An Update on the Airlines

airplane

Hello everyone and happy Monday! One of the biggest gripes we hear at News of St. John is about the airlines, and specifically, the lack of flights to St. Thomas. Well we’re just as frustrated as all of you when it comes to this topic. We did a little digging over the weekend, and we did learn that some airlines plan to expand their routes later this year. Here is what we know now:

Spirit: Beginning February 16th, Spirit will add flights to and from St. Thomas on Mondays and Fridays. This will be in additional to their current Wednesday and Saturday schedule. Flight number 212 goes to St. Thomas while flight number 201 leaves from St. Thomas. All flights connect through Ft. Lauderdale.

Delta: Delta continues to only operate one flight daily. Flight number 307 travels to St. Thomas while flight number 571 leaves St. Thomas. Both flights connect through Atlanta. Delta appears to be placing a larger 757 aircraft in service beginning February 24 on Saturdays only. It is currently flying a smaller 737 to and from St. Thomas. It also appears that Delta will add a nonstop flight between New York (JFK) and St. Thomas on Saturdays only beginning April 7. According to Delta’s website, those flights will begin operating on a daily basis on May 24.

American: American continues to schedule two flights a day both to and from St. Thomas – flights numbers 943 and 1391. The flight numbers are the same both coming to and leaving from St. Thomas. These flights connect through Miami. It is uncertain when American plans to add additional flights to St. Thomas. American also only allows you to check two bags when traveling to St. Thomas. There are no restrictions on the number of bags when leaving St. Thomas.

JetBlue: JetBlue is operating daily, although you must connect through San Juan. Some of these connections occur on JetBlue aircraft. Others operate in partnership with Seaborne and Cape Air.

United: United is operating though San Juan in partnership with Cape Air and Seaborne airlines.

Cape Air: Cape Air offers several flights daily between St. Thomas and San Juan. You may want to buy a ticket on one airline to San Juan and then a separate ticket to St. Thomas on Cape Air.  Please note: If you airline hop, you do not want to check a bag. If you check a bag, you will have to leave the secure area to retrieve it before boarding your second flight. You will then have to go through security again. 

Seaborne: Seaborne offers several flights daily between St. Thomas and San Juan. You may want to buy a ticket on one airline to San Juan and then a separate ticket to St. Thomas on Seaborne.  Please note: If you airline hop, you do not want to check a bag. If you check a bag, you will have to leave the secure area to retrieve it before boarding your second flight. You will then have to go through security again. 

Southwest: Southwest offers flights to and from San Juan. It is an option to buy a ticket on Southwest to San Juan and then buy a separate ticket to St. Thomas on either JetBlue, Cape Air or Seaborne. Please note: If you airline hop, you do not want to check a bag. If you check a bag, you will have to leave the secure area to retrieve it before boarding your second flight. You will then have to go through security again. 

If you have information on any other flight options, we’d love to know. Please leave it in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

Government Shutdown: The VI National Park Remains Open

national park sign january 6 2018
Well folks, I just woke up, opened my laptop and was greeted by very bolded words on my favorite news page: Shutdown. As you all know, we’re not a political blog here, but this is something we clearly need to address. And guess what? I have great news to share. Regardless of the shutdown, the Virgin Islands National Park will not be affected. Thank goodness!

I briefly chatted with Darrell Echols, the acting superintendent of the Virgin Islands National Park, last night in anticipation of the shutdown, and he assured me that the Park will remain open. He stated that the beaches and park in his areas will not close and that the particulars were still developing.

You may recall back in 2013 when we last had a government shutdown that the Park here was closed for five full days. During that time, parking lots were taped or barricaded off, and rangers asked people to leave the beaches. We also were not allowed to use any of the hiking trails. The Visitor’s Center, Annaberg and even the playground at the National Park dock were all closed. As you can imagine, none of this went over very well here on St. John where the majority of the island is National Park. Fortunately the VI National Park was reopened as an exception while the other National parks remained closed.

So again, the National Park here on St. John remains open and will stay open. So if you are lucky enough to be on island, go out and enjoy one of our beautiful beaches today. I know I will!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Faces of the Virgin Islands

Doc I the latest resident featured on the Faces of the Virgin Islands Facebook page. Images by STJ Creative Photography

Doc is the latest resident featured on the Faces of the Virgin Islands Facebook page. Images by STJ Creative Photography

Hello everyone and happy Friday! Today we’d like to tell you about a great new Facebook page that we think you should all check out. It’s called Faces of the Virgin Islands, and its goal is to profile residents here in the islands, as well as people who have come to our aid following the storms. Here is what the page has to say about themselves:

As the rebuilding efforts on St. John and and across the Virgin Islands continue, we want to provide a platform for people to share their stories. Irmaria reminded all of us of how intertwined our sister islands are. We want to share the stories of the people who came to the aid of St. John between the storms, the stories of people who’s first instinct after the storm was to head out with a pen and paper and start writing down names, the stories of people flying down from the states to help bring power back, the stories of people on a barge every other day delivering supplies. We want to share the stories of the love spreading across the Virgin Islands.

The page is relatively new, it just launched last month, and features photography by Anne Bequette, owner of STJ Creative Photography. Anne is also the photographer who captured all of the great images in our story earlier this week on Kenny Chesney’s Love For Love City Foundation.

So far, the page has featured three residents: Collette, the owner of St. John Scoops; Donna, creator of Valley Doll hot sauces; and Doc, one of our coolest residents here on St. John. Here is what Anne had to say about Doc, pictured above:

As I was documenting some foundation work being done, I caught a whiff in the air of something delicious. I followed the smell down the steps, past ducks and chickens, and found this handsome face on his porch cooking up ribs and meatballs for the guys working on a destroyed roof above. He invited me inside, so I sat, and we chatted.

Meet “Doc”. Born in St. Kitts, he came to St. John in 2000 to work on, and in, restaurants in Cruz Bay. One of them was Rumbalaya, which is now High Tide. He has worked in kitchens for 51 years and went on to tell me stories of playing soccer for the Virgins Islands and the St Kitts national teams. He showed me many pictures of his life, hung on his wall, grateful they survived the storms. He boasted about his garden that surrounded the remains of his wooden deck, as he pulled off leaves from his basil, mint, and thyme bushes, all used in his recipes and homemade teas. The smells were divine! Random facts about Doc: he loves to read, doesn’t drink coffee, and never drinks soda.

As he finished up the ribs on the grill, it was time to say goodbye. Before I left, I asked him what he thought of how the island is progressing after the storms. He emphatically stated, “People need to go to work. If you don’t work, the island won’t get good. Everybody has to chip in, everybody has to give a hand.” How does Doc give a hand? By doing what he does best… cooking up yummy ‘tings for the elderly at St. Ursula’s Episcopal Church in Cruz Bay. If you see him, say hello. He’s the sweetest!

Please click here to check out the Faces of the Virgin Islands, and please be sure to give it a “Like.”

The Soggy Dollar Bar is Waiting for You!

soggy dollar

Soggy Dollar Wednesday afternoon

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! I had the opportunity to hang out at the Soggy Dollar Bar yesterday for the first time since Irma hit, and it was such a great time! So today I wanted to quickly let you all know that they’re open, and they’re waiting for you all to visit!

Sadly, the only thing that survived the storm was the bar out front. The rest of the building has been rebuilt including the sitting area and the store, which is now much larger. The kitchen is still being worked on, but they are serving lunch with the use of a grill. Lunch is served daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For those of you who’ve admired the police and fire patches that lined the bar, no need to worry … they’ve all been saved! The staff removed each patch prior to Irma and all have been relocated in the new space.

The drinks were cold, the food was great, the staff was lovely and my company was amazing! So what are you waiting for? Hop on a plane and come visit us!

Can’t visit just yet? Well we have the next best thing… Soggy’s webcam is live and streaming. You can check it out at www.soggydollar.com/webcam. You can listen to Soggy Dollar Radio at the same time, so it’s kinda like being there, right??? :)

The Soggy webcam Thursday morning

The Soggy webcam Thursday morning

And I just wanted to extend a big thanks to Southern Hospitality for giving us the lift over there yesterday. You may recall how we introduced you to Southern Hospitality’s owner Bruce Twyon back in November. Bruce has donated countless hours and boat trips to help with the recovery efforts. He’s a great guy, one I’m happy to call my friend. Click here to read all about Bruce and his great work.

The Longboard Reopens!

the longboard

Well folks, one of our favorite restaurants has finally reopened for regular service following the hurricanes, and we could not be more excited!

The Longboard reopened its doors Friday after being officially closed for the past few months. As you may recall, The Longboard’s owner Clint Gaskin actually flew to St. John the day before Hurricane Irma hit, so he could be on island and help feed people after the storms. Well Clint ended up doing just that, serving thousands of Red Cross meals for the first month after Irma.

After the Red Cross contract ended, Clint and his staff took a much-needed break. They also took that time to spruce up the restaurant, installing new tables, stools, fans and more. They changed up their menu a bit too for the reopening. Check it out:

Click to see larger image.

Click to see larger image.

LONGBOARD_MENU_WEB_DRINK-page-001

Click to see larger image.

The Longboard’s kitchen is open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The bar is open from 3 p.m. till the last customer leaves. :) Happy hour is daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. They have great specials including a $6 frozen Painkiller (one of my personal favorites!), $11 Frose, a variety of island craft cocktails for $6, and $1 off all beers.

So the next time you are lucky enough to be on St. John, be sure to stop by The Longboard. We’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Have a great Wednesday everyone! Cheers!

island cocktails

One of The Longboard’s island cocktails.

How the Love for Love City Foundation Continues to Help Our Islands

The Love for Love City Foundation crew poses for a pic on Jost Van Dyke. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

The Love for Love City Foundation crew poses for a pic on Jost Van Dyke. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Back in October, we introduced you to the Love for Love City Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created by Kenny Chesney before the last winds of Hurricane Irma even left St. John. As many of you may know, Kenny owns a home here on St. John and has visited the island for years. So when he learned that his home-away-from-home and many of his longtime friends needed some major help, he quickly sprung into action, conducting interviews to spread the word on our plight, as well as setting up the Foundation which has been instrumental in the recovery efforts here on St. John.

Many people have asked me how St. John is doing so well following two extremely destructive category five storms. The answer, in my opinion, is simple. 1. The people who live here are incredible and resilient, and have done whatever it takes to get our home back to the new normal. 2. We have the unwavering support of all of you. 3. We have two private citizens who have gone above and beyond to help us – Kenny Chesney and Tom Secunda.

(Mr. Secunda is the co-founder of Bloomberg L.P. He too owns a home here on St. John with his wife Cindy. The Bloomberg Foundation dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy back in 2012 and brought that expertise to St. John. They can be credited for helping restore our infrastructure among other things. We will have more on the Bloomberg Foundation’s efforts later this month.) 

When we first spoke of the Love for Love City Foundation back in October, they were still in the emergency relief phase, delivering much needed supplies to St. John and Jost Van Dyke, our neighbor over in the British Virgin Islands. Since then, they’ve moved into the recovery phase. To put it simply, they’re fixing things.

One of the best parts about the Love for Love City Foundation is that you can see exactly where your dollars are going. Drive into Coral Bay and you will see that Skinny Legs has a beautiful new roof. The Love for Love City Foundation helped with that. Cruise around to the corner to Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis and you will notice how Karen’s damaged building has been repaired over the past week. The Love for Love City Foundation fixed that themselves.

Karen and the Love for Love City boys

Karen Granitz, owner of Oasis, with Connor Masterson, Kyle Eckhoff, Benny Wolfe and Seth Bettinger, four amazing employees of the Love for Love City Foundation. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Hop on a boat to Jost Van Dyke and you will see a brand new dock in Great Harbor. The Love for Love City Foundaiton built that. Wander down the beach and over the new bridge to Foxy’s. The Love for Love City crew built that too.

The Love for Love City Foundation rebuilds the dock on Jost Van Dyke. Image credit: STJ Creative

The Love for Love City Foundation rebuilds the dock on Jost Van Dyke. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

The new bridge near Foxy's in Great Harbor. Image credit: STJ Photography

The new bridge near Foxy’s in Great Harbor. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

They even transformed into elves at Christmas time, personally wrapping more than 1,000 gifts which they handed out to children both here on St. John and over in Jost Van Dyke.

Delivering gifts on Jost Van Dyke. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Delivering gifts on Jost Van Dyke. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

A little girl received a new bike for Christmas thanks to the Love for Love City Foundation. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

A little girl received a new toy for Christmas thanks to the Love for Love City Foundation. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

They’ve built docks, bridges, roofs and buildings. They’ve helped repair schools and clinics. They’ve cleared debris from people’s homes who couldn’t help themselves. They cleared brush over at Oppenheimer. They set up lights in Cruz Bay along with the Bloomberg Foundation before the power was restored. They handed out hundreds of generators – from ones large enough to power grocery stores to smaller ones that helped the elderly power up their homes. They handed out more than 1,000 Engel coolers so people without power could keep their food and drinks cold. They handed out plywood before Hurricane Maria hit, so people could protect their homes and businesses. They’ve given books to the three schools here on island and donated laptops and desks to the Christian Academy. They helped rebuild the Christian Academy. They cleared out classrooms at Julius Sprauve. They cleared debris from Gifft Hill, so the school could reopen. They evacuated more than 1,000 people on private planes. They’ve transported more than 700 cats and dogs from St. John and our neighboring islands to rescues up in the States.

Jeff Quinlin, operations director for the Love for Love City Foundation, clear brush at Oppenheimer.

Jeff Quinlin, operations director for the Love for Love City Foundation, clears brush in White Bay. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Lighting up Cruz Bay - Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Lighting up Cruz Bay – Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

students enjoying books on st john

Students at Christian Academy enjoying their new books. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Students at Christian Academy enjoying their new books. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Three students at Julius Sprauve check out their new books. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Volunteers help load cats and dogs before their journey to the States. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Volunteers help load cats and dogs before their journey to the States. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

stormy before heading to st louis

Stormy looks pretty happy to be headed to the Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

It’s all pretty amazing if you ask me.

Many people may be wondering who exactly the Love for Love City team is here on St. John. Well they’re your bartenders, boat captains, cooks and chefs. They’re photographers and former business owners. They’re simply people who want to help. They’re some of our island’s heroes if you ask me.

Four months have passed since Hurricane Irma hit, and our progress has been remarkable. But we still have a long road ahead. So if you would like to and are able to help with our recovery, I encourage you to support the Love for Love City Foundation.