Pub Crawl/Poker Run Happening This Weekend

cruz bay overlook september 2018
If you are lucky enough to be on island this weekend, you’re in for a treat! Dog House Pub is hosting a poker run/pub crawl this Saturday to show its appreciation and support to several of the Cruz Bay businesses that gave back so generously to the island and also fed the community immediately following hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.

The way it works is pretty simple: You need a team of at least four people to compete. The registration fee is $50 and all team members will receive an event t-shirt. Each team must have a name and a theme. Creativity is definitely encouraged.

Teams will need to check in at The Tap Room this Saturday, September 22nd, at noon. From there, teams will grab a drink and a poker card at Dog House, Cruz Bay Landing, The Longboard and 420 to Center. Poker hands will be played at 4 p.m. at Dog House Pub and the winning team will win $500 cash. There will be an afterparty with music and drink specials too.

You can register in person at Dog House Pub or by sending a message to Dog House Pub via their Facebook page.

We’re going to be there, and we hope to see all of you there too! Good luck everyone!

What’s Going on with Cinnamon Bay?

cinnamon beach sept 2018

Cinnamon Bay beach Tuesday

Many of you have been asking us what’s happening over at Cinnamon Bay. As I’m sure you probably know by now, the campground sustained tremendous damage during Hurricane Irma and has been closed ever since. Not only is the area unsightly, but the campground’s continued closure is a blow to our economy as it reduces the number of affordable accommodations here on island. So what’s happening over there? Well unfortunately, not a whole heck of a lot.

For starters, the place is still a mess. The Virgin Islands National Park and its volunteers did a great job of cleaning up the beach itself. They also cleared the parking lot areas, as well as a nice path down to the beach. The campground itself, however, remains untouched. Cleanup in that area is the responsibility of Redwood Parks, the company contracted to run the concessions at Cinnamon Bay. And as of today, they haven’t done a darn thing.

I reached out to Brian Stewart, the president of Redwood Parks, and asked him what’s happening with the campground, specifically why no clean up has occurred. He sent the following to me via email:

“We’ve presented a number of options to NPS that would allow operations to reopen. To date, non have been approved.”

He continued, “We remain hopeful NPS will realize that life on St. John changed with hurricanes Irma and Maria. And that we need to work together to prioritize the restoration of both Cinnamon and Trunk Bay.”

(Redwood Parks was also awarded the concessions contract at Trunk Bay. That, too, remains closed.)

I asked Brian on three occasions to elaborate on his proposals. He never responded.

When I contacted Steve Black, the acting superintendent of the VI National Park, and asked about the proposals, he said he was “not aware of any new proposals that Cinnamon Bay Resort has put forth.”

I then reached out to the National Park Service in Washington, DC. Perhaps they had some insight to share. While they did respond, they really didn’t have any news to offer. Dana Soehn, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, sent us the following:

“As you likely know, Virgin Islands National Park is anxious to resume concession services at the Cinnamon Bay Resort as soon as possible. The Park continues to have a contract with the concessioner who was providing the services before the hurricane and is working with them [to] address cleanup and restoration efforts and getting services services up and running again including food and beverage, recreation, lodging and camping.”

Dana continued, “We don’t have any further information available at this time, but I can assure you that everyone is working hard to find a solution that enables services to return to the Cinnamon Bay Resort area.”

It’s been more than a year since the storm happened, yet twisted metal continues to lay scattered around the campground area at Cinnamon. Boards with nails poking out are strewn about. Trees remain toppled and the destroyed cottages sit untouched. Enough is enough. It’s time to stop talking about how we all want the place cleaned up, and it’s time to start doing, in my opinion.

Tree Down on Cottage Cinnamon Bay Sept 2018

Trees Down Cinnamon Sept 2018

Cinnamon Bay Twisted Metal Sept 2018

Cinnamon Bay Restaurant Sept 2018

Protruding Nails Cinnamon Bay Sept 2018

In July 2016, Redwood Parks was awarded a 15-year contract to operate the campground and concessions at Cinnamon Bay. It officially began on October 1, 2016. They operated it successfully for less than a year; They have not been operating it longer than they had. So at what point does that contract get terminated? Or can Redwood Parks continue to do what its doing, which appears to be very little, if anything, without being in violation of their contract? This little blogger, and many of you I’m sure, would like to know.

We asked the Virgin Island National Park, as well as the National Park Service just that. Unfortunately we have yet to get an answer. But if or when we do, we will be certain to share that info with all of you.

Let’s end this post on a happy note. Check out this pic and quick video we took Tuesday at Cinnamon Bay:

cinnamon beach water sept 2018

Newly Renovated Sunset Ridge Offering Grand Reopening Discounts

sunset ridge pool and viewHello everyone and happy Tuesday! I know that many of you have been dreaming about your next island vacation, and today I’d like to tell you about a great spot that just reopened. It’s newly renovated, has amazing views and the best part – it’s offering a 25 percent discount through Thanksgiving! Want to know more? Then read on…

Sunset Ridge Villas is comprised of six villas. Each villa has more than 1,800 feet of living space including a private courtyard which sits between the main house and master suite. Each villa can sleep up to eight guests. The lower level of the main house contains a open living room with a sleeper sofa, a dining room and fully equipped kitchen, as well as a half bath and laundry area. The loft area has two queen beds and a full bath. The master suite, which is located across the courtyard, has a king-sized bed and a full bath.

sunset ridge exteriorsunset ridge villasunset ridge living room 2sunset ridge kitchensunset ridge bathEach of the villa’s private courtyards has a gas grill, a table and chairs with an umbrella, and chaise lounges to relax on. The courtyard is a great place to enjoy a meal or perhaps a cocktail while watching the twinkling lights of St. Thomas.

sunset ridge patio 3sunset ridge viewSunset Ridge also has a large pool, which is shared among the units. It has beautiful views of St. Thomas, the outlying cays, Pillsbury Sound and out to the Caribbean Sea.

sunset ridge pool closeupEach villa comes equipped with cable and wifi, as well as beach chairs, coolers and umbrellas. It’s located five minutes from the heart of Cruz Bay and is roughly a 10 to 20 minute drive from St. John’s famed North Shore beaches (depending on which beautiful beach you choose).

But now on to the best part…

Sunset Ridge is offering 25 percent off stays of seven nights or more for arrivals through November 24, 2018.

Interested? Want to learn more? Please contact Cimmaron St. John at www.cimmaronstjohn.com or (340) 715-2666 to learn more or to book.

sunset ridge sunset

One More Step Toward Normalcy…

CRUZ BAY BEACH 2

The 2018 Chaotic Kayak race will be held on Cruz Bay beach.

Hello everyone and happy Monday! So today’s story is an important one to me. Not only am I going to tell you about a great event that raises money for an amazing cause, but it also signals another step in a return to normalcy for many of us here on island. And as an added bonus… Should you choose to support this event (and I hope many of you do!), you may be able to stay for free here on St. John. I know you’re intrigued, so please read on!

So let’s start with the event… For those of you who are longtime readers of News of St. John, you may recall the Chaotic Kayak event which raises money to bring wounded veterans to the island for a week of healing and relaxation. The fundraising event typically happened in the summer, and the veterans visited the island in November.

Well hurricanes Irma and Maria changed all of that last year. The veterans were unable to visit in November and the event did not take place this past summer.

About a month or so back I received an email from Gary Clark, one of the coordinators for Team River Runner. (TRR is the organization that brings the wounded veterans to the island.) Gary, who has brought veterans to the island since 2007, said how they wanted to hold the event but instead of raising money for the veterans, they wanted to raise money for us.

My immediate reaction was no. I thought we should definitely hold the event, but that the money should continue to be used to bring veterans to our beautiful island. The island is fortunate in that a lot of money has been donated to or allocated to us. But more importantly, holding the event as normal, in my opinion, would make us feel normal. And every little thing that makes us feel normal is a way to help us all move forward. Fortunately several other business owners had the same opinion.

So I am excited to tell you that the 2018 Chaotic Kayak race will be held on Sunday, November 18th on Cruz Bay beach!

So the way this event works is that teams compete against one another in a zany kayak race. As teams of three paddle against one another, they get pelted by water guns and doused by buckets of water as they make their way to and around the Sadie Sea. There are several heats and the winner takes home the coveted paddle.

The Rum Hut won last year and we came in third. We’ve got our eye on the prize this year, and here’s how you can help!

For every $100 we raise for the event, Team News of St. John will receive a five second head start for the kayak race. Last year we raised $3,730, and this year, we’d like to surpass that number!

And for those of you who may need a tad more encouragement to donate to Team News of St. John, we’re going to give one lucky donor a free stay here on St. John!

Island Abodes has graciously donated a $1,120 credit to stay in any of their vacation rentals for five or more nights. That’s a free stay in their Papaya or Garden Suite during low or shoulder season, or a pretty sweet discount on any of their rentals during any season. The stay must be completed by December 31, 2019 and most be for a stay of at least five nights.

The Papaya Suite by Island Abodes

You can receive a five-night stay at the Papaya Suite by Island Abodes.

The Garden Suite by Island Abodes

You can receive a five-night stay at the Garden Suite by Island Abodes.

You can also choose to use your credit toward a 5-night or more stay at the Penthouse by Island Abodes.

You can also choose to use your credit toward a 5-night or more stay at the Penthouse by Island Abodes.

So the way this is going to work is pretty simple. You can donate as little or as much as you’d like to Team News of St. John. For those of you who donate $20 or more, we’re going to put your name in a hat as a thank you. And on November 18th, we will pull the winner live from the event. We will broadcast this live on our Facebook page and will post it immediately after here on newsofstjohn.com.

Some rules that we have to include: Only people who donate $20 or more will be entered into the courtesy drawing. Your name will only be entered once per donation no matter the amount donated (provided it is $20 or more). The winner will be announced on November 18, 2018. We will accept donations through 9 p.m. EST on November 17, 2018. This is a courtesy drawing; it is not a raffle.

Now doesn’t all of this sound great??!!

For those of you who would like to donate to Team News of St. John for the 2018 Chaotic Kayak race, you can do so securely via PayPal by clicking this link. You can also donate directly at http://paypal.me/newsofstjohn

If you have any questions, please email me at jenn@newsofstjohn.com. To learn more about Island Abodes and their beautiful vacation rentals that are close to Cruz Bay, please visit www.islandabodes.com

Soggy Dollar Launches Its Own Rum

soggy dollar rum

I’m pretty positive that a lot of you reading this will be very interested in the “news” we have to share with you all today … Soggy Dollar is now making and selling its own rum! Cheers to that!

Our friends over at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke announced earlier this week the release of its dark and spiced rums. And truth be told, I’m not much of a rum drinker (crazy, I know), but this stuff is pretty darn good!

One of the perks of living here on island is that we get to visit Jerry, Tish, Annie and the gang at Soggy quite often. So earlier this year, we were invited to do a little rum sampling. The consensus was that it was pretty delicious, and now you all can try it for yourselves!! (And the bottle itself is pretty cool too.)

Jerry, who owns Soggy Dollar along with his wife Tish, was involved in the entire process of creating these rums from the mixing to the tastings to the packaging. It’s not simply something that slapped their name on, so you know it’s going to be good.

And seeing that Soggy created the world famous Painkiller rum drink… I’d say they know a thing or two about rum!

Ok, now how do you get it?? Well you can cruise on over to Soggy Dollar and pick up a bottle or two to go, or perhaps enjoy one of their signature rum cocktails. If you’re lucky enough to be on St. John, you can pick up a small bottle at North Shore Deli. Or if you happen to be outside of the Virgin Islands, you can go to www.soggydollarrum.com and send them your email address, and they will add you to a list of first batch buyers.

That’s all we have for you today, folks. Happy Friday!

To Our East Coast Friends…

cruz bay st john sept 2018

To our friends in the path of Hurricane Florence, please stay safe. Heed the warnings. If you have been asked to evacuate, please do. Many of you may have been through a hurricane before. Please do not be complacent. The forecasters are calling this a “storm of the century.” They referred to Irma the same way.

If you are forced to leave your home, please bring your pets with you.

And most importantly, help your neighbors.

I look at this site’s analytics daily. North Carolina, I can see that you are huge supporters of St. John. Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina, you’re pretty high on the list too. You were all there for us after Irma and Maria, and we will be there for you after Florence.

Stay safe folks. Sending lots of love from the Virgin Islands.