St. John's Room Count Tops 900, Includes 10 Villa Rental Companies March 20, 1997 Share 1 -- Reed Travel FeaturesCRUZ BAY -- The room count on St. John totals more than 900, including guest accommodations in hotels, inns, villa homes and campgrounds.Villa rental information is available from the St. Thomas/St. John Hotel Association.Specific information from the island's 10 rental firms is available from the St. John Accommodations Council, form-ed in 1988.The council levies a $1 per night, per unit tax to fund various community projects, such as the purchase of computers for the schools and medical equipment for the Red Cross.The tax is voluntary, although most guests comply.More than 40% of vacation lodgings on St. John are represented by the 300 or so vacation rental homes, which range from one to six bedrooms.Of those rentals, roughly 20% are generated through agents who receive commissions from 10% to 15%.Sunset Ridge Villas, for example, pays 15% on bookings for its two-story town houses overlooking Cruz Bay.This winter season has been strong for villas on St. John.For example, Mary Blazine of Mary Blazine Rentals said that all of her rental homes were 100% booked this winter."Vacationers who could not make it last year have returned this year," she said.According to Lisa Durgin, a broker with Vacation Vistas, which represents Peter Bay Gatehouse among her 10 properties, most of the rentals are available year-round."Repeat business accounts for up to 40% of our total bookings," Durgin said."We always try to steer the returning client back to his travel agent so the agent gets the commission."Villas attract the entire market mix, but are popular with families and honeymooners.So, what would a week in my villa cost?The peak-season rate (mid-December through mid-April) is $1,981 per unit, double occupancy; it drops to $1,470 the rest of the year.Durgin can provision the villa in advance of guests' arrivals.A starter package covers basic provisions (milk, coffee, breakfast items and soft drinks) and is priced at $89.For a week's worth of staples, the average costs range between $300 and $350.A rental car is a must for visitors on St. John, although driving is on the left, and roads are steep and winding.Durgin also can arrange to have a car waiting at the villa.A Jeep or Isuzu Trooper costs between $300 and $450 per week.Visitors should figure on an $8 tab for the cab from the St. Thomas airport to the ferry at Red Hook and a $3 ferry ride to St. John.For reservations, call Vacation Vistas at (809) 776-6462.The firm's Web site address is http://www.st-john.com.For further information, call the St. Thomas/St. John Hotel Association at (809) 774-6835; the St. John Accommodations Council is at (809) 776-7223.An Internet site with information on St. John , including villa accommodations is at http://www.stjohnusvi.com.