This is a review of Villa Canoua, which we picked for our 40th anniversary trip, from June 12 to 20, 2019.
Over a year ago now, we started looking for a villa to spend our 40th anniversary at. Our criteria were a 1) stunning view of the water, 2) sunset view, 3) private enough for au naturel sunbathing and 4) a/c in the main area,. Villa Canoua has all of these, in spades. The villa was recommended to me by another TTOL member, who may be sorry that he did, if he can’t get a reservation next year when he wants to go!! Sorry about that, buddy!! And thanks for putting up with all my interminable questions in between the booking and my trip!
Villa Canoua has an extremely high repeat customer rate, especially in the winter, and I can see why. If you are looking for a cookie-cutter, all sleek modern WHITE boxy lines place that you see in most villas these days and only that will do, then Canoua is not for you. However, if your criteria are roughly the same as mine, you should read on, and see why Canoua has such a huge repeat business.
The very best thing about the villa of course is the VIEW.
It just hits you when you first walk in, to see that view for the first time. It’s kind of difficult to capture in a photo, to capture the breadth of the expanse of the view from side to side.
A video might be better suited, but I didn’t think to do that. So, on my checklist of things I wanted in a villa, Canoua gets a big YES in the ‘view of the water’ category.
As far as sunset view, Villa Canoua comes through there also. We had quite a bit of Sahara dust while we were there, which interfered with the perfect clarity of the sky, but we were treated to some pretty decent sunsets.
….as well as the occasional rainbow.
As far as privacy and au naturel sunbathing, Canoua is about as good as it gets. (Unless of course you have maybe $10,000 a week to spend.) Truth to tell, there IS another villa virtually next door to Canoua. There was no one there when we were there, and I hear that their occupancy rate is very low, compared to Canoua. Right now, you can actually SEE that villa. Someone who stays at Canoua a lot tells me that the first time he stayed there, he didn’t even know the villa was THERE, due to the vegetation. Because it has been so dry since Irma, the vegetation has not really recovered to that level yet. However, even now, the way that villa is situated, I don’t think anyone could see you at Villa Canoua from there, unless they tried really hard. Otherwise, someone on a boat, or someone down on Happy Bay, with a good pair of binoculars, could see you were there on the balcony, but that’s about it. So, another big YES, in the ‘au naturel sunbathing’ category.
There is an a/c unit in the main room, as well as separate a/c units in the two bedrooms. The a/c did a great job of cooling down the main room, as did the a/c in the bedroom. Particularly once the sun came down below the roof of the deck, it warmed up the living room really quickly, so the a/c in the living room was much needed and appreciated. We generally left the doors wide open (and a/c off, of course) until around 4, when we closed up the villa and turned the a/c on the living room, which cooled it off significantly in about 20 minutes. They are supposed to be installing some type of a more permanent type of a roll-down screen to block the afternoon sun, at any time, so that should be less of an issue in the future. So, a/c in the main room, CHECK!
The villa is located on Mt. Choisy, which is just outside Grand Case, and overlooking Happy Bay and Anguilla.
And at night, you have a view of the lights of Anguilla
As most here should know, Happy Bay is not accessible by car. Should you wish to walk to Happy Bay from Canoua, you can certainly do it, but it is not something I personally would think about attempting. You really have to be in pretty decent physical shape to do it, as the trip back UP is extremely steep. If you are interested in walking to Happy from Canoua, OllieEh has posted a map and some instructions in the past regarding doing that.
One of the issues with many villas is road access, sometimes via a very steep road, etc. Villa Canoua is literally five minutes’ drive to Grand Case, including time to traverse the gate at the villa, and the separate gate for the community. You turn right off the main road just as you leave Grand Case headed for Marigot. The road is in very good shape and fairly wide. There is one short section of the road that is pretty steep, that requires going into a lower gear, as well as the driveway between the villa and the road which is pretty steep, but once you’ve done it a time or two, it’s no sweat. It is certainly it is not nearly as steep as say, the road to Princess Heights in Oyster Pond.
The villa is owned by Jules Choisy, who lives on island. His family used to own the whole mountain there, although I think that several sections are now owned by other people. Jules’ father was a very well-known politician on the island, at one point being what I would equate to the Lieutenant Governor of St. Martin. For long time SXM visitors, here is a link to some really interesting reading regarding to Jules’ father and old time St. Martin. https://thesabaislander.com/2017/04/11/deputy-mayor-felix-choisy
Jules speaks impeccable English and handled any of our questions or issues while on island. He gives you his cell phone and his home phone, and email address, and is very accessible for questions or issues. Booking and payment is handled through Verne at Dream Beaches https://www.st-martin-vacation.com/villas/villa-canoua.html#resa
I have posted pictures of the villa here in this thread, but the pictures on Verne's page are very accurate
Verne is on island part of the year, but is always available by email if needed.
The other overall feeling from the villa, and this takes a day or so to kick in, after all the rigors of travel these days, is the overall feeling of calm, of serenity, of QUIET, except for the birds and the sounds of the waterfall in the back.
There is a/c in the main room, of course, which was a necessity, but you can’t enjoy the sounds of the waterfall with the a/c on. The back patio is where the new looking Webber gas grill is, as well as the waterfall and fish pond. The fish pond is stocked with small fish and there is fish food provided. It was amusing to throw in some fish food and watch the fish attack the food, like so many piranha! We would also often see some little birds use the waterfall as a bird bath.
Other than the sounds of the waterfall and the birds chirping, you will hear an occasional dog barking, and every once in a while, you will hear some construction sounds way off in the distance from an occasional power tool, or a plane coming into the Grand Case airport. The planes are basically all prop jobs, and they don’t get very close at all, and if the noise at Beachside from the jets bothers you (which it doesn’t bother me at all), the noise at Canoua is nothing like that. If you are staying at Canoua, you could be the only people in the world, except for people far away in boats, or down on Happy Bay beach. They’re all just part of the video playing on the screen in front of you and they don’t really exist.
One thing that impressed me with the place, since this is the Caribbean we are talking about, is that everything WORKED. From the a/c, to the appliances, to the hot water (TONS of hot water, sometimes almost too hot!!), to the electronic shutters, to the TV, to the electric and water, to the internet (which was ROCK solid the whole time we were there), everything just WORKED. There were no power outages, internet outages, water outages, etc.
What did NOT work very well, frankly, was our Chippie (Dutch side) cell phone. We don’t normally call home at all when we are on vacation and just use the cell phone to call places on the island for reservations, or to meet up with people, etc. Since this was the first time we had stayed on the French side in quite some time, we hadn’t had to worry about using a cell phone there before, as when we used to stay on the French side, we never even HAD a phone most of the time!
We learned a somewhat expensive lesson that Chippie phones don’t work well on Mt. Choisy, when we discovered that we ran out of time on our phone within a couple of days. It turns out that we were connected to Cable and Wireless on Anguilla, which was roaming! It was a GREAT connection to C & W, much better than we ever got to Chippie, which didn’t work half the time. I’m not sure how much it was per minute, but it was EXPENSIVE, based on how soon we ran through our time. Lesson learned! There is a French side phone at the villa, which you can use to call French side landlines. The best suggestion if you need to call the US from the villa would be to use Skype, as the internet was rock solid the whole time we were there. Verne suggested using Amigo/Dauphin phones. The next time we stay there, we will investigate those things in much more detail before we leave home.
Maid service is provided on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and the pool guy comes in generally about once a week on Mondays. The maid does not speak much English, which was only an issue when we left her a note with her tip, which she didn’t take because I guess she couldn’t read it. If you want to schedule her to come on days when you are not at the villa, just let Jules know, although she came one day when we were there, and I had no problem with it. She does a very thorough job of cleaning, changing sheets, towels, etc. Which brings me to another point, everything was CLEAN, no rust, no dirt, no bugs, other than a few really small ants it the sink one day when I wasn’t careful about cleaning up around the sink. I wish I had so few bugs at home!! Especially since we, as I suspect most people do, left all the doors wide open most of the time during the day.
As far as security, we felt very safe. There is a gate for the community, which is controlled by a remote (or a key, in the event of a power failure). There is also a gate at the individual villa, which again is controlled by a remote or a key. So, there is really little chance of someone accessing the villa by road, but of course someone could hike up the hill from either Happy Bay or Friars IF they were very fit, so other security is necessary. I believe the power is underground here and the power was rock solid, never a blip. The villa has electronic storm shutters over all the windows and over the front door. The shutters over the windows can be manually rolled up from inside in the event of a power failure and there is also a manual way to roll up the shutter over the front door. Just make sure that you know where the poles are, that are used for that purpose. I was somewhat concerned before we left home about sleeping in a ‘cave’, and felt I wouldn’t like it, but it actually made me feel very secure, and I was happy to have the shutters.
The villa consists of two bedrooms, each with it’s own in-suite bathroom. This is the master bedroom and bathroom.
Plus there is a separate half bath off the living room, plus the kitchen and laundry room, which has a stackable washer and dryer, and an ice maker, which put out a TON of ice. Having the washer and dryer was really a nice touch for us, as we haven’t had that for a while. Each bedroom has a French door leading out onto the patio, but we never used them, as we spent very little time in the bedroom during the day. In fact after the first day or so, we left the storm shutters down all the time on the second bedroom (which we didn’t use at all), and on our bedroom. Each evening when we went to bed we shut off the a/c in the living room and shut the door to the bedroom. Once we got up in the morning, we usually kept the a/c on in the bedroom until we got our showers, and then turned it off and kept the door closed. Leaving the storm shutters down on our bedroom kept it quite cool in there for most of the day, even without the a/c on, so if we wanted to go in there during the day, it cooled down very quickly in there.
The living room furniture décor wouldn’t be MY choice of color, but the living room furniture was very comfortable.
Being a reader of many physical books whilst on vacation (none of those electronic readers for me!!
), I appreciated the big selection of novels, including Grisham and Patterson, and several others.
The kitchen featured a fridge with a huge freezer, a flat top stove, dishwasher, microwave and oven.
The stove and the dishwasher were somewhat challenging to figure out to begin with, so you might wish to ask Jules or whoever greets you at the villa to show you how to work both. We never used the oven, so was not really sure how to operate that. As I said, there is a separate icemaker in the laundry room, so that was nice. There was a decent selection of dishes, glassware, LOTS of pots and pans, etc., in the kitchen, although not much in the way of plastic glasses or cups. We went to Super U and bought a stack of disposable plastic cups for use around the pool, as well as some plastic champagne glasses, for under $10 total. For a place with a pool, they should have more of those provided.
The villa operates sometimes on a cistern, and sometimes on city water. Regardless, the instructions at the villa are not to use the water for drinking, which is fine with me, as I usually drink bottled water at home. Even using bottled water for coffee in the morning each day, we went through about 12 1.5 liter bottles of water in our 8 days, so not a big deal whatsoever.
The TV is DISH TV and has about 90 channels, I believe all in English. If you don’t have satellite TV at home, you can screw up the TV, so just look at the directions there at the villa for help. Upon final payment, Verne will send you about a 10 page file that has all the villa info, including the channel guide, and there is another copy of it on the table in the living room when you arrive.
So, that’s about it for now. Let me know if you have any questions regarding things that I didn’t cover.