Good Morning, Good Morning! A few weeks ago, I ventured out to beautiful Cinnamon Bay in order to meet up with the campground’s managing director, Adrian Davis, and take a little tour of the newly opened cottages. The cottages were simply awesome and decked out with every single necessity you could possibly ask for in a “camping” trip. And my conversation with Adrian about the past, present and future of the beloved campground was absolutely riveting.
I met Adrian at the Raintree Café on an overcast Thursday afternoon in April. I noticed, as I waited for him in the breezy guest services area, that the restaurant is now doing themed cuisine nights! They do breakfast from 7:30AM-9:30AM each day with an ever changing menu and dinner is served from 5:30 until 8PM nightly.
You do not need to be a guest at the campground to join them for breakfast or dinner…But I DO enjoy the way that the entire guest experience is catered to a camping clientele.
Adrian joined me in the lobby and we jumped into conversation about how the campground has been doing since they re-opened. He told me they have been joyfully busy and that the guests, both first timers and veteran Cinnamon visitors, have been happy with their experience. And, I remarked, that you can see that from their AMAZING reviews…I did a little research before our walk through 🙂
We stopped short on our chat because it looked like rain could be rolling in and ventured out the back of the open air restaurant towards the first of four completed two story cottages.
Ok, so let me give you a little background. All of the development at Cinnamon, similar timing at Caneel Bay, was prior to there being certain restrictions about what we know to be toxic chemicals. So, the pipes needing to be replaced at Cinnamon prior to re-opening…Those were the original pipes and not up to current codes. The same concept goes to what we now know about the important archeological finds at Cinnamon Bay. EVERY era of human existence on St. John has been discovered at Cinnamon over the years all the way back to the Tainos. And, with the wide expanse of beach, fresh water nearby, a wooded shoreline for protection from the sun and, at one time, abundance from the sea, I’m not surprised. I would likely set up shop there as well!
Originally, there were ten cottages at the campground. Each filled with camping “cots” in order to supply fun for the whole family over the course of a camping trip.
The foundation area of cottages number one and three, closest to the main path to the beach, are not built on due to the possibility of extensive archeology. How cool is that? VI National Park archeologists are currently sifting through the soil surrounding them in order to uncover the mysteries of the past. Additionally, cottage number ten could not be re-built because of the proximity to the ocean. So, in order to keep with ten units for guests but eliminate the need for new foundations, the team at Cinnamon dreamed up the new and improved solid concrete, two story structures that are built in the same footprint as the originals.
One upper level unit of the new cottages is completely ADA compliant with a ramp leading directly from the restaurant and handicap accessible full sized bathrooms to the upper level of the first four buildings which opened for overnight guests just last month. As Adrian and I walked away from the Raintree, on the newly constructed, elevated ramp through the trees he described a recent guest’s experience.
One of their first guests in the cottage was a gentleman who was paraplegic and was traveling with an aide. He stayed in a cottage for several weeks with no issues and was absolutely over the moon happy with his visit. If you have traveled to St. John frequently, then you understand how incredibly rare this type of accessibility is! Once again, I was blown away by the thoughtful details that Adrian and the owner of the management company (CinnOpCo), Tom Secunda, put into every aspect of the renovations of this incredible village by the sea.
We entered the first building and I literally lost my vocal cords for a second…If you know me, you know that takes some effort. HA! The single room with a partial wall in the middle and lofted ceilings was so incredibly spacious and breezy in comparison to the original cottages. A versatile couch/double bed with a trundle was in the “living” area accompanied by a dining table for four and a counter and food storage area with a mini fridge.
To the right of the kitchenette in the below photo, you’ll notice the door. That accesses the adjacent room. So, if you are traveling with another family or a group larger than four people, you can expand the unit to sleep eight!
The door to the left (in the top floor units) accesses a beautiful private grilling and outdoor dining area.
Beyond the first room of the cottage, is the master bedroom with a brand new, comfy queen sized bed and a beautiful wardrobe for storing all of your gear.
We stopped to take a quick peek at the other buildings’ top levels and Adrian described the foliage they had planted both surrounding the patio areas on the top level rooms and in front of the lower level units in similar outdoor living spaces. The plants on the upper level are contained in pots do not necessarily need to be native to St. John and beautiful wispy palms and greenery surround your outdoor dining area!
On the lower level verandas, native plants line the walkways. Adrian told me that, in order to not disturb the natural grounds surrounding the footprints of the cottages, the plants are nestled into raised beds around each of the patio areas.
The lower level rooms are the same layout as the upper rooms but appear to be a bit smaller due to the lack of vaulted ceilings. So, in an effort to create a similar feel of amazingness, the gang at Cinnamon Bay has contracted resident St. John artist, Bryan McKinney to paint bright and happy murals on the walls of each of the lower units!
Oh, but wait…These cottages are not just absolutely LOVELY vacation rentals on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They are also hurricane hardened bunkers with their own power and water sources. Perhaps, in the event of another disaster, we will have a place to put displaced residents or relief organizations. Perhaps, these beautiful cottages and the adjoining campground facilities are a true testament to learning from the past and preparing for the future.
The beach and main bathroom at Cinnamon Bay Beach & Campground are open year round but the campground and cottages will close to overnight guests during the months of September and October each year. The food truck and additional services will also be closed during these peak hurricane season months. Cottages range in price from $150-$250 per night and the second phase of ocean front cottages will be opening in July of this year. And, I am looking so forward to taking another look at the final phase of construction at our beloved Cinnamon Bay.