2006 Carnival schedule

PowellparkThe St. John Festival & Cultural Organization said the theme for this year’s event is Mas, Music and a Cultural Mix. A month of activities begins June 3 in Cruz Bay’s Franklin Powell Park featruring Pan-o-Rama, steel pan bands from the islands in day-long concert.  Other events including a seniors variety show at the Winston Wells Ball Field, the Prince and Princess Show, ending with J’Ouvert Parade and fireworks over Cruz Bay on July 4th. 

“The St. John Festival is one of the most exciting events on our calendar and travelers lucky enough to be visiting during this period are ensured an illuminating portrait of our past and present,” said Commissioner of Tourism Pamela C. Richards, describing last year’s event.  “From bike races to beauty pageants, the food fair to fireworks, this event truly offers something for everyone.”

Don’t miss this

Estern_1Elaine Estern’s weekly free pour and munchies spread at Coconut Coast Studios at Frank Bay. Wednesdays, 5:30pm.

Elaine’s whimsical impressions of island life, fish, dogs, and people can’t fail to bring a smile.  Lots of gift ideas, prints, original water colors and oils, painted tiles, gift boxes, even luggage tags.  Something for everyone. 

While we were there, and sipping a rum punch, a beautiful peacock sauntered past the cottage/gallery.     http://www.coconutcoaststudios.com/

2 tuff repeat winners

8tuff06Jeremy Zuber, aka "Zube", won Saturday’s 8 Tuff Miles road race.  This year’s record-setting time for the 25-year-old was 49:20.  It was his third win in a row.  The women’s division was won again by 32-year-old Regina Loiacano, who turned in a Cruz Bay-to-Coral Bay performance in :58:05.  Both Zuber and Loiacano live on St. John.

Zuber said, "I was slow getting to Bordeaux, but I just boogied," downhill into Coral Bay.  Loicano told the St. John Source she paced herself. " "I usually go out too fast, so this year I went a little slower."

Peter Alter, organizer of the 10th annual race, said 659 people registered for the event.

Volunteers to protect ruins

Looting of artifacts from some of the 75 "notable plantation sites" have alarmed staffers of the Virgin Islands National Park.  Among items already lost are sugar boiling pots from Maho Bay and an 1824 keystone from the ruins of Rustenberg Mill (http://stjohnbeachguide.com/Rustenberg.htm)

Park archaeologist Ken Wild has announced a plan to encourage volunteers from St. John and St. Thomas to visit the ruins and watch for changes.,  "We’ll have more photographs and a database so we will know a lot sooner when something goes missing," he told the Virgin Islands Daily News. Similar efforts by volunteer stewards are underway at other parks in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. 

Wild said the V.I. Park is also using Global Satellite Positioning to improve the efficiency of Park rangers making rounds of the sites. 

Real Estate Update: price cuts

After a short-lived reduction in the number of houses for sale on the Multiple Listing Service, inventory is climbing again.  In the past week, three residences went on the market, boosting the total to 90 – near the record of 91. 

At least one major real estate firm on island has reduced prices on three properties in its printed ad, and s fourth is marked as having an "anxious owner."

Businesses for sale and commercial offers have increased almost 30% thanks, in prt, to the re-listing of Voyages de St. Jan, formerly an upscale restaurant in a terrible location for an upscale restaurant.  Space on the first and second floors is being subdivided into condominiums for office or retail use. 

Ronnie’s Rolling Pin, a pizza place and bakery, is also on the market again, although I swear when I drove by this week I saw a laundromat there.  I’ll look again.

An additional 10 land lots have also been added to the market.

Center near Westin still on the market

Even though the "For Sale" sign was removed over the weekend, Palm Plaza, a small shopping center a few blocks from the Westin resort is still for sale.  It’s offered by Calabash Real Estate of St. Croix at $2.6 million. 

The sales pitch for the two-story commercial property is that it’s "the perfect condominium conversion project."  Maybe so. 

Palm Plaza was a retail-hit several years ago when it opened, anchored by a wonderful gourmet deli.  When new owners moved in and went to work, vacancies among the other (maybe) dozen units began to appear.  Then the developer of the center sold Palm Plaza – to those gaming people from St Croix, and now they have it for sale. 

Calabash is also advertising "The Lantern" at Cruz Bay.  It’s half an acre, priced at $3.5 million, with "A site map, floor plans, elevations and permits available for developers to build 15 luxury condominiums."

Speaking of short term visits

The Wall Street Journal reports the Caribbean cruise business has grown to "unprecedented levels" with nearly 1.8 million people pouring onto island beaches, up from 700,000 in 2001.  Great for Carnival and Disney, not so good for folks looking for a quiet place in the sun.

The commissioner of the VI Department of Tourism likes cruise people, but loves resort and villa vacationers.  They spend four times as much as the boat people, says Pamela C. Richards.  However, she reports, each ship that docks brings about $200,000 to $400,000 of "immediate economic impact."  And, some days, there are half a dozen ships in Charlotte Amalie harbor.

WindjamSt. John gets very few cruise ships – we’ve seen only one multi-sailed Windjammer in the last two weeks. The Journal does say that, while "St. Thomas sees the majority of cruise arrivals, many (people) take day trips to St. John."

More press for St. John

The New York Times spent 36 hours on St. John.  And an exhausting time was had by all, I’m sure. 

Start at Joe’s Rum Hut at Wharfside, then Woody’s (where they actually went to eat!!. Then on the second day, a picnic to go from Dolphin and snorkeling at Watermelon Cay, lunch at Skinny’s in Coral  Bay, shopping at Cocoloba Center, Miss Lucy’s for dinner. Sunday, Chilly Billy’s for brunch and shopping in Cruz Bay. 

I’d be pooped.

Suggestions for a short-term stay like this: Caneel Bay, Westin Resort, Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay.  The article is online at http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/02/24/travel/escapes/24hour.html?incamp=article_popular_5