If you’ve ever tried to find an affordable vacation villa rental in St. John in the US Virgin Islands, you’ll know how difficult it can be. Due to the limited space and continued consolidation of the major players in the short term vacation rental market, accommodations on the island aren’t cheap and continue to increase every year. That’s when David Pinardi and St. John Villa Rentals decided to step in.
David, first tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you end up on St. John?
How far back should I go? My parents, from Long Island and Rhode Island, met and were married on the neighboring island of St Thomas in the early 1960s. By the time I was 15 I’d been to most of the islands between Puerto Rico and St Maarten. I didn’t discover the island of St John until about 12 years ago. My girlfriend’s cousin has a villa on STJ. She invited me down … and one thing lead to another. We’re married now – and St John has become a big part of our lives.
What have you been up to since you’ve been on the island?
I’m a freelance advertising /web designer and marketing consultant by day. About 4 years ago I launched a St John Beach and snorkeling Guide and OnIslandTimes.com travel web sites. Those sites have since become the #1 online STJ travel guides; with links from VOGUE Travel, Travel & Leisure, Coastal Living, Wells Fargo Advisors Travel, Lonely Planet, Cigar Aficionado, Berkley Guides, National Parks Traveler, Vacations by Marriott, … to name a few.
“We heard those grumbles – and answered with a no fees site!”
Where did the idea to start St. John Villa Rentals come from? Can you explain the general concept behind it?
The short term vacation rental market has exploded in recent years. Unfortunately a few major players control 95% of the market. As their power and influence has grown – so have their fees to owners and guests! VRBO recently announced it would join the other mega rental sites in charging guests a service fee ( capped at $399!!!). VRBO/HomeAway/Air BnB/etc charge booking/service fees that ranges from 4% to 16% of your rental. The increases in fees to owners and guests has a huge impact on St John’s vacation rental market. Consequently, owners and managers started grumbling. We heard those grumbles – and answered with a no fees site!
Most people know about VRBO/HomeAway/AirBnb. What separates your services from those popular sites?
Unlike the mega rental sites – we don’t charge owners a commission or fees for inquiries/bookings. We don’t charge guests a service fee. And every listing clearly displays the owner/on-island manager’s contact info. Try that on VRBO/HomeAway/Flipkey/Air BnB/etc.
How many villas do you currently have in your inventory? What is the price range per night? How small and how big do they come?
We currently have about 125 villa listings. They range in price from $175/nt to $1,500/nt depending on the villa, number of guests and time of year. And as you might expect, they range in size from cute island cottages to luxurious upscale villas with stunning ocean views! And everything in between …
We have to ask – when you’re not managing all of your websites and other interests, what is your favorite beach bar?
It’s a toss up between … where else, The Beach Bar in Cruz Bay and St John’s floating bar, Angel’s Rest. There’s nothing like watching the sunset over St Thomas, cold drink in hand, toes in the sand. And there’s nothing like swimming up to Capt Pete’s floating bar to trade some soggy dollars for a heavy-pour rum drink!
Any favorite dishes or cocktails?
Depends on the mood and the wallet. I love the food and creative cocktails at Extra Virgin Bistro ( Cruz Bay $$$$ ). They make a drink called the Hurricane Hole. It’s Thai chili & Hibiscus tequila, lime, house-made grenadine and cilantro. WOWzy! Or, I love to kick back casual with a fresh-caught fish sandwich or burger from Driftwood Dave’s. Pair it with a cold Presidente … and if, at that moment, lighting struck you – you’d die happy!