A Whimsical Side of St. John

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Like many people, Ali Norton always wanted to live a free and independent lifestyle. After a little soul searching, she found herself settled on our beloved island of St. John where, for the past 10 years, she’s created whimsical art that is sure to make you smile.

Ali focuses on creating artwork that brings the vivid colors and tranquility of paradise into the homes of her both travelers and locals alike. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, anyone who loves St. John will certainly see its beauty, and Ali hopes that through her art people can keep a piece of this beauty with them always.

See for yourself:

Ali Norton 2

Ali Norton Main

Ali sells her paintings and mixed media pieces at Hibiscus Jazz, a quaint little boutique tucked next to Chateau Bordeaux on Centerline Road. In addition to her paintings and mixed media items – many of which she creates right on site – the boutique also sells other artist’s works and touristy items. Nearly all of the items sold at the boutique are made in the USA, Ali said.

Ali Norton 3

Ali Norton 1

The next time you’re on Centerline Road, make it a point to stop by Ali’s shop and say hello. Be sure to bring home one of her amazing items. We did!

Ali is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also find her on the web at www.AliNortonArt.com

Safari-Style Taxis a Thing of the Past?

safari truckOk folks, so there’s some more drama brewing with the island’s taxi situation and we have to admit, it doesn’t make us happy.

For those of you who have ridden around in an island safari taxi, you know how much fun it is to cruise down North Shore Road with the wind in your hair as you take in the island’s beautiful sites. Well it seems those days may be numbered due to a certain law that was created back in 2009.

This is a tad confusing, so please bear with us…

So back in 2009, the Virgin Islands Taxi Commission put into practice a new rule that sought to replace the islands’ open air safari taxis with enclosed vans.  This 2009 mandate created a “moratorium on licensing new safari taxis built by island fabricators and installed on ‘incomplete’ truck frames imported from the U.S. unless the so-called ‘after-market’ fabrication is certified as meeting federal standards for operation, according to the St. John Tradewinds News.

Well it seems that there aren’t any after-market fabricators in the territory who can certify a finished safari. So what does that mean? It essentially means that as it stands now, no new safari-style taxis will be made. And once the current safari-style taxis run their course, they will be replaced with enclosed vans.

Not cool.

Seriously, could you imagine riding around the island in an enclosed van? Neither can I.

So what can you do about it? Well our friends over at Active St. John created a petition and they’d like you all to sign it. Here’s a sample of what they had to say about it:

Does anyone think its good for tourism and residents of the Virgin Islands to replace the Safari Taxis with passenger vans? Does anyone want to have to get in/out of a single van door in traffic as we drive on the left and the vans passenger doors are on the right? 

How is this remotely safer? How could it be possible there are federal standards for operation for these Safaris? Can anyone imagine riding down a freeway in the states with a fully loaded Safari at 60mph and not getting arrested? The Safaris are part of the VI and must stay in the VI. Can anyone remember a Safari having a safety issue due to not having a federally-certified welder constructing these amazing vehicles? The sooner this gets repealed, the better … only you can make the difference to the VI’s future!

Interested in signing the petition? Click here to read it in its entirety and to sign it.

Westin Construction Update: April 2014

Westin Pool
Renovated pool area

As you know, the Westin is in the midst of a pretty major renovation. It’s been a few months since our last construction update, so we thought it’d be helpful to provide some new information on where the Westin is with the project.

As we mentioned back in December, renovations to the pool, the poolside rooms and the beachfront rooms have all been completed. The pool area now has additional seating and just looks great. See for yourself in the pictures above and below:

Renovated poolside rooms with lush landscaping
Renovated poolside rooms with lush landscaping

The lower hillside rooms (buildings 21, 22, and 23) are currently being converted into what will become Coral Vista Villas – luxury vacation ownership units. Those renovations are expected to be completed in Spring 2015. (Click here to read more about this project.) Here’s what that project currently looks like:

Westin hillside renoThe Beachside Cafe is also undergoing renovations and is expected to reopen in mid to late June. In the meantime, breakfast and dinner is being served in the restaurant above the lobby (formerly Cruz Bay Prime). We hear that the new and improved beach cafe will have a new name when it reopens, but nothing is official on that front as of yet.

Westin beach cafe reno
Construction at the beach cafe

Lastly, there is some work going on over at the shops which are located near the entrance of the resort.

Construction near the shops
Construction near the shops

So what’s next on the Westin’s list in terms of construction? Renovations will begin in the lobby area in mid to late June. At that time, the restaurant will close down as well. That project is expected to be completed by December of this year. The workout center and spa is also slated to get a facelift.  Those facilities will be affected from July through October.

We mentioned this in a previous construction update, but it’s worth repeating. Yes, there will be some inconveniences for tourists, as well as noise associated with construction, but in my opinion, it’s not that bad. And we have to give the Westin credit –  its staff does an outstanding job in accommodating all guests, so kudos to you Westin.