I hope that the headline got your attention because THIS is some very exciting stuff! A new way to spend your beach day is coming soon to Honeymoon Beach and, no, not in the way that you are thinking. The focus of the Caneel Bay Beach Club will be to bring back that “Caneel Bay feel” of peace, connection with nature and luxury with inclusion of the local population and a reignition of the past…of what this coveted resort once was many years ago…
I had an absolutely riveting conversation with Mark Snyder (no, not Mark Snider of Lovango!) last week who has taken over the concessions lease on Honeymoon Beach and hired a management team of local St. Johnians to get this concept off the ground. He reiterated more than once that he is very hands off with his on-the-ground team that will be running the new Beach Club which will feature luxurious cabanas, beach chairs, shuttle service from Caneel Bay to the beach, and a broad spectrum of premium food and beverages.
I want to very quickly mention two things about this new endeavor. First, this is not a “Caneel Bay” project perse. Mark and his team are in a landlord/tenant relationship with the management of the resort and took over the lease after it was dissolved with the former tenant (Bikini’s/VI Eco Tours). The entire grounds received a thorough cleanup of what was left behind before moving into landscaping the existing vegetation in a protective way with local contractors, landscapers and artists. The snippets I have seen of the property are tasteful and enhance the natural landscape.
Second, an emphasis will be placed on relaxing and enjoying the natural landscape and local hospitality at Honeymoon. Rowdy behavior, speakers and disrespect for mother nature will not be allowed.
As a long-time guest at Caneel Bay Resort, Mark remembers the times on St. John that many of you out there have a fond sense of nostalgia for. He was married at the resort in 2016 and the celebration of the couples’ one-year anniversary in 2017 would be the last celebration that the ill-fated resort would see.
“When I got on the boat on August 30 (2017), I didn’t know I would be one of the last guests to be on the property,” Mark told me.
Now, Mark, in my opinion, is an absolutely fascinating guy! He started a company called Island Hope Wines with local support in 2018 with the intent of sending all of the profits back to St. John based non-profit organizations. And never taking a single dollar off of the island. I could hear in his voice how much he adores this place, the culture and the local people he grew to know well in his years of visiting Caneel Bay.
He longs for the old days of a deep respect for nature on a peaceful beach with only the sounds of the winds and the waves. And that is the goal with this beachfront establishment.
Mark has a specific intent for the new Beach Club, which should be open by early November; to bring back as many Caneel Bay employees as possible and put an emphasis on bringing on St. John residents and locals to run, manage and operate the entire establishment. Currently, ten Caneel Bay employees are committed to working at the Beach Club at Honeymoon. They are still seeking various staffers to assist in day-to-day operations as well though!
One of the goals is to host rotation of local chefs serving Caribbean Cuisine for breakfast and lunch. Higher end options will be available and details on those are forthcoming. As far as beverages go, the cocktail menu will feature local herbs and fruit juices and the wine list will be approachable to everyone, offering everything from an $8 glass of wine to a $300 bottle of champagne. Ultra-filtered sparkling and flat water will be served on tap.
Oh, and plastic? You’ll find none of that here! Bamboo and stainless steel were two of the alternatives Mark mentioned during our call.
He told me a short story about seeing a piece of trash on the ocean floor here one time. It was about twenty feet down and it took him about an hour’s worth of attempts to retrieve it in order to dispose of it properly. An emphasis will be kept on keeping the beach clean and limiting the use of disposables on site.
Also, there will be no watersports rentals. His intent is to offer a “quiet, peaceful, high-end experience” with priority access and discounts for locals and St. John residents. Therefore, speakers and outside food and beverages will not be permitted. Also, although they cannot monitor the number of guests arriving via trail or boat, they will be moderating the number of people that are able to take the shuttle from the Caneel Bay parking lot on a daily basis with a cap in place to avoid overcrowding on the beach and at the facilities.
Shuttle prices have not yet been determined but the hours of operation will span from 9AM to sunset, daily.
Now, what will be permitted? Relaxation! Top notch beach service similar to the kind the resort used to offer. Respect for the sea and the land. And reservations so that your chair will be waiting for you in the sand when you arrive.
Oh, and they have updated the bathroom facilities and added showers so that you can rinse the sand off at the end of the day.
Doesn’t this sound fantastic? I have A LOT more info to share with all of you on this new beach concession and the stories behind it and I will be doing a private tour soon so I can share some more images with you. But, in the meantime, let’s all get excited for this new project and the added beachfront relaxation in luxury we will see very soon!
The original date for opening was November 1. But, you know how island time works 😉 They are hopeful to be open by mid-month but I’ll let you know as soon as I do!