Cinnamon Bay Isn’t Reopening Anytime Soon

The cottages at Cinnamon Bay - Images taken in March 2018
The cottages at Cinnamon Bay – Images taken in March 2018

Well folks, I wish we had better news to share with you today. Sadly it does not look like the Cinnamon Bay campground or the concessions at Trunk Bay will open this year. 🙁

We briefly emailed with Brian Stewart, the president of Redwood Parks late last week, and he stated that they are planning “a phased reopening starting with Trunk Bay in 2019.” Mr. Stewart did not specifically mention anything regarding Cinnamon Bay. He went on to say, “I know you’d like more detail but that’s all the specificity I have right now.”

We also chatted with Steve Black, the Virgin Islands National Park’s new acting superintendent. He stated, “Mr. Stewart told me this week the same thing that he told you that he was not planning on opening either Trunk or Cinnamon concessions this year, but he also told me that maybe Trunk could possibly open in December.”

Considering how Redwoods has not done any clearing in the campground area at Cinnamon, nor has it begin to clean up their areas at Cinnamon Bay in any way, I can’t say I’m surprised. I did hope, however, that with the water turned on at Trunk that Redwoods would being operating the concessions sooner than later.

The clean up of the concessions area at Cinnamon, the cottage area and the campground are the sole responsibility of Redwoods. It is not the responsibility of the National Park Service.

Because there is a concessions contact in place, the National Park Service cannot allow any other business to operate the concessions at Trunk.

“Because we recognize the extreme inconvenience of not being able to provide basic food or beverage service to our Trunk Bay visitors,” Mr. Black said, “we remain diligent in working through the issues that will hopefully result in the return of these services prior to December 2018.”

The National Park Service is currently waiving all fees at Trunk Bay. The National Park Service will reevaluate this on a monthly basis, Mr. Black said, in order to decide when an appropriate time to resume charging will be.

We will keep you all posted on this. In the meantime, have a wonderful Monday everyone!

77 thoughts on “Cinnamon Bay Isn’t Reopening Anytime Soon”

  1. What a disgrace. Why isn’t there an investigation of Redwood parks company? There are reports that they never took down or secured the Eco tents and other facilities in preparation for the hurricanes. They have not even returned to clean up when they should have used all these months to do repairs and get ready to reopen. It sounds to me that these are not stewards of our natural assets but out of town speculators looking to make a quick buck. I haven’t seen the concession contract but I cannot imagine it cannot be cancelled under the circumstances. Either that or we need a new lawyer

    • Totally agree. This is a disgrace. Every other business on the island is breaking their backs to get business up and running. Where have these people been all this time? They should have had insurance if they were a real business and if they didn’t then who ever manages them should be fired for awarding them the contract. They need to get their butts in there asap or lose their contract. Period

      • I just got off the phone with with the Redwoods company. That company states that the only way to get back your deposit is through cinnamon Bay Resorts. Even though they are the concessioner, that company is not responsible for submitting the refunds from people who made reservations at cinnamon Bay.

      • I am surprised that you were unable to get your deposit back. Given the circumstances I waited at least a month before getting ready to contact them.

        They contacted me first and I received a credit quickly.

        I am really surprised that there has been no effort to clean the site or to start renovations. They seem to have walked away from their contract and their responsibility

        Anne M

    • Hi Courtney; Yes the beaches are open. However, there is no water, which means no bathrooms, etc. There are several Porta Potties. There is an unbelievable amount of debris, vegetation and human scattered all around. A number of the structures are seriously compromised and dangerous. Frankly, I am really surprised that the NPS has allowed this to site to remain in this condition. There has to be a clause in that contract to compel them to maintain some level of cleanliness.

  2. I agree with Capt. Morgan. Can’t the Park look at the contract? It doesn’t seem like they are even interested in helping recover the two spaces (or don’t have the money to do it.) They should have been there already with clean up almost complete.

  3. I was concerned with the choice of this company to run the concessions from the beginning. It appeared this was not a proven company, and these concessions were their start.

    • Totally agree. They have done a marginal job since taking over. Their staff were rude and changed the whole dynamic of what we know as Cinnamon. They owe me a fat deposit and refuse to return calls or e mails. Isn’t there some legal way to fire them?! Pretty sure you could clean it up with dedicated fans and volunteers within 2 months….

  4. I just spent 10 days on St. John. We went to cinnamon bay each morning. The beach is beautiful but what a horrible wreck the campgrounds and buildings are. The drapes are still hanging in the windows, wrecked yurts and piles of debris everywhere. So sad for the treasure it is to be left in such condition. Someone needs to make them get in and clean it up.

  5. So, they turned the water on, who’s paying for that? Redwoods? And if not, what’s the point of having it on if there are no facilities or concessions?

    I second (third, fourth, and fifth) the idea to have the contract looked at. I find it hard to believe it would be very hard to prove they haven’t upheld their end (depending on what it’s written they’re responsible for) so it’s worth looking at just for that reason. You shouldn’t need a lawyer for that at this point, all you really need is a contract expert, just to give you their take on it. But then, I tend to err on the side of common sense…

    In the meantime, if I were on island (and when I get there in November), I’ll bring my own water and snacks and happily pay an entrance fee if they want me to.

    Thanks, as always, for the update, Jen! Enjoy your week, everyone. I’ll wave from the Keys later this week when I get there!

  6. We were just at Cinnamon Bay nothing has been done! But the beach is still beautiful! We had grandchildren with us…we all took snacks and drinks. The only small issue for the kids were bath rooms, but it didn’t slow us down! So sad that it all boils down to money! Thank you Jen for updates on St.John our Happy Place. We will be back next year!

    • Has anyone requested to see a copy of the contract? As a taxpayer, I would think this is something that should be available for review.

      • In the states there’s a thing called a FOIL, Freedom of Information Law, does this pertain to the USVI as well?

      • I would second having access to view the contract that Redwoods was given. This is part of the US National Parks system and should be monitored very closely or there is the great chance it will be lost to big development. Our National Parks are under attack by the current administration. If there is not pressure put on Redwoods and too much time goes by without watch dog citizens we could lose access to this gem of a place. I live on the mainland USA however I have camped here several times. The simplicity of it is what made it so very special (and affordable). The debris that has been left by the company who most likely profiteered should be cleaned up. As tax payers we have a right to have clear access to that part of our national parks system. At least if the debris was cleared, the beginning stages of basic camping may be allowed. If anyone has ideas of who to call, who to harass with pressure I am more than happy to do so. I had filled out the volunteer form and have skills in basic carpentry, painting, landscaping professional etc. I did not hear back from anyone.

  7. Let the businesses show you who they are. If they are granted any future contracts will depend on it. Everyone would love to return to St. John to relive all of their best memories. In some cases.that is going to take more time.

  8. Hey fellow St John lovers! I am VERY interested in volunteering specifically in the rebuild efforts of our beloved Cinamon Bay campground. I use to live in Coral bay but have stayed at Cinamon countless times since. When that time comes I look forward to jumping on board.

  9. Can’t the same pretty much be said about Caneel. They got their monies over the years for little return to the nps and now they will clean up and or reopen when it suits them

  10. Sounds like an opportunity to get rid of another unqualified contractor taking advantage of a goverment that doesn’t give a $&@? about the public good. Katrina, Puerto Rico, St. John, … it goes on and on…

  11. I agree with Capt. Morgan . Redwoods has on obligation on their end to keep the property clean whether it is an act of nature, their negligence, or a result of their guests use. The Park Service needs to force them to clean it up, or risk loosing the contract to someone else. Is there anything we can do?

  12. name, address, phone number, etc for Redwood Parks Company
    100 Shoreline Hwy.
    Suite 100B
    Mill Valley, CA 94941
    President: Brian Stewert

    Let’s all start writing, calling, our opinions count !!!!!

  13. I sent an email to Redwood, let’s see if they respond.
    What a shame.
    I was there in January – beach was beautiful – camp grounds just horrible.

  14. Just another continued example of how the campers and National Park fans have been let down by questionable management practices… such a sad waste of this precious gem…

  15. It would be interesting to find out who approved Redwoods for this contract. It sounds like just another example of “grease the palm” VI style.
    This situation should be remedied quickly, but sadly it is doubtful.
    Why is a California company in charge, why not a local contractor?
    I hope these beautiful spaces will be returned their previous, lovely state

    • I am curious as to whether there was an insurance payment. If so, what happened to the funds? It does not look like much has been spent on the grounds and facilities.

  16. Jenn,

    For your reader’s clarification and correction: removing vegetative debris and restoring parkland is the responsibility of the NPS and concession facility maintenance is the responsibility of the concessioner.

    CBR would very much like to reopen Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay and will do so when (1) NPS contract administration is complete, (2) reliable water, waste water, phone and data can be reestablished, (3) there is sufficient visitor demand.

    We recognize the importance of these two special locations to the public. We’re cheering for for recovery as much as anyone (maybe more)!

    Best regards,
    Cinnamon Bay Resort & Campground

    • Thanks. The NPS said specifically that cleanup in your areas is your responsibility.

      Can you elaborate on “contract administration”?

    • SUFFICIENT VISITOR DEMAND!!!!!!! Seriously …. ? Shoot your brochure pictures now to show how devoted you are to this property. This is one of the few areas on island where the destruction looks like it happened yesterday.

    • Cinnamon Bay Campground is the last (and only) affordable accommodations option on the island. It is the only place with the capacity and facilities to accommodate guests ranging in size from small families to large groups, like school groups, clubs, etc. VIERS can handle some school groups, but their remote location makes logistics difficult. The improvements to the campground that Redwood Parks made (the EcoTents, improvements at the restaurant area, etc.) were transforming and revitalizing the experience, though at an understandable increase in the costs to stay there. The closing of the Maho Bay Campground a few years ago was a big loss and set in motion a future where St. John is only accessible to folks with means.

      I have a hard time understanding why the Virgin Islands wants to see themselves as a playground for the rich. Do the property taxes on the million dollar villas make up for the lack of smaller contributions to the local economy? How many hedge fund managers ride in the taxis? How many rent one bedroom villas?

      Cinnamon Bay Campground needs to open again, and I’d love to hear from Redwood Parks an explanation of why the EcoTents were even up during the storms, when the campground was closed anyway. Are the EcoTents that difficult to take down, and if so, why were they the chosen option anyway? I obviously don’t know all of the details about contracts with the NPS, and I don’t know about getting the basic utilities up and running again. I would assume that Jenn would have seen something happening with utility work if that had been happening. What I do know is that the demand for the campground is there. People want to help clean up. People want to see the campground running as soon as possible. People want to have an affordable place to stay on the most beautiful island in the world.

      • Well said Brian. Cinnamon Bay, and the former Maho Bay camps helped many of us enjoy the park that may not of happened otherwise due to personal budgets. I truly miss Maho Camps the most, but in close second was the former leaseholder that ran Cinnamon. Cinnamon Bay camps wasn’t perfect during the summer of 2016 but it was affordable. I’m not a fan of this”Glamping” bit. I’m there to enjoy nature in the heart of the park with basics, not to be pampered. If I wanted that i’d go to Caneel Bay Resorts.

      • keep the pressure on because you are 1000% correct. I will help in anyway possible – letters, calls, social media etc. But there is the chance the both the NPS and the concession holder will take this natural disaster and turn it into a “profiteering” moment. We can’t let that happen. Our national parks are under attack by the current administration and we all pay taxes. That is our land.

    • I think the beaches need to be fixed so that the visitors will come back… many people are hesitant about coming back to St John as it has not been rebuilt in many areas… “build it and they will come”…

  17. A few suggestions. anyone here can request a copy of the redwoods concessions contract from the NPS through a foia request. we all should do that, because foia regulations state that material that is sought frequently from Federal agencies is to be posted on the agency website.

    the foia request link is here: https://www.doi.gov/foia/foia-request-form

    i just filed a request for copies of the contract and will provide them to Jenn when i get them.

    A review of the contract is in order. it would surprize me greatly if there is not a “care of property” provision in the concession contract: and clearly that is not happening here. As someone mentioned there should also be an insurance and security requirement.

    point is, redowoods is likely in breach of contract and nps could terminate their contract. the contract will state who the contracting officer is and folks on st john can petition that person directly.

    you can also petition the head of the nps to look into this matter.

    • Very good comments. One concern here is that if redwood is going to drop out or have their contract cancelled that should happen soon. Actually, it should have happened 6 months ago.

  18. Well

    I’ve read all your comments. Yep, Redwood is definitely wrong but you are wrong also. Go ahead and contact Redwood, your congressman, National Parks and whomever else. But when your done –

    Do what everyone on St John has done for the last seven months, and pitch in physically to bring the island back. Except for one responder here no one has offfered to spend one minute actually moving a tree branch at Cinnamon / shame on you.

    So as much as you don’t like the present situation do something about it, get off your duff, get a pair of gloves and do your small part to improve the area.

    I know it will be appreciated by everyone associated with the island. And think how much better you will feel by moving that single branch into a pile!

    Just sayin

    • Mike, go over to facebook and look at the comments from those that would love to volunteer to get Cinnamon Bay back to its previous status. If the Redwood company or the NPS would step up and provide a support system, the volunteer labor would be lining up. SO many campers would love to help.

      I personally signed up the as soon as Redwood put up the request on the CBR site and still have not heard anything. To tell those stateside to go “pick up sticks” is absurd.

      • Their going to have to have heavy equipment to move and haul out the stumps. Then what do you do with the crushed buildings? If you step in and help without approval and get injured, then what?

    • Mike, I did my part last week, I spent 9 days on island, frequented every restaurant and shop I could with my family and came home with a Huge Visa Card bill. This is in addition, to my airfare, Villa Rental, Jeep Rental, etc. Please don’t begin to tell me I haven’t done enough.

      The clean up of these areas are the responsibility of the concessions owners, who make a profit, fairly huge I might add, off the property of the citizens of the United Stats of America. Please don’t suggest that we need to get out there and clean up their mess because they are irresponsible corporate citizens and the NPS is not holding their feet to the fire.

      By your argument, we should all be out there cleaning up Caneel Bay too.

    • I was there in February and the destruction is a bit more than tree branches. The picture in this article only scratches the surface of the amount of damage that is at Cinnamon. It will require heavy machinery along with quite a few boots on the ground to move and haul the huge tree’s away. This would need to be coordinated by experts. If there were just a few branches, your approach would work. But Mike, Cinnamon has suffered a large scale catastrophe and by sending in random volunteers would actually be dangerous.
      Many would be killed just by the falling coconuts alone. The horror!!!

      Just sayin

    • I think if they could get the water and electricity situation fixed, I believe a lot of people would come down and help with the clean up and restoration. My husband and I have many skills and signed up to volunteer soon after the hurricane. We have not heard from anyone wanting us to help. Bring your own tent. As long is there are bathrooms and water, that would be sufficient. My husband is a master carpenter, electrician, can do plumbing, run a machine, and just about anything else you can through at him, and yet no one has taken him up on the FREE help he is offering? I’m sure that there are many more people who would volunteer if there were basic needs provided.

  19. I was told months ago that CBR had to renegotiate their contract with NPS because under the current circumstances they could not provide services as outlined in the contract in place at the time of the hurricanes. Has this been done or is that “contract administration”. Once that’s been done and qualified contractors go in to deal with wiring, hanging trees and collapsing buildings, there would be plenty of people who would be more than happy to go in and help with clean up. But it has to be safe for us to do that or it opens the park service and the company to liability issues. If visitor interest is one of their excuses for inaction, then that’s something we can do – let them know how much we want the campgrounds back

  20. I would love to go back to Cinnamon Bay Campground. I stayed in the new eco tents last March and hope they will come back stronger than ever. My husband and I could fly down for 1-2 weeks to help clean up. Please put me on a volunteer list when the time comes.

  21. We all want to do the right thing. We can all help by writing and making these companies accountable. I was there in March and can attest to the fact that everyone in St. John is doing all the can. While there I help clean up the beach but volunteers have to have support. The island is one of the world’s most beautiful. We are stronger together.

  22. Do unavailable “concessions” at Cinnamon Bay include kayak, SUP rentals, etc. as well or are they there?

    Thanks Jenn… See you in a few weeks!

  23. Jenn

    There is no need to file a FOIA Request as the signed concessionaire agreement and associated document are available for review. (See web addresses below.). Having lived and worked through Hurricane Katrina and being Contracting Officer these documents are subject to modifications by the parties bound. I suggest all interested parties review the subject documents and from that form a comprehensive approach to bring about results. We all need to be armed with the same information in order delineate who is accountable for what as this will lay the baseline for successful negotiations/enforcement of the current Terms and Conditions or any subsequent modifications. I will review completely and comment. Hope this is helpful to all.

    “All The Best”



    • Jim, Thanks for the link–it seems neither Redwood Parks or VINP have been forthcoming as of now regarding commitments/requirements for reconstruction. I do note that the original reconstruction work was supposed to be done by July 31, 2019 and that “Concessioner shall provide the Director with such evidence or documentation as may be satisfactory to the Director to demonstrate that the Concession Facilities Improvement Program duly is being carried forward.” So at least we should hear what they have committed to performing by that date.
      The following sentence to the one quoted “The Director may extend this date in circumstances where the Director determines that
      the delay resulted from events beyond the control of the Concessioner.
      SEC.”…raises the question has the Director extended the date?

      • The date; if extended; would have been accomplished through a bilateral contract modification that too should be available to the general public.

        “All The Best”


  24. WOW- Let’s just run all half cocked on the facts. These relationships between the NPS and operators are very complex. The delineation point between what is NPS responsibility and what may be the vendors is not quite as simple as some of the commenters here might imply.

    Then of course there is the insurance claims that have yet to be settled.

    I do agree that baseline cleanup, regardless of who the onus is on should be done ASAP- Hey Redwood and NPS- Please work together on this for the greater good of St John and the USVI.

    It wasn’t that long along that we were singing the praises of the Redwood group and its plans for a much needed (30 years?) upgrade. The previous agreement ended in 1990 and yet, somehow, the previous operator continued to make money while putting the absolute minimum into the upkeep of the property. Redwood invested a ton of money into the properties only to have it all blow away within the same calendar year.

    Yes, you are right,GREEDY HEATHENS, lets burn them at the stake!

    Commenting on stories like this and harassing corporations proves once again that an idle mind is the devils workshop. Step away from the computer and go volunteer at the NPS- inquire about how to offer your help cleaning up.

  25. Under the “Operating Plan” section of the contract, section 7, Redwood must submit a Hurricane Plan within 90 days of the signing of the contract, for approval by the Service. Has anyone seen, or have access to, the Hurricane Plan document?

    As an aside, Redwood has had almost $3,000 for my deposit for a year for my now past canceled December2017/January2018 reservation. Cannot get any response from them. Any suggestions of how to further pursue this issue?

    • You need to file a complaint with the DLCA if you have not yet. You can find their contact information here, http://dlca.vi.gov/ There is also a thread on TripAdvisor, St. John forum, that has some contact information for a specific employee at DLCA that has been responsive in helping people get refunds from VIVA. You may want to check that out as well. Hope you get your money back very very soon.

  26. It seems like if they aren’t doing anything to reopen that their contract should be placed on hold and someone else who’s willing and able should be allowed to fill the void they’re leaving. They obviously aren’t using their contracted privileges…

  27. WOW- Let’s just run all half cocked on the facts. These relationships between the NPS and Vendors are very complex. The delineation point between what is NPS responsibility and what may be the vendors is not quite as simple as some of the commenters here might imply.

    Then of course there is the insurance claims that have yet to be settled.

    I do agree that baseline cleanup, regardless of who the onus is on should be done ASAP- Hey Redwood and NPS- let’s get it together.

    It wasn’t that long along that we were singing the praises of the Redwood group and its plans for a much needed (30 years?) and warranted upgrade. The previous agreement ended in 1990 and yet, somehow, the previous operator continued to make money while putting the absolute minimum into the upkeep of the property. Redwood invested a ton of money into the properties only to have it all blow away within the same calendar year. Yes, you are right, lets burn them at the stake!

    Commenting on stories like this and harassing corporations proves once again that an idle mind is the devils workshop. Step away from the computer and go volunteer at the NPS- inquire about how to offer you help cleaning up.

    • While some of the improvements made by Redwood Parks were just fine,many others completed and in the works were not, including removal of most of the bare tent sites,firing of long time local employees and bringing in young people from the mainland, favoring couples over families. I spoke to Brian Stewart early on and my sense was that this was just an opportunity to create a Caneel lite resort,not create an environmentally sound inexpensive alternative on St John. their lack of response to inquiries on status of employees and offers of assistance from loyal visitors reflects the fact that management in California has no feel for what happened. They require real oversite from someone in the NPS who can get them going and save the campgrounds.

      • I think Elizabeth got it right.

        As for the previous comment about getting off your computer and volunteering, I, and many people I know have checked that box and filled in our information to help many times. We’ve gotten no response or been contacted for follow up. Calling Redwood 7 months later still only gets you voicemail and no call back or any other contact.

  28. All these discussions on cleanup and rebuild are good but we are missing the forest for the trees, literally. Without serious trees there is no shade and without shade you don’t have much of a campground. Replanting should be a major part of the plan. And I don’t mean 10″ plants. Tall trees, lots of them, will have to be shipped via container from the mainland or other locations. And that is going to be more expensive than rehabbing a few structures. Here’s hoping that whoever will end up making decisions will understand this point.

  29. I am going to write my members of Congress about Redwoods’ neglect and ask my family and friends to do the same. Maybe a petition on Change.org would help also.

  30. I was so happy to see some of the beautiful palm trees on the beach remain. Surprising when farther in there is such complete destruction. It’s as if a tornado jumped over the remaining palms along the beach and touched down farther in.

  31. After reading through these comments for several months now I am convinced more than ever that the concession owners and the NPS have no interest in repairing Cinnamon Bay or the impact it has on St John in general. I have been bringing groups from families to boy scout troops there for over 45 years and even now am planning another trip. However, without Cinnamon Bay, there is no reasonable place for us to stay. And without that, there is no reason to visit St John at all. Most of my people are repeat visitors and although we have seen all there is to see there we still enjoy visiting our favorite sites, beaches, restaurants and stores. But not this time. We will be staying at St Thomas Campground and spending our money there. I truly want to support the businesses and people of St John but the lack of support of those in power, it has become financially impractical. BTW I too have offered to help rebuild Cinnamon Bay with absolutely NO RESPONSE !
    I plan to visit St John in a few weeks to get the latest view of Cinnamon Bay and, while there, I WILL PICK UP SOME BRANCHES AND DEBRIS with or without permission.

    • Walt, you mentioned that you will be staying at St Thomas Campground. I have not heard about a campground on St. Thomas, I would like more information please. You may contact me at [email protected] if you like. I too have camped in the USVI for the past 18 years or so – Vie’s Beach, Cinnamom, Haul Over before it was in the Park, Hull Bay on St. Thomas. I am at a loose too how to afford an extended trip to these beautiful islands.

  32. I am going and camping in rental car. Since not much available affordable wise,why not camp in car,I feel it’s worth it ,to go to paradise. Also gonna try to volunteer somehow!!

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