Rhumb Lines Owners Opening Bistro at Old Donkey Diner Space

Rhumb Lines Owners Opening Bistro at Old Donkey Diner Space 1

Donkey Diner Rhumb Lines Connection

Now this is exciting news…

We confirmed late last night that two of the owners of Rhumb Lines, Scott and Hillary, have officially taken over the old Donkey Diner space in Coral Bay. They plan to open a high-end bistro with an anticipated opening date of mid-March. According to Rhumb Lines management, the new restaurant will be a side project for the couple who will operate it alongside friends who recently moved to the island from the States.

Details are still being hammered out and a menu has not been set. What we do know is that the food will not be similar to that of Rhumb Lines.

Work is currently underway at the new restaurant, and from what we’ve been told, it sounds like the new space is going to be great. It will have the same homey feel as Rhumb Lines, and we expect the ambience to be amazing as well.

I don’t know about all of you, but this sounds fantastic to me.

Scratching My Head…

Scratching My Head... 2

Over the past 24 hours, I read two things that made me scratch my head. I’m curious what you all think.

1. I was perusing the New York Daily News’ Page Six section last night – a section dedicated to Manhattan gossip and goings ons – when I came across this:

Tony Ingrao Architectual Digest

According to Architectual Digest, the AD100 list is “an arbiter of excellence. This exclusive list recognizes establishment icons and enterprising trailblazers whose work is as inspiring as it is influential. These are the men and women who are shaping the way we live—one building, one house, one room at a time.”


For those of you not familiar with Tony Ingrao or his architectural work, he’s been accused of building on and altering National Park land throughout the construction of a new home in Denis Bay. This construction also created a landslide that damages adjoining neighbor’s property.

Click here to read our past coverage on Tony Ingrao.

2. I also read in the Virgin Islands Daily News that several Public Works and VITRAN employees, including Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls, recently traveled to Kansas to meet with a contractor regarding the construction of 12 new buses that will operate on St. John and St. Thomas. According to the article, the buses will arrive in the Territory by June.

Where do I start with this one…

We have two brand spanking new passenger ferries just sitting over in St. Thomas. (See today’s earlier story for more info on this.) How about we figure out what’s going on with these ferries before hopping on a plane to acquire new buses … just saying.

Click here to read the full story in the Virgin Islands Daily News.

Missing: New Passenger Ferries (Well, sort of)

Missing: New Passenger Ferries (Well, sort of) 3


Anyone have any clue what’s going on with the new ferries? We don’t, and no one seems to want to talk.

To recap, the governor announced way back in April 2012 that a contract had been signed to build two brand new passenger ferries. The new ferries would shuttle passengers between Cruz Bay and Red Hook. We were all pretty excited at the time because, really, who doesn’t like new things, although the more than $7 million price tag made many of us wonder about potential fare increases.

We soon learned that federal money had been secured to pay for the ferries. (Here’s the breakdown, according to the Government House Blog: $3 million would come from the Obama Administration economic stimulus or ARRA funds, approximately $2.7 million would come from Ferryboat Discretionary funding the territory has accumulated through the years and approximately $2.1 million allocated from DPW’s regular lines of funding from the Federal Highway Administration would be used.) Ok, that sounded good to us.

Almost one year to the day later, the Government House Blog published a snapshot of one of the new ferries in process. It looked pretty fancy and our excitement grew.

Six months later, we received word that two 85-foot catamarans were ready for sea trials in Louisiana where they were built. Again, the Government House Blog put out a story promoting the positive news.

About two weeks later, they arrived. We here at News of St. John caught our first glimpse of “Cruz Bay 1” when VIVA! Vacations posted a pic over on their Facebook page. We immediately shared it with all of you, and again, we were all excited. The only thing that had to happen at that point was a relatively quick and easy Coast Guard inspection and they’d be placed in operation. We thought at the time that it would happen by the end of November, December at the latest.

No such luck.

The ferries are currently docked over in St. Thomas. To our knowledge, they’ve barely moved since arriving in the Territory. So whats the holdup? I wish we had some answers for you, but we don’t. The whole thing’s rather peculiar if you ask us.

Rumors have been swirling around the island regarding the status of the ferries. Some people have said they were designed (by no fault of the shipbuilder) without adequate luggage space. Others have said that Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services do not want to operate the government-run ferries. (They currently own and operate the passenger ferries. The government will own these new ferries and will lease them to the operators.) Either way, something’s up in our opinion.

We chatted about a week back with Lieutenant Commander Bryson Spangler of the Coast Guard and he provided some insight. According to him, the ferries had yet to be inspected. He also said at the time that the ferries hadn’t been transferred to the new operators. When that occurred, the vessels would be inspected, he said. He then casually mentioned that the holdup was due to Public Works.


We then moseyed on over to Varlack Ventures, but they weren’t talking.

So we tried contacting Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls. (Disclaimer: Mr. Smalls has never responded to us. Not once. Clearly he doens’t realize how cool all of you are.) Not surprisingly, he didn’t return the numerous messages we left for him.

We then reached out to the governor. Sure they’d want to talk right? Well as of late Tuesday, we hadn’t heard back from them either.

One positive thing did pop up Tuesday. We learned that Commissioner Smalls chatted with the folks over at the Tradewinds. In an interview last week, Smalls said that there was “no major holdup” and that the delays were due to “technical issues” and “red tape.”

I wonder if “technical issues” is code for not enough luggage space and “red tape” is code for two ferry operators not wanting to be involved with these strings-attached vessels? Either way, they’re docked over in St. Thomas and it doesn’t seem like they’re going anywhere fast.

This calls for a News of St. John contest: The first person to send us a picture of a ferry boat in operation between Red Hook and Cruz Bay will get a new, super fancy News of St. John shotglass and a few classic News of St. John drink koozies. Send us your pics to [email protected]

In the meantime, we’d love to know your opinions on the holdup. Please leave them in the comments section or over on our Facebook page.

New on the Market: Villa Mahr Units 1 & 2

villa mahr outside

Looking for a great opportunity where you can live and rent on the same property? Then look no further than Villa Mahr, units 1 and 2.

Villa Mahr Units 1 and 2 are comprised of a standalone, two-level house. The home offers lots of potential to live in one unit while renting out the other. This setup would allow you to rent the second unit short term, long term or both.

The home has four bedrooms, two baths and a considerable amount of interior and exterior living space. It also includes a masonry pool.

Unit 1
Unit 1
Unit 1
Unit 1

Villa mahr pool

Villa Mahr Units 1 and 2 also have nice water views of Hurricane Hole and the British Virgin islands, in addition to Carolina valley views.

villa mahr view

This home is listed for $699,000. Click here to learn more about Villa Mahr Units 1 and 2 at 340 Real Estate Co.’s website.

“Almost Famous” Sporting Event Coming to Coral Bay

coral bay open 2014 image

So we’ve all heard of the Masters Tournament and PGA Tour, but did you know that one of the world’s best golf tournaments happens right in Coral Bay?

Ok, so this “almost famous” tournament isn’t quite at the level of the Masters or PGA Tour … yet … but it is a very cool event that’s happening to support an even better cause. It’s called the Coral Bay Open, and it’s happening this Saturday.

The “almost famous” Coral Bay (mini golf) Open benefits St. John nonprofits, causes and people. This year, proceeds from the event will support St. John Rescue, an all volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives and building a better community through participation, education, and community spirit.

Now this isn’t your typical golf tournament. Let’s just say it’s wacky, fun and uniquely Coral Bay.

The event starts at 11 a.m. at Skinny Legs with a shotgun start. You can register individually for $25 or sign up a foursome for $100 at Connections or Skinny Legs. There’ll even be a prize for the best dressed foursome, so get cracking on a great costume!

The event will also have a raffle. Prizes include a two-night stay at Grande Bay, as well as a two-night stay at Sirenusa. We’re also told that there will be a pretty sweet after party featuring David T. Carter.

Have any questions? Call (340) 643-5313 for more info.

According to its Facebook page, St. John Rescue responds to nearly 150 calls per year and is chartered to provide emergency rescue and medical support services to St John’s EMS, police, fire, National Park, VITEMA and DPR. It also assists with the DHS/ United States Coast Guard and FEMA.

Koko and the Sunshine Band Entertains Crowd at Full Moon Party

Koko and the Sunshine Band - Image courtesy of Kevin McCarthy
Koko and the Sunshine Band – Image courtesy of Kevin McCarthy

As many of you know, the folks over at Cruz Bay Landing held a grand opening party to coincide with the full moon last Friday night. The party had a great turnout and we’ve heard that more may be in store in the future. We also heard that a certain country singer was in attendance…

Koko and the Sunshine Band was on hand to provide some entertainment and they sounded amazing. We’d like to thank Kevin McCarthy, owner of Coconuts and Plumeria villas on Gifft Hill, for taking the following video. Check out this short clip of their rendition of Jamaica Farewell:

(The video is dimly lit per the band’s request, according to Kevin.)

According to Kevin, Koko and the Sunshine Band is a “scratch band” who classifies their music as “Quelbe,” pronounced qwel-bay. Here’s some background on qwelbe music courtesy of The Jamesie Project:

Quelbe, also known as Scratch Band Music or Quadrille, is an indigenous, grass-roots form of folk music which originated in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has spread to other parts of the Caribbean .

A form of oral history, its lyrics are used to immortalize significant historical events, spread “rude” gossip about one’s neighbors, and relay the day to day trials and tribulations of life on a island.

Scratch bands musicians play homemade instruments one can “scratch up.” For example, one man might be blowing with all of his might through a car-muffler pipe, another scratching a hollowed-out gourd with his hair pick, and yet another picking at a banjo made from a sardine can, a piece of wood and strings. Scratch band music has a crudeness to it that is both intoxicating and rhythmic. It speaks to both the beauty and the hardship of the Crucian lifestyle. In 2004, the Virgin Islands legislature passed a bill making Quelbe the official music of the Virgin Islands.

Scratch originated during the time of slavery when the Virgin Islands were under Danish rule. The West Africans who worked on the sugar plantations as slaves brought with them a percussive and rhythm-based musical tradition and rich storytelling practices. The plantation owners, however, outlawed the use of drums by the slaves. Over time, the African descendents turned to the European colonizers’ military bands and social music as models for new instrumentation and melodies. Improvising with available materials, all of the slaves’ new bands, the predecessors of today’s scratch bands, ultimately contained at least one melodic instrument (such as a flute made from cane) and at least one percussive instrument (such as a squash made from a hollow, open-ended gourd).

Though the percussive musical practices brought from Africa changed significantly, the storytelling tradition was never lost.

Want to hear more? Koko and the Sunshine Band will be playing at the Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis this Sunday, January 26, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Click here to read more about Caribbean Oasis.

New Market Opens in Coral Bay

calabash sign

Ok, so admittedly, we’re a little late to the party on this one. Let’s just say that we wanted to be fashionably late…

For those of you in the Coral Bay area or plan to be in the Coral Bay area soon, we have great news for you – A new market recently opened and it carries a lot of great stuff including meats, fresh produce and more.

Calabash Market, located in Coral Bay just past Shipwreck Landing, opened back in November. The market is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

calabash exterior

The opening of Calabash Market brings the total number of markets in Coral Bay to three. The other two markets are Love City Mini Market and Lily’s Gourmet Market. Love City Mini Market claims to have everything and you know what, they really do have everything. Seriously, it’s borderline amazing that they are able to cram so many great products into that small space. Love City Mini Market is located on King Hill Road right near the dumpsters. Lily’s Gourmet Market is located a bit further down the road in the Cocoloba shopping center next to Aqua Bistro.

Sometimes pictures say more than words. Check out some of the great stuff at Calabash Market:

calabash 5

calabash 3

calabash 2

calabash 1

St. John Featured in Boston Globe

The “eco tents” at Concordia Eco-Resort, on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, look out on Drunk Bay and Salt Pond Bay.
Image courtesy of the The Boston Globe

Anyone who picked up The Boston Globe last weekend may have seen a familiar spot grace its pages. Check it out below:

On St. John, an eco-resort that’s all about sustainability

By Jack Sullivan, Globe Correspondent

Kermit the Frog famously lamented, “It’s not easy being green.” Though his complaint on “Sesame Street” focused on the trials of life as an amphibian, it can also apply to those who adopt environmentally sensitive standards in their daily lives.

It can be especially hard to take those principles along on vacation. Eco-living comes with sacrifice, which is, after all, the antithesis of vacation.

But vacationing on St. John in the US Virgin Islands demands that we take note of the impact of our carbon footprint. Nearly two-thirds of the verdant island, the smallest of the inhabited US-owned Caribbean archipelago, as well as the surrounding coral reefs and marine ecosystems are protected by the National Park Service. Water and power are at a premium. It’s difficult not to think about the human impact on such a delicate environment.

There is a selection of upscale resorts and villas on St. John catering to a variety of visitors, ensuring their stay has maximum comfort and amenities, but there are precious few that adapt to the nature of St. John and ask their guests to do the same. At the southeastern tip of the island, straddling Drunk Bay to the east and Salt Pond Bay to the south, Concordia Eco-Resort stands out by blending in.

Concordia is a family-friendly cluster of 25 “eco tents” and 17 resort-style studios set in the south-facing hillside among fruit trees, bushes, cacti, and native creatures. Prices run from $126 to $232 a night in the offseason to $175 to $289 in season, Nov. 15 through April 30. The accommodations range from rugged to comfortable, but one doesn’t stay at Concordia for the amenities.

This resort is not for everyone. A stay comes with challenges, ranging from composting toilets and garden hoses as showers in the tents to a series of more than 900 stairs throughout the resort, some of which require a climb to and from your unit that would rival the workout you’d get at the local gym.

Concordia, now in its 20th year of operation, is an ever-evolving eco-resort, owned by New York developer Stanley Selengut, dubbed the “father of sustainable resort development” by The International Ecotourism Society. All of the units here offer some level of sustainability, mostly through use of the campus-wide water collection and filtrations system. A photovoltaic power system is the primary source of electricity and there are no air conditioners or televisions. The studios have the most normal power resources, but “normal” is relative.

“Think of us as an eco-testing ground,” says Wayne Lloyd, Concordia manager and an ex-pat. (Full disclosure: Wayne and I knew each other in Westborough, though we lost touch for nearly 40 years until reconnecting a couple of years ago.) “We are always researching and applying the best new thinking in sustainable infrastructure. . . . None of the units are normal in the sense that you asked the question. The oldest and the newest are the most normal for folks expecting to be able to blow-dry their hair.”

The tents are the most rustic accommodation. They have wooden frames covered with canvas stretched across them, somewhat like a cabin, with mesh screens for windows and doors. There are 14 premium units and 11 regular eco-tents, the difference being location and the view. But the difference is a matter of spectacular versus extraordinary.

The tents are located along the hillside overlooking the bays and are cooled by the trade winds. Each has its own deck overlooking the ocean or the gardens; a cistern for water collection; a solar-heated water tank for the shower, which is stocked with biodegradable body wash and shampoo; a small solar array with a battery to power the fans and small lights; and a hybrid composting toilet that uses a flush system. Each unit has a two-burner propane stove and a small refrigerator, powered by the campus grid.

The eco-studios have several wall sockets for power but the tents have only one socket, for the refrigerator. If you need to use your smartphone or tablet, you can power them up at the office. The resort has spotty cellphone reception and Wi-Fi is available only near the office or by the pool.

Concordia is “dark sky compliant,” a movement designed to reduce light pollution and its effect on stargazing and nocturnal animals. Recently renovated units have LED lighting.

The resort is not exclusionary to guests with physical challenges, as long as those with accessibility needs are willing to face some hurdles. While Concordia does not market itself as ADA-compliant, five premium tents and three eco-studios offer accessible features. There is a boardwalk running through the spine of the campus to assist those who are in wheelchairs or unable to use the steep system of stairs, and there is sufficient room in the units and the bathrooms to navigate with a wheelchair.

Concordia’s location can make for a challenge in getting around the island without negating whatever carbon reduction you’ve made. Salt Pond Bay with its white sand beach is a short walk through a trail outside the office. But if you want to explore other beaches and trails, you either have to rent a car, call a taxi, or take the island’s bus system, which costs $1 and runs right by Concordia’s entrance.

The on-site Cafe Concordia offers breakfast and dinner, though it is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The office has a few provisions available, but mostly snacks and beverages. If you did not shop upon arrival, then you’ll have to either go out for dinner or find your way to either Coral Bay or Cruz Bay to buy groceries.

Concordia has an off-season program from June through October that offers free accommodations and reduced-priced meals in exchange for a minimal amount of work in renovating and cleaning up. Hundreds apply for the few dozen slots, which usually run about a month at a time. Many applicants have skills and trades that put them at the front of the list.

(Click here to read this article on The Boston Globe’s website.)

Want to learn more about Concordia? Click here to visit its website.

Beach, Boats, Sun, Rum & Reggae: Love City Live is Coming

Love City Live logo

Hey everyone, Love City Live is less than a week away. Have you bought your tickets yet?

For those of you unfamiliar with the event, Love City Live is a series of events that embody the festive spirit of the Virgin Islands’ culture and the Caribbean lifestyle. It’s super cool and shouldn’t be missed. The event has plenty of reggae music, happy hours, boat parties and more. Check out their schedule of events:

■  Wed Jan 22nd – Reggae Roadblock Happy Hour @ Motu Bar 4:30pm – 8:30pm
We kick things off with cocktails at the hottest new outdoor bar on St. John. *No cover*

■  Thu Jan 23rd – Hush…The exclusive All-Inclusive Villa Soiree 7pm -12am We convert a private villa into a swanky caribbean themed lounge.

■  Fri Jan 24th – Rockers All-White Beach Party @ Cruz Bay Beachfront 7pm – 1am. This ultra-sexy DJ beach event sets the tone for Love City Live!’s high energy weekend. Attendees will be treated to complimentary Caribbean Hors d’oeuvres, premium cash bars & an abundance of hot reggae tunes.

There will be a return ferry to Red Hook St. Thomas after the event. 

■  Sat Jan 25th – Beres Hammond “Live” in Concert – @ Winston Wells Ball Park (Cruz Bay – St John) …also performing D Harmani, Unity Band, Fyah Train Band, Final Faze & The Echo People. Gates open @ 4:30pm. Live performances begin
@ 5:30pm. Enjoy the full line-up of performing artists and our festival-like atmosphere of arts & crafts vendors; Ital/vegan food; Caribbean food; fresh coconut and premium bars. Get there early and “Indulge” in the full island roots experience.

Speedy’s will provide roundtrip ferry service from BVI. Depart Virgin Gorda 5:15pm. Depart Road Harbor 5:45pm. Return ferry service to Red Hook St. Thomas after the concert.

■  Sun Jan 26th – The Ultimate PowerBoat Party – It’s the ever-sexy wind down beach party of the Love City Live! weekend. All boats Sail to Sandy Spit then White Bay – Jost Van Dyke, BVI. Reserve your space on one of our PowerBoats now!

What it includes: your reserved space on the PowerBoat, drinks onboard, BVI customs fees, BVI departure tax, fuel charge, captains fee and one of the best days of your life!!!!

Click here to learn more about Love City Live and for ticket information.

Want to learn more about Love City Live? Watch this quick video below:

Full Moon Party in the Park Friday Night!

Who doesn’t love a full moon party?

The folks over at Cruz Bay Landing are holding a grand opening party to coincide with Friday night’s full moon. It’s going to be held in the park right across from the ferry dark. The party starts at 8 p.m. and continues to 11 p.m. Coco and the Sunshine Band will be on hand to provide some good entertainment.

So if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by!

Full Moon Party Jan 2014