NY Times highlights hiking trails

IslandSunday’s New York Times edition spotlights 20 hiking trails on island, "suitable for anything from short jaunts to two-hour treks – that wind through hardwood forests past natural springs, lofty cliffs, cactus patches and decaying sugar plantations."  The 2.2 mile Reef Bay Trail gets a special mention, thanks to the petroglyphs.  The Times recommends Caneel Bay Resort and the Westin Resort as places to stay.  BTW, Caneel’s prices are quoted as $450 to $11,50 a night in season, while the Westin’s asking $669 to $1,879.  Here’s a link to detailed hiking information, and here’s the National Park Service’s map of the island

The island gets a fish store

1stcustomer The folks who own two of the island’s best restaurants have gone into food retail.  A. Aaron Willis, part owner and executive chef at the Fish Trap and Stone Terrace, will supervise the Fish Trap Market.  It opened this week in the Raintree Mall, next door to the Fish Trap restaurant.  He said the Market, "will offer the freshest fish available … including shrimp by the pound, fresh oysters, clams and sushi-quality tuna (when available) and our delicious Fish Trap chowder." 

Read moreThe island gets a fish store

Jet Blue, fly on down!

Logojetblue An island couple is doing their part to encourage Jet Blue to begin service to the islands.  The low-cost/high-service airline announced plans last year to acquire more planes and increase service to the Caribbean, but didn’t get specific.  Now, Mark and Nanci Shekleton are suggesting an e-mail campaign to persuade the airline to put St. Thomas on its route map.  "We’ve blitzed them with e-mails the past week. although it’s a long shot," conceded Nanci who, with her husband, own Sea View Vacation Homes, a villa management agency.  Contact the airline at http://www.jetblue.com/speakup/questions.asp.

(This story’s getting comments.  Add yours, and we’ll send ’em all to Jet Blue.)

Coral Bay gets shopping center

Cocoloba_1 The owner of Cocoloba Shopping Center said he built it because, "We felt like it was needed." Jim Phillips added, "The area seems to be growing."  Among the tenants are Aqua Bistro, a restaurant and bar.  Its owner, Marc Kaye, told the St. John Source dinner entrees are less than $20 because, "I want local people to come."  Cocoloba, next door to Voyages de St. Jan, also has Sugar Apple, a jewelry and clothing store that moved from the Shipwreck Landing strip, down the road.  Several other stores are offering women’s clothing, while Castaways sells new and consignment furniture.  Also setting up for business in the project, which Phillips runs with his wife, Genoveva Rodriquez, are a leather shop, hair salon, masseuse and, soon come, Lily’s Gourmet Market.  (Photo by Franz Jaggar.)

Toughening up tests

Runners One more tune up race is scheduled to help competitors prepare for the 9th annual 8 Tuff Miles race, from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay, along Centerline Road.  Saturday, Feb. 12thn, runners will start from Mongoose Junction and to go Chateau Bordeaux, a distance of about 5 1/2 miles.  Water stations along the way will offer refreshments.  Race originator and organizer Peter Alter said registration for tyhe Feb. 26 race is available online at www.8tuffmiles.com.  There were  515 runners and walkers who crossed the finish line in last year’s race.  All entrants in this year’s race will get an official T-shirt, and the first 700 entries will receive a medal for participating.

Read moreToughening up tests

Enighed delayed to mid-year

MoreenighedThe Enighed Marine Cargo Facility on St. John will be done by perhaps September, according to Darlan Brin, executive director of the VI Port Authority. That’s almost a year later than residents were told to expect when the project began.  He said when it’s done, all cargo and automobiles moving throughwill move from Cruz Bay "Creek" to Enighed Pond. Brin also said the renovation of the Red Hook marine facility where ferries and barges connect to St. John, will continue into spring of 2006, according to the St. John Source.  In remarks to the St. Thomas Rotary Club, Brin explained the $9 million project will include a new barge ramp, an 8,000 square foot terminal building, and a paved parking lot. (Photo by Franz Jaggar.)

Kenny Chesney’s island homes

USA TODAY profiles St. John/Peter Bay resident Kenny Chesney, reporting the singer has two homes in the islands. (Interestingly, the piece mentions only the Caribbean, never St. John.  Same anonymity in a Washington Post pan of the new album this morning.  Suggests Chesney’s baked in the sun too long and lost his drive.   Must be the islands, ‘mon :).

His new album released this week, with lyrics like,Chesney "I’ve watched boats sail in and out of Cinnamon Bay" and a mention of the Quiet Mon Pub,on the second floor above La Tapa

The new CD’s title is "Be As You Are".  You can audition tracks here.

Country Music Television is also playing an hour-long show this week featuring Chesney. "Fans will be treated to intimate, acoustic performances of his new songs, video footage of his favorite island getaway and reflections on what the islands mean to him," the cable channel’s program puff says.   Here’s the broadcast schedule.

Park Supt. hails plan

Supt. Art Frederick said his proudest achievement in his first year at the V.I. National Park was the launch of a revised general management plan.  Frederick told the annual meeting of the Park’s Friends group the venture offered the chance to shape a vision for the park and surrounding coral reefs, according to a report in the Virgin Islands Daily News.   

Frederick said the new mooring fee collection program has been adjusted and is now more boater friendly.  Saying that about 60 percent of moored craft are paying fees, Frederick reminded the group, "The objective is not to collect fees, but to protect the seascapes and the fragile marine habitat."

The Supt. also reported that the $300,000 upgrade to visitor facilities at Hawksnest Beach is due to be completed by next weekend, and that a similar project is planned for Maho Bay Beach this year.  Rehabilitation of the North Shore Road, including repairs to guardrails and improving drainage, is expected to begin this summer.