FAQs About Caribbean Villa Rentals

(Frequently-Asked Questions and How-To's)

Below are several Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) that you may find useful. Please note, our Rental Terms and Conditions document (your villa rental "lease") contains information about our villa arrival process, cancellation policies, and other important details.

You may also wish to download Planning a Flawless Villa Vacation. The Planning a Flawless Villa Vacation guide is an excellent resource of information and suggestions to ensure a fun and relaxing stay, from start to finish.

And, while we rely on our island managers on St. Croix, St. John, Tortola, Little Thatch, Virgin Gorda, and Grenada to provide guidance on those islands, McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas is the St. Thomas island manager! In addition, our St. Thomas and St. John Guest Guides are must-haves for anyone planning to stay in one of our St. Thomas and St. John villas.

What's the climate like?

What is the weather like? In the islands temperatures range from the low 70's F to the high 80's F, with an occasional traipse into the 90's during the hottest days of summer. Our cooling trade winds and breezy villa locations can make the sun's rays feel much less intense than they really are, so monitor your time outdoors or on the ocean carefully. Don't rush a deep tan - take it very easy, and be sure to keep applying sunscreen and sun block often. You're only 18 degrees from the Equator here.

Is the water safe to drink?

The cistern water in our villas is filtered before it comes out of the faucets, and we've never had anyone become ill by drinking from the tap. If you're at all wary or have a jumpy stomach, you may prefer to buy bottled water at the grocery store for drinking, brushing teeth and to make ice.

What if there is a hurricane?

Please download and review our Hurricane Policy. If you are on island or traveling to the United States Virgin Islands, please visit the Department of Tourism's USVI News Update page. Keep up with more weather developments in the United States Virgin Islands at Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA). For the British Virgin Islands, visit British Virgin Islands Department of Disaster Management (BVIDDM). For Grenada, visit National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) Grenada.

When is Carnival time?

When is the Carnival Time and what can expect? Carnival is the yearly cultural extravaganza unique to each Caribbean island that celebrates that isle's independence, a fruitful year and wonderful life.

THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS PLAY HOST TO 3 DISTINCT CARNIVALS: On St. Thomas, it's called "V.I. Carnival" and events begin on Easter weekend and culminate 4 weeks later with 2 grand parades. On St. John, the 1848 Emancipation Day celebration events last for 4 weeks through July 3rd, with the parade hosted on July 4th (American Independence Day). On St. Croix, there's the Crucian Christmas Fiesta, a monthlong fête that lasts through Three Kings' Day.

THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS commemorate emancipation with a series of activities beginning in July that culminate in the BVI Festival's August Monday festival parade. The heart of the action is Road Town, with more events taking place in East End-Long Look and other areas, that stretch the celebration into the next weekend. ON VIRGIN GORDA, Easter Festival events take place on the 4 days before Lent (Spanish Town area).

GRENADA lives up to is "Spice Island" sobriquet with the annual Grenada Carnival. Dubbed "SpiceMas" by its organizers, the activities take place during the second week in August (Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday), just one week after the Emancipation Day celebration.

At these times of year, many islanders come home to partake and be with their loved ones. There is much more activity and traffic going on at the beaches, on the roads, and in the town areas. Ferry runs may be increased to accommodate the influx. Island government offices will be closed for parades and other key event dates. Most locals enjoy days off from work, which may mean that the availability of special services and extras will be sharply limited. Or, our vendors may be overwhelmed with requests, resulting in full schedules. It is very important to make all arrangements as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.

Are there mail and courier services in the islands?

May I send packages to myself? Since our island residential areas do not have street addresses, mail and overnight packages cannot be delivered directly to your villa.

IF YOU ARE STAYING ON ST. THOMAS, you're most welcome to have items delivered to McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas, 1000 Blackbeard's Hill Suite 3, St. Thomas, VI 00802, bearing in mind that there are no weekend deliveries, and that you will have to come to our office to pick up your items. We cannot promise delivery to your villa. Please be sure to note your name, in care of McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas, and add an attention line for the villa name.

IF YOU ARE STAYING ON ST. JOHN, we recommend that you make arrangements with Connections of St. John. Phone them at 340-776-6922 or 340-779-4994, or visit them on the web at connectionsstjohn.com.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ISLANDS? If you are staying on any of the other islands we represent, please contact our office to determine whether your island manager can accommodate your request. Please do this BEFORE you send your package.

First Class Mail can take up to a week to arrive here from the U.S. If you send a package, it must be sent Air Priority only, NEVER via Parcel Post (no matter what your Post Office in the U.S. tells you). Express Mail can take 2 or 3 days, and 2-Day Priority Mail can take up to a week to arrive here. Airborne Express and DHL can be very slow; FedEx and UPS Overnight are your best bets for weekday delivery (but here there are no weekend or holiday deliveries).

May I rent a car or should I take taxis in the islands?

Do I need to rent a car? We highly recommend that you rent a car for your villa vacation! If you have NOT rented a car for your arrival, then you must pay a private taxi to take you and your luggage to your villa (no allowances are made for stopping for groceries along the way). Taxi rates are government-regulated in the United States Virgin Islands (one way, $65-$90 for 4 persons, plus $15 for each additional person depending on where you go, plus any waiting time if you ask to stop at the grocery store - these taxi rates are Government-regulated).

In the British Virgin Islands and Grenada, your escort will be neither licensed nor insured to transport passengers, and you will need to hire and pay for a taxi. Once at your villa, you will be reliant on taxi services - with our hilly terrain and well-spaced properties, there generally NO shops, restaurants, etc., within walking distance. Your foreign or U.S. driver's license is valid in the U.S. Virgin Islands for 90 days (in the B.V.I. and Grenada, a local permit may be purchased for a nominal fee), and we drive on the left here - another adventure!

DO I NEED FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE (4WD)? A handful of our villa rentals do require 4WD vehicles due to the steepness of incline or switchbacks and/or spotty road conditions on the way in. You will be advised at the time of rental, and our web site will have this among the rental notes. The majority of the roads are well-paved but may have rough patches - and rain or dew can make a road less secure. We believe you will appreciate the extra control and safety of a 4WD vehicle, especially if you are into exploring our islands, regardless of where your villa is located. Highly recommended!

SEATBELTS are required for both front-seat passengers in the U.S.V.I. - a hefty fine can be levied if you're stopped and ticketed. Bring your cellular phone earpiece too - it's against the law (and there's a big fine) to hold a cell phone to your ear while driving in both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands! Grenada visitors are also required to wear seat belts.

CAR SEATS U.S. and British Virgin Islands law requires all children under 5 years old to be in a child-restraint car seat (or, if a child is 3 to 5 years old, he may wear a regular seat belt IF he is in a rear seat). Car seats are available from your rental car agency. Please order one when you book your rental car; there may be a small charge.

HOW DO I RETURN MY RENTAL CAR? When you are leaving the island, you may usually leave your car at the airport or ferry dock where you picked it up. Car rental companies that do not have port-based facilities will have differing requirements; their representatives will provide you with the necessary information when you obtain your vehicle. If you misplace this, you may also contact your local island manager for assistance.

Can I shop for duty-free gifts and souvenirs?

What is my duty-free allowance? For U.S. citizens returning to the mainland from the United States Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John or St. Croix, you may bring back up to $1,600 in purchases without duties on items like perfume, jewelry, electronics and personal gifts. Up to 1,000 cigarettes are included as long as at least 800 of them originate in the U.S. Virgin Islands or another insular U.S. possession. You may also include up to 5 liters of alcoholic beverages as long as one of them is a product of the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico or another insular U.S. possession. Please note all age restrictions for purchases here and in your residing state. More information on duty-free shopping in the U.S. Virgin Islands from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.

Will island grocery stores have what I want and need?

Are there large grocery stores in the Islands? Our supermarkets here have most basic American brands - our stores are not as widely stocked as those to which you're accustomed in the U.S. or your own country. If you have special dietary needs or if you love gourmet coffee or other specialty items, etc., it is far better to bring these items with you because you may not find them here.

You may also fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands with a sealed cooler full of frozen meats, etc. if you wish, but we recommend that your cooler be cooled with freezer packs only.

PROVISIONING: You may also wish to have your villa pre-stocked with groceries, especially if you have a long travel day or have young children along. Please prepare and submit your list no less than one week before arrival. Please visit the appropriate Island Page link above, and go to "Special Services" on the menu at left.

Are there modern conveniences and appliances in the villas?

Yes, but in the islands, we take special care with our resources and appliances as below:

AIR CONDITIONING AND REFRIGERATION: Please never turn your villa's air-conditioning units lower than 68 F (20 C). This can cause a unit to freeze up, stop working, then flood the room later when it defrosts. Electricity is extremely expensive here in Paradise. Please shut off your A/C units when going out for the day; it will only take 15 to 20 minutes for the villa to cool once they are turned back on.

Also, make sure your refrigerator's thermostat inside remains set at the MIDDLE range - don't let anyone turn the control up too high. Although this may seem logical, the high setting actually shuts down proper cooling. Just give your fridge up to 24 hours to cool all the hot items you just put into it; buy ice and use the villa cooler for your drinks.

Remove any cardboard from containers as this slows the cooling process. Make sure the ice maker handle is in the down position to make ice and up position to stop the process.

LAUNDRY: Most of our villas have a washer and dryer for your use. Help yourselves, but please remember: Help conserve precious water by using your villa towels more than once, and only running a complete load of wash (this goes for the dishwasher too)! Please verify that guests have laundry privileges if this is important to you; we'll be happy to confirm this.

PLUMBING: Waste treatment systems on the island are far more temperamental than those in the U.S. Many of our toilets are water-saver models which make them too delicate for any foreign objects or personal products, so please do not flush anything that you did not eat first! And NEVER put any kind of grease or oil down the toilet or sink drains - these will shut the waste treatment plant down. Water is so very precious in the islands, so please report all dripping faucets or running toilets at your villa to us immediately!

IS THERE TRASH REMOVAL? Due to the nature of our roads and the secluded locations of private homes, most of our villas do NOT have door-to-door trash collection service. Please drive your bagged garbage daily to one of the nearby metal dumpster bins, which are stationed randomly along our roadsides. If you have maid service provided at your villa, your housekeeper will remove the trash only on her scheduled days of maid service. We highly recommend that you remove your garbage every day to prevent the unpleasant effects of heat, and to deter unwanted insects like ants coming around (see INSECTS and other CREATURES below). If you leave your week's trash piled in your villa when you depart, you will be charged by the villa's staff for its removal (see the section on Security Deposits in the Rental Terms above).

WATER CONSERVATION: Very Important! In our villas, our only source of water is rainfall, which we catch and store in cisterns underneath the house where most people have basements. We check cisterns before rentals to insure you'll have enough, but if it runs out due to excessive usage or an unforeseen plumbing problem, we then have to have water trucked to the villa in a tanker rig. Arranging a delivery to fill your cistern may take several hours. So help us conserve by never letting the water run while washing up or brushing teeth, flush only when necessary, and do your best to take "Navy" showers: wet down and turn the water off while soaping up, and then rinse off quickly. PLEASE report all running toilets and dripping faucets to us immediately!

POWER OUTAGES: Occasionally we have power "outages" which can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. If your electricity goes out, it could be a circuit breaker in your villa - please call one of us to check on the situation for you. During an outage, please do NOT run any water; your water pump is electric, and running faucets or flushing may cause the pump to lose its prime and the water pipe system to become air-locked. Wait until power is restored. Flashlights, candles and matches are provided in your villa. To make the most of the situation, we suggest you take a look at the stars and enjoy the island's dazzling night sky!

Make sure you know where the flashlights, candles and matches are located. If you look outside and your neighbor's house is dark there is likely to be an isolated power outage in your area. Even if you see lights across the way it is probably an area on a different feeder; as time goes by, all feeders eventually come back online. If you'd like an update during a power outage, please contact your island manager.

ELECTRONIC GATES: If your villa has an electronic gate, it is only necessary to push the open button once. Continually pushing the button will result in your having to go through a complete recycle prior to opening. In this case, please wait a 2-3 minutes and try getting a bit closer to the gate, as sometimes the receiving antenna is on a slope and slightly out of the "line-of-sight".

MAY I CHECK IN OR OUT EARLIER/LATER? Guests must vacate their villas no later than the published check-out time; likewise, guests are not expected to check into their villas earlier than the standard check-in time! Failure to check out of your villa by check-out time may result in a sizable penalty charged to Guest. Please see your Vacation Rental Confirmation for your villa's exact times. Check-in and check-out times are strictly enforced at our villas. If you would like a later check-out time, you are required to check with our office or with your island manager during your stay (but not on the day of checkout, as staff will already be en route to your villa to exit clean) to see if another group is arriving the day you leave. If not, you might be able to stay on later into the afternoon at no charge, but you are required to get prior permission to stay later than the published check-out time. If you'd like to check in earlier, please contact your agent the week of arrival; early check-ins or late check-outs may be rescinded in the case of a last-minute booking, so we ask that you try to be flexible.

WHO TAKES CARE OF MY VILLA? Each villa has its own pool man, housekeeper, maintenance manager, exterminator and gardener. A complete pool cleaning and servicing is generally done just before your arrival. There should be a skimmer net near the pool deck which you can use for touch-ups between the weekly services. Our exterminators try to schedule their essential services during villa vacancies, but if they must be at your villa, we'll always call you beforehand to let you know.

If any service persons should appear at your villa unannounced, call our office (or your local island manager if visiting an island other than St. Thomas, where we are the managers) to confirm their identity while they wait outside. It is always your choice not to let them in if it interferes with your day, and we can generally ask them to return at another time. Gardeners usually set their own schedules and come and go at will, and most do not have access to the interior of your villa. All of our villa service people are friendly and trustworthy people; please say hello when you see them outside!

STAIRS: Our islands (except Anegada), are mostly very hilly and villas are often built into steep hillsides, which afford you the fantastic ocean views we offer in our part of the Caribbean. BUT, often this also means that many of our villas have many stairs - so if you have a disability or if you cannot handle many stairs, please be sure to ask when booking your villa how many stairs you'll have to climb, and please be sure to let us know if you are on crutches or in a wheelchair so we can be sure to book you into a villa which is easily accessible to you.

What kinds of insects and other creatures might I find?

WHAT ABOUT BUGS AND LIZARDS? While our island trade winds normally keep flying pests away, if our winds die or after heavy rains, they may come around. Spray with your preferred insect repellent, especially on your legs. Be very vigilant about keeping all villa screen slider doors closed tightly and your ceiling fans running. "No-see-'ems" (sand flies) normally live in the earth or sand, but can appear in the late afternoons or after heavy rains, particularly at certain beaches. Again, spray with insect repellent - take a bottle of repellent with you in your car or beach bag.

ANTS: During dry or very wet periods on the island, tiny red-brown ants will come and go in conga lines around your villa. We faithfully exterminate all our villas monthly, but these little guys don't seem to be affected for long by spraying and will hang around. To keep these tiny ants out of your way, particularly in the kitchen, keep food securely wrapped and in containers, wipe up spills and crumbs immediately, and empty your garbage frequently. At times during a heavy rain, termites can fly or crawl into any lighted room, especially through slider door tracks, and then shed their wings. If these suddenly invade your villa, TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, and wait until the rain dies down and the swarm passes.

LIZARDS: Tiny tropical lizards (also known as chameleons or anoles) are everywhere in the islands. You have nothing to fear from them; they do not bite or sting, and will scamper away if you approach them. Many live inside; one will live for years behind a painting or up in the rafters and earns its keep by eating thousands of insects. Lizards are a part of our tropical life here; please don't harm or kill them! Our larger iguanas will mind their own business and won't bite or harm you if left alone; they're vegetarians. However, an iguana may whip his spiny tail at you if scared; if you are too close, you may get whacked. Give iguanas some space!

Are there any rules for getting along better in the islands?

WHAT STYLE OF DRESS IS ACCEPTABLE? Our islands are exceptionally informal when it comes to dress code standards. Gentlemen may leave their neckties behind! For upscale restaurants, lightweight slacks with a tropical shirt (with sleeves) are perfect for evenings out. For ladies, "casual elegance" is the key. For all other dining, there are very few guidelines; shorts are generally fine. However, it's not at all acceptable to go barefoot, shirtless, or dressed too provocatively (such as wearing just a bikini bathing suit top without a cover up) in any public areas other than on a beach... this is considered insultingly bad manners by our more conservative local hosts.

ARE THE ISLANDS AS FRIENDLY AS I'VE HEARD? You will be rubbing shoulders with a different culture here, rich with traditions and pride. To get a friendly smile from a St. Thomian, please remember to begin all conversations with a "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon" or "Good Night." West Indians consider this to be a sign of respect and will appreciate your gesture.

How do I find out about island activities and attractions?

WHAT KIND OF ACTIVITIES ARE THERE? For information on excursions, chefs, internet, spa services, nanny care, baby gear rentals and other services, please visit each island's main page via the "Island Pages" links; use the menus at the left to see what's available. Our Concierge and Guest Services Director is a part of McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas' attentive care - there is never a fee or upcharge when you book activities in addition to your villa rental.

Is there crime in the islands?

WILL I BE SAFE? Like anywhere else in the world, crime exists on the islands we represent. ALWAYS close and lock all doors and windows of your villa before retiring or leaving for any length of time. If your villa has a safe and/or electronic or manual gate, always use it. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR VILLA AND ITS CONTENTS DURING YOUR RENTAL PERIOD. Secure your valuables. Don't take them to beaches or leave anything valuable in your car, and always lock your car while it's parked. We caution you against walking around downtown, and other shopping areas after business hours, or on any deserted non-resort beaches after dark. Use your common sense, just as you do at home.

What happens if my luggage gets lost?

WHAT IF MY BAGGAGE GETS LOST? FOR ST. THOMAS RENTALS ONLY, if your baggage does not arrive with your flight, report the missing bags to the appropriate airline. They will deliver to your villa; if you have trouble with directions, just give them the office number for directions. If it is after hours call Frank Kirwan at 340-998-3724 cell or 340-775-2627 home or Darren Blyden at 340-626-3724 cell or 340-775-2908 and they will furnish directions for delivery of your baggage to the Villa.

FOR ALL OTHER ISLANDS, please contact your island manager and follow the procedure provided.

How do you handle medical emergencies and needs in the islands?

WHAT IF I NEED A DOCTOR? For information on medical and emergency services, please visit each island's main page via the "Islands by Name" pull-down menu from our web site in the right-hand column. IF YOU ARE AT YOUR VILLA WHEN THE SITUATION ARISES, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ISLAND MANAGER. Do not delay summoning official help, but your island manager can walk you through the process of obtaining assistance. If medical air transport is needed, please contact our Concierge.

HOW CAN I RENT MEDICAL EQUIPMENT? Should you need to rent a wheelchair, oxygen, or other support items, contact our Concierge. Please call well in advance to allow time to determine whether your need may be fulfilled; vendors and supplies are very limited here!

What are the passport rules?

WILL I NEED A PASSPORT? While the St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are a part of the U.S., DON'T FORGET to BRING PROOF of CITIZENSHIP! Everyone departing the United States Virgin Islands, including U.S. Citizens, is now required by U.S. Immigration to show either a valid passport or a certified copy of a birth certificate accompanied by a photo ID. The islands are a "port of entry" to the U.S. mainland - so please don't forget these for the whole family. You also need them if you plan to visit any of the British Virgin Islands during your stay, even if it is just a day trip. If your stay is in the British Virgin Islands or Grenada, you will need a U.S. Passport to return to the United States (the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are part of the United States of America). Note: if you travel by sea between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, you may use a passport card instead of a standard passport to save entry/exit stamp pages. Visit travel.state.gov for more details.

BOARDING REQUIREMENTS: Please check with your airline, ferry or charter company to verify boarding requirements well in advance of travel to avoid confusion, as they may differ from what is required by U.S. Immigration.

Are any of the villas for sale?

HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT PROPERTIES FOR SALE? McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas is also a real estate brokerage company on St. Thomas. If you'd like information about buying property in the U.S.V.I., please email nancy@mclaughlinanderson.com. A licensed broker, she and other expert brokers with whom she works can help provide you with answers and opportunities.

Do you allow weddings in the villas?

MAY I HOLD A WEDDING, RECEPTION OR PARTY AT MY VILLA? Very few property owners permit parties of more than the maximum headcount at their villas for insurance and other reasons. Please ask your agent or telephone our office (1-800-537-6246) as part of the planning process. You may also view our Beach & Villa Wedding page for more details.

NOISE AND PARTYING AT YOUR VILLA (NOT AFTER 10 PM!): Since most of our homes are in residential areas, if you plan to have a late night blast, please have it at one of our local nightspots rather than at your villa. Most residents here go to bed at about 10 p.m. and get up early, and they will certainly complain to us if they hear you blasting your stereo or shrieking in your pool at midnight! So, please be considerate of your local neighbors when it comes to any partying you may do while on vacation. And conversely, if anyone or anything disturbs you in your neighborhood, be sure to call us so we may help to restore the quiet you want.

For those villas that can accommodate a wedding or other gathering, please review our Wedding Policy before you make your plans, to ensure that everything goes smoothly; please ask us for a copy.

Do your villas have...?

Hair dryers? Most of our villas do have hair dryers, but feel free to ask if you do not see this item listed among the amenities and we will be happy to check for you!

Irons? All of our villas have iron and ironing board for guest use.

Towels? All of our villas have both beach and bath towels for you, as well as all linens such as sheets, pillowcases and covers.

Soap? All of our villas have laundry and dish soap. Some feature bath and personal care products as listed in amenities, but you may always ask to avoid duplicating your efforts in your provisioning list.

Spices and condiments? Due to our tropical climate, spices and condiments are not at optimal flavor and quality if left out too long. Many villas may have basics like salt and pepper but full spice arrays are rare; please inquire!

Pool floats and toys? Most villas have these listed among their amenities. We can always double-check as sometimes previous guests will buy these on island and leave them behind.

Washer and dryer? The majority of our villas offer a washer and dryer for guest use within the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the British Virgin Islands there may be limited or no access to the laundry due to water conservation concerns. In this case some villa owners permit you to pay a cost per load for an arrangement with housekeeping staff to do your laundry for you. The Ritz-Carlton Club® Residences and Suites have washers and dryers as do most of the Seashore Allure units, and there is a laundry on property as well.

Can I walk to the beach from my villa?

Which way to the beach? For the most part our villas are located in the hills, which provide for wonderful views; only a small percentage of our vacation rental properties are on or within walking distance of a beach. However, our island shores feature so many wonderful beaches in so many different flavors, that you can easily explore a new beach every day within a short drive! Should this be your preference, we do suggest you begin searching our portfolio as far in advance as possible for the best selection... these villas often go first, particularly during High Season and the holiday periods.

How do you determine headcount and occupancy?

The total number of persons allowed in the villa at any one time is restricted to the number of persons scheduled and paid for, based on two persons per bedroom. Exceptions to this Term are made only for infants under 2 years old; if sleeping in a baby crib and not occupying one of the villa's beds, they are NOT included in the villa's total headcount. This exception does NOT apply at The Ritz-Carlton Club® Residences and Suites, where all persons count towards the headcount including any infants.

What activities can I enjoy on the island?

Each island (Grenada, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, Tortola, Virgin Gorda) has its own page with general information and activities. Contact our Concierge for advice, reservations and general assistance in planning activities. We recommend that you book activities well in advance.

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