine brought exhilaration and wonderment. Sure, she was extraordinarily polite and seemingly knowledgeable during previous correspondences via email and over the phone, but would we be able to truly experience the "peace and a sense of renewed possibilities...in the tranquility of seclusion of A House of Open Arms", as is so aptly quoted on her website? The answer is absolutely, definitely, without a doubt, YES. Yes to all of the above and more. We were ecstatic from the moment Catherine met us at the ferry, drove us to the car rental agency, guided us to the "downtown" supermarket, led us through the mountainous roads of St. John, and took great pleasure in watching us squeal and laugh as we took the incredibly awesome off-roading adventure up the mountain to the villa. The villa, including all of the rooms (kitchen, upstairs bathroom, lounging area, & bedroom), the balcony/outside patio, and the pool were exceptionally clean. Our first night's dinner, made by the hands of arguably one of the best hostesses in the world, was succulent and well-balanced (Please check out the pics we posted on TripAdvisor). Snorkeling with the sea turtles, stingrays, squid, and other marine specimens during the day, then being able to return to a beautifully hand-crafted and well-maintained villa such as Catherine's was the highlight of our vacation! The island is quaint with a myriad of possibilities for adventure. We especially enjoyed para sailing and hiking to the only waterfall on the small island. We will definitely return one day to hopefully find the renewed sense of tranquility we experienced as guests of A House of Open Arms!!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Nestor M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kitchener, Canada
Level Contributor
34 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 12, 2011

We stayed at A House of Open Arms from August 2nd-9th, 2011. We rented the villa and could not have found a better place to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We wanted a place to get away from it all, and be together. This was perfect. No TV, no phone, no distractions.

Every nook and cranny of this place is filled with art. Catherine, the proprietor, is an artist and has filled this paradise with her own paintings and pottery. If you take time to look you will notice all the hand made light fixtures, hand painted shower tiles and you will see her name signed to many paintings.

The Villa is very well stocked with lots of games (Chess, Phase 10, Rummikub, Scrabble and many more..) lots of books (of every genre!!!) and lots of music selections. The music varied from REM to Gorecki Symphonies. You really need not worry about what books to bring to read, I guarantee you will find something to your liking.

The shampoo and body wash that are provided smell delicious, and are not just your tiny hotel size bottles. These were full size bottles - had I known, I would not have bothered bringing any of my own. I thought it would just be the little hotel sizes. There were plenty of hand towels, beach towels, face cloths, and even q-tips for us to use.

I was a bit worried about the heat in August, especially since when I booked a year in advance the Villa did not have A/C. (Before we got there Catherine had put in an A/C unit in the bedroom to ensure comfortable sleeping.) I was amazed at the temperature. The Villa was a bit warm but it probably would have been better had we turned on the ceiling fans to help circulate the air, or use the A/C to cool it down - but there was no need because we spent all of our time on the beautiful patio. It is large and spacious and there was always a wonderful breeze that kept us from getting too hot. And I must tell you that we sat outside until about 11 pm every evening and never saw any mosquitos. I felt like I was living in a magical bubble. The only insect you would see at night was the odd moth. It was incredible. The Villa had citronella candles and other bug repllant type things for your use but we never needed them. We went shopping one afternoon in Cruz Bay and I got about 10 bites on my feet -but when I returned to the villa, we never saw a mosquito. It was unbelievable. I usually get eaten by mosquitos but the Villa was just paradise.

For us, the decision between Cottage or Villa was a no brainer - we loved the idea of having our own private pool and our own full kitchen. Due to health issues, we do not eat out often, so having our own full kitchen was perfect. The Villa is very spacious and gorgeous. However, if you are not a pool person, and plan to be out a lot of the time, the cottage would be a great place to stay too. We were going away for the first time without kids and really wanted a place to just sit around and relax, so the Villa was the perfect choice for us.

If you have read other reviews, I am certain that you have read about the road/driveway. We had no idea what was coming our way with the roads in St. John because we have never been to such a mountainous location. Our first drive was quite the nail biter because we were not used the the CRAZY steep roads and hairpin turns. The road leading to Catherine's is more like a trail than a road and her driveway is terribly steep. But I assure you that you will get used to it. I am a timid driver and although my husband did all the driving, I got used to the roads and felt I could have driven too. We never did brave it down her driveway though- we just parked up top and walked down the driveway very cautiously. It is quite a hike up the driveway to get to the car, but it is definitely not a deterrant. I am not a fit person, and I broke my ankle a few months before coming, and although I moved slowly, I could go up and down the driveway without difficulty. However, if you are in any way limited with mobility, you may want to look at some place else to stay. There are many steps to go down to get to the Villa and even more to get to the Cottage.

Last but certainly not least, I must mention Catherine. She has found her calling. She is a wonderful hostess with an eye for detail. She is warm and friendly and very approachable. She respects your privacy completely so do not worry for one second about it being a problem that she lives above you. It will not be a problem at all. We wanted to visit with her so we invited her down one evening to chat. She was very gracious and came down. We realize that if every guest wanted to visit with her, she would have no time to do everything else she needs to do, but she was very kind and did not make us feel like we were imposing on her time. We felt that we had made a friend.

We had an amazing time at A House of Open Arms, and we highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a vacation to get away from it all. We hope to return one day to the little slice of heaven that Catherine has carved out in St. John.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
4 Thank Julie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bailey, Colorado
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2011

Catherine, our hostess, was exemplary. Her actions serve as a model of customer service, because the service feels like a family member is taking care of you. She is wise to understand that the "little things" are a big deal to most of us and she takes care of it all! Catherine was our guide - she met us at the ferry, took us to the store and led us to the cottage. Upon entering the cottage we found a clean and tidy space with nice touches like a Bose wave radio and selection of music and books (important as you sit on the wonderful deck and gasp at the incredible view). The first night she understood we would be weiry from travel and cooked us our first meal - what a kind welcome statement. The location is perfectly situated in Coral Bay; it's close enough to any place on the island, but far enough out that you feel a sense of calm and solitude. Hats off to you, Catherine...we felt at home in your cottage. Thank you for sharing your slice of island paradise! You helped make our 20th anniversary truly unforgettable...

Room Tip: The villa is nice too - would be great if you enjoy a pool to go with your view! We enjoyed the pri...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank GneiserMountain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2011

It is hard to exceed expectations when they are so high, but A House of Open Arms did just that. Even though the pictures are amazing, they still do not do the actual views justice. Catherine is a joy, and if you need her for anything she is always there to give advice. Had a great meal that she made us on our first night. The road getting there is half the fun!! Coral Bay is nice and quiet to stay at, plus it does not take too long at all to get to Cruz bay if you ever need to. We stayed at the Villa, which provided a great pool all to ourselves after a day on the beach. I highly recommend A House of Open Arms, and I know we will be back!!!

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank BJuniper30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 17, 2011

My husband and I are repeat visitors to a House of Open Arms and just love the location on the quiet lovely Coral Bay side of the island, with its beautiful vistas, peacefulness, and well-appointed villa. Catherine Perry is a wonderful on-sight proprietor - helpful when questions or requests come up, but not in the least bit intrusive. HOOA is a great choice if you are looking for a compromise between the independence and privacy of renting your own place on and staying at an inn. Would strongly recommend.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank eeny2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about House of Open Arms

Property: House of Open Arms
Address: 00830, St. John
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > U.S. Virgin Islands > St. John
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 34 Specialty Lodging in St. John
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 2
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A House of Open Arms is a beautiful vacation villa and cottage on the peninsula of Fortsburg in Coral Bay, St. John, USVI. 75% of St. John is Nat'l Park and we are located just outside of it overlooking Nat'l Park waters of Hurricane Hole, East End and beyond to Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands. We have solar water power and we are on the grid so we have air conditioning too! 180 degree white water views wrap around this delightful one bedroom villa and charming one bedroom cottage. The villa is 1000 square feet and has 1 bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, veranda and pool. The cottage is 650 square feet and has a wrap around porch, outdoor cooking area, front entryway, bedroom and an inside bathroom with an outdoor shower. Both areas are separate and very private. The cottage is down the hill from the villa about 40 steps. While the cottage will only hold 2 people, the villa can accomodate small children easily. The property is owned and managed by Catherine Perry a local potter and watercolor artist. She is available for local knowledge, helping plan excursions, restaurant recommendations or any need you may have. House of Open Arms is located on a breathtakingly green, private hillside with constant, cool ocean breezes. Come relax in peaceful elegance and see how well you can live while staying in balance with the world around you! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
a House Of Open Arms Hotel St. John
House Of Open Arms St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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