Mourning for Maho

It does not appear that a knight on a white stallion will gallup through Coral Bay to rescue Maho Bay Camps next spring.

Travel publisher Arthur Frommer says the phenomenon of an eco-friendly, budget-priced Caribbean idyll for adventurers and families is being snuffed out.

“The owner of the land on which Maho Bay sits, a hillside overlooking one of the most enthralling ocean views and beaches in the Caribbean, has given final notice that it will take over the property in just nine months,” Frommer wrote this week.  

While Maho Bay, or whatever it is to be called, will still welcome guests, it will be converted “to far more expensive accommodations for wealthy vacationers.”

More than a year ago, Maho’s founder Stanley Selengut announced he’d been unsuccessful in negotiating a new lease for the property.  He set a closing date of July 31, 2012. 

Since then, there have been efforts, both private and semi-public, for the land to be acquired and kept as an eco-resort.  No buyers came to the table, even though the price for the land was reportedly reduced from $31 million to $19 million.


The general manager at Maho Bay Camps was unable to confirm the takeover or conversion included in Frommer’s news.  “We have not been told anything that would reflect this decision,” Adrian Davis told the Inquiring Iguana. “I can confirm that our lease expires on the last day of June, so we will be open for guests until May 15th."

Also unclear is whether Frommer's information is new.  Uncertainty about Maho Bay has been the status quo for more than a year.

24 thoughts on “Mourning for Maho”

  1. Money,as always wins. Yes, you conservative, pontificating individuals, it is private property and the owner can do what he wants. Sad that the chase for he almighty dollar takes away an affordable, nice vacation experience. RIP Maho.

  2. i am playing the powerball today… if I win Maho is mine and it will stay unchanged !!! keep your fingers crossed… This is not cool, who is the owner now ???

  3. Oh please, We don’t need anymore POOR folks hanging out on our island. send them packing. all of you tree huggers need to take a hike! a long hike.

  4. Hey Ann, maybe ‘Hope and Change’ will ride in on a white pony and scarf it up for a cool $19MM.
    Deficit = -$15,000,019,000,000. What an idiot, bigoted comment.
    This is sad news, hopefully something can be done in the end.

  5. well that ended that..always say if they mess with my Beloved MAHO thats it..will NOT BE back again and i have been coming down there since 1998. Maho is the magic of the islands…..what IDIOTS. GREEDY SOULS!!!!!!!! will be there in Jan for love city live and INNERVSIONS AND THATS it. I am pissed…you just cant leave it alone…this has hurt alot of people!!!!!!! I am going to win the powerball and buy it all up and it will stay the same folks.

  6. In my opinion, the end of Maho will have far reaching negative affects on this island and its people. I thank Stanley for having had such a futuristic vision of simple living and hope for a better future. It saddens me to think that this truly unique place will now be coming to an end.

  7. How about you come on over to Maho and try to be brave enough to say that to those of us who live work here and love what Maho attracts and offers to St. John.

  8. Mad Mayor Miller needs to really consider the long reaching effects the closing of Maho Bay Camps will have on the St. John Community. Think of the trash to treasures program alone? Can anyone really say any other program has done more for recycling on this island? EVER??? Not to mention its influence on the Virgin Islands youth. Such an ugly comment from no doubt an ugly person. I will forever cherish my time at Maho and the joy it has brought to many many peoples lives. I wonder if Mad Mayor Miller can say the same?

  9. Not a very well conceived comment from an elected official. I don’t think Laurence Rockefeller would suffer such an attitude. Start a recall petition, don’t wait untill the next election.

  10. I dont think the draw of Maho is exclusively that it is inexpensive. Alot of it has to do with promoting the simple, non-material lifestyle (with minimal impact that many visitors to St. John are seeking. The more changes that happen in pursuit of “progress” and “improvement” of the island, the more the St John faithful are driven away. Soon it will be “just another island”. In the end, however, it’s private land and the owner can decide what he/she wants to do with it.

  11. My fear is that future development will resemble the garish Grand Bay Resort or SirenUSA and permanently scar our beloved north shore which is a place where one can truly feel away from it all! Such a shame.

  12. Culture of Greed??!?!? It sounds like the property owner is willing to practicaly give it away at $19mil. You know why none of the We Are The World Celebs have picked this up? Because they won’t make any money on this investment. Get a grip!

  13. Well I worked at Maho and Concordia. If you want a memory you can buy my novel: “Mingo’s Cave” for $3.99 at Amazon. All of the proceeds go to http://www.oceancureinc.org which is a non profit that enables medically fragile and at risk youth and adults to surf. By the way, I offered to give these proceeds to a fund to ‘Save Maho’ before I found Oceancureinc.org but it didn’t work.

  14. If the tents are rebuilt to a more modern standard like the ones at Concordia, with in-unit baths and showers, I say keep the same footprint and charge similar rates to Concordia. It will continue to be a cash cow. In the current state, Maho has reached the end of its life cycle; the whole place is falling apart and needs massive improvements- which they are not doing because they don’t know if they will stay open. the Concordia tents appear simple but are actually quite expensive to make; hence the higher rates. All you Maho lovers- consider Concordia and also try Cinnamon Bay- yes- there is a campground there that is also a great place- without all the steps!!!

  15. Not sure who this Mad Miller guy is,but that was not a very good display of kindness, nor representation from Love City, as well as the rest of STJ.
    He’s a troll.
    Sickens & saddens me that people worldwide will lose their favorite vacation destination.
    Isn’t that what brought YOU there,Mayor,or are you just too above yourself to deal with the $ that the tourism brings in? I’m a very kind man,but “rich” people like you with the rudeness you hold make me sick.
    Enjoy your obtuse existense.
    To all else hurting with me,

  16. I am so glad we had the chance to stay there and experience it with our kids.
    You would hope that, keeping with the character of the island, that whatever it turns out to be will stay low-rise like Caneel Bay, for example. But then again, look at that Sirenusa debacle.
    Au revior, Maho Bay Camps, and thank you Mr. Selengut for your valiant efforts.

  17. We’ve half-joked that we would buy the camps if we ever won the lottery – I’d do it in a heartbeat. Apparently Trust for Public Land gave up on their efforts? We had a few great stays that we couldn’t have done otherwise; we’re simply not in that tax bracket. We enjoyed spending our time (and our money, Mad) there and really will miss it. Heartfelt thanks to Mr. Selengut for providing the option for so long, and to the many locals who supported Maho and its visitors in so many ways.

  18. There is more to Maho Bay camps than inexpensive back-to-nature camping. Just ask around the local business community how many of them came to St.John as part of the Maho Bay volunteer work program and never left? The camp attracts over 20,000 people per year to the island. That’s 20,000 people buying airline tickets and flying into Charlotte Amalie airport; taking taxis to the ferries; renting cars; buying gas; eating out at local restaurants; drinking, drinking, drinking!; engaging in water sports…you get the picture? It boggles my mind that the local business community either doesn’t recognize this, or is willing to just sit back, in true island-time fashion, and do nothing while their biggest cash cow goes belly up. The economic impact on the island will be enormous. Sure the Westin/mega-villa crowd will still come and spend their $$$, but for many of us, Maho Bay camps gives us a chance to enjoy a slice of paradise on earth without sacrificing our life’s savings to do so. So come on you business people, wake up, organize, and do something to save Maho Bay camps. You’ll be saving your lifestyle, your island’s pristine nature, your businesses and yourselves in the process.

  19. My son was conceived in the Maho Bay camps and that was more than 22 years ago. And I have been back about five times. I really will miss this slice of paradise if it really goes away.

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