Sirenusa decision riles the island

Sirenusa_3_2

The St. John Source reports the island’s former Administrator, Julien Harley, is hopping mad at the Senate for approving more condo development at Sirenusa.  Newly-elected Sen. Carmen Wesselhoft is singled out.  The full story from the Source.

Meanwhile, The Source has been getting letters, too.

“Green Tourism” a draw for St. John

St. John was "green" before green was cool.

Stanley Selengut’s Maho Bay and the National Park’s Cinnamon Bay have been drawing eco-friendly visitors and nature lovers for decades, and more are on the way.  Lots more, possibly, according to a survey conducted by Orbitz, the online travel service.

The Orbitz-sponsored survey found 67% of Americans said they place importance on how eco-friendly a destination is.  More than half (65%) also state it would somewhat impact their decision" where to stay if they knew a hotel or resort was using solar or wind energy.

Orbitz said St. John is one of their top recommendations for travelers interested in protecting and appreciating the environment, pointing out that the island offers activities including hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and educational tours to learn more about the island’s flora and fauna.  A birdwatcher who writes at About.com recently posted that during her recent visit to St. John a pair of Pearly Eyed Thrashers became her favorites.

Orbitz also encouraged visitors to participate in the Friends of the Park’s weekly volunteer clean up parties http://friendsvinp.org/work_party.htm. Here’s the Orbitz news release: http://sev.prnewswire.com/travel/20070411/AQW08711042007-1.html.

Not yet: booking a car barge online

Lovecity
The Web site looks too good to be true.  It offers "On-Line Booking" as a choice, and when you click it you’re teased with a button that reads "Buy Ticket" for a trip via Love City Car Ferries, Inc. 

"On board our vessel, the M/V Capt. Vic, passengers can look forward to bathing in the beautiful views of Pillsbury Sound, the waterway between Red Hook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John," says a message on the site.

But, alas, after a few more mouse clicks you get a message that says this feature hasn’t been enabled yet.  Soon come, as we have come to expect.  But the site (http://www.captvicvi.com/ ) does dangle the invitation to e-mail [email protected] for a reservation.

The site explains that Capt. Llewellyn T. Sewer "helped to establish the first passenger ferry" between St. Thomas and St. John while another family member began ferry service between St., John and Tortola. "Hence, this corporation was started in honor of his grandfather and great-grandfathers. The M/V Capt. Vic is the first vessel owned by the corporation and it was named in honor of the late Captain Victor Sewer."

Kudos to Love City Car Ferries for beginning the e-process for their business … hopefully, they’ll continue.

For sale: Baked in the Sun

The latest commercial property to be added to the Multiple Listing Service is Baked in the Sun, the award-winning bakery/sandwich shop on the third floor of the Marketplace.  Asking price is $450,000.  Town and Country Real Estate listed the business.  The bakery’s owner has agreed to train a buyer for up to four months.

Meanwhile, in other real estate news, the Polli’s restaurant space is becoming the new home of the Artists’ Association of St. John.  The Lumberyard location will give the group plenty of room to exhibit members’ works.

St. John – getting there is not half the fun

Cruz_bay
St. John may not be able to profit from the next big trend in tourism – "green vacationing."  It’s got the beaches, eco-tours, and an unspoiled environment.  But it also has hassles today’s travelers will not put up with. The biggest obstacle, says a nationally known travel industry consultant, is getting to the island.

"It’s all about facilitation," explained Berkeley Young of Randall Travel Marketing.  "From the time people get off the plane in St. Thomas at the airport, they are frustrated.

"There’s no proper greeting. They’re given a urine cup’s portion of punch. There’s nobody asking, ‘How can we help you?’  They have to fight taxicabs.  It’s a horrible experience," Young said.

While veteran travelers will endure the challenges of getting to Red Hook, onto a ferry, and finding their villa or resort greeter in Cruz Bay, Young warns many will not.  “They get on island and they’re irritated and angry.”

"When people come to these islands, they are desperate for escape.  They want someone to do it all for them," Young said. He warns that cruise ships are strong competition for tourists’ dollars. The industry has made it simple.  You make a phone call, they’ll book your airline ticket, greet you at the airport, they’ll handle your bags, put them in your cabin.

He urged the island’s Tourism Commissioner to work with hotels, restaurants, and villa managers to work together to improve the experience for travelers.

How do you think St. John could be more accommodating to visitors?  Offer some advice here.

Ipod_2

Listen to the first part of our conversation with travel consultant Berkeley Young.

Click the play button below.

You can also download or hear the file by clicking here.

Subscribe to News of St. John’s weekly podcast at the Apple iTunes Music Store and search for "news of st. john,"
or copy "http://fbarnako.libsyn.com/rss" and paste it into the "Subscribe" field under the iTunes software’s "Advanced" tab.  You can also use
that link to subscribe with other podcatching software.  If you’re having
a problem, e-mail: [email protected].