I really, really wanted to love Anam Cara. I had looked forward to being there on it's beautiful balconies and in the inviting swimming pool for months. What we got upon arrival, however, was not quite what we had been expecting.
First the good stuff. Anam Cara is a beautiful, well-kept home on both the interior and exterior (with the exception of a well-worn sofa in the media rom). The kitchen was beautiful and very well-appointed, everything we needed to cook a meal was there, they even had a Brita water pitcher at the ready. We were exhausted from our travels so we chose the first bedroom we came to and it was spacious with a very nice master bathroom with both a tub and shower. There were plenty of towels for both indoor and beach use and the home's décor, furniture and fixtures were very nice.
The owners have thoughtfully provided soft-sided coolers and fold-up chairs to take to the beaches and there is a really nice, clean outdoor grill to use. The outdoor furniture looked fairly new and the views were very dramatic. I can see where a group of people would be very comfortable sitting there and unwinding after a good meal.
Although we were the only two people there, I can see where the layout would be great for a large family or couples traveling together. The bedrooms are spread out and on separate levels. I wouldn't recommend it for people with very small children or those with mobility issues, there are several levels to this home and lots of stairs.
The drive to Anam Cara was very secluded and is what we had expected. It is next to a piece of farmland and there is only one other villa on that bay. The property is within close driving distance to the Gun Creek ferry, Leverick Bay and Hog Heaven and is about a 20 minute drive from Spanish Town and all the activity there.
Gloria, the housekeeper, was very nice and a good source of information of area attractions. Having her come in the middle of the week to tidy up was wonderful.
On the flip side, there were several areas where we were, quite frankly, more than a little disappointed with our choice of villas. One of those areas was a lack of washer/dryer. I understand water/electric conservation and am all for it. However, I don't like packing home two suitcases full of smelly, dirty beach clothes and it is nice to have fresh clothes during the week. It was mentioned as an available feature on two other websites, although admittedly not on the villa website, so it was frustrating to find the washer/dryer locked behind a "staff only" door.
The other let down was the pool. I don't know when the maintenance was scheduled, but the filtration pump and the beautiful fountains featured on the website never ran the entire week we were there. Lots of debris in the pool the one afternoon we decided to use it (well, we paid for it, so might as well as enjoy it once) and on more than one occasion, we had to run chickens out of it (that was kind of funny, now that I'm thinking of it). :)
The outdoor shower that was a must for us (we loved that quirky, island feature on our last villa) was not quite as private as I had hoped as the opening for the shower faces a "private" dirt road next to the villa. On several occasions, we looked out to see a vehicle parked there within eyeshot of the shower. This may sound nit-picky, but my husband wasn't too happy about having to make a quick dash inside mid-shower. Live and learn.
These were all issues that would have been easy to overlook had it not been for the main issue, our biggest disappointment: the beach. It wasn't that the beach was a rocky beach, we were perfectly fine with that and had expected that from reading reviews and looking at the pictures. It was the overwhelming mass of seaweed that invaded the bay in front of the property. It was evident from the moment we got out of our Jeep in the driveway, the smell was overwhelming: rancid, putrid, decaying seaweed. There are no words to describe how miserable we felt when we stood on the balcony of the villa to start a vacation we had planned for, spoke about and dreamed of for 5 months and couldn't even stand to be outside for more than a few minutes, the smell was that overpowering. This left the beautiful balconies, the pool and the beach nearly unusable. My husband came up with a "charming" name for our home's location: Poo Poo Bay. Yes, it was that bad.
I understand this is not in anyone's control - I want to recognize that fact. Also, the seaweed problem is in many areas, not just in front of this home. However, I do wish we had been told of this before we traveled a day and a half to arrive to find that putrid mess. Compared to other villas I had almost booked, I feel we didn't get what we paid for when all is said and done. Would I book it again? Possibly. Would I recommend it to others, yes if you are looking for a secluded location. However, I would want to clarify the use of the washer dryer, the maintenance schedule for the pool, and would want to confirm that the area wasn't experiencing the issues with the seaweed again.