A good word about St. Thomas from St. John


Often, the island across Pillsbury Sound is referred to as "St. Trauma."  There are lots of reasons; not the least of which is that getting there and back takes at least half a day.  If you've been lucky enough to find what you wanted, or get done what you wanted done, it's still an anxiety-filled trek.

So, it was kind of a surprise to see Ella Anderson’s St. John Sun Times magazine's cover featuring "St. Thomas Issue."

"It's a little bit different for us," she conceded in her monthly Publisher's column. "But there are a lot of stories, not so different from our own, on our sister island." And it's only natural, then, for Anderson, who's made "Always Positive" her way of doing business, to write, "Our islands are so close it just makes sense to me to be more inclusive."

Read moreA good word about St. Thomas from St. John

St. John’s Hollywood connection

Larry Safady IS The Sandman.

If you saw this Heart sculpture the Vow Renewal ceremony at Trunk Bay on valentine's Day, you saw his work. (Photo courtesy of TropicalFocus.com)

That's his art, honed by instruction at California State University at Long Beach, years before he made the move to St. John.

In a profile of Safady, the St. John Source says he migrated to St. John after a career as an art director for Disney and 20th Century Fox and Mattel.  Now he hires himself out for $35/hour to do works of sand at parties, weddings, grand openings opr whatever, says the Source.

Building a sand castle or house or corporate logo is more than just piling grains of sand.  There are buckets of water to be carried, too, to help compact and shape the creation.

Read moreSt. John’s Hollywood connection

Talking dogs

The 11th annual island dog show, Wagapalooza, 'barks off' at 5 p.m. next Saturday evening, the 21st, at the ball field next to the Sprauve School in Cruz Bay.

Pets will be judged in many categories, including the newest … "Best Doggie Talk." Like Mishka, on YouTube.

With a Wild West theme this year, you can expect many contestants to be wearing hats, scarves, bolos, kerchiefs while perhaps dragging ropes and lassos and who knows what else.

Thanks to Jeff and Jen Donnelly of Jolly Dog and Moe Chabuz and the late Doug Sica of Skinny LegsWagapalooza has become the major fundraising event for the Animal Care Center.

NewsOfStJohn.com is proud to be a co-sponsor, for a third year, of the official Wagapalooza T-Shirt.

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."

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.)

"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

Court hears Grande Bay a grand mess

The controversial Grande Bay condo/timeshare development at Cruz Bay is front and center in a Sarasota, Fla. courtroom.

At the defendant's table is David S. Band, a real estate developer and law firm founder.  He is accused of defrauding his partner by not properly overseeing the project.

Wanda Libby, wife of the partner making the charge said when she visited, "It was just a total mess."

Budgeted originally at $15 million, the Sarasota Circuit Court was told the ultimate cost is more likely $45 or $50 million, according to a report published by the town's Herald Tribune newspaper.  The project is still unfinished, according to testimony.

Read moreCourt hears Grande Bay a grand mess

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.)

Sand-fish 024
You want food, too?  How much? Crispin, assistant manager of the restaurant at Maho, oversaw the preparation of many, many turkeys.

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.

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.