Airport cooling repairs continue

The air conditioning at the St. Thomas Airport, what little there is and has been, is being worked on. 

The a.c. system has been operating at about half-capacity. Port Authority maintenance people were expected to be installing new parts this week to get the system fully operational, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.

Meanwhile, the Authority set next month for the opening of the almost $10-million marine terminal at Red Hook, from which ferries to St. John will operate.  A new parking lot, providing 130 spaces, will soon get a final surfacing and merchants who have leased space in the building are expected to move in soon.

St. John, rich man’s resort?

Craig Barshinger, the one-term Senator At Large form St. John,  worries that the recent property revaluation process will spark a wave of real estate sales and an exodus by some of the island’s longtime residents.

He worries that people on fixed incomes will be taxed out of their homes.   "How?  If they had the ‘misfortune’ of having a hotel or mansion built next to them.  Or if they have lived on the beach for donkey years," he said in a letter to the St. John Source. "Any of these (and other) factors will cause the assessed value to be so high, that the owner will receive a tax bill five to 10 times higher."

They may not be able to afford the taxes, "but they can sell out for millions of dollars and move to Boca Raton," Barshinger wrote.  "The culture will be obliterated, but ex-pat St. Johnians will have money in their pocket.  Is this the kind of Virgin Islands we want?"

Restaurant business declining?

The Inquiring Iguana spends too much time surfing various forums where
island visitors are eager to get the inside story on what’s happening on island. Here’s some of what he’s heard recently.

21st Century island visitors are not eating in the island’s restaurants as much as tourists use to.  Comments on TripAdvisor.com suggest there’s some truth to this.  There are lots of questions and answers about bringing your own food.

Read moreRestaurant business declining?

Travel & Leisure list ignores VIs and St. John

Travel + Leisure Magazine’s
latest "Best Of" lists don’t include St. John.  In fact the best island and hotel lists, based on the magazine’s readers’ votes, don’t include any Virgin Island or resort. They didn’t last year, either.

The best hotel honor goes to India’s Oberoi Udaivilas.  Readers said the best island is Bali.

Two properties on St. Barth’s, about 150 miles east of the VI’s, did make the list: (73) Hôtel Saint-Barth Isle de France and (74) Eden Rock.

Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of the magazine said, “This year’s results underline T+L readers’ ever-increasing embrace of global travel in their search for distinctive and authentic experiences. The extraordinary rise of India among the top hotels and resorts in the world is one sure reflection of this tendency."

Travel + Leisure’s "Best Of" lists are included in the August issue, now on newsstands and online at http://www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest.

Can’t find a bathing suit?

The Inquiring Iguana spends too much of his life on the Internet, surfing various forums where island visitors are eager to get the inside story on what’s happening here and how to enjoy St. John.  Here’s some of what he’s been overhearing recently.

A day on the water is as close to heaven as some people can get, and any number of island Captains are offering their boats for charter.  The Internet forums are a way people trade recommendations and trip reports.

In one thread, Capt. Phil Chalker and his Wayward Sailor came in for some comment. “Xraymaker” complained, "I called Captain Phil and explained to him that we did not have our swimsuits (very limited sizes of bathing suits on St. John) and we could not go on the trip."

Read moreCan’t find a bathing suit?

New Park Superintendent named

It’s taken 10 months, but the National Park service has found it’s man. Mark Hardgrove is currently a deputy superintendent at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in South North Carolina, according to the St. John Source.  He’s been with the NPS at least 21 years. 

Hardgrove has a lot more than flora and fauna to worry about on island.  The Park could be directed by Congress to lease land to the VI government for construction of a new school, and At Large Senator Carmen Wesselhoft wants the Service to donate several hundred acres for locals’ housing.

Hardhrove is expected to begin his duties on island by the end of the month.

New (used) ferries on the way

New ferry boats come soon is what the VI Government wants us to believe – as soon as St. John’s ferry operators complete the paperwork.  (I believe the Virgin Islands government is still waiting for reports on how much money the ferries collected and spent last year.)

Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls told a Senate Finance Committee hearing his department has snagged $1.5 million in Federal Highway Administration (FHW) funds to allow Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services of St. John to purchase used ferry boats, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported.  Smalls said his agency will also go after any ferry money that may be available from the feds this year, too.

Read moreNew (used) ferries on the way

St. John Magazine plans debut

Here’s more evidence how the island is moving upscale in its attraction for the wealthy vacationer. 

St. John is going to get a new magazine, but it’s not for locals. 
St. John Magazine will be published twice a year, according to its publisher, Malinda Nelson.  She is also Publisher of the St. John Tradewinds, a local newspaper. 

The magazine will be "designed to be a treasured keepsake," according to promotional material for the venture available online at www.stjohnmagazine.com.
The media kit for advertisers said St. John Magazine will not be free, but will be sold on newsstands throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.  Quantities of the magazine are also expected to be sold resorts and villa management companies on island.

Read moreSt. John Magazine plans debut

How do you cure a hangover?

The Inquiring Iguana
 spends too much of his life on the Internet, surfing various forums where island visitors are eager to get the inside story on what’s happening here and how to enjoy St. John.  Here’s some of what he’s been overhearing recently.

            For some reason, people think they might drink too much when they get to the Virgin Islands and St. John.  "Sometimes we humans fail to always live by the rules," wrote "Cypressgirl" on Virgin-Islands-On-Line.  "Any ideas for cures?"

            "Chrisn" said he’s found a greasy cheeseburger helps a little.  “VaGirl” chimed in saying she puts a Coke, in a glass bottle, in the freezer until it’s full of little ice chips.  Then she drinks it with three Hershey’s Kisses. "It works I promise."

            "Ksea" is more pro-active.  "I always eat bread before I start to drink and automatically take four aspirin/Bufferin before I fall into, or over, the bed."

Read moreHow do you cure a hangover?

Is a cheaper car rental a bargain?

You can rent a car for a week for as little as $31, if you book it online. I didn’t know this until I read it on the Cruz Bay Forum at TripAdvisor.com.  The going rental rate for a car on St. John is $60/day.

The discount is from Priceline.com. Thrifty is offering deals ranging from Carrental$254/week for an economy car, including taxes and fees, up to $270/week for a full size vehicle.  Of course, you also have to add
the cost of a car barge round trip from Red Hook to Cruz Bay.  But then, you’re not paying for a taxi and luggage to and from the airport, and that just about makes up the barge fee.  It may even be cheaper if you’ve got four people.  (Click on the photo at right for a bigger picture of the rates.)

Read moreIs a cheaper car rental a bargain?