Plaskett Announces Plans to Reintroduce Caneel Bill Despite Public Opposition

Caneel Bay, January 2019
Caneel Bay, January 2019

Well folks, I hoped to have more good news to share with you all today, but sadly I do not. Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett announces her intention to reintroduce the Caneel Bay bill despite the public’s intense opposition. Rather than me tell you how disappointing this is, I am going to leave it up to the experts.

The Virgin Islands Daily News posted the following editorial on Saturday. The Virgin Islands Daily News is a Pulitzer Prize-wining newspaper. Here it is in its entirety:

Plaskett is still pushing her Caneel bill and still refusing to answer questions
It was puzzling and disappointing to see Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett’s announcement that she intends to reintroduce her bill in the U. S. House of Representatives giving Gary Engle and CBI Acquisitions a 60-year, no-bid deal to continue operating the Caneel Bay Resort on St. John. It is a sweetheart deal that has potential to do more harm than good to the National Park and St. John’s economy.

Plaskett’s bill would provide an economic windfall for one person while depriving Virgin Islanders of the opportunity hurricanes Irma and Maria have provided to chart their own course for Caneel Bay’s future.

Delegate Plaskett has never answered the questions that were raised in a Daily News editorial published Nov. 1, 2018. However, we will continue to press for answers that will shed light on her bill and on anything that could explain why she is so ardently backing a bill that even her colleagues in Congress are questioning.

These are those questions that were posed to her three months ago:

• Why does your bill require no minimum rent?

• Why does your bill contain no legal obligation for CBIA/Engle to rebuild and reopen Caneel Bay Resort?

• Why does your bill contain no timeline for CBIA/Engle to rebuild and reopen Caneel Bay Resort?

• Why does your bill contain no financial penalties if CBIA/Engle fail to rebuild and/or reopen Caneel Bay Resort within a fixed timeline?

• Why does your bill contain no legal restrictions on CBIA/Engle “flipping” an extension and selling it to an established hotel company or anyone else for hundreds of millions of dollars?

• Why does your bill require that rent from Caneel Bay go to the “General Treasury” instead of “for visitor services and resource protection within the Virgin Islands National Park” as provided for in the 2010 law?

• Please provide a detailed description of your economic analysis explaining why you believe a 60-year extension is required.

• Please provide background information you have on CBIA’s financial stability and its ability to secure the financing necessary to rebuild Caneel Bay Resort.

H. R. 4731 would result in a $3 billion grant to CBIA (without competitive bidding) from Virgin Islanders and the federal government.

Plaskett and Engle should be willing to provide truthful and complete answers to these and any other questions raised by everyone affected by Plaskett’s bill.

Joe Kessler served as president of Friends of the VI National Park for nearly 17 years before his retirement last month. He wrote the following op-ed piece that appears in the Virgin Islands Daily News today:

Lack of accountability is written into Caneel legislation
Thank you very much for the editorial on the Caneel Bay Resort legislation and our delegate’s failure to answer basic questions about this legislation. The editorial asks very important and pertinent questions, but the answer is really quite simple. The reason HR 4731 does not require any accountability on the part of CBI Acquisitions is that CBIA’s lobbyists, who have so far been paid over $660,000, wrote the legislation that the delegate introduced.

It was made abundantly clear at the town hall meeting held on the subject of the Caneel legislation several months ago that the bulk of the St. John community opposes the legislation and feels that it is not in the best interests of either the people of St. John or the Virgin Islands National Park.

Delegate Plaskett should respect the views of the St. John community and refrain from reintroducing the bill.

Some pretty valid questions in my opinion…

So, the people of St. John are not backing this piece of legislation. A person who spent nearly 17 years working to preserve the Virgin Islands National Park is not backing this piece of legislation. Only six percent of you are backing this legislation, according to our January 9th poll. Plaskett is refusing to answer any questions. Plaskett is refusing to listen to her constituents. Makes you wonder why this bill continues to get air…

Perhaps it’s time for us all to rally and contact our congresspeople and media again…


17 thoughts on “Plaskett Announces Plans to Reintroduce Caneel Bill Despite Public Opposition”

  1. This is sickening. She obviously doesn’t care what is best for the people who voted for her or the island. I wonder what she personally stands to gain from this bill – it must be substantial.

  2. Plaskett’s continued support for these fat cats who don’t give a damn about their former employees or about St. John, despite the overwhelming public opposition, despite this being a massive and unwarranted “give away” of some of the public’s most spectacular lands, raises very serious questions as to what is motivating her and whose interests she is serving.

    • How ironic that Atty J. Brion Morrisette would even have the bold unmitigated gall to offer an opinion on a topic such as this, after having stolen his own brother’s half of the Morrisette Family property just over the hill from Caneel Bay, itself..!!!!! One would think he would want to keep his opinion to himself when it comes to commenting on the essential theft of public or private properties..!!!

  3. My husband and I honeymooned there in May 1999, and this news is so upsetting. I can’t even imagine the level of your frustration. However, for the first time since our honeymoon, we’ll be visiting in 2 weeks with our 2 kids and can’t wait to see this beautiful place again. It’s been far too long. I’ve really been enjoying your updates!

  4. I’ve followed this story since the beginning, and after reading today’s blog and the comments, I think it’s about time someone do some SERIOUS investigation into Plaskett’s financial situation, her property ownership, any unusual perks she or her family have received——–SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT HERE !!!!! The people of the USVI need to hold their representative accountable.

  5. Can someone pressure her in include important changes to her bill – so the protections you indicate are needed can be incorporated and the area reopened as a resort?

  6. Time to get all this to the mainstream media. Plaskett needs to be exposed. How about the producers of 20/20, Dateline, Nightline and the big Cable News networks.

  7. Amen!
    Please investigate this situation. Anyone with media connections contact them. This would be a great 60 Minutes story. Hopefully with a happy ending for the people of St John!

  8. We have been following this issue from the states and its outrageous! Being a business/property owner in multiple US districts I will contact each of my representatives, please contact yours! I have read the entire documents on the lease requirements back in nov 2018 (please take the time to do so) and the Company failed to meet the minimum, it’s beyond the pale they could maintain this contact!!! Corruption at its worst!!! Yes, please help by contacting media, representatives, social platforms! For the love of St. John and Caneel Bay, please help! This is an issue that should unite all lovers of St. John!

  9. This article might serve as decent background information for interested parties:


    Admittedly it’s a little old but Engle’s answers some (definitely some of the important financial ones) of the questions that you pose.

    Perhaps it would be a good idea if you could dig up the Committee Chair person where she will re-introduce the Bill so that people who care could share the opposition from local people? I couldn’t find that information online.

    I’m not from St. John’s but I do care about the selling/giving away of our treasures to people whose only focus is on profits regardless of the destruction from their activities. This one smells and maybe with the change of political winds we can force a change. Good luck!

    • quick adjustment to my comment: I meant to write ” (definitely NOT some of the important financial ones) ” I left off NOT…please feel free to change the comment. Thank you!

  10. At the very least there should be some compromise. I propose one here: that the portion along hawksnest bay be not included in the lease. That it be returned to the public with a road access unifying all of hawksnest beach, the most popular beach for st john residents.

  11. “I am a politician, which means I am a liar, and a thief ! When I am not kissing babies, I am stealing their lollipops” ! Richard Jordan quote from The Hunt for Red October….

    hmmm, if the shoe fits, and here it certainly seems to fit. My wife & I got married on St. John, stayed at Caneel bay, were some of the last guests to stay there, left 11 days before Irma hit, room we stayed in was destroyed, eerie sight to us, but we fell in love w/the place as countless others before us have, heres hoping the right thing is done in the end, favoring the USNPS vs. Marriott or any other over commercial chains which would only destroy the place. Too bad ol Laurence Rockefeller is not around to tell all to stuff this garbage where it belongs.

    • correction:
      ‘I am a cheat, and a liar”….

      Almost as accurate as Robin Williams on politicians:
      politicians are like diapers, need to be changed frequently, and for the same reason”…sounds like its time that this stacy should be voted out of office.

  12. My wife an I have stayed several times at Caneel Bay and loved it. I see Caneel Bay going in one of two possible directions.

    First and most likely, Representative Plaskett
    is shamed into withdrawing her bill and retreats into complete inaction. It sounds like almost everyone here would applaud this, but it would result in the resort remaining a wreck till 2023, and probably a decade beyond while disparate well intentioned groups squabble over what should be done. A park , a resort, a hybrid, how expensive a lease, how many years, etc. etc.

    The second alternative is the secretive and unrepresentative Ms. Plaskett somehow gets the bill through congress and the President signs it this year. Greedy CBI acquisitions does a creditable job of restoring Caneel Bay to original or better shape by the Spring of 2021, and happily accepts guests for the next 60 years. The real question should be, will the residents around Cruz bay, and those who ferried across from St Thomas be better of with a world class resort, or with ruined ghost town?

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