It’s the little things … like electricity

Karin Schlesinger's plaintive Facebook message caught the Inquiring Iguana's attention.

"Any recent news on the continued power outage on st john? it's been a long day without power here in Pastory."

And she wasn't the only one, or hers the only neighborhood, with no juice.  In fact, all or parts of of St. John, and St. Thomas and Water Island were "in the dark" Wednesday.

The problem was an oil leak in the Water and Power Authority's "workhorse generator," the St. John Source explained in its report.

The leak brought the machine to a stop early in the morning.  Backup generators couldn't handle the loads and so, one by one, the dominos fell and the other generators shut down.

By Noon, WAPA had begun to restore power in some areas, but it was 7 p.m. until Schlesinger – and St. John – were back in business.

Mary Metzger Jenkins posted on her Facebook page, "Watching a ceiling fan work is a beautiful thing."

St. John restaurants, past and present

If yu have been visiting St. John for more than a few years, chances are there are some restaurants you liked then that are gone now.  And if you’re new to the island, and found a favorite eatery, it may not be there a few years from now.

Plus ca change.

If that's the case, your fave goes 'poof', then you might write the same kind of story for the St. John Sun Times that Bob Tis has. 

He's a long time St. Johnian who's written many articles for the Sun Times and the Tradewinds, and a novel, "Down Island." (Available through Amazon here.)


Read moreSt. John restaurants, past and present

Westin to dump tons of sand on the beach

It's been six months, but the Westin Resort has still not recovered entirely from the wind and rain and water and erosion wrought by Hurricane Otto last October.

While the grounds and buildings have been repaired and improved, the beach is still a problem.  

The resort's management has now gotten approval from St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee to "renourish" the beach, the St. John Source reported.

Beach(Westin Resort photo)

Read moreWestin to dump tons of sand on the beach

Live the villa life at $20,000 a week

The owners of a new property at Point Rendezvous seem to be betting that the good old days are coming back.

Eco Serendib Villa and Spa opens for business next month offering "a new level of eco-friendly ultra-luxury" with eight suites, a spa,, gym and "epicurean Theater kitchen featuring sub-zero appliances.  Price tag: an introductory cost of $20,000 for a week. (One source says winter season, the place will go for $35,000.)

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"Everyone dreams of having a private villa of their own in the Caribbean, whether to just get away with family and friends, experience a wellness journey or hold an event of a lifetime such as a wedding," explained Harith Wickrema, the villa's manager. 

"Our credo is to provide experiences that entertain, excite, educate, provide escapism and aesthetics," said Wickrema, who is a nationally recognized event planner. "It is also our mission to offer our influential guests an opportunity to experience the benefits of spending time at a destination designed with the Earth in mind."  He explained that the Villa's goal is not necessarily to be "a 100% ecologically pure resort" but, rather, to show the discerning traveler how luxury and ecologically sensitive products and designs can co-exist in total harmony.  

"We seek to redefine luxury," he said, "so that it becomes less about self-indulgence and more about self awareness in the world we all share."

Read moreLive the villa life at $20,000 a week

Villa sales pace ahead of last year

To judge by data on the island's Multiple Listing Service, the real estate market is fairly steady compared to a year ago.  By one measure it's showing strength, too.

The number of properties on the MLS is 151, compared to 148 this time last year.  The average asking price is $2.032 million, a 10% decline from a year ago.  The median price of a home is down seven percent to $1.4 million.

240000 There are 50 homes with an asking price of less than $1 million, and 43 with prices of more than $2 million.

On the plus side, the home sales history on Cruz Bay Realty's Web site shows a gain form last year: 10 sold four months into the year versus 20 sold in all of 2010. CBR's Gretchen Labrenz adds there are six more homes under contract to close for sale.

Read moreVilla sales pace ahead of last year

It was the Easter Turkey

Just because you're on an island doesn't mean you don't observe holidays.

At least that's what Maho Bay, the eco-friendly campground, says and does. The wonderful blog, MahoBayCamps has lots of stories and pictures about it.

You want an Easter egg hunt? They did it on the beach. After almost 50 kids colored almost 200 eggs!

You want a sand castle contest? On the beach? Done.

"Fluffy the Magic Dragon" was one of the finalists. (Photo via Maho's blog.)

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You want food, too?  How much? Crispin, assistant manager of the restaurant at Maho, oversaw the preparation of many, many turkeys.

Making noise at Maho

A pavilion picnic area, costing nearly $500,000, is being built at Maho Bay beach. (Photos courtesy of Bob Schlesinger of TropicalFocus.com.)

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The money for the work has been raised by fees visitors paid at Trunk Bay as well as those from boaters using the Park's moorings.

The project involves removing some of the old pavilion as well as constructing a new facility, adding a toilet, and a few additional parking spaces at the far end of the beach.

Read moreMaking noise at Maho

St. John, no money for you!

The Virgin Islands Port Authority is having a lousy year.  

An audit report predicts a loss of $1.2 million this year for the agency which oversees the VI's airports and ferry services, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported.  

The auditor suggested one way to raise cash would be to increase the airlines' landing fees 30 percent. The commissioners showed no interest in the landing fee proposal or the always-possible alternative of reducing jobs and payroll.

2009BoynesDock
It would be reasonable to expect the airlines might well pass an additional cost onto customers.  Or, worst case said Tourism commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the airlines might reduce the number of flights. In a possible sign that higher fuel costs and air fares are already having an impact, she said the passenger count for the year is already down five percent from last year.

The cash crunch for the Port Authority has a direct impact on St. John.  The Commissioners put a halt to plans for maintenance on the Cruz Bay ferry dock.  Proposed resurfacing and construction of  the Lorendon Boynes Sr. dock was budgeted at $225,000.  There was no word on when the work might be rescheduled.

Best places to buy booze on St. John

BeerVeteran island visitors and locals agree there are three places where you will get the best deals on liquor.

The first is right there at the airport in Charlotte Amalie.  While some think its business really is duty-free purchases for folks to take home, a number of people make it their place to stock up for their week on St. John.  The shop is a small one, inside the airport near the baggage belts.  

In a post on Virgin-Islands-On-Line.com, Tuxedocat said, "We often buy there … offers a very good selection of all kinds of liquors. The prices are about the same as elsewhere on the islands."

Also getting a thumbs up for liquor purchases on St. Thomas, is Cost U Less, a warehouse discount store. Huge selection, good prices.  But only stop there if you've rented a car to come across to St. John. The taxis from the airport are not going to drop you off and wait while you do shopping.  

Of course, Cost U Less is also a great place to do lots of other  shopping for groceries before you ride the car barge across.  Wine prices there are said to be 10-15% less than on St., John.

There's general agreement that Pine Peace Grocery has the least expensive St. John liquor. The store is located in Cruz Bay, at the foot of the newly-resurfaced Jacob's Ladder.

Juice and other mixers re about 15-30% higher than home, but not enough of a difference for you to lug it over," added Tuxedocat.

What's your experience?  Vote in this poll.

St. John sunsets and sunrises keep coming

"Oct 2009…from Cruz Bay… a magical time for my family… 
there for daughter and her beloved to get married."

Kate Armstrong

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"I took this in May 2004 from my balcony at Battery Hill while testing my new camera. It saddens me that I haven't been back since that trip.   At the time, I had a one year old, now I've got three kids and as soon as they are all strong swimmers we are coming back so I can teach them about the island, the reefs, fish, and how fragile they are."

Mark from Oakton, Va.

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"Took this sunset photo a few years ago (2008 May).  View is from our Condominium at Gallows Point."

Ron & Michelle Rossio

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Read moreSt. John sunsets and sunrises keep coming