Financial Relief on the Horizon for WAPA Customers

Money Bulb

It’s still a year away, but relief is in sight for Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) customers.

Beginning in the fall of 2014, propane will become the primary fuel for power generation in the US Virgin Islands, according to a WAPA release. This change is expected to reduce the region’s (astronomically high) fuel costs by 30 percent. That’s a pretty big chunk of change. In addition, the use of propane is also expected to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent. This news is not only great for everyone’s pocketbooks, but it’s also great for the environment.

Now we’re not saying that all of the savings will be passed along to the consumer, but if they were, it has the potential to be huge. Just to give you an idea of just how big of a deal this could be, one of our advertisers said he pays an average of $3,000 a month to power his North Shore rental villa. This change has the potential to save this property owner roughly $900 a month or $10,800 a year. Who wouldn’t want an extra $10k in their pocket?!

WAPA said it expects the change will save roughly $90 million is annual fuel costs. It also said it expects rates will fall again after five years. Let’s hope that holds true.

So we’re curious- We know that St. John has some of the highest power rates in the world. What do you pay where you live?

News of St. John’s Denis Bay Story Appears in NY Daily News

Ok, this is pretty exciting. I received a “News of St. John” Google alert this morning and check out what I found – Our recent story about the Denis Bay property appeared today in the New York Daily News.

Daily News Article
Screenshot of the blurb in the July 28, 2013 online edition.

The blurb is titled “Interior Designer Cited for Outdoor Mess in U.S.V.I.” and it’s written by Jared McCallister. He briefly mentions our story and how property owner Tony Ingrao was fined.

Read it on the NY Daily News’s site here.

Read our original story posted on July 23, 2013 here.

Island Stones is an Island Gem



Island Stones has always been on my shortlist of properties that I’d love to have the opportunity to spend some time at. I’ve always been attracted to villas with incredible outdoor spaces and amazing views (but really, who isn’t). Island Stones is no exception.

If you’re shopping around for an expansive villa with killer views or if you’re simply looking to daydream about the possibilities, please take a moment to check out Island Stones.

Click here to see what makes Island Stones special.

Another Business Opportunity in Paradise

Village Cafe
Village Cafe

Now this sounds like a good one. Village Cafe in Wharfside Village just listed for sale, and it sounds like it’s quite the deal. The quaint outdoor cafe is on the market for only $78,000.

The popular cafe features Mexican food and breakfast options, in addition to smoothies and other food/beverages. It’s mainly a grab and go place, but it does offer a few tables and chairs for those who prefer to dine in.

According to a 2012 listing for the restaurant, Village Cafe was grossing roughly $250,000 annually at the time. If that still holds true, Village Cafe seems to have the potential to have a pretty good return on investment.

We’ll have to sit back and see if the right buyer moves forward on this one. But in the meantime, if you could run any type of business on St. John, what would it be?

Help Track the 2013 Hermit Crab Migration

Photos by Steve Simonsen
The 2013 hermit crab migration and a close up of the Caribbean hermit crab. Photos by Steve Simonsen.

It happens often, and it’s pretty cool. Thousands of hermit crabs migrate in the US Virgin Islands and on St. John. Researchers are looking for your help this year in their efforts to track the predicted 2013 migration.

Their request is pretty simple: If you happen to come across hermit crabs anywhere on the island, they would like to know about it. This could be in your backyard, at your villa, on a trail or even on a roadway or in a parking lot. Researchers are asking that you make note of the date, time, location, number seen, as well as the direction they are traveling (toward or away from the water). Once you jot down that information, please fill out their questionnaire which can be found here. You can help determine when and where the hermit crabs are migrating.

Last year’s hermit crab video taken by Steve Simonsen was so incredible, it went viral. To date, it’s received more than 476,000 views on Vimeo and YouTube.

Check out last year’s video here:

DPNR Issues Notice of Violation for Denis Bay Property

Photo Courtesy of John McQuillen
Photo courtesy of John McQuillen

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) issued a Notice of Violation to the Denis Bay property owner accused of altering the area’s landscape and VI National Park land.

DPNR found that property owner Tony Ingrao violated seven provisions of the VI Building Code including excavating and land clearing on National Park land; failure to secure an earth change permit; building without a permit; violating provisions of permits; and excavations affecting adjoining properties.

According to the Notice of Violation, the Division of Building Permits was notified on May 13 that a landslide occurred on a lower section of the roadway adjacent to plot 2B Denis Bay. Prior to the landslide report, the Division had met with the construction project manager to discuss concerns about possible environmental impacts and hazards created by the site. Mitigations efforts were discussed and it was indicated at the time that they would begin as quickly as possible.

Now that the Notice of Violation has been issued, Ingrao will be required to submit plans and a new building permit application for site stabilization, drainage and any associated structure needed to stabilize the affected area. Ingrao must submit any agreement or mitigation approved by the National Park with regard to the impacted areas. Ingrao is required to notify and receive approval for any work conducted on the recently reopened roadway leading to the property, and upon approval, Ingrao has 45 days to make repairs to that roadway.  DPNR also fined Ingrao $10,500 which must be paid within 30 days.

Jamal Nielsen, DPNR Media Relations Coordinator, stated Monday that Ingrao has already implemented corrective action measures, although he did not have specific details on what types of measures have been put into place thus far.

Ingrao is a world-renowned interior designer based in New York City. News of St. John reached out to him Monday, but was unsuccessful.

Below is a map of the property’s location:

Marked Denis Bay Map

St. John Condo Named One of World’s Top-Rated Hotels

Grande Bay Exterior

A big congratulations goes out to Grande Bay, which was just named to Expedia.com’s Insiders’ Select 2013 list. The list ranks the world’s top hotels and is based predominantly on customer rankings.

According to Expedia’s website, hotels on the Insiders’ Select list are rated on a number of factors, including customer scores. Only 650 of 205,000 available properties are named to the list. Grande Bay is only one of four hotels to be honored throughout the Caribbean.

To see a bit more why Grande Bay was named to this list, please check out its website here. You can also read Grande Bay’s reviews on Expedia.com here.

Please click here to see a full list of the 2013 Insiders’ Select hotels.

Where is your favorite place to stay on St. John?

Kenny Chesney Releases Video for “When I See This Bar”

Kennys Video Debut

Kenny Chesney just released the video for his new single, “When I See This Bar.” You may recognize a lot of the places in the video as the majority of it was filmed in locations throughout the Virgin Islands. You may even spot a few people you know.

Unfortunately we don’t have the rights to play the video here, but you can watch it by clicking this link.

You can also click this link to view Kenny’s commentary about the meaning of “When I See This Bar.”

St. John Supports Wounded Warriors

chaotic kayak logo

St. John will once again show its support for Wounded Warriors and their families at the 3rd annual St. John Chaotic Kayak event.

The event pits a maximum of 32 teams – each comprised of three “warriors” – against one another in a crazy kayak race at Oppenheimer Beach. The event will take place on July 28 at 12 p.m.

St. John Chaotic Kayak is being held in partnership with Team River Runner (TRR). TRR gives active duty service members and veterans an opportunity to find health, healing and new challenges through whitewater boating and other paddling sports. One hundred percent of the event’s proceeds will be used to bring wounded veterans and their spouses to St. John each November for one week of healing.

Local businesses sponsor teams and people are encouraged to donate to their favorites. Participating businesses include: The Westin, VI Ecotours; Spyglass; Skinny Legs; Woody’s; Ocean Grille; Sadie Sea/Love City Charters; St. John App; Castaways; Across the Street Bar and Grill; High Tide; Asolare; Beach Bar; Arawak Kayaking; Crabby’s Watersports; Sun Dog Cafe; Motu; Island Blues; Magical Ninja Carpentry; Glazers Premier Distributors; Shipwreck Landing; Grande Bay; and Soggy Dollar Bar.

Please click here to support your favorite team.

A new addition to this year’s event is a stand-up paddleboard race. The entry fee is $25 and anyone can enter. The only rule is that you must bring your own board. The event will also feature live music, beer tents, food and raffle prizes.