Guess Who’s Open for Business…

Now this is one we’ve all been waiting for. Cruz Bay Landing is finally open for business! I don’t know about all of you, but we’re pretty darn excited about this one. And from what we’ve seen, the place looks great. Check out these pics:

landing open 2

cruz baylanding open 1

Weekend Happenings

welcome signThere are a few cool things happening this weekend. Here are the details:


Join the St. John School of the Arts dancers and actors when they perform Caribbanese 2, a Caribbean and Japanese fusion of art. The event will take place this evening, December 6, at the Kimberly Boulon Fine Arts Gallery located in the Marketplace. The event begins at 5 p.m. and runs through 8 p.m.

Click here to learn more about the event. Click here to visit the St. John School of the Arts website.


Bizarre Bazaar

Head on over to Coral Bay tomorrow, December 7, for its first ever Bizarre Bazaar. The event promises to be a great one. Here’s some info from the Coral Bay Community Council:

On Saturday, December 7th, Coral Bay, St. John, will host its own version of a “Small-Business Saturday” event by featuring over 50 local vendors, with more than 25 local artists, selling their art works of love and passion to holiday shoppers- like you. Imagine sharing your unique life in the islands with your family and friends during the holiday season by sending them a gift of locally made pottery, jewelry, oils or spices.

The Coral Bay Bizarre Bazaar, sponsored by the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), will be held on Saturday, December 7th, at Pickles in Paradise from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event will feature a Local Brew Competition in conjunction with the VI Brew Club. Beer lovers will have the opportunity to taste seven homemade selections and vote on the winner. St. John Brewers will also be participating in the event. As a big help to shoppers, Keep Me Posted will be there to provide gift-wrapping and shipping to the states in flat rate USPS boxes, so think “Shop & Ship” all in one day.

For that distinctive gift, buy a Mixology Card for your local friends. This card contains eight signature drinks provided by Coral Bay restaurants all for one low price.

Also, a silent auction featuring villa rentals and island hopping charters will be available the day of the event and other prizes can be won by purchasing raffle tickets available now at the CBCC or Keep Me Posted. People do not need to be present on December 7th to win.

A holiday bazaar would not be complete without Santa, Donkey and Pony rides, and other children’s activities. Music will fill the air starting at noon with an open-mic format organized by Lauren and Bo, who are getting their many local musician friends to come out and play.

For St. Thomas folks, the car barge and ferry can get you to Cruz Bay. From Cruz Bay, Mr. Wonderful Taxi will provide discounted rides from the ferry dock to the Coral Bay event for $6 each way.

The CBCC will have tables selling plants, baked goods, household and marine yard sale items, and food & drink.

The CBCC will be raising funds for projects to protect and enhance the environment and community in Coral Bay. Example projects from recent years include: installation of storm water structures to slow down and divert sediment (muddy waters) from entering Coral Bay, restoration of a coastal wetland, and coordination with the VI Dept. of Labor to offer the Coral Bay Job Club, a summer program which helps local teens explore careers and develop necessary job skills. The Coral Bay scenic overlook was recently re-graveled with donations and volunteer help. CBCC funding is a mixture of dues, donations, and various grants which support these projects and more. Wonderful volunteers provide a lot of assistance too. The CBCC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

Sounds like a great event to us. Be sure to check it out.


A seven-night stay at On a Clear Day is this year's top auction item.
A seven-night stay at On a Clear Day is this year’s top auction item.

The Friends of Virgin Islands National Park’s annual auction closes Sunday, December 8 at 9 p.m. EST. The auction has 68 wonderful items ranging from weeklong stays at exclusive villas to charter day trips, jewelry and more. As of Thursday night, there were seven items that have yet to yield any bids, so now’s the time to get in on the action.

If you haven’t already, you should really check out the auction. You can get items for a third of the actual cost. For example, On a Clear Day is a spectacular, four bedroom villa overlooking Francis Bay. It typically rents out for more than $12,000 a week, but you can get it now from less than half that cost. And no need to worry, not all of the items are that pricey. You can get a beautiful sterling pendent and earrings for only $25. Again, these prices may not last so act fast!

Click here to visit the auction site.

And the Maho Bay Buyer Is…

Maho Bay Parcel

Since taking over News of St. John back in May, I’ve received countless emails asking me about Maho Bay. Specifically, people wanted to know who bought the 13.8 acre parcel back in December. Quite frankly, so did I.

What I did know early on, like many of you, is that the buyer purchased the land using a limited liability company. The name of the LLC is Maho Bay USVI, LLC. The LLC is registered in Delaware. So the buyer must live in Delaware, right? Wrong.

A lot of people tend to establish LLCs in Delaware because they can do so anonymously. In Delaware, you do not have to list the name of the principle, owner, etc. when creating a LLC. Instead, registered LLCs in Delaware can use what’s called a registered agent. A registered agent is a person designated to officially receive and send legal papers on behalf of a business entity, like a LLC.

After doing a little digging, I learned that the registered agent for Maho Bay USVI, LLC is Georgia-based TRIAD Professional Services. According to its website, “TRIAD is a professional service company offering fully-customized, comprehensive corporate legal support. We provide a range of specialized services to ensure you maintain your corporate responsibilities, enabling you to meet your business objectives.”

(Don’t worry, I’ll get to the buyer’s name shortly.)

I made a few calls and soon learned that TRIAD’s founder, a woman named Mary Paris, was the LLC’s representative. Surely, I could coax Ms. Paris into telling me the buyer’s name, right? Wrong again. Ms. Paris actually chuckled the first time I called her. (Keyword: First. Poor Ms. Paris has received numerous calls from me. I have to admit, she is pretty darn good at her job. Never said a peep.)

So after “striking” out with Ms. Paris, I gave up for a bit. That was until one evening a few months back when I was chatting with a longtime St. Johnian about a story I was working on. Our conversation was nearing an end when I nonchalantly asked if he’d heard anything about the Maho buyer. It was then that he gave me a name. I quickly jotted it down and assured him I would keep his name confidential. Over the months that followed, I heard the same name attached to the Maho property on several occasions. I was pretty certain I had the right guy.

Clearly the buyer wanted anonymity or he wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to keep his name private. That, coupled with the fact that I have been unable to get anyone from his camp to independently confirm it, kept me from printing anything on the subject. That all changed last night when a blog post hit the web.

Postcards from Maho Bay is a blog based on one woman’s experience and views of her time at Maho Bay Camp, both as a guest and occasionally as staff. On Wednesday, she posted an entry titled “The Future of Maho Bay Camp.” The article is quite good and I suggest you all give it a look. It gives a very thorough overview of Maho Bay Camp’s past, the quest to save the campground and what its future may hold.

The blogger also named the supposed buyer, and it was the very same name I have heard over and over – Jon Stryker.

Here is what she wrote:

The identity of the new land owner has been an open secret on island for a while. Jon Stryker has become widely known as the purchaser of the land, although there have not been any public announcements of any kind. He appears to be the best possible buyer of the land, after the Trust for Public Land.

So who exactly is Jon Stryker and is he indeed the person who bought the Maho Bay parcel? As I mentioned, I have been unable to independently confirm that he is the buyer but all signs are pointing to yes. And if it is indeed true, Maho Bay is in good hands.

You may have remembered back in April when Stanley Selengut, founder of Maho Bay Camps, said in an interview with the St. John Source that the buyer is “an environmentally-oriented billionaire who’s supposedly going to use it as a family estate.” Well it seems that Stanley was spot on.

Mr. Stryker is an architect and an heir to the Stryker Corporation medical equipment fortune. He has an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. Mr. Stryker is the founder and president of the Arcus Foundation, a private, global grantmaking organization. Arcus supports the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights, and conservation of the world’s great apes.

Mr. Stryker is a founding board member of the Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya, Save the Chimps in Ft. Pierce, Florida and Greenleaf Trust, a trust bank in Kalamazoo. He also serves on the boards of Kalamazoo College and Friends of the Highline, a nonprofit conservancy in New York City.

According to a 2008 article, Mr. Stryker has “poured more than $247 million of his approximately $2 billion fortune into two causes of particular importance to him: gay rights and great ape conservation. He plans to give at least another $120 million to the Arcus Foundation, which he created in 2000, over the next four years.”

Again, we haven’t  been able to confirm that Mr. Stryker is indeed the buyer despite contacting each organization that he has ties to. We have, however, heard the same name from several people, some of whom are said to be doing business with the buyer. One thing we are certain of is that the Arcus Foundation is not tied to the property in anyway. So again, it looks like Stanley Selengut was spot on – It looks like Mr. Stryker will be using it as a family estate.

Going back to the words written on Postcards from Maho Bay – If this is correct, Mr. Stryker appears to be the best possible buyer of the land.

Click here to read more about Mr. Stryker’s philanthropy in the article Compassion and Conservationism: donor champions rights of both humans and apes.

Click here to read the entire Postcards from Maho Bay post.

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas…

Christmas Tree Ornament

Going to be on island for the holidays and looking to spruce up your place with a festive, holiday vibe? Well then, we know just the lady for you. Her name is Christmas Tree Martha and she is known for just that – She creates unique, one-of-a-kind Christmas trees and wreaths to adorn the homes of St. John.

For the second year in a row, Martha Toomey, aka Christmas Tree Martha, has set up shop over in the Marketplace where she is busy creating personalized Christmas trees and wreaths for the holiday season. Martha creates everything from miniature, edible gumdrop trees – perfect for small guest rooms or boats – to larger, tropical-themed trees. The best part – you get to keep all of the neat ornaments that Martha chooses.

One of Martha's tropical-themed trees
One of Martha’s tropical-themed trees

So how did Martha get into the Christmas tree decorating business? It all started during a trip to Florence, Italy.

“I’m semi-retired but did 35 years of fundraising events, and Christmas fundraising events were always the most fun,” Martha said. “I was put in charge of my family tree when I was 6. (During) Christmas 2009, right before we moved here, we were traveling through Italy and we had a tree in our hotel room, but no one was around to help us. We had to drag a very heavy potted tree through the streets of Florence!”

And from there, Christmas Tree Martha was born.

Martha’s trees range in price from $15 to $500 depending on the size and scope of the tree. In addition to creating one-of-a-kind trees for residents and guests, she also designs and installs trees for island businesses. (Check out her tree over at Virgin Fire. We hear it’s quite cool.) Martha also rents artificial trees for $35.

One of Martha's holiday wreaths
One of Martha’s holiday wreaths

All of the profit will benefit Mary’s Family, a disability advocate group that Martha created in 2001. (Mary’s Family is a registered nonprofit organization.)

And if you’re looking to create some holiday crafts with the kids, Martha’s got that too.

“By all means, we’ve got craft projects galore,” Martha said. “Ribbons, bows, styrofoam shapes, beads, glitter … But supplies are limited and going quickly.”

Martha will continue creating Christmas trees and wreaths through Christmas Eve, but if you are interested, we urge you to contact her quickly as supplies are limited. You can contact Martha by email at [email protected] or by phone at (340) 777-7605.

And the Tarps are Off!

The tarps have been removed over at Cruz Bay Landing, and by the look of things, it seems that they are nearing their debut. Here are a couple of pics. What do you think?


Cruz Bay Landing Before


Cruz Bay Landing

Alternate “After” View:

Cruz Bay Landing Gazebo

Read more about Cruz Bay Landing here.

Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet Set to Launch Java’Mon Coffee

java mon
We’re not sure about you, but we love a good cup of coffee. And for those of you who love a cup of joe as much as we do, we have some pretty good news for you.

The new owners at Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet have been busy creating new coffee flavors since purchasing the business back in August. They’re almost ready to launch, but before they do, they want you to sample some of their newest flavors.

Mindy and Brian Cunningham will be offering half priced expresso drinks tomorrow, December 4, and Thursday, December 5 at Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet. The half-priced drinks will be available from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.

Here’s what Mindy and Brian had to say about their latest venture:

With coffee lovers at the helm, our java experts designed a unique blend of Java’Mon coffees to bring you a taste of the Caribbean! Our full bodied and bold flavors combine the warmth of the tropics with the passion of our Virgin Islands. Try our favorite roasts, including Cinnamon Bay, Chocolate Hole, Honeymoon and our Java’Mon Signature St. John blend. Whether in a latte, cappuccino, espresso or all American coffee you are sure to find your favorite flavor of the Caribbean!

Click here to read our story about Mindy and Brian’s purchase of Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet.

Jaywalk with Jumbies: Cruz Bay Ghost Walk Set to Debut

Jaywalk pic
Jaywalk with Jumbies cast, from left to right: Jeff Crokin, Marwan Prince and Craig Roub

The spirits of St. John still linger – and not just in the form of rum.

You may have remembered earlier this year when Frank Barnako wrote about a casting call for “funny people.” Well the casting call was held, the funny people were found, and they’re ready to take their show on the road – literally.

Jaywalk with Jumbies: The St. John Ghost Walk is a wacky, after dark walk through Cruz Bay, in which guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in island legends, folklore and ghastly history as performed by this newly formed comedy/improv troupe. They’re offering a free preview show this Thursday, December 5 to anyone and everyone who wants to check it out.

“St. John’s history is rich – there are countless fascinating stories spanning centuries and eras,” said Anne Ostrenko, who cofounded Jaywalk with Jumbies with Ken Haldin. “But we love to laugh! We tell true stories (and folktales, too) in a dramatic, wacky fashion – and then add costume changes! Nothing on St. John is dry – so why explore history in all serious tones? The show is meant be evolve and grow and respond to audience interest. Audience participation is encouraged.”

Thursday’s preview show kicks off at 6:30 at Across the Street Bar & Grill, which is directly across the street from Woody’s (aptly named). A second preview show is scheduled for next Thursday, December 12. Same time. Same location. Both visitors and locals are invited to attend these free events. All you have to do is call 1-888-610-5504 and put your name on the guest list.

It sounds like fun to us, and according to Anne, the troupe has really been working hard to make the walk great.

“These are hard-working thespians who have dedicated a lot of time and energy to this start-up,” Anne said. “Without their local knowledge, dedication to Heineken and desire to thrill, there would be no show.”

This is an 18 and older show. Flip flops are suggested.

Here’s a bit more from their website:

Jumbies* (*West Indian: the spirit of a dead person, typically an evil one) are those unsettled spirits that cause a little tingle on the back of your neck. Many souls have passed through this spellbinding place. Fierce Carib and Taino warriors. British Navy sailors. Pirates who plotted heists from hidden Caribbean coves. Pioneering Danes producing sugar on the backs of enslaved people.

At every sunset, especially moonless nights, it was a clash of cultures. And there was nowhere to run. (But there was rum and more rum.) You haven’t cruised Cruz Bay unless you’ve done it with our local pranksters.

WAPA Service Interruption Tuesday

Just wanted to pass along this message from WAPA:

wapa logo

Service will be interrupted to a section of St. John feeder #7E on Tuesday, December 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., while Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority line crews complete a pole transfer by Little Plantation in Coral Bay.  Areas affected by this interruption include the south side of Coral Bay ballpark, going south on routes 107 and 108 to Bordeaux Mountain.  This encompasses Little Plantation, Calabash Boom, Johnson Bay, Hard Labor, Mandahl and Lameshur Bay.

While the work is in progress, drivers are advised to use extreme caution and to observe traffic directions in the area for the safety of the crews and the public.

Changes Taking Place at Cruz Bay Taxi Stand

Taxi Stand

Ok, there’s a lot going on with the island’s taxi situation. It’s pretty complicated, but we’ll do our our best to break it down for all of you. We’ll also explain how it will likely affect all of us.

So you know the dozens of taxis that are typically lined up next to the ferry dock? The majority of them, if not all, belong to the St. John Taxi Association. The association formed more than 10 years ago and has been leasing the property from the government since 2002. The taxi association initially signed a one-year lease, but when that expired back in 2003, it continued its lease on a month-to-month basis.

As part of the lease, the taxi association was required to make a monthly payment. According to the Virgin Islands Daily News, it missed several of those $400 a month payments. So what did the government do? They demanded that the taxi association leave the property. What did the association do? They ignored the demand.

Fast forward to the last few months:

Because the taxi association continuously ignored the government’s demand to vacate the property, the government initiated legal proceedings to evict the association from the Cruz Bay taxi stand. The issue was subsequently heard in Virgin Islands Superior Court, which ordered the eviction of the association from the taxi stand by last Saturday, November 30. Now that the eviction date has come and gone, the government has turned the area in question over to the Port Authority.

Here’s what Governor John deJongh, Jr. recently said about the situation:

“We have been given an opportunity that I believe in the long term is in the best interest of how this area can be managed for the community as a whole and for our visitors. To achieve this objective, I have discussed with the Virgin Islands Port Authority transferring ownership of the taxi stand from the central government to them. There is a natural synergy with the ferry traffic arriving at the Loredon L. Boynes, Sr. dock in Cruz Bay. The Authority has the staff on St. John as well as the operational experience of managing taxis, limousines and other vehicle for hire services.”

“While the court has ruled that the St. John Taxi Association must vacate the taxi stand, my Administration’s greatest concern is that the VIPA has the full ability to ensure taxi operations at the dock will be orderly and we will not witness the chaotic atmosphere of the past.”

“The taxi stand in downtown Cruz Bay is located at the gateway to the island for thousands of residents and visitors who arrive and depart from St. John each day. We can ill afford a taxi operation at such a critical location that is not being operated effectively,” the governor said.

Now all of that being said, there are several changes happening. According to the St. John Source:

  • Only 40 taxi drivers a day will be able to operate at the Cruz Bay ferry dock
  • The taxi stand will open at 6 a.m. and will close at 11 p.m.
  • Only some of the taxis will be stationed at the dock. The rest will wait in the Enighed Pond parking lot until they are called for service.
  • Those taxi drivers who are not assigned to the ferry dock on a given day will still be allowed to work at other locations across the island.
  • Taxi drivers they must come properly dressed. They will not be allowed to wear short pants or slippers to work.
  • Double parking along the waterfront will no longer be allowed; however the drivers will still have the use of the 13 parking spots along the waterfront, which are currently designated to taxis.
  • Taxi drivers and all others who use the dock will be charged $10 per day for unlimited trips, which will be paid to the dock master stationed at the dock. This includes villa management companies –  each person picking up guests will have to pay $10 for unlimited pickups.
  • People picking up villa guests will no longer be allowed to stand at the head of the dock with signs bearing the guest’s name.

We’re sure that this story will continue to evolve. Stay tuned.