How many of you miss that view? Well if you’re lucky enough to be on island right now, you won’t have to wait much longer.
Gallows Point Resort announced Monday that its long-awaited restaurant – Ocean 362 – will open its doors to the public tomorrow night. (The restaurant previously announced it would open this Friday.) The sunset lounge will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday and dinner service will begin at 5:30 p.m. Ocean 362 will be open nightly November through April. It plans to close on Sundays May through October. The restaurant’s dress will be resort casual.
Ocean 362 will be headed by Ramesh Pillai, an internationally-recognized chef known for his creative and innovative cuisine. Ramesh, who will serve as both chef and an owner/partner, will serve contemporary American fare that will feature gourmet-style, health-oriented dishes.
Seaborne Airlines also made a big announcement this week. The St. Croix-based airline has signed an interline agreement with JetBlue. This is what the airline had to say:
Seaborne Airlines today announced that an interline agreement facilitating connections at Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan, PR (SJU) to and from all JetBlue Airways flights at SJU has launched. With the agreement, baggage can be checked at either JetBlue or Seaborne and bags will be transferred without having to be rechecked. Additionally, Seaborne Airlines tickets will be sold on jetblue.com and both JetBlue and Seaborne will be able to issue each othersboarding passes in the coming weeks.
Prior to the agreement, JetBlue only permitted connections with Cape Air.
Last summer, we printed a couple of stories with tips on how to find the best airfare. Click here and here to read those stories.
Sirenusa, the luxury condominium resort located high above Cruz Bay, has finally hit both the rental market and the MLS.
A bit of background: Sirenusa (pronounced “seer-a-NU-sa”) has been in the news on and off over the years, as many residents strongly voiced their opinions for and against its development years back. The property subsequently fell into bankruptcy and was purchased by Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular. Catalus Capital, a Connecticut-based investment firm, stepped in earlier this year and officially acquired 14 units early last month.
Of those 14 units, two are being offered for sale; two are currently being offered as rental units; four are being furnished and will hit the rental market later this month; and six are being held back for investment purposes and may become long-term rentals down the road.
Let’s start with the units listed for sale:
For starters, they are pretty spectacular looking. The first unit is a three bedroom, 3.5 bath upper unit, which is listed for It’s listed for $1,190,000. It’s 2,188 square feet and located in the J Building, which is in the front of the resort. (Click here to see the listing.)
The second is a two-bedroom, 2.5 bath unit listed for $950,000. The 1,854 square foot unit is located on the lower floor of the H Building, which is also located in front of the resort. (Click here to see that listing.)
Now on to the rentals:
The two units currently offered as vacation rentals are called Milan and Sienna. Milan is a two bedroom, 2.5 bath condo. It is currently renting between $475 and $625 a night. Sienna is larger with three bedrooms and 3.5 baths. That unit currently ranges between $550 and $750 a night depending on the season. They are currently running a special, however, and are offering 25 percent off until February, excluding holiday weeks. You can check out the units by clicking here and typing Sirenusa into the search bar.
Now let’s get back to the controversy:
Sirenusa was originally slated to be a 47-unit development; however it’s since been scaled back to a 22-villa resort. (The remaining eight properties are independently owned.) As we mentioned, people were pretty passionate against its construction, and many were stunned and angered when the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto to give Sirenusa a variance to change the zoning from R-2, residential, low density, to R-3 residential, medium density.
So we asked Marek Olszewski, Managing Partner at Catalus Capital, how he planned to sway the public’s potentially negative opinion about Sirenusa. This is what he had to say:
“I’m definitely very sensitive and aware to the controversy surrounding the property being built, especially in the planning stages,” Marek said. “I’d like to emphasize how it’s been scaled back significantly than what was proposed by the developer. It is much more modest in terms of size and density. I also know that there was a concern locally because of the steel structure that was in the lower part of the site. That since has been taken down and there will be no construction of any sort on that part of the property.”
In the short time Catalus Capital has been involved with Sirenusa, Marek said they have been “good local participants” and that they plan to continue supporting the community through various efforts. They recently made a donation to Woody’s Save Second Base event, and they have hired all local contractors, inspectors, landscapers and more in an effort to assist the local economy.
Sirenusa is holding its grand opening party on November 22. The event will feature a charity auction, and all proceeds will be donated to the Animal Care Center. Marek said Catalus Capital also plans to make a cash donation to the ACC at that time.
The airport security line: As necessary as it is, we all loathe it. No one really wants to remove their shoes in an airport, nor do we want to deal with the hassle of removing our laptop from its bag, taking out our liquids that are crammed into a small quart-sized bag, etc. Well we have good news for local travelers looking to breeze through security at Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, it now offers TSA Pre Check.
According to TSA.gov, TSA Pre✓™ allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs who are flying on participating airlines, to receive expedited screening benefits. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.
This new process allows travelers who have gone through a screening process to pass through a security quicker and with less hassle. Sounds good to us!
So as we mentioned, this is now an option at Cyril E. King, although it is not yet being offered by all airline. We do know, thanks to our friend Kristin over at Great Expectations villa, that American Airlines is participating in the new, quicker security process.
So how exactly does it work? Here are some FAQs courtesy of www.tsa.gov:
Q.How can someone sign up to participate? A. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways will invite some of their frequent flyers, based on TSA criteria, to opt-in through the airline’s system. Participating airlines have contacted eligible frequent travelers with an invitation to opt-in. Once the passenger opts in, the airline identifies the individual as a participant when submitting the passenger reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system. Later this year, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin America plan to invite eligible frequent fliers to opt-in to TSA Pre✓™, therefore, at this time Hawaiian and Virgin America passengers who are enrolled in a CBP Trusted Traveler program or have a Known Traveler Number are eligible to participate.
Current members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS programs are already eligible to participate in TSA Pre✓™ if they are flying on Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, US Airways and Virgin America at a participating airport. Those passengers who want to qualify for TSA Pre✓™ need to enter their PASS ID, not the GOES ID, in the ‘Known Traveler Number’ field while booking their reservation.
Interested passengers who are not eligible for TSA Pre✓™ through their airline and are not already a member of a CBP Trusted Traveler program may still be able to apply for one of the CBP Trusted Traveler programs. To learn more visit: globalentry.gov.
Q. What do participants need to do? A. Members of a CBP Trusted Traveler program are assigned a PASS ID, (Known Traveler number). To participate in TSA Pre✓™, these passengers must place their PASS ID, which can be found in their online GOES account, or on the back of their membership card in the top-left corner, in the ‘Known Traveler’ field while booking their reservation. Trusted Traveler program members should also remember to enter their full name, date of birth, and PASS ID exactly as it appears on their membership card. That number is then passed to TSA’s Secure Flight system and taken into consideration during the prescreening process.
Participating airlines will invite some of their frequent travelers, based on TSA criteria, to opt-in through the airline’s system. Participating airlines have contacted eligible frequent travelers with an invitation to opt-in. Once the passenger opts-in, the airline identifies the individual as a participant when submitting the passenger reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system.
Q. Can passengers access TSA Pre✓™ for international travel? A. Yes. TSA Pre✓™ is available for passengers traveling domestically within the United States and internationally from the United States on participating airlines. TSA also allows eligible TSA Pre✓™ participants to qualify for expedited screening benefits when connecting to a domestic flight after arriving to the United States on an international flight.
Q. Where is TSA Pre✓™ available? A. Passengers can view a list of where expedited screening lanes are available on the TSA Pre✓™ Participating Airports page or click on the links below to find out where TSA Pre✓™ is available by airline.
Q. Will this be at every checkpoint in participating airports? A. No. Eligible passengers should use designated TSA Pre✓™ lanes at specific checkpoints at participating airports. Passengers can view a list of where expedited screening lanes are available on the TSA Pre✓™ Participating Airports page.
Q. Will participants know in advance that they have been cleared for expedited screening? A. TSA has approved several methods to notify passengers of their eligibility for TSA Pre✓™. Passengers traveling on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways will see a TSA Pre✓™ notification on select boarding passes. Learn more about notification of TSA Pre✓™ eligibility.
As the other TSA Pre✓™ participating airlines begin to offer similar functionality, passengers may see additional airlines implement notifications to eligible passengers. Therefore, if a passenger is traveling on a TSA Pre✓™ eligible itinerary and has opted in through their airline or is eligible through a Trusted Traveler program, they should still proceed to the TSA Pre✓™ lane to determine eligibility.
If the agency determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening through TSA Pre✓™, information will be embedded in the barcode of the passenger’s boarding pass. TSA will read the barcode at designated checkpoints and the passenger may be referred to an expedited screening lane.
Q. Are travel companions eligible for TSA Pre✓™ as well? A. Passengers 12 and younger are allowed through TSA Pre✓™ lanes with eligible passengers (parent or guardian). Other passengers that do not meet the necessary requirements are not eligible to participate at this time.
Q. What will TSA do as part of the “prescreening” of participants? A. For security reasons, TSA cannot provide specifics about screening procedures. Volunteered participant information is used to make an intelligence-driven risk assessment that could allow some travelers to qualify for expedited screening.
It looks like the long-awaited new passenger ferries have finally arrived on the island.
The two ferries were built at Midship Marine in Harvey, Louisiana. and cost more than $3.5 million each, according to the St. John Source. “Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s administration secured $3 million from the American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act funds, approximately $2.7 million in Ferryboat Discretionary funding the territory has accumulated through the years, and about $2.1 million from the Department of Public Works’ regular funding from the Federal Highway Administration,” the paper reported.
The territory’s two ferry companies will lease the new vessels, which are expected to improve service between Cruz Bay and Red Hook.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the goings on this week and weekend:
Happening Now: Team River Runner and the Wounded Warriors
Team River Runner is currently on island with a group of very special veterans, and we’d like to publicly thank them all for their service. We’d also like to thank the Barefoot Cowboy Lounge for hosting and welcoming the group to the island last Sunday, Skinny Legs for hosting them for dinner this Friday night and Homer Hickam for holding a private screening of his movie October Sky for the group. (You can read more about that here.) If you’re in Coral Bay Friday night (November 8), please stop by Skinny Legs, say hello and let them know how appreciative we all are of their service.
Saturday, Sunday & Monday: Free Admission to all National Parks
The National Park Service is honoring America’s veteran’s this weekend with free entrance to all National Parks. This includes Trunk Bay and Annaberg.
Saturday: Cafe Roma Needs Your Help … and it includes some manual labor.
Cafe Roma’s new equipment has finally arrived, which means the restaurant is one step closer to reopening. (Thank goodness because we’ve really missed Roma’s food and hanging out with Luke at the bar. Oh and how can we forget those incredible back rubs from Marilyn in the kitchen. To.Die.For. Sorry, went off on a tangent there…)
But seriously, owner John Hiebert has put out a plea for help. The new restaurant equipment is at Penn’s trucking yard, which is over by the new Pine Peace basketball court. He is looking for volunteers who can help shuttle equipment this Saturday (November 9) around 11 a.m. from Penn’s to Cafe Roma. So if you have a truck, van or any type of vehicle that can transport items and you are willing to help, John could really use you.
He is looking to coordinate two groups of volunteers – one at Penn’s and a second at Cafe Roma. John is asking those who can help to send him a private message over on Facebook. You can do that by clicking here.
Saturday: St. John’s 2nd Annual Dinghy Poker Run Supporting the St. John Cancer Fund
Now we have a feeling that this is going to be a good time. The 2nd annual dinghy poker run is happening Saturday, November 9 at 10 a.m. It’s a fun little event where you boat around St. John and collect five cards along the way. You can play your hand at High Tide at 2 p.m.
Paddle of the Park will be held this Saturday, November 9 after being postponed last weekend due to rain. The race kicks off at 9 a.m. at Maho Bay. This year’s race will have two courses – and open course and an elite course. The Open Course will be a roughly three-mile race from Maho Beach to Whistling Cay and back. The Elite Course will also begin at Maho Beach and will head out to Whistling Cay, then to and around Cinnamon Cay, back behind Whistling Cay and then back to Maho Beach. The Elite Course is approximately 5.5 miles. Spectators are welcome.
Who doesn’t dream of a vacation home in the Caribbean? Envision sipping a cold drink while breezes rustle a flower garden in front of an azure Caribbean Sea. That dream can become a reality by renting one of the many unique and stylish private villas on St. John.
From multi-family compounds to adorable seaside cottages, renting a villa on St. John is like finding a home away from home. Villas are privately-owned homes that are run like a business. Similar to a bed and breakfast minus the host. You are simply given the keys to a multi-million dollar Caribbean dream house for the most relaxing and peaceful vacation you’ve ever had.
Many privately-owned villas are maintained by a property management company that advertises and rents out the homes. Several of these companies are based on St. John and are available 24/7 if needed.
The larger luxury villas may have caretakers living on the property to ensure everything is in working order and address any problems immediately.
Villas are fully equipped with everything you need to enjoy your stay, from pots and pans to pool floats. At some villas, the property manager will arrange for a private chef to cook a gourmet meal at the house, or for a masseuse to give you a massage while you gaze out over the ocean.
These homes are perfect for a destination wedding or honeymoon. Many specialize in nuptials and have areas set up for an intimate ceremony and reception.
Case in point: Great Expectations. With four master bedrooms, two bedroom suites, and two additional rooms that can be transformed into bedrooms, the villa has a maximum capacity of 15 people, making it ideal for small weddings or family reunions. Each bedroom has a private bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers and a patio with stunning views. The villa has several pools and hot tubs, including a wading pool for small children, basketball and tennis courts, Wi-Fi, Netflix-streaming and many other amenities. The rate is based on the number of bedrooms used, so despite its size, it’s affordable for a couple as well as a large party.
An affordable villa rental on the east end of St. John is Estate Zootenvaal, comprised of four cottages located on the water’s edge at Hurricane Hole. Recently redecorated in seaglass colors complementing a crisp interior design, all four units blend in seamlessly with the natural wonder of the coral reef just outside the door.
Mangrove Cottage and Spinnaker Cottage are both one-bedroom, one-bath units with two day beds. Each cottage can sleep four. Sunrise House is actually two one-bedroom units, each with their own bathroom, connected by a breezeway. It is perfect for two couples vacationing together. Turtle Watch House is a one-bedroom, one-bath, house with a sleeping alcove containing two twin beds — the ideal vacation home for a family of four. All four units at Estate Zootenvall are located just steps away from a private beach with excellent snorkeling.
Peter Bay is a gated community where almost all the multi-million dollar homes are vacation rentals. Newly renovated, The Cliff House is perched 100 feet above the water overlooking the neighboring British Virgin Islands, the Sir Francis Drake Channel and the Virgin Islands National Park. A four-bedroom villa that sleeps eight, The Cliff House is just steps away from a private beach but the property also has a heated pool and comes with a boat and kayaks to explore out on the water.
Peter Bay Beach House is the only villa with a private white-sand beach on Great Cinnamon Bay. Just walk out of the house and down to a pocket-size beach with chairs and a hammock strung up and waiting for you. The opulent private home has three bedrooms and can house up to 10 guests. A number of celebrities have stayed there, including Peyton Manning, Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney. One highlight of the beach house villa is the Balinese four-poster “mating bed.” This enormous bed, draped with white mosquito nets, is outside under the stars — a romantic place to spend your honeymoon or an anniversary.
For a couple, Isla Vista is the perfect villa. With only two bedrooms and a maximum of four guests, it is an intimate retreat on the north shore of St. John. Surrounded by the national park and just 10 minutes outside of Cruz Bay, Isla Vista is private and secluded while still convenient to shopping, dining and activities.
Literally meaning “on the sea,” A La Mer is a spectacular villa designed for large parties. With nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms, 22 people can stay at this exquisite property on Great Cruz Bay. Custom details like hand-carved mahogany staircases, beautiful tile work, and classy island décor delight the eye at every turn. The one-acre beachfront property has a large main villa and a garden cottage, which are always rented together. A pool cabana flanks a crystal clear swimming pool, fully equipped with pool toys and floats.
Many St. John villas have websites that detail the accommodations and amenities and show photos of the villa and its views. Some villas are rented through an agency like McLaughlin Anderson, VIVA! Villas and St. John Ultimate Villas, and others are rented directly from the owners.
If you want to arrive to your villa with full fringe, fill it with your favorite things by hiring someone to do the shopping and deliver it to the villa. Contact Blue Sky Provisioning and Concierge for more information. Just because a villa has a gorgeous kitchen, does not mean you need to cook: it’s your vacation, hire someone to do it. Passionfruit chefs provides personal cooking, catering and provisioning.
Villa rentals may seem expensive — ranging from about $1,500 a week to upwards of $50,000 — but if you are traveling with a large party, it may be more cost-effective and enjoyable than staying at a resort.
So we’re curious – what’s your favorite place to stay while on St. John and why?
Well, it looks like the controversial dolphin exhibit will open in early 2015, according to an announcement made by Coral World on Monday. Check out this story published yesterday in the St. Thomas Source:
Coral World Plunging Ahead with Dolphin Project
BY SOURCE STAFF — NOVEMBER 4, 2013
With approval last month of its plans for dolphin habitat in Water Bay, Coral World General Manager Trudie Prior thanked the 14 senators who voted in favor of the project, and said Monday the company is already moving ahead to develop the facility and open in the first quarter of 2015.
“The senators who voted for the project … recognized the value this project has for the Virgin Islands. Coral World to date has spent a couple hundred thousand dollars locally with engineers, architects, and other experts in the design and permitting of the facility, so the community is already benefitting,” Prior said in a statement issued Monday by Coral World.
“We will be investing at least $5.2 million in the construction of the facility. Most of that will be spent locally except for specialized equipment and materials unavailable here, so there will be numerous local contractors and trades people engaged in the construction.”
Prior said the project will create 25 jobs at the facility by the end of the first full year of operation. It will also give local residents the chance to become involved in marine mammal care and training, and would protect the almost 70 jobs at Coral World today.
“The facility won’t just benefit our employees,” Prior added. “Taxi drivers who transport guests to Coral World will be carrying thousands of people annually who now leave St. Thomas to go directly to the Tortola to swim with dolphins. No one here tried to stop that facility. Instead they are trying to stop a project that would bring a much-needed boost to the local tourism product and keep visitors here on St. Thomas.”
Other local businesses would also share in the additional traffic, she continued, “because cruise ship visitors who participate in Coral World’s dolphin program still have at least half a day to spend on island.”
Prior and Lee Kellar, Coral World’s general curator, took time in Monday’s news release to dispute claims made by opponents, most recently at the Oct. 23 Senate session.
Opponents claimed that dolphin habitats are closing around the world, but according to Kellar, that “just isn’t true.” Tortola’s facility is run by a company called Dolphin Discovery, which has 13 facilities in the Caribbean and Mexico including the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, and two in Cancun, Kellar said.
Click here to read the full story from the St. Thomas Source.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new restaurants popping up around the island, rightfully so, of course, But there’s also a lesser known gem located in the heart of Coral Bay that we thought you should all know about. It’s called Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis and it brings something special to the island – down home, Southern cooking.
Karen Granitz opened Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis January 1 and it’s popularity has been growing ever since. A lot of that has to do with the quality of food served. Everything is homemade from scratch and prepared daily by Karen herself. And it gets better – all of Karen’s dishes are affordable, and the portions are more than generous, making them easy to share.
Karen was born in North Carolina and raised in Texas, but has lived in St. John for the past 11 years. She worked over at Maho Bay Camps before opening the Oasis where her goal was to bring some Southern flavor to the island in a nice, relaxed atmosphere. And based on what we’ve seen, Karen is accomplishing just that.
Karen’s menu is relatively simple. Each day she has four main dishes – a beef or pork, a poultry, a seafood and a vegetarian dish. Each changes daily and only costs $9. Some recent ones have included pulled pork, chicken fried chicken, veggie lasagne, and baked mahi. Karen also offers 20 sides daily, which only cost $3 each.
Here is a copy of Sunday’s menu:
Karen is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. until the food sells out, which happens nightly.
Want to know what’s on Karen’s menu? Click here to check out her Facebook page and see images of her menus, which are posted daily (except Mondays of course).
In addition to serving great food, Karen also strove to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Well she did such a good job that some of the locals now refer to her as “Mama Bear.”
“People feel comfortable here,” Karen said. “It’s people feeling like they’re part of the Oasis. It’s like family. They feel part of our home.”
And here’s a fun fact: Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis is the only place on the island with a drive-through window. How cool is that?! So if you’re feeling a bit lazy after a long day at the beach, you can simple call Karen at (340) 774-1030, place your order and pick it up at the drive through. Pretty neat in our opinion.
Coral Bay Oasis is currently a cash-only business, so please plan ahead when visiting. Karen said she plans to begin accepting credit cards later this month.