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All reviewshomemade granolacatherine perryhurricane holeoutdoor showercoral baysteep drivewayskinny legswatching the sunriseendless viewsdinner preparedlittle slice of heavencottage villakindest persongracious hospitalityfrench press coffeeslept with the windows openwheel drive
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Reviewed January 4, 2012

I recently had the great pleasure to spend two weeks at the House of Open Arms. One week in the Villa and one week in the cottage. This is truly a very special place. From the first moment, you know this a unique and beautiful destination. Spectacular views, immaculately maintained inside and out, impeccably furnished, peaceful and tranquil. Catherine, a working artist who lives on the property, is an incredible woman who has created a masterpiece nestled into the hills of Coral Bay. All the little touches, such as the homemade granola and the welcome dinner, serve to put the House of Open Arms in a class by itself. Sitting on the veranda each morning watching the Bananaquits and humming birds play in the garden is an incredible way to start the day. I am already dreaming of my return to St. John and can’t imagine staying anywhere but the amazing House of Open Arms

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled solo
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3  Thank Doug K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2011

My wife and I were there 12/17 - 12/26/2011 for our second stay (first stay December, 2010). If I could, our third stay there would start next week! The Villa is wonderfully comfortable and the view is one of the best on the East end of St. John. After a day of sailing or snorkeling, my wife and I would spend the next day at the Villa, relaxing, loving the view, loving the hummingbirds, feeling like there's no other place on St. John we needed to be, feeling the sense of urgency from our daily lives just gone!! Getting there off the main road, you understand why a 4-wheel drive is needed on St. John, but once you are there, the journey over the bumpy, long driveway is rewarded with a profound sense of peace. The only negative part of the House of Open Arms that my wife and I found is leaving it to catch the plane back home!!

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Ken K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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3  Thank gotoadventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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6  Thank Andrea L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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2  Thank Nestor M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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