Well folks, you know I must have pretty amazing news to share if I’m working from my vacation. We’ve heard rumblings for quite some time that Tom Secunda – the co-founder of Bloomberg and a part-time St. John resident – was planning to take over operations at Cinnamon Bay, and today it became official. This truly is extraordinary news. Here is the official press release in its entirety:
St. John’s Cinnamon Bay Campground and Trunk Bay Concession to be Rebuilt by New Owners to Boost Local Economy
“Our goal is to create the best camping experience in the national parks system,” says Thomas F. Secunda, Philanthropist, Bloomberg co-founder, national parks advocate and CinnOpCo backer
Profits Will Support Philanthropic and Resiliency Projects Across the Island and Rebuilding Work Starts Immediately
St. John’s Cinnamon Bay campground will be rebuilt in an effort to boost the local economy and restore jobs, according to the new owners of Cinnamon Bay Resorts.
Backed by philanthropist and Bloomberg LP co-founder Thomas F. Secunda, CinnOpCo announced today its purchase of Cinnamon Bay Resorts, operator of Cinnamon Bay and the concessions at Trunk Bay in the Virgin Islands National Park. Longtime St. John hospitality manager Adrian Davis will direct the company. Secunda, an advocate for the national parks, served as chairman of the board of trustees of the National Parks Conservation Association.
“Over the years I’ve been visiting St. John, I’ve developed a real passion for the island and for its people,” Secunda said. “Our goal at Cinnamon Bay is to create the best camping experience in the national parks system in a way that benefits the local economy and gives back to the territory, its visitors and its residents.”
“Cinnamon Bay has always been a unique part of our tourism infrastructure and its reopening signals another step in rebuilding our private sector economy.” said U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan.
“The reopening of the iconic Cinnamon Bay is a major step towards restoring the important range of St. John’s tourism offerings,” said Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett. “I’m excited about the reopening and new innovative management of such an historic area with its beautiful beaches.”
“We look forward to honoring the history of Cinnamon Bay while providing family friendly accommodations on the property again. We are excited to renovate both properties and provide services to visitors and residents once again,” said Davis.
Cinnamon Bay facilities and grounds have sat largely untouched since hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island in 2017 and the reopening will help bring back jobs and more visitors to St John.
The restored campground will feature upgraded facilities and camping options ranging from renovated bare sites for tents to redesigned bungalows. The rebuilding will prioritize sustainability and resilience at both locations.
Underscoring a commitment to St. John and the broader territory, Secunda said profits will be driven back into philanthropic efforts across St. John. Local companies, including B&C Transport, will be used for the work on site. Staff will be employed year-round instead of laid off in slower months.
The clean-up and rebuilding starts immediately with the aim of reopening Cinnamon Bay campgrounds for the 2020-21 season. Trunk Bay will continue to operate as is while food and beverage buildings are repaired, upgraded and rebuilt.
The reopening will help bring needed jobs back to St John. It will also contribute to the local economy by creating opportunities for other vendors and individuals who are needed by Cinnamon Bay guests including taxis, rental cars, local restaurants, offsite activities and destinations.
Recovering and Rebuilding for Resilience
Under Secunda’s leadership, the Bloomberg Response Team has been on the ground in the U.S. Virgin Islands since the days immediately after Hurricane Irma struck, spending tens of millions of dollars to assist the territory since 2017.
The Bloomberg team sent technical experts to serve side by side with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and organizations like Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City, and new non-profits like Love City Strong to accelerate response and recovery. Many Bloomberg staff drew on their experience working on the recovery and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012.
The work of Love for Love City and Love City Strong, in partnership with Bloomberg, has grown into an island-wide effort to rebuild homes in a resilient way for St John’s most vulnerable residents. Love City Strong has also led the way in ensuring clean cistern drinking water as well as mold remediation on storm-damaged homes.
Their work has grown into a sustained effort to support sustainable and resilient rebuilding and preparation in St. John and throughout the territory through the Hurricane Recovery Task Force, Sustainable Energy Work, the USVI Public Safety Support Foundation, and Love City Strong.
New and Innovative Approaches to Recovery and Preparedness
As climate change makes hurricane increasingly powerful and destructive, Secunda’s aim is to help build a more resilient region that is better prepared to respond to future storms and natural disasters. Working with the local government and partners, the Bloomberg team and its partners have been trying new and innovative approaches to disaster recovery and preparedness that are showing success across the territory.
The Bloomberg Response Team and Love City Strong will present results and best practices at the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery meeting in St. Thomas in early June. The meeting will advance recovery and resiliency efforts, support long term sustainability and drive action to prepare for the 2019 hurricane season.
As the press release mentions, Mr. Secunda and his team have done so much good for St. John since the hurricanes. We’re lucky to have him as a part-time resident, as well as all of the individuals who are tirelessly working on our recovery. Progress continues to happen each day. And for that, I am so thankful.
And before I leave you all, here are a few pictures I took at Cinnamon last Monday.