Thank You from the Children of St. John

Now this is going to make you all smile… Please check out this great video created for all of you by the children of St. John. I promise you’re going to love it. Have a great weekend everyone. :)

Happy Thanksgiving! We are So Thankful!

2018 Thanksgiving Maho Bay

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, and we’re celebrating yet another Thanksgiving holiday here on the beautiful island of St. John. There is so very much for myself, and many of us here on island to be thankful for.

For starters, I am thankful for all of you. Fourteen months ago, many of us, including myself, were not too sure what the future of tourism held. We knew you’d all be back, but quite honestly, we weren’t sure when that would happen. I was stunned when I saw some of you start to trickle back last Thanksgiving. Russ Ballou, I remember seeing you and your family here last Thanksgiving. I thought it was a little too soon, but you convinced me otherwise. A big thank you for that. (And thank you for raising more than $30,000 for this island last fall. Simply amazing. Ps: I still think that should be a yearly event. It was so fun!) 

And then came Christmas, and many more of you came back. And by early 2018, our beaches and restaurants and villas and condos were full again. And throughout the year, more and more of you came back. You posted pictures, trip reports and spread the good news. (Yes, I read all of that stuff. :) ) And because of that, more people came back. Sure, we weren’t at pre-storm capacity, but this island was filling up once again. It was a beautiful sight, and I thank you all for that. And for those of you who haven’t been able to visit us yet, but continue to love us from afar, I thank you all for that as well. That is very important too.

The past week has been pretty busy here on island. The ferries have been packed full of people with luggage… such a great sight! For the first time since last summer, I have seen Jeeps parking on the side of the road at Francis. That means it’s getting full … so exciting! Trunk has been packed! Not in a too many people way, but in a they’re back kinda way! Maho has been packed! Skinny Legs has been packed! The streets of Cruz Bay are bustling once again. And the mega yachts are back. So great! The way I look at that is, if you own a $200 million yacht, you can pretty much travel anywhere in the world at anytime. Well David Geffen, who owns the Rising Sun, chose to spend his Thanksgiving holiday anchored off of Cruz Bay. That says a lot in my book. I have seen several other big yachts in the waters around St. John over the past week as well. It’s such a nice sight.

I am thankful for this community. There are so many great people who live here. I am thankful for all the hard work people put in to bring this island back to life. We all had our own roles, and each of those roles are important in my book. The people who cleaned up the streets; the people who directed traffic while BCC and WAPA installed new poles or while crews removed the debris and wires; the people who helped evacuate more than 1,000 residents; the people who helped transport our cats and dogs to shelters in the states, the people who reopened their businesses as quickly as possible; the girl who keeps you up to date on the conditions of St. John… :) Again, all of these roles are important and there are so many more.

I am thankful for the citizens and organizations who have stepped up to become community leaders following the storms. I am thankful to the Animal Care Center and Ryan Moore for caring for our animals and making certain they were safely and successfully transported to the states. I am thankful for the staff at Canines, Cats and Critters for filling out so many health certificates in the days following the storms, so residents could temporarily leave island with their animals. I am thankful for St. John Rescue for doing everything it could to help residents in the days and weeks following the hurricanes. I am thankful to Sandy and the Island Health and Wellness Center for working around the clock to make sure people are healthy. I am thankful for Love City Strong for making sure our water is safe and that our homes are mold-free. I am thankful to Kenny Chesney for creating the Love for Love City Foundation, which continues to fix structures around the island today. I am thankful to Tom Secunda and Bloomberg for sending down so many resources including the John’s Hopkins GoTeam, the troopers from New York, for helping rebuild our infrastructure and for financially supporting so many organizations here on island. I am thankful to the folks at Love City Community Network for providing the island with internet services. I am thankful for the All Hearts and Hands volunteers for helping residents clean and now rebuild. There are so many other great organizations helping us out as well. I have so much thanks for all of you.

I am thankful for Mother Nature and her ability to bounce back. Have you seen this place lately??! It’s so green! And lush! It truly looks amazing.

But most importantly, I am thankful for life. As you all know, I was blessed with a new one after the storm as were several other families here on island. I’m not sure there are enough thanks in the world for that. Here are a few recent pics… :)

Thank you to Steve Simonsen for taking this great pic!

Thank you to Steve Simonsen for taking this great pic!

Sending a little birthday love to his mama... Thanks Bizzy Orr for the great pic!

Sending a little birthday love to his mama… Thanks Bizzy Orr for the great pic!

Hanging out at the Island Health and Wellness Center...

Hanging out at the Island Health and Wellness Center…

So it’s pretty safe to say that I am very thankful today and every day to be honest.

Again, thank you all for loving and supporting this place. You are just as much a part of this community as we all are. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Familiar Faces Opening New Restaurant at Mongoose Junction

Mongoose Junction Nov 20 2018

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday! We have such great news to share with you today!!

So back in August we told you how Ocean Grill decided to close its doors for good. We’ve received a ton of questions about what’s happening with that space, and we’ve finally received the go ahead to share the great news with all of you today.

The new spot is going to be called 18°64°: The Restaurant, and it’s being brought to you by the talented folks over at Extra Virgin Bistro. But no need to worry, Extra Virgin isn’t going anywhere. 18°64° will be a sister restaurant of sorts, and from what we’ve been told, it’s going to be amazing.

Whereas Extra Virgin prides itself as having a farm to table concept, 18°64° is going to offer more of a sea to table concept. The owners of 18°64° – Ryan Costanzo, Tom Garfield and Creagh Spillano – have been speaking with local fishermen in an effort to incorporate an abundance of fresh seafood in its menu. And just like over at Extra Virgin, they’ll have a scratch kitchen where they will make everything in house from fresh bread to salad dressings to ice creams and more.

18°64° will be open for lunch and dinner, which is great considering its location over in Mongoose Junction. The men stressed that nothing will be repeated from one restaurant to another, although both will continue to focus on being fresh, homemade and using locally sourced ingredients including herbs, greens and other fresh vegetables from their rooftop garden. (They hope to incorporate a second garden at their new location, although that remains in the planning stages.)

Creagh, Tom and Ryan stand in their rooftop garden. July 2018

Creagh, Tom and Ryan stand in Extra Virgin’s rooftop garden. -July 2018

In terms of price point, 18°64° will be less expensive when compared to Extra Virgin although the quality will not be sacrificed. 18°64° also plans to offer delicious craft cocktails and an extensive wine list focusing on lighter whites and reds, as well as sparkling wines and rosés.

The space is currently undergoing a renovation, and a new roof is being installed. The restaurant will have a brand new, large bar area complete with hightop tables, as well as a large dining room. The decor will include lots of clean whites and aquas that is traditional over at Mongoose Junction, but will also include lots of local artwork that’s bright and vibrant.

“We want to maintain some of that fresh Caribbean vibe while embracing the airiness and brightness of the space,” Creagh told me Tuesday. “It’s going to be clean, bright and vibrant which will also be representative of the food.”

inside new evb space 2 nov 20 2018

The former Ocean Grill space

Inside new EVB space Nov 20 2018

Renovations are underway.

Mongoose Junction owner and designer Glen Speer is helping the team to oversee the rebuild, so you know it’s going to be stunning. 18°64° hopes to open in late winter or early spring.

So now you may be wondering where the name came from. Well it happens to be the coordinates of St. John.

“The cool thing about it is that it’s our coordinates, it’s St. John, and that’s what they’re going for – fresh local food from local fisherman and from scratch,” Jennifer Gibbud said Tuesday. “The name itself nails our concept on the head.”

I’m not sure about all of you, but I’m pretty excited about this one. We will share more details as soon as we can. In the meantime, have a great Wednesday everyone!

Cruising Around the Island: Smoothie Shack to Maho Bay

Who wants to take a quick spin around the island today? We took this GoPro a few weeks back. It starts at the smoothie shack on Centerline Road and continues down to Maho Bay. Enjoy!

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?? We formed the exact route last November. Click here to see how much has changed over the past year.

Have a great day everyone!

Lots of Money Raised & Someone is Staying on STJ For Just $25!

The 2018 News of St. John kara team - William, Elijah, Hugo & Pat

The 2018 News of St. John kayak team – William, Elijah, Hugo & Pat

Hello everyone and happy Monday! Yesterday’s Chaotic Kayak race was a huge success! And that is a thanks to many of you, as well as the community of St. John!

Team News of St. John may not have taken home the coveted paddle, but our team did great! I’d like to give a big thanks to my team captain William Fernandez and our paddlers, Pat Connelly and Hugo Roller. I would also like to give an extra big thanks to Elijah Miner, our 8-year-old water gun shooter. Great job to all!

News of St. John placed third. Woody’s won the race this year. The Rum Hut was the 2017 winner, and we’re happy to say that the golden paddle survived Irma despite having Dreamweaver smash into the restaurant. The Rum Hut graciously (well sort of, haha) handed over the paddle to the Woody’s team yesterday afternoon.

From what we hear, the event raised more than $26,000 which will be used to bring wounded veterans to St. John for a week of rest and relaxation in 2019. News of St. John was the top fundraiser, so a big thank you for that! Our final total was $7,015 … simply amazing!

Now on to our courtesy raffle… For those of you who follow us on our Facebook page, you probably have seen where we pulled the winner live on video. So yet again, I would like to congratulate MacKenzie Snider for being the winner. MacKenzie donated $25 to Team News of St. John and because of that, she won a five-night stay at one of two suites at Island Abodes here on St. John. Congrats MacKenzie, and a big thanks to Brittany and Robert of Island Abodes for offering this great prize. Please check out their beautiful vacation rentals at www.islandabodes.com

Shelton Gore, of Team River Runner, chose the winner of our courtesy drawing Sunday afternoon on Cruz Bay beach.

Shelton Gore, of Team River Runner, chose the winner of our courtesy drawing Sunday afternoon on Cruz Bay beach.

That’s all we have for you today, folks! As always, thank you for your continued love and support of this beautiful island! I hope to see you all here soon!!

A Pirate in the Caribbean?

Maho overlook, November 16th

Maho overlook, Nov. 16, 2018

You know, it’s sort of funny the things that make me smile. When I saw my first cruise ship of the season anchor off Cruz Bay last month, I was ecstatic because it means yet another return to normalcy. And that’s very important to me and many of us living here in a post-hurricane world. Well today, I’d like to tell about something else that has made me smile this week… the mega yachts have arrived for the season!! They skipped last season, so this is a big deal. :)

I was over at Francis Bay yesterday when I noticed a very cool yacht sitting in the bay. I did a little sleuthing and learned it was the Arriva, an impressive 156-foot yacht. The cool part about the Arriva is its history. It was formerly owned by Johnny Depp who named it the Vajoliroja – a pun on the Jolly Roger using the first two letters of his children’s names – Lily Rose and Jack.

Arriva at Francis Nov 2018

Arriva is on the left. Another megayacht to the right.

This yacht was once owned by Johnny Depp and JK Rowling.

This yacht was once owned by Johnny Depp and JK Rowling.

Johnny Depp sold the yacht to JK Rowling, who in turn named it Amphitrite. She quickly had buyer’s remorse and put the yacht on the market for more than $17 million. The yacht sold in 2017, although the new fancy owner has not been named publicly.

Another impressive yacht that’s in our area today is the Rising Sun. This is extra special in my opinion because it truly shows that things are getting back to normal.

The Rising Sun is a 453-foot megayacht owned by David Geffen. It visits every year, spending Thanksgiving over in Round Bay. The vessel obviously did not visit us in 2017, but the fact that it has returned this year is a great sign. Check out this pic I took earlier today using my telescope. I snapped it just before the Rising Sun passed behind Little St. James.

The Rising Sun, Nov. 17, 2018

The Rising Sun, Nov. 17, 2018

And here’s an even better pic taken this morning by our friends over at St. John Car Rental:

Image courtesy of St. John Car Rental

Image courtesy of St. John Car Rental

And lastly, here’s a close up picture taken of the Rising Sun during its visit back in 2013:

Image courtesy of Sloop Jones

Image courtesy of Sloop Jones, 2013

The Rising Sun and Arriva are both currently hanging out together in Round Bay. So if you’re out on the East End today, be sure to take a pic. :)

I’m sure more are coming folks, and we’ll be sure to tell you all about it! Have a great day everyone!