Check Out the “Charm of Italy” Tonight


The Best of Both Worlds boutique is teaming up the Island Cork wine shop to bring the Charm of Italy to Mongoose Junction tonight.

The event will feature the delightful sounds of David Laabs as he plays classical guitar tunes to set the mood. The Best of Both Worlds will feature a variety of the latest designs from Milan and Venice, including handmade, soft leather handbags, decorative masks and Murano glass jewelry to please every palette and budget. Many of these items are one-of-a-kind and shouldn’t be missed.

One you’ve shopped, head on over to Island Cork where you can take a tour of Italy by sampling a variety of Italian wines. Paul Tsakeres will treat you to a tasting of the best in Italian wines.

The event is taking place between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Enjoy!

The Yacht Apple Built

jobs yacht 1
Image courtesy of Palm Tree Charters

Does this yacht look familiar to anyone? It’s pretty sleek, right?

This yacht happens to be the $140 million beauty that Apple founder Steve Jobs was building when he passed in 2011. The yacht – christened Venus – was unveiled a year later in October 2012.

For those of you on island right now, keep an eye out for Venus. Palm Tree Charters spotted it yesterday in Tortola’s West End, and it was still anchored there early Wednesday morning.

(We’d like to think we had a hand in building this yacht seeing that I’m typing this post on an iMac.)

According to what we found, Venus is 256 feet long and is rumored to be controlled by seven 27-inch iMacs. It features floor to ceiling windows and teak decks.

Jobs discussed the yacht’s build with his biographer Walter Isaacson:

“[Jobs] showed me all of the models and architectural drawings. As expected, the planned yacht was sleek and minimalist. The teak decks were perfectly flat and unblemished by any accoutrements. 

As at an Apple store, the cabin windows were large panes, almost floor to ceiling, and the main living area was designed to have walls of glass that were forty feet long and ten feet high.

‘I know that it’s possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat,’ [Jobs] said. ‘But I have to keep going on it. If I don’t, it’s an admission that I’m about to die.'”

Rumor has it that the Jobs family gave iPod Shuffles inscribed with the yacht’s name to each of the people who built Venus. Pretty cool.

Hopefully Venus will make an appearance in St. John. As always, if you happen to come across this yacht, feel free to send your pics to [email protected]

Here’s another view of Venus courtesy of Palm Tree Charters:

jobs yacht 2
Image courtesy of Palm Tree Charters

Check Out Those Waves

Yesterday we mentioned over on our Facebook page that there was a high surf advisory in effect. We stopped at a few beaches along the North Shore and made a quick video of what we found.

So if you’re chilly, take a few minutes to visit Honeymoon, Hawksnest and Cinnamon with us. We thought this would be a nice warm up for those of you affected by those crazy temperatures we all keep hearing about.

Cafe Roma’s Back in Business

Cafe Roma's Back in Business 1

John HIebert

Nearly nine months after a fire tore through Cafe Roma, the popular Italian eatery is back in business … and we couldn’t be happier.

For starters, the place looks great although owner John Hiebert cautioned that it’s still a work in progress. There’s a beautiful new mahogany bar and barstools with plaques dedicated to the people/businesses who contributed to the rebuild. (People who contributed $500 were honored by having their names engraved on the stools.)

Roma Bar stool

There are nice looking tables throughout the dining area and windows that actually open now (although it was nice and cool with the a/c Sunday night.). The booths will be built at a later date. John also said that Helen Eltis, the artist who created Roma’s original wall art, will once again paint beautiful murals along the walls. (Click here to learn more about Helen and to see her work.)

Roma Dining Room

We’re also happy to let you all know that a good majority of the Roma staff is back. Robert Fleming is back in the kitchen as chef. Joining him in the kitchen is Marilyn (known for her amazing back rubs) and Smitty who works as Roma’s sous chef. Elly and Patrick are back as servers. Luke is back behind the bar along with Sean, who also works as a server. Roma also has two new servers – Megan and Dabney.

Oh, but what about the food? The menu is the same and the food was as good as I remember.

Chicken parmesan
Chicken parmesan

Cafe Roma is open daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you get the opportunity, be sure to stop by.

Attention 8 Tuffers: Important Bib Info

8 Tuff Logo

Here’s some important info for those of you who registered online for 8 Tuff Miles. Bibs will be available for pickup between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at The Tap Room in Mongoose Junction on the following dates:

  • January 28
  • February 4
  • February 11
  • February 16
  • February 17
  • February 18
  • February 19
  • February 20

The sooner you pick up your bib, the smoother race day morning will be. Additional times/locations may be added. We’ll keep you posted.

Food, Fun & the Barefoot Cowboy

knockin em back

St. John has some pretty cool personalities, but not many are as entertaining as Wayne Campbell. For those of you who don’t know Wayne, he’s the owner of the Barefoot Cowboy Lounge.

The thing that makes Wayne even cooler than most is the fact that he has his very own cooking show. Knockin ‘Em Back with Wayne Campbell combines food with fun and features local chefs and restaurants (and a few cold beverages along the way).

Wayne just posted his first episode of the year and we think you all should check it out. This episode features Wayne and “Dougie Fresh” from the Banana Deck. Together they prepare seared tuna and one of the Banana Deck’s famous ribeye steaks. We especially like Wayne’s intro. Check it out:

Want to see more? Click here to view past Knockin ‘Em Back episodes.

Bring a Little St. John Home with You

calendar 2014

Enjoy the beauty of St. John 365 days a year with one of these two great calendars.

The first calendar titled Tropics was created by Carolyn Caldwell. Carolyn lived and painted on St. John for 16 years. Tropics includes paintings of Caribbean scenes from traditional wooden boats at Foxy’s to fruit sellers at outdoor markets. Carolyn’s images are alive with color and warmth that will delight you all year.

Click here to see more images and to purchase Tropics. Click here to learn more about Carolyn and to visit her website.

The second calendar created by Christian Wheatley contains 12 full color images of the Virgin Islands. What makes this calendar extra special, aside from its stunning images, is that it includes all of the 2014 goings on within the Virgin Islands.

This calendar can be purchased at various gift shops on the island or by contacting Joanna at [email protected]

Click here to visit Christian’s website.

New on the Market: Riley’s Retreat

We told you earlier today how housing sales were up in 2013. Want to own a slice of the island? If so, then check out the newly listed Riley’s Retreat:

Main Level Balcony Dining Area

Riley’s Retreat is a beautifully remodeled six bedroom, five bathroom villa with amazing views of St. Thomas, St. Croix and Pillsbury Sound and dramatic sunsets. The villa features beautiful travertine floors and mahogany trim throughout with genuine Venetian plaster. The upper level has three bedrooms, including a master. The master bedroom features an en suite bathroom with large stone shower and access to another outdoor shower. The upper level also includes a gourmet kitchen including top of the line appliances with custom Brazilian cherry cabinets and granite countertops centered around a large island eating area.


Main Level Master  Bedroom

Main Level Dining & Kitchen

The covered decks on both levels offer a beautiful eating and sitting area to enjoy the sunset views and cool breezes. The two bedroom, one bath lower apartment has its own kitchen and can be rented separately. It too features custom cabinets, granite countertops and travertine floors. It is also fully air conditioned.

Main Level Balcony Sitting Area

Lower Level Bedroom 1

There is also an additional cottage on the property with a full bath and decorative concrete countertops.

The property is showcased with magnificent professionally landscaped grounds including mature fruit trees and large palms. The pool is 13.5 x 24 with a total volume of about 14,000 gallons The spa is a large, six-person hot tub. This area also has a large wrap around deck with bar area. There is an exercise room and additional full bath located right off of the pool deck.


Pool area

Riley’s Retreat has solar H2O and 2.9KW/HR solar electricity, so you can save a ton on your WAPA bill.

Square footage at a glance:

  • Upstairs: 1,622
  • Lower apartment: 905
  • Exercise room: 426
  • Cottage: 272
  • Total: 3,225
  • Laundry/Garage: 717
  • Covered deck: 1,124
  • Pool deck 1,063

Riley’s Retreat is also a popular rental villa. Check out the great reviews it has received on VRBO.com – www.vrbo.com/351432

Riley’s Retreat is listed for $1,445,000. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Tammy Donnelly at 340 Real Estate Co. at [email protected] or at (340) 643-6068.

Home Sales Up Again in 2013

Villa Anansi is one of the 155 homes on the market.
Villa Anansi is one of the 153 homes on the market.

Who doesn’t want to live on a beautiful island in the Caribbean? Considering last year’s home sale stats, it seems that more and more people are making that dream a reality.

Forty eight homes sold during 2013 compared to 28 in 2012. That represents a 71% increase … not too shabby. In total, there was more than $50 million in home sales throughout 2013. That’s a pretty incredible number.

The most expensive home sold for $3.5 million in Chocolate Hole while the least expensive home was a studio in Carolina, which sold for $165,000. The average home sale price in 2013 was $1,054,698, an 11 percent decrease from the year before. Things are getting more affordable folks. 😉

When it comes to condos, eight were sold in 2013 compared to nine in 2012. Of those sold in 2013, one unit each was sold at Battery Hill, Grande Bay, Lavender Hill, Palm Terrace and Upper Deck. Three units were sold at Gallows Point.

The total amount of condo sales was just under $5 million while the average condo sales price was $613,688. The most expensive unit was a three-bedroom at Grande Bay and the least expensive was a two-bedroom unit at Battery Hill.

Thirty one land parcels sold in both 2013 and 2012, but the total amount of land sales jumped more than $2 million. The largest and most expensive parcel sold was a 13.44-acre site on Monte Bay while the second most expensive parcel was only .76 acres in Peter Bay. That parcel sold for $2 million. Ten parcels sold for less than $100,000 in neighborhoods ranging from Pastory to Carolina.

More than $12 million of land sold in 2013. The average parcel price was $396,016.

Here’s a map to give you a better idea of where the most expensive home and land parcel were sold:

most expensive sold 2013

(We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Gretchen Labrenz of Cruz Bay Realty for compiling these stats.)

There are currently 153 homes, 35 condos and 269 land parcels for sale throughout the island. Want to see the listings yourself? Check out one of these real estate companies:

Celebrating All the Things We Love About St. John

Image courtesy of www.friendsvinp.org
Presidio Del Mar, the location of Friends’ 11th annual gala – Image courtesy of www.friendsvinp.org

Check out these great events that raise money for two of the island’s most important organizations – Friends of Virgin Islands National Park and the Animal Care Center.

acc gala poster header

From the Animal Care Center: A glorious fun-filled evening and a loving way to celebrate the holidays, this annual event features delicious creations by the island’s best chefs, great music, local talent & FUN! This year’s theme is “Party like a Rock Star”. Come dressed as your favorite rock star and prizes will be awarded for the best costume. Music will be provided by DJ Adonis, and there will also be a big raffle and silent auction. Both are known to be two of the best on the island, because the local merchants love to help the animals.

The gala will be held on Saturday, January 18 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the home of Joann and Glenn Hall in Chocolate Hole. Tickets are $100 in advance and $125 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here or at any of the following merchants:

  • Chelsea Drug
  • St. John Hardware
  • Connections, East and West
  • And of course at the ACC shelter.

Friends Gala 2014

From Friends of Virgin Islands National Park: By popular demand, the 11th Annual Gala will once again be held at Presidio Del Mar in Peter Bay on February 1.  Our gracious hosts for the anticipated event are Steven and Pamela Deckoff. Guests will be welcomed to this prestigious affair with champagne, red carpet and white roses! Truly the gala event of the year on St. John.

This year’s “National Treasures” gala will feature gourmet appetizers from start to finish, carving and food stations and specialty desserts from various culinary experts. As always, wine and champage offerings are top notch, and two full bars are at your service. Dance under the stars in this ultimate villa to In the Sand Band, and possibly a “special guest”. Go home a winner with our famous raffle prize table and silent auction treasures.

Tickets are $250 per person and always sell out in advance. Raffle tickets are $25 each or 5 for $100. Contact Friends at (340) 779.4940 for more information or to get your tickets.