Double rainbow over Chocolate Hole

May 23rd, 2016

Chocolate Hole neighbors Jon and Kathy caught this double rainbow a recent morning over the green hills of Chocolate Hole North.

“Does that rainbow end at Bongo Bongo on the other side of the hill?” emailed Jon. “Must be hiding a pirate’s pot of gold over there.”

The pot of gold is a secret Jon. Stop rainbowing us.







VRBO just won’t stop pushing that fee

May 23rd, 2016

Now you can’t even get what you’ve been paying for unless you let VRBO sink its fangs into your renters and charge them.

If you don’t allow online booking (guests paying VRBO a fat and needless fee) you can no longer have your property in the ‘featured properties” rotation.

For most, if not all St. John property owners and management companies, there is absolutely nothing to gained from letting VRBO collect credit card payments and hit guests with a fee. None.







Medical advice if you’re relocating to the USVI

May 18th, 2016

A friend who has lived on St. John for many years recently shared the medical advice she received when she first arrived on St. John:

“If you have a headache, take an aspirin. If you have anything else, take American Airlines.”

That’s an exaggeration, but the USVI is not known for its world-class medical care.

Which is why this St. John Source story stands out: A plan to promote medical tourism on St. Croix.

Liberty Medical, part of Comprehensive Orthopedic Global, which has operations on all thee islands, is seeking EDC benefits to establish a surgical center on St. Croix to tap into the growing medical tourism industry.

You can read James Gardner’s St. John Source story here.

I remember when I had a pretty great experience at the St. John clinic.







Park at the old FirstBank

May 16th, 2016

Until the old FirstBank in Cruz Bay is torn down to make way for what’s next, it is additional in-town parking.

There is no attendant. A credit or debit card gets you in and out. It’s $2 per half hour.

And from the “only on St. John” folder, they’ve painted parking space stripes directly on the loose gravel.







Botanica, a new STJ furniture store, opens Saturday

May 13th, 2016

Botanica holds its grand opening tomorrow and it’s packed full of fun finds from Bali.

There is lots of teak and other wood furniture, lighting fixtures, fabrics and decorating things.

There’s also lots of planters and a garden center that will eventually grow to be much bigger.

Botanica is on Centerline Road, past the Lumberyard on your right.







Paper bags: Handle or not?

May 12th, 2016

Starfish Market, which switched to biodegradable plastic bags last year, has now eliminated plastic altogether.

It’s now paper. Or…paper with handles.

This may not sound like a big decision to make, but paper bags with no handles is so 1970s. Like, the bag boy who would take them to your mom’s Cutlass Cruiser for a dollar.

On your own, a handle-free paper bag is very awkward.

You can get paper bags with handles at Starfish. It is an extra 25-cents per bag.







Avoid the barge for now

May 10th, 2016

With Mr. B under “house arrest,” there are only one or two barges running on any given day.

Miss the barge, and it could be a long wait before you get to St. Thomas, and that will really screw up your return to STT to make your flight home.

Rent your vehicle on St. John and take the usually dependable passenger ferry, even if that’s not normally the way you do it.  It will save you from a whole lot of stress.

What do you do when barge service is tight? You raise prices.

A one-way ticket on Cap’t. Vic (or Island Vic if it’s running) went up March 1 from $30 to $35. That’s a 17% price increase.







St. John is a top “Romantic Getaway”

May 6th, 2016

No argument there.

TripAdvisor puts St. John on its list of 9 Dream Romantic Getaways. As a matter of fact, it’s at the top of the list.

Caneel Bay, the Park, Sam & Jack’s Deli and Gallows Point all get props, as does Ocean 362 for its “gorgeous views accompanied by pan seared local tuna and lemongrass creme brûlée.”

St. John is in some pretty good company as a top Romantic Getaway. Here’s the TripAdvisor list.







Steve Simonsen on display

May 4th, 2016

Steve Simonsen does not just take pictures on St. John.

Steve and wife Janet make it a habit of traveling to National Parks all around the US-of-A, like Yellowstone National Park, above.

You can see some of Steve’s work at Bajo El Sol starting May 6 (he’ll be there from 5pm to 8pm opening night) through the end of the month.

“Janet and I enjoy staying in the parks, camping, and waking up and going to sleep in the parks, which is one of the reasons we chose to live on St. John,” Steve says.

Steve may photograph other national parks, but I’m guessing St. John is his favorite.







Villa owners: VRBO gets cheaper, with a catch

May 1st, 2016

The headline from VRBO’s latest change for owners sounds great: The annual renewal drops to just $349 a year, IF you sign up for online booking. That’s how VRBO will collect its brand new service fee from your guests who complete their booking through VRBO, not through you.

If you reject the new online booking system, the renewal rate still falls to just $499 a year, half what some plans are now.

But here’s the veiled threat in VRBO’s message to owners: Participating, or not participating, in online booking will determine the position of your listing in search results.

The way I read that? Let VRBO hit your guests with a big service fee (4%-10%), or VRBO will bury your listing.  (WATCH THE CEO’s VIDEO)

The sort of good news is a grace period. VRBO will let you add one year under your current plan if you renew by July 11.

VRBO is also adding an owner review of renters feature – I guess so other owners and management companies can see if they’re about to rent to horrible people – and it’s adding a VRBO tab on the Expedia website (Expedia paid $3.9 billion last year to acquire Home Away, VRBO’s owner.)

I really don’t know what to make of all of this. It’s a money grab, and people traveling to St. John already shell out a crap-load to rent a villa, plus 12.5% in hotel taxes to the VI government. A VRBO service fee of 4% to 10% might be too much to ask.

On the other hand, VRBO generates a bucket load of St. John bookings. You can’t really live without them today.

What do you guys think?







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