New Hotel May Be Coming to Cruz Bay

Image credit: St. John Tradewinds News

Image credit: St. John Tradewinds News

We had a lot of news last week that made you all unhappy – the two BVI increases, for example – so we wanted to hold off on today’s story for a bit because we weren’t sure the reaction we’d receive. But it’s made the rounds in the traditional news media, so we figured it was time to share it. So here it goes… A new hotel is planned for Cruz Bay. And from what we’ve been told, it’s going to have up to 200 rooms if approved.

The hotel is being planned by Delbert Parsons and Delrise Varlack. Delbert owns Sea Shore Allure, a beautifully-designed, upscale hotel in Cruz Bay. Ms. Varlack owns Varlack Ventures, one of the companies that runs the ferry boats. She also owns a car rental company of the same name.

The hotel is going to have up to 200 rooms – both one and two bedroom suites. They will not have kitchens, Delbert said Thursday. It’s going to be a higher end hotel, along the lines of Sea Shore Allure, but the price point will be less than the Westin and Caneel Bay, he said.

If approved, the hotel have two pools – one at ground level and another roof-top pool. It will also have a walking path connecting it to nearby Mongoose Junction. He’s still working on the renderings and expects to have them completed within a month.

Delbert doesn’t foresee any approval issues, as he has the space, waste management and water plans, etc. If approved, he expects the project to take roughly three years to complete.

The site is located above the Lumberyard and would be accessed from the road behind the Islandia Building. It’s a perfect location, according to Delbert.

“The view is unbelievable. The sunsets – oh man, it’s priceless. The way it’s located, we don’t have the noise up there. That’s what’s so amazing about it.”

And when asked about potential backlash, which happened when Grande Bay and Sirenusa were announced, for example, Delbert remains positive.

“Progress is something you cannot stop,” he said. “We lost Maho Bay. We lost the Westin. (The Westin is being converted to all timeshares.) So we’re trying to bring back something we lost. We’re not adding more to the situation. We can probably bring back half the rooms we lost.”

We will keep you all posted on this folks.

2017 Seasonal Closings List

Closed Sign

Here it is folks, the 2017 Seasonal Closings list. If I missed any, please let me know in the Comments sections and I will add it in.

You can also find the list at www.newsofstjohn.com/seasonalclosings

Click here for a printable PDF version of the list.

  • 420 to Center: Staying open
  • Aqua Bistro: Staying open
  • Asolare: Staying open
  • Baked in the Sun: Permanently closed
  • Banana Deck: Closed September 1st through October 15th
  • Barefoot Cowboy Lounge: Closing briefly for a remodel; Dates TBD
  • Beach Bar: Staying open
  • Cafe Concordia: Closed; Will reopen mid-November.
  • Cafe Roma: Closed August 28th to September 28th
  • Candie’s: Closed for September
  • Caneel Bay Resort (including restaurants): Closes August 26th; Reopens November 1st
  • Château Bordeaux: No info yet
  • Chester’s: Staying open
  • Cinnamon Bay Campground: Water sports & beach food services staying open; Resort closed September 5th through November 1st
  • Columbo’s Smoothie Stand: Closing but dates not yet decided
  • Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis: Closed during the month of August
  • Cruz Bay Landing: Staying open
  • da Livio’s: Staying open
  • De’ Coal Pot: Staying open
  • Dog House Pub: Staying open
  • DR!NK: Closing August 18th (Drink the bar dry party); Reopening mid-October
  • Driftwood Dave’s: Staying open
  • Etta’s West Indian Cuisine: Closed for the foreseeable future due to health reasons
  • Extra Virgin Bistro: Closed August 27th through October 17th
  • High Tide: Staying open
  • Indigo Grill: Closing but dates TBD
  • Island Cork: Staying open 
  • Jake’s: Staying open
  • Joe’s Rum Hut: Closing September 4th; Reopening October 2nd
  • Knox & Ollies: Closed September 2nd through October 2nd
  • La Tapa: Closing August 25th; Reopening between October 15th and 23rd
  • Lemongrass at the Westin: Staying open.
  • Lime Inn: Closing August 26th; Reopening outside bar October 2nd; Reopening full dining room November 6th
  • Little Olive: Closing at the end of August; Reopening date TBD
  • Margarita Phil’s: Closing September 3rd; Reopening end of October
  • Miss Lucy’s: Closing end of August; Reopening mid-November
  • Morgan’s Mango: Staying open
  • Nella’s Lounge: No info yet
  • North Shore Deli: Closing mid-September for a week
  • Ocean 362: Closing August 15th through October 11th
  • Ocean Grill: Closed August 19th; Reopening September 13th
  • Our Market Smoothies: Staying open
  • P & P’s: No info yet.
  • Pickles: Closing July 29th; Reopening in October
  • Pizzabar in Paradise: Staying open
  • Quiet Mon: Will likely close August 30th until September 30th
  • Rhumb Lines: Closed September 19th through October 18th
  • Ronnie’s Pizza: Closing the end of August for two weeks
  • Sam and Jack’s Deli: Closing on Sundays only through early November
  • Shipwreck Landing: Closing August 26th; Reopening first week of November
  • Skinny Legs: Closing August 18th; Reopening October 15th
  • Slimman and the Snack Dragon: Staying open
  • Sogos: TBD
  • St. John Scoops: Staying open but with shortened hours
  • Sun Dog Cafe: Staying open
  • Tamarind Inn: Closed September 1st through October 1st (Inn and restaurant)
  • The Bowery: Opening at 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays throughout off season.
  • The Tap Room: Staying open
  • The Thirsty Donkey: Staying open
  • The Fish Trap: Closed August 19th through September 15th (weather permitting)
  • The Longboard: Staying open (Will close for 4-5 days for maintenance in either late September or early October; dates TBD)
  • The Terrace: Closing August 1st; Reopening around September 15th
  • The Triple B: Closing August 13th; Reopening early November
  • UMAMI: Closed September 8th through September 28th
  • Uncle Joe’s: Staying open
  • Viva Cantina: Permanently closed.
  • Waterfront Bistro: Lunch service closes August 1st; Entire restaurant will be closed September 1st to October 1st
  • West Indies Delight: Staying open
  • Wok on the Beach: Staying open
  • Woody’s: Staying open
  • Zozo’s Ristorante: Closing August 25th; Reopening November 1st

The Little Island That Could…

aerial shot of St. John in US Virgin Islands

I am always absolutely amazed by the generosity of this island. This past weekend was no different.

The Chaotic Kayak race was held this past Sunday. Team News of St. John didn’t take first, but I couldn’t be prouder of our team. Thank you to Ben, owner of Born to Rhumb; Pat, owner of Love City Fit Camp; William, owner of Irie Pops and an amazing paddler who works for VI Ecotours; Austin, another amazing VI Ecotours paddler; and Greyson, our middle man who is in elementary school over at Gifft Hill. Congrats to Team Rum Hut who took first place!

team news of st john

Team News of St. John!! Greyson, Ben, Austin and William. (Pat is missing from the photo.)

Team Rum Hut - Jeff, Marleigh and Tony

Team Rum Hut – Jeff, Marleigh and Tony (Thanks Kate Quigley for the pic!)

But what’s the most astonishing part of this event is the amount of money that was raised. We’ve heard that nearly $50,000 was raised through online donations (thank you to all of you who donated!!) and through the generosity of our businesses and the patrons who supported them while they donated their tips, held events, etc.

This got me thinking about all of the money that is raised by St. Johnians each year, and by all of you – the people who love St. John right alongside us. Just look at what we’ve all done so far this year…

In January, the St. John Cancer Fund raise more than $102,000 through its Light Up the Night Walk.

In February, the Animal Care Center raised more than $50,000 at its annual gala.

In May, the Animal Care Center raised another $20,000 during its Wagapalooza event.

In June, News of St. John raised $30,000 for the Island Health and Wellness Center.

That’s $252,000 that was raised so far this year! Not too bad for a tiny little island in the middle of the Caribbean.

And those numbers don’t include the monies raised for Gifft Hill School, the Virgin Islands National Park or a slew of other worthy organizations on our island.

St. John is the most generous community I have ever been apart of, and I am so proud to live there. I am also so humbled by the support we receive year after year from all of you. So a big thank you to you all.

Let’s keep this going for years to come.

-Jenn xoxo

Wok on the Beach is Now Open

wok on the beach coral bay

Last month, we told you about a new restaurant that was coming to Coral Bay. Well today we can tell you that Wok on the Beach is officially open, and the reviews have been outstanding!

Wok on the Beach is an Asian fusion restaurant located in the Isola Shoppes complex – the former Voyages building – which is next to Aqua Bistro. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Lunch is served until 5 p.m. and then dinner service begins.

Here are a few reviews from its Facebook page:

  • Cannot say enough about the FRESH-ness — of the food, menu, ambiance, style. Thrilled about this new gem in Coral Bay… Thanks Chef Bruce! 
  • Wonderful food. Fabulous location with harbor view and Caribbean breezes. Awesome staff. Try the Toasted Coconut cocktail and anything on the menu. It’s all delicious!!
  • Best experience in Coral Bay! Food is yummy. The staff are super friendly. Enjoyed the charming ambiance outside with the Caribbean breeze. Reasonable priced menu. Definitely will be back for more!

Sounds great!

And here is a copy of its menu:

MENU PDF-page-001

Have you tried Wok on the Beach yet? If so, let us know your thoughts. Have a great Monday everyone!

Chaotic Kayak Happening Today at Noon

 

2017 kayak logo

The day is here folks!

Who: Everyone on St. John is invited to attend! Twenty nine businesses are participating in todays race.

What: A super fun kayak race for charity!

When: Today, July 23rd at noon.

Where: Oppenheimer – A free shuttle will be available from Mongoose Junction.

Why: To raise money for Team River Runner. These funds help bring wounded veterans to St. John for 8 Tuff Miles, the Beach-to-Beach Power Swim and for a week in November. That week is based around a leadership clinic for vets selected to attend by their local chapters. The goal is to guide the attendees in the direction of starting their own chapters in order to broaden the TRR outreach to help vets through paddle sports – hence the kayak theme of today’s race.

We’d like to thank Ben Steed of Born to Rhumb, William Fernandez of Irie Pops and Greyson, a Gifft Hill student, for being on the News of St. John team today. Good luck Team News of St. John!!

VI National Park Will Remain VI National Park

national park sign

Wow, what a firestorm yesterday. The Senate President stated the VI National Park’s name would be changed. A meeting on the matter was announced for last night. Then it was cancelled. Then it was back on. Goodness, it was so hard to stay on top of this matter especially considering that we were flying above the Atlantic Ocean when most of this took place.

Here’s the latest… The meeting was in fact held. Prior to the meeting. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett released a statement. Here it is in its entirety:

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, a Member of the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released the following statement on the status of National Parks in the Caribbean:

“I have been very disappointed by the disinformation circulated concerning the National Park. There will be no changes to the parks’ names or legal authorities. The superintendents of each Caribbean park (St. Croix, St. John and San Juan) will now report to a group superintendent stationed in the Caribbean. I understand this adjustment will push decision making closer to the field. We have received numerous reports from residents, National Park employees and other stakeholders concerning the relationship with the Virgin Islands National Park system and its community. We are supportive of changes which bring accountability closer to the people of the Virgin Islands.

“It is my understanding that recent management review of all National parks in the Caribbean was completed in 2017. The review team found that each of the parks could be run more efficiently by sharing resources and expertise. I further understand that the decision to realign was based on feedback received from management, employees, and stakeholders at each park during the review. This change realigns the reporting structure of the three park managers. Three park managers — located at St. Croix, St. John and San Juan — now report to the Caribbean Parks Superintendent. It is my understanding that one of the Virgin Islands’ park managers was first offered the position and declined and as the second person offered was the San Juan manager. The San Juan park manager position is currently vacant. The three park managers will report to a Caribbean Parks Superintendent, and that superintendent reports to the Regional Director. The realignment mirrors similar models in the National Park Service, like the Outer Banks Group (NC) and National Parks of New York Harbor.

“I understand that the community has asked the new Caribbean Parks Superintendent to meet with the community on St. John. Because of information which has been circulating in the community, I have asked the Southeast Regional Director to come and speak directly to the community about this and other issues concerning our parks. And I have asked that he ensure the attendance of all the park managers and superintendents. As Congress recesses on July 28, I intend to be at the meeting which we have agreed to take place on August 3 on St. John and ask all local stakeholders and the press to be there.

“Again, there will be no change to the park’s name or legal authority. Our Virgin Islands National Parks have been a great resource and pride to us as Virgin Islanders but truthfully not always the Parks have not always been the best partner with our community. I am working hard to ensure that the relationship is equitable.”

And here is the statement sent to us from the Virgin Islands National Park:

“Each Caribbean unit of the National Park Service is significant to America’s natural and cultural heritage. The NPS recently finalized a management review, which found that by pooling services, we could more effectively protect and preserve these national treasures. A more closely defined working relationship between the Caribbean parks could open access to resources and expertise while strengthening park operations.

“Effective July 2017, the management of Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, and San Juan National Historic Site will now report to a Caribbean Parks Superintendent stationed in the Caribbean.

“The realignment means that the parks are shifting HR reporting lines and that park employees will have greater access to resources and support to do their jobs. Each park still has a unit manager who maintains local control, and these managers will now report to a group Superintendent in the Caribbean. This model pushes more critical decision-making to the Caribbean, instead of to Atlanta 1,500 miles away. Similar park groups are found in New York, Arizona, and North Carolina.

There will be no changes to the parks’ names or legal authorities. The term “Caribbean Parks” has been coined for internal administrative purposes.

“We appreciate your ongoing support of your national parks and invite you to contact us with any questions.”

There you have it folks. Enjoy your Friday. :)