Westin waits OK for timeshares

The Westin Resort has asked approval from the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee to convert a third of its hotel buildings to timeshares.  Matt Balcik, the hotel manager, said timeshares are "hot" so converting four buildings on hotel grounds makes sense, according to the St. John Source.  Balcik said the rooms  will be offered as hotel accommodations when owners are not in residence.  The Resort’s original timeshare buildings are on the left side of the south shore road, as you’re headed away from Cruz Bay.

Julien Harley, CZM chairman, said the hotel needs only a minor permit to make the move.  A spokesman for CZM said the committee would meet April 13 for what he said would be "a decision and modification meeting" on the Westin’s request.

St. John School receives gift

Denny Cresap, a partner in St. Thomas-based Golden Eagle Financial, donated $4,000 to the St. John School on Gifft Hill.  Cresap has a home on St. John.  His previous contributions have benefited the Sprauve library and the National Park.

Cresap put no restrictions on the use of the funds. "There are any number of places that this money will be able to benefit," said Scott Crawford, co-administrator of the school.

Blues festival begins Wednesday

Bluesfestival2006The show will go on, despite the absence of the planned headliner at the 4th Annual Coors Light St. John Blues Festival

James Cotton, one of the greatest blues harmonica players in the world, has had to cancel his appearance at the Saturday night concert at the ball field in Cruz Bay.  Complications from throat cancer and pneumonia, explained Steve Simon, founder and producer of the event.

Simon said Carey Bell (Listen to a sample), another blues harp legend, has been added to the roster.  Also scheduled to perform are Mark Wenner and the Nighthawks (listen to a sample: ), and St. John’s Chris Carsel and the St John Blues Boys.

The Festival begins with a free party in Coral Bay at Island Blues Wednesday night.  Here’s the rest of the schedule: http://www.stjohnbluesfestival.com/bf/schedule2006.htm.

Other sponsors include the Jolly Dog Trading Company. and Theodore Tunick & Co.

Real estate: nearly 100 homes for sale

Higher-priced residences are responsible for a rising inventory of homes for sale on island.  With 98 residential properties now on the Multiple Listing Service, the median price of a home has moved up $200,000 to $1.9 million.  The average price continues at about $2.17 million.

In previous seasons, real estate sales people lamented a lack of selection when inventory totaled less than 45 houses.  Now, with nearly 100 properties, one sales person said buyers have more from which to choose and that is leading to lots of viewings and some contracts.

MorgansIn commercial real estate, another popular Cruz Bay restaurant has been listed.  Morgan’s Mango is being offered for $960,000.  This is not the first time Morgan’s has been for sale; previously the asking price – last season, and I believe the season before,  – was $1.2 million.

Schnell leaving Mongoose

SchnellOne of the island’s best known artists is moving his studio and gallery from Mongoose Junction to a second-floor space near O’Connor’s Texaco

Donald Schnell opened his business at Mongoose 26 years ago. "There was nothing but bush from the post office all the way down to Mongoose," he remembers.  During several decades, Schnell has designed lamps, sconces, dish ware and art pieces for resorts and homeowners from Cruz Bay to Seattle to Tortola.

His own interests have extended beyond the island’s shores, as he travels to Italy twice a year to find stone tile, terra cotta pots, ceramic fountains, bowls and counter tops for import.  "The island is now ready for these kinds of building materials," Schnell said in a news release.  The new larger space on the second floor of the Amore Center will also let Schnell create larger and sculptured works.  he expects to open for business at the new spot during the first week of April.

Update on 10 Tables

It’s not closing.  Probably.  Jeff at Chilly Billy’s says Scott and Cheri are leaving the island but a former chef from Asolare and Tage, is taking over the business. Paul Trujillo will continue the night time gourmet restaurant operation. The rest of the staff will also be staying. For now, the menu will stay the same.

ChillyBUT … while 10 Tables may be staying, is Chilly Billy’s? The business is again listed for sale, priced this time at  $375,000. Assets include a lease good until 2014.  "Great Ocean View!," the offering says. (Sure,  if you can see past the car barges and the truck traffic on the piers.)  Billy’s is a solid and successful restaurant, thanks to hard work of its owners.  But, there’s not much laid-back island ambiance.

Speaking of Tage, the Inquiring Iguana hears that Ted(?), an owner/chef at Tage(??) walked out of the place last week, taking his recipes with him.  No word whether he’s returned.  Interesting timing, given that the owner of the Balcony restaurant at Wharfside has just taken over management at four island restaurants, including Asolare and Paradiso. What are the chances he has an opening for a good chef?