Caribbean Villas Made for Two

by : Paris Permenter & John Bigley

For some couples, the idea of real island romance is a private villa, without other guests. Just the two of you -- alone, except for the occasional visit by a cook or maid who is there to meet your special requests, to introduce you to island cuisine, and to make you feel pampered in what really is your home away from home. St. John, St. Thomas, Jamaica, and Barbados are especially popular islands for villa rentals.

Villas vary in price, services, and level of luxury. Before you make a commitment, check:

maid service. Many villas offer maid service before your arrival and after your departure; additional cleaning can be arranged for a surcharge. At other properties, you may have daily maid service. Check with your villa management company.

groceries. Can you send a deposit for groceries and have a cook stock up before your arrival? Finding a refrigerator and cabinets ready with your favorites can be a big boost after a long flight.

cook service. Many villas can arrange for cook service as you choose: three meals a day, dinner only, or just one special meal. In Jamaica, villas typically include cook service. Check your options.

air conditioning. Don't assume your villa is air conditioned; ever-present trade winds make this an optional feature. If it's more of a necessity than an option to you, inquire.

car rental. Many villas are located away from the resort areas. See if you should rent a car to avoid pricey taxi rides for long hauls.

minimum stay. Unlike hotel minimums of three nights, villas often require a minimum seven night rental.

Many resorts also offer villa rentals. These homes are located on the resort property and guests enjoy the security and services of the resort while at the same time having the space and facilities of a villa home.