The best things on the restaurant menu

“Pieces of Ate” is a newly-launched feature of the St. John Sun Times.  It highlights the hits on the menus at bars and various restaurants. 

Recently, Asolare’s Moonbowtini was in the spotlight. “Choose your favorite vodka.  Watch while the bartender adds grapefruit juice and rosemary syrup.  Step Three: Enjoy responsibly.” Asolare’s web site is http://stjohn-restaurants.com/asolare.php

La Tapa’s Three Sauce Plate also got kudos.  Relying on the fact that La Tapa produces its own crunchy, baguettes, you dip the bread in one (or all) of the sauces.  They include green peppercorn and arugula aioli, sun-dried tomato aioli, and tropical fruit salsa.  La Tapa’s Web site is http://www.latapastjohn.com/

Read the St. John Sun Times column at http://www.stjohnsuntimes.com/pieces_of_ate.

What about you?  'Best things on the Menu" you'd like to mention?  Comment here.

Blues Festival lineup announced

Bluesfest The 8th annual St. John Blues Festival is scheduled March 17-21.  This year, the name sponsor is Johnnie Walker.  Other supporters include First Bank, Holiday Homes, and the USVI Department of Tourism.

Organizer and founder (he really is a busy guy) Steve Simon and his wife, Helen,
will offer six-days of music from one end of the island to the other.
The ‘big show’ will, as usual be in Coral Bay on Saturday night.  But
during the week, you can count on Festival performers offering free
live music at venues like the Beach Bar, Shipwreck Landing, and the ball field in Cruz Bay.

Simon has a lineup of artists including Deanna Bogart, JT Laureitsen, the Ford Blues Band, and  E,G. Knight.  See the full list at http://www.stjohnbluesfestival.com/new/schedule2010.htm#schedule.

who’s also produced and performed in blues shows in Iraq and Saudi
Arabia said this is the biggest thing he’s ever done.  And, he
promised, it will rock.

The Blues Festival’s Web site is at http://www.stjohnbluesfestival.com/bf/blueshome.htm.

VIs’ $6 Million ad campaign

Viad An ad agency’s multi-million dollar idea for U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism is now on display.  In ads produced by Atlanta’s JWT
advertising agency, the slogan, “You, Unscripted” has begun appear in
TV spots and print ads. It is meant to stress that visitors can create
their own unique experiences in the VI's.

Tourism said it will spend  $6 million to spread the campaign, using television, magazines, newspaper and Internet for media. 

You can see examples of the print ads and the 30-second TV spots at http://www.usvimarketing.com/.
The ads will target a range of market segments including: Bridal and
Romance, African American, Dive, Culture & Heritage, Sailing &
Yachting and Meetings & Incentives.

“The concept of offering
travelers an unscripted vacation experience was conceived through
research that revealed our potential visitors seek the freedom to
indulge in a personalized vacation experience," said Commissioner of
Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty.

How you can save Maho Bay


The Trust for Public Land is asking for donations to help acquire the Maho Bay Camps real estate.  While the Trust has been in negotiations with owners of the land who lease it to the Camps, the Trust doesn’t yet have all the funds that will  be needed. The land is already on the market.

Stanley Selengut, the genius/entrepreneur/good green guy who created the Camps has told Conde Nast Traveler that when the lease expires in 2012, “One of three things will happen: A developer will subdivide his Shangri-la, or a luxury hotel chain will drop anchor there, or a deus ex machina—a land trust or an Oprah—will step forward with cash in hand to buy and then donate the land to the national park.”

The Trust for Public Land hopes the third option will occur.  John Garrison, the local field office director for TPL, said the fund he wants to create will be used for land appraisals as well a purchase.  He told the Virgin Islands Daily News, “There’s no guarantees, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

To contribute, send checks to TPL’s Maho Bay Campaign, 116 Montgomery St., 4th floor, San Francisco, Ca. 94105.

Court blocks VI try for property taxes

Court_seal If you own property on St. John, you may have thought you'd have a Virgin Islands tax bill to pay next month. 

It appears you can fuggetabout it.

A federal appeals court has rejected the Virgin Islands government’s renewed effort to collect property taxes from 2006. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against arguments from the Governor and the Tax Assessor finding the VIs have failed to obey orders to reform the property tax assessment system, specifically to offer a fair and timely process for tax appeals.

The Appeals Court said it agreed with the District Court that there was little evidence “to suggest that the Board of Tax Review is maintaining reliable records“ and that “certain good faith attempts” to establish an appeals system is not enough.

“In other words, procedural due process requires at a minimum that the taxpayer have both notice of the appeal and the right to participate,” the Court said. It found that process lacking.

Last fall, the District Court held the Virgin Islands in contempt for issuing tax bills without getting court approval of a new tax assessment system.  The government appealed the contempt order and, earlier this year, demanded payment of the previously-sent bills be made next month.

James Derr, a St. Thomas attorney for plaintiffs successfully arguing to block the government, said the Appeals Court decision was clear. As you can see, we won on all points.”

He wrote in an e-mail, "This means that both the contempt and the order to recall the 2006 bills are back in place." He added, "It should be interesting to see what the Government does now.”

St. John-based VI Unity Day Group hailed the Appeals Court decision.  A founder of the group, Coral Bay's Loreli Monsanto, told The Inquiring Iguana, "We're all winners on this one.  Now we'rt waiting for the Governor's next move."

Gov. John deJongh had no immediate comment on the decision
against his administration. In fact, there was nothing at all on his
Web site. It was a blank page at http://www.governordejongh.com/.

Pond Bay scales back a smidge

Pbay Developers of the Pond Bay Club have been given permission to downsize its plans for a restaurant on the site as well as repositioning some buildings and educing their size, according to a report by the St. John Source

The St. John Coastal Management Committee okayed requests for the changes by First American development Group/Carib Limited Partnership.  Pond Bay also changed its plan for supplying water to the facility.  Instead of tapping a line from the VI Water and Power Authority, First American wants to drill some test wells to determine if they can  supply the resort's needs.

The construction changes, the Source said, include reducing the restaurant building from two stories to one.

And speaking of construction, this is a photo update of the project, as posted on the blog, St. John Talk.

Gym in Paradise renamed, re-opened

Gym The workout spot on the third floor of the Marketplace is now called ‘Hardware Abs.’ 

'Hardware’ refers to the gym's owners, the Bertolinos and the Swans, the founders and operators of St. John Hardware.  (originally I wrote they were the founders, but  in a comment Wilson Roberts corrected me.

"They bought St. John Hardware from Hardware Bob and his wife some years ago," Roberts wrote. "They did maintain Hardware Bob's tradition of high prices, but they added stock and a more reliable restocking policy, tore down the old building, which housed a gym in addition to the hardware store, and moved all to the new Marketplace."

We remember Hardware Bob, who was of course the only game in town.  He was a nice guy but his inventory was quite limited.  Behind his counter was his faithful dog, a German Shepherd I believe.  The Bertolinos and the Swans had vision when they bought Bob's ramshackle building and business, and their success is well deserved.

The swans and the Bertolinos/Swans expanded the small gym to become Gym in Paradise. Recently, they sold it, but – well, the deal didn’t work out.  So, they’re back in the exercise business.

The Islandia Real Estate blog says the place has been spruced up, the equipment maintained and working well, and the monthly dues are $65.  BTW, the yoga room is available for rent (party anyone?)

Pack your passport

Passport It’s a brand new month and there’s a brand new rule for Virgin Islands travelers. 

While you don’t have to have a U.S. passport to vacation in the islands, or to come back to the mainland, you do need a passport if you’re going to do some sightseeing in the BVIs.

That mans if you’re planning on taking a day trip or charter to Foxy’s or the Baths on Virgin Gorda. bring your passport\.  You’ll need it as proof of citizenship when you return from your BVI visit and clear through the U.S. Customs office in Cruz Bay.

Here's a link to the passport Office's regulations concerning the British Virgin islands.

St. John strip club is hiring

Update: Wednesday 5 p.m. They say nothing disinfects like sunlight.  Within a few hours of this story being posted, the advertisement was withdrawn from Craigslist.  Coincidence or reaction to all the comments?  You be the judge.

So, you thiDancenk you can dance?

If so, this Craigslist ad's for you.

“We are currently looking for attractive exotic dancers between the ages of 18-30,
as well as ladies interested in becoming a dancer (no experience necessary).”

Applicants who are hired will be required to pay $50/night and work for at least three weeks.

The ad suggests the local gentlemen can be expected to be generous. “St. John is an island in the Caribbean Sea …  It is renowned as the wealthiest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Dancers will stay at an island house. “You will have one roommate, or you may have you own room depending on occupancy,” the listing says. (That’s kind of a strange way of putting it.  You’ll have a roommate, or you won’t, depending on how many people are in your room.)

The ad indicates airfare to St. Thomas will be provided, but must be repaid if the dancer doesn't fulfill her three week commitment.

The strip club opened about a year ago, in the old Mixology Warehouse space, on the first floor of the Lumberyard.

Here's the ad.

Friends ‘Swim’ draws hundreds


A 15-year-old Miami resident, returning to his former home island, won the sixth annual Beach-to-Beach Power Swim competition last weekend.  Augusto Cividini finished the 3.5-mile course in one hour, 21-minutes, 50 seconds.

Close behind, in second place, was Maggie Ravenna, a 22-year-old from St. Louis.  She completed the race in one hour, 23-minutes and 22 seconds.

The competition drew 238 entrants form 22 states, the BVIs, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands.  Last year, there were 164 swimmers.

There were three courses.  The shortest was the one-mile Maho Bay to Cinnamon Bay swim. The most ambitious is the 3.5- mile route from Maho to Cinnamon, Cinnamon to Trunk, and Trunk to Hawksnest Bays.  It was swum by individuals and relay teams.three person/relay .

Winners received blown glass fish produced at the Maho Bay Camps’ recycling program.