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August 24, 2005

4 Cruise Ships

4 Cruise Ships

Just a beautiful day with 4 ships in the harbor. This photo is from last November.

Posted by afinta at 02:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

The Battle of Belize

The Miami Herald takes a swipe at Jeff Prosser today:

The battle of BelizeThe government of Belize hailed the 2004 sale of the national telephone company to a U.S.-Caribbean corporation as a moment of promise and partnership. And the principal in the nearly $90 million deal -- Palm Beach and St. Croix entrepreneur Jeffrey J. Prosser -- declared he was ''proud'' to be part of the small country's development goals.

Click here for the rest (subscription required)

Posted by afinta at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005

Prosser Loses, Belize Wins in Miami Court

More on the ongoing saga of Jeff Prosser from the St. Thomas Source:

Aug. 16, 2005 -- A federal judge in Miami ruled Tuesday that she had no objection to the Belize government's seizure earlier this year of Belize Telecommunications Ltd. (BTL) from Jeffrey Prosser’s Innovative Communications Corp.

The judge affirmed the seizure; lifted a temporary injunction against the government of Belize (GOB), which she had issued earlier at Prosser’s request; and awarded "nominal" damages to ICC on a minor issue in the complex case.

ICC--which owns Innovative Telephone, formerly Vitelco--is one of the largest corporate employers in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Funds borrowed from Vitelco had been used by ICC in the Belizean phone company deal.

Prosser’s control of BTL had been based on a $28.5 million payment, the assumption of the debts of a failed Belizean telecom firm, and the issuance of a promissory note for another $57 million. When the $57 million was not forthcoming, the Belize government seized the phone company and Prosser sued in the Miami courts. Earlier, the Belize government had agreed to submit itself to the jurisdiction of that court in order to secure a loan, financing the deal, from a Florida bank.

Click here to read the rest.

Posted by afinta at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

Great...

American Airlines Increases International Fare Surcharges; Increase of $10 Each Way to Help Offset High Fuel Costs

FORT WORTH, Texas, Aug. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- American Airlines today increased surcharges on fares to/from most of its international destinations, as well as to/from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The increase is $10 one way, $20 round trip, and is effective immediately. The increase will help offset the record high cost of jet fuel.

Posted by afinta at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2005

Lighthouse on Buck Island, St. Thomas

Lighthouse on Buck Island, St. Thomas

A couple of weeks ago we took a boat over to Buck Island. There is a cove on the west side with excellent snorkeling and the wreck of the Cartanser Senor. I really didn't take enough pictures -

Posted by afinta at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

Gov. Turnbull Signs EDC Reform Bill Into Law

From the Source:

Aug. 15, 2005 -- Joining efforts to jumpstart the territory’s economy, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed into law this week bills designed to create reform within the Economic Development Commission and to promote the growth of small businesses within the community.

The EDC Reform Bill, passed by the Senate in early July, will effectively help to close loopholes within the existing law, therefore protecting against any future abuse of the system (See "EDC Reform Bill Clears Committee".) Additionally, the EDC law will:

-create opportunities for residents who want to open a business and receive higher amounts of EDC benefits;

-implement a tier system in order to improve qualifications for loans;

-enhance the opportunity for EDC beneficiaries to make loans to others;

-and reduces application and compliance fees for small businesses in order to encourage local entrepreneurs to seek EDC benefits.

Click here for the rest

Posted by afinta at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2005

White Bay, Jost Van Dyke

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One of the world's best beaches - and home of the Soggy Dollar - White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. Thanks again to Debbie Warren for this photo.

Posted by afinta at 01:47 AM | Comments (0)

Nancy Anderson Quoted in the NY Times

From The New York TImes:

Nancy Anderson has to work harder than do most real estate agents to keep her vacationing tenants happy. As the president of McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas in St. Thomas, which rents properties throughout the British and the United States Virgin Islands and in Grenada, she faces the dichotomy of trying to serve impatient clients on the islands - where patience is a necessity.

"Whether you are renting ski houses in Steamboat Springs or beach houses in Nantucket, the clients we are now all dealing with have sky-high expectations," she said. "Just trying telling a client that they can't listen to music by the pool because there is an islandwide power outage or that the Jacuzzi isn't working because we have to order a broken part from California."

Then there are the children, who, Ms. Anderson said, have their own expectations - including a DVD player and DVD's and access to instant messaging.

The whole thing is below the fold.

August 12, 2005 DVD's! Wi-Fi! The Race to Woo Renters With Extras

By JENNIFER CONLIN
LAST summer, Steve Messinger, owner of a two-bedroom summer lake house in Chautauqua, N.Y., decided to put a washer and dryer in the cottage that had once belonged to his parents so he could rent it out. "To me a washer and dryer qualified as amenities," said Mr. Messinger, who grew up spending summers in the house on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution.

Hardly. Had he talked to Joanna Dahlbeck, director of rentals at the Vacation Properties Group, which handles 155 condominiums and houses in the Chautauqua area, he would have quickly learned that a washer and dryer are now a requirement.

"Ten years ago, we had properties that had no television, no phones, no clock radios and no laundry machines," Ms. Dahlbeck said. "Basically, no creature comforts. Now, we ask all owners to have some kind of dial-up access for computers and a television, preferably one with a remote control. Since 9/11, renters want some kind of visual contact with the outside world.

"We don't insist on air-conditioning," Ms. Dahlbeck added, "but after this summer's heat wave that could also become more of a necessity."

Even Ms. Dahlbeck's list barely cuts it in today's rental-house market. "I have customers who want an espresso maker, extra cable channels, a gas - not charcoal - grill, nice china and a gourmet kitchen," said Joyce Nadeau, director of the Cape Cod rental division for Kinlin Grover GMAC. "The days of the old cape cottage with knotty pine are gone," she said. "And if the house has knotty pine, it has to be painted white."

Renters increasingly only want houses with the amenities of their own homes, particularly at $4,000 to $5,000 a week for a lake house, or in the case of many of Ms. Nadeau's clients, $12,000 to $15,000 a week to be on the ocean. "The high-end clients in particular want the upscale feel of staying in a hotel resort but the privacy and comforts of staying in a home," she said.

Luckily there are owners who live in the style to which many top-end tenants are accustomed. Don Wall, a retired data services salesman in Denver, rents out his 9-bedroom, 10-and-a-half-bathroom home in Beaver Creek, Colo., for about 18 weeks a year. The house, called Elk View, has a six-person Jacuzzi and a Finnish sauna, an exercise room, a heated boot room and a wine cellar and tasting room. It also has Wi-Fi; five TV's, including a 55-inch flat screen; Calphalon cookware; and a dining room that can seat 22. During Christmas week the house, which sleeps 20, costs $4,050 a night.

Mr. Wall, who bought the house in 1996 with his brother-in law, Patrick Morris, a retired executive in St. Louis, insists that their own families like the luxury touches as much as the renters do. "I like making the house grander and grander for our family," he said, adding that he would have put in a heated driveway had it not been so large. "But our renters appreciate it. I had one Big Cigar come by who wanted to rent it, and he said to me the moment he saw the master bedroom: 'I don't have to look any further. I have those same Charisma sheets on my bed at home.' "

Mr. Wall and Mr. Morris, who handle the renting themselves, also offer prearrival delivery of rental skis, groceries and liquor as well as complimentary transportation in Beaver Creek.

"We know everyone in town, so it isn't difficult for us to organize," Mr. Wall said. "And again, we do it for ourselves when we are here, so why not offer it to renters?"

Indeed, services like stocking the refrigerator ahead of time are becoming standard for high-end renters. "Easily, the biggest difference I have seen in the marketplace is the demand for concierge services," said Mary Connolly, who with her brother, Michael, owns Peak Properties in Vail, Colo., which caters primarily to executives and their families. "They don't just want the nice house, they want massages, dinner reservations, a ski instructor and a chef. We provide all of that," said Ms. Connolly, who in ski season has a staff of 20.

Nancy Anderson has to work harder than do most real estate agents to keep her vacationing tenants happy. As the president of McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas in St. Thomas, which rents properties throughout the British and the United States Virgin Islands and in Grenada, she faces the dichotomy of trying to serve impatient clients on the islands - where patience is a necessity.

"Whether you are renting ski houses in Steamboat Springs or beach houses in Nantucket, the clients we are now all dealing with have sky-high expectations," she said. "Just trying telling a client that they can't listen to music by the pool because there is an islandwide power outage or that the Jacuzzi isn't working because we have to order a broken part from California."

Then there are the children, who, Ms. Anderson said, have their own expectations - including a DVD player and DVD's and access to instant messaging.

IT often falls to agents to inform owners that their houses don't make the amenities cut. "It's a delicate situation to go into someone's house and say that Brady Bunch furniture has to go or your taste stinks," said Ms. Connolly of Peak Properties. "So instead we say to make money you have to invest money. You have to put a TV in every bedroom, put in the steam shower, install the granite kitchen counters."

Heather Maitre of Ramsey, N.J., who with her husband, Frank, owns a five-bedroom log home at Okemo in Vermont, knows the value of upgrading a house. During New Year's week, their newly built cabin, which has a game room with a mahogany pool table and two outdoor Jacuzzis with waterfalls, rents for $1,200 a night. "These days you can buy a new TV for $300, find beautiful bed comforters and sheets for $50 to $60 at Kohl's and purchase someone's old video library for next to nothing on eBay," Ms. Maitre said. "And then you can, of course, charge more for your home."

Some people, of course, opt out of the amenities race. Gail Rodgers owns a three-property compound on a large pond in Chatham on Cape Cod and rents out two of the two-bedroom cottages each summer. They do not have air-conditioning, fancy kitchens or outdoor showers. But she does leave a vase of flowers and a book filled with local information for each tenant. And while similar properties rent for about $2,000 a week, Ms. Rodgers asks no more than $1,800 for each of hers. "Many people tell me I could charge much more, but I like the people who come to me now and don't want to necessarily attract a higher-paying renter," she said.

And even though Mr. Messinger in Chautauqua hasn't put in a river rock fireplace, he hasn't had any trouble renting his house this summer for $2,500 a week. "Hey, it could be a lot worse," he said. "A guy down the road from us makes the renters change their own beds at the end of their stay!"

Posted by afinta at 12:55 AM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2005

Sunset over St. Thomas

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Here is a beautiful shot taken from Gallows Point on St. John courtesy of Tina Prins, Harrisburg, PA.

Posted by afinta at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2005

V.I. Government Moves to Take Lindqvist Beach

This is good news - of course the government screwed aroud for awhile and could have done this at a much better price, but the fact they did it is great. Personally I would like to see more effort put into this property and let the developers have what they want at Vessup Bay and the East End. There really isn't much to save there in my eyes, but Lindqvist could be turned into a beautiful park/beach.

Aug. 4, 2005 –– At 2 p.m. Thursday, Lindqvist Beach became the property of the Virgin Islands. Court papers were filed Thursday afternoon which –– after years of anxiety and public concern –– finally give the beach back to the community.

The pristine beach, which sits on 21 acres near Smith Bay, has been a well-loved spot for family gatherings, picnics and parties for years. Its sparkling white shoreline creates one of the territory's most desirable beaches.

Today's action, in effect, divests from the owners of the property –– Virgin Island Investments, LLC –– who were in the process of developing the last East End beach to the V. I. government. Elliot Mac Davis, solicitor general, said Thursday afternoon, "The action of eminent domain filed pursuant to the V. I. Code by virtue of filing the action exercises the government's authority under eminent domain."

Read the rest here

Posted by afinta at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

Grande Bay Estates

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Here is a photo from Sunday, August 7, 2005. Sorry about the cranium in the shot, I was on the ferry. There is definitely construction going on.

Posted by afinta at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

Negotiations for Developing Maho Bay Are Under Way

There is a story in the St. John Source about the possible development of Maho. I don't see any mention of a public school being built there, which only a few months ago seemed like a real possibility. One interesting paragraph:

"Dudley said that today, no agency would allow a road to be built that close to the shore, but when the North Shore Road was built in 1961, people were less environmentally aware."

From what I have heard (and I think there are pictures that can support this) Maho was one of the largest beaches on St. John - width wise. Now it is really quite narrow. The reason is that there was so much sand there that the Army Corp of Engineers took that sand to fill in the marsh at Cruz Bay where the Westin is. Back then what they didn't understand was how the beaches formed and assumed the beach would come back - it never did. So even though the road is close to the beach, it originally was probably much further from the water line.

Posted by afinta at 10:28 AM | Comments (3)

August 04, 2005

Innovative Threatens Action Against Belize Government

From the St. Thomas Source:

What a hoot - more Innovative shenanigans. How Prosser gets away with this stuff is beyond me. I am not going to be surprised the day the feds come after him.

Aug. 3, 2005 - Innovative Communication Corp. threatened about everything but invading the country if the Belize government passes a proposal to seize what ICC considers its own assets in that Central American country.

Rumors had been going through the country that the Belize Legislature was planning to pass legislation to cancel the special share of the Belizean phone company owned by ICC. The rumors became a news story on Tuesday as a TV station reported the action was imminent.

Virgin Islanders are concerned because the money used to buy other shares of the Belizean phone company was borrowed from the V.I. telephone company, formerly known as Vitelco, which is now owned by ICC. (See "Vitelco Still Waiting for ICC to Repay Loan".)

Click here to read the rest

Posted by afinta at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

Peter Island, BVI

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Here is a photo submitted by Susan S. of my home state, NJ. Thanks Susan -

Posted by afinta at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

WICO Head Looks to Strong Winter Season

From the St. Thomas Source:

Aug 2, 2005 – The perception that the Caribbean is a safe destination coupled with the strong value of the euro against the dollar means St. Thomas should have a good winter cruise ship season.

"We expect a 3 percent growth in the number of passengers," West Indian Co. chief executive officer Edward Thomas said Tuesday.

The cruise ship lines have already reported strong bookings, Thomas said, adding that he expects the growth to reach 7 percent the following year.

While the number of ships calling isn't on the upswing, Thomas said ships are growing in size. He said that when he took over the WICO helm 11 years ago, the average ship held 400 people. Today, on a day when three ships are in port, the number of passengers visiting St. Thomas could reach 10,000.

Click here for the rest:

Posted by afinta at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005

Anegada Trip Report

We spent June 19th to 23rd on Anegada. This report is a little late coming but the memories are all good! We flew over on our own charter from St. Thomas with Island Birds. Their service was excellent as were the pilots. When we got to Anegada on Sunday morning, Dean Wheatley of D.W. Jeep Rentals (284 495-9677) was waiting for us with our car and a big smile. A friendlier guy I don't think you'll find. Customs was a breeze. Laura of the fantastic Lavenda Breeze was also there, and we followed her out to the villa to drop our bags (we had arrived earlier than check in so we planned to leave our stuff at the house and have a snorkel and swim at Loblolly Bay and lunch at the Big Bamboo until the house was ready). The rest of the report is below, with comments after each photo. I was a little lax with the picture taking - I hope the few I chose to show here are okay! (A couple of the photos are from a day trip in February)

Posted by afinta at 11:27 AM | Comments (2)

Jane & Alice in the Aztec

Jane & Alice in the Aztec

Here are my two girls, Jane & Alice, as we are getting ready to leave St. Thomas for Anegada. I am pretty sure we were in a Piper Aztec.

Posted by afinta at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

Road to Loblolly

Road to Loblolly

This is one of the pictures from my day trip to Anegada in February - I am posting it again because I love it and I think it really gives the feel of the stark beauty of the island.

Posted by afinta at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

Beach Benches, Loblolly Bay

Beach Benches, Loblolly Bay

As you walk out to the beach from the Big Bamboo this is your view. Loblolly Bay is just stunning, with the turquoise water trapped by the barrier reef. The snorkeling here and off the beach at Flash Of Beauty was awesome. Huge coral formations, deep drops, huge fish, great visibilty, caves, shafts of sparkling sunlight... just a snorkelers paradise.

Posted by afinta at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

The Big Bamboo

The Big Bamboo

The Big Bamboo. A really neat place, right next to the beach at Loblolly Bay. We had our first lunch here, lobster of course!

Posted by afinta at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

Path to Loblolly Bay

Path to Loblolly Bay

Posted by afinta at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

Looking towards Lavenda Breeze

Looking towards Lavenda Breeze

Standing on the beach at Loblolly Bay near the Big Bamboo and looking East (generally). The red roof in the distance is Lavenda Breeze, where we stayed. The roofs you can see to the right of that I believe are those of the Loblolly Beach Cottages. We didn't see any sign of life coming from there during our stay though.

Posted by afinta at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

Lavenda Breeze from the beach

Lavenda Breeze from the beach

Here is Lavenda Breeze from the beach. What a fantastic beach house! You can find much better photos and a floor plan on their website. The house literally had everything - including an ice cream maker (we didn't use it)! My friend who was on the trip with us and rents villas on St. John was very impressed (we both were simply stunned that someone even built a home in such a remote location - the power line ends at the house). If you are looking for a peaceful and quiet vacation, where the only sounds you will hear at night are the surf and the breeze in the Sea Grapes, this is the place. I loved the feeling that we were nearly at the end of the world. It is the only house out on this part of the island, and you have fantastic, endless views out over the Atlantic ocean. We really loved the set up too, with the living spaces up and the bedrooms down, and the fact that each room had it's own outside shower.

Posted by afinta at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

House with beach chairs

House with beach chairs

Standing on the beach looking at the house. Those Adirondack style beach chairs are really cool - they are made out of plastic! We had a nearly full moon the whole time we were there, and one night we came down here with a bottle of champagne and some chocolate chip cookies. The moon was so bright I was tempted to put my sunglasses on.

Posted by afinta at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

Cow Wreck Beach Bar & Grill

Cow Wreck Beach Bar & Grill

On Monday we took the first of our island tours and for lunch ended up at the Cow Wreck Beach Bar & Grill (284 495-9461 VHF Channel 16 Email cowwreck@surfbvi.com). We had a good lunch and a nice relaxing swim. What a beautiful spot, huge white sand beaches stretching in both directions.

Posted by afinta at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

Beach at Cow Wreck Bay

Beach at Cow Wreck Bay

Posted by afinta at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

More Cow Wreck

More Cow Wreck

Posted by afinta at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

On the North shore

On the North shore

Not exactly sure where this was - if Dean knew we had the car out there we may have been in trouble. I think it is Windlass Bight, looking towards Soldier Point. See the Anegada map for those locations.

Posted by afinta at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

Neptune's Treasure

Neptunes's Treasure

Neptune's Treasure is a neat looking spot, just down the beach a bit from the Anegada Reef Hotel (heading west). They have rooms and one small cottage available. Pam's Kitchen is also on the premises here. Visit their website for more information.

Posted by afinta at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

Pam's Kitchen & Bakery

Pam's Kitchen & Bakery

This is the famous Pam's Kitchen & Bakery. We had a great breakfast there one day, and they also have fresh baked bread, rolls, hot sauces, jams, ice, etc. We met Michelle and Tom who I think are running the place now - Pam is Michelle's mom (I hope I have that straight - if someone else knows different send me an email).

Posted by afinta at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)

The Purple Turtle

The Purple Turtle

This is the brand new Purple Turtle Boutique & Gifts (284 495-8062 Email: swheatley@surfbvi.com). If I got my story straight this is owned by Sue Wheatley, who also has a place (Sue's Boutique) at the Anegada Reef Hotel. A really nice gift shop, with clothes, gifts, some frozen and canned food, a computer set up for internet access and a public phone. Right next door is the gas station (I am using these terms loosely here - in Anegada the "gas station" is a single pump that is open who knows when!). Next to the the gas station is another newer establishment, Lil Bits Cash & Carry and Lil Bits Snack Bar (284 495-9932 Email: cowwreck@surfbvi.com VHF Channel 16), where we bought most of our supplies (dry goods, fruit and vegetables, frozen food, drinks, etc.) that we didn't bring with us. All of these places are right down the road from the Setting Point dock and the Anegada Reef Hotel - this seems to be the up and coming "spot" on the island.

Posted by afinta at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

Clouds

Clouds

The sun sets on a giant cloud formation, view from the deck of Lavenda Breeze.

Posted by afinta at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

View to Flash of Beauty

View to Flash of Beauty

Looking East towards Flash of Beauty from Lavenda Breeze.

Posted by afinta at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

Taxiing for takeoff

Taxing for takeoff

Marshall of Island Birds let's me wear the headphones of the co-pilot as we leave, it was cool. Marshall was a very nice guy who lives on one of the small islands off of Tortola - can't remember which one though!

Posted by afinta at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

Leaving Anegada

Leaving Anegada

We take off towards Loblolly Bay and go right over it before banking hard to the left and coming back around right over the airstrip. You can see the "runway" there on the left - the top paralell strip.

So - what did I forget? A lot! Traveling for me really is just being there sometimes. Even though Anegada is small, we definitely missed a lot, but that is okay because it gives me a reason to go back. Of course we were so busy before the trip that we really didn't prepare as much as we could have. I love Anegada, it has all I want from an island vacation, but I will say that it is probably not for everyone. Most of the tourist traffic seems to be yacht people and some day trippers. It is a remote, pristine place, and a place to come for quiet, peace, and natural beauty. The desert island landscape, the water, the snorkeling are all fantastic. The food can be expensive, and there really is no entertainment and shopping - I don't think there is any chance this place will become a cruise ship destination. If you want some solitude and friendly people, and lazy days in the sun, Anegada is for you.

Tips, websites, emails and phone numbers:

It is blazing on Anegada and there can be a lack of shade. Sunscreen, sun-shirts, hats, sun glasses and plenty of water are necessities. Our one disappointment - the flamingos were nesting somewhere on the remote East end and we didn't see one! My kids were all worked up for that and I let them down - again poor planning on my part. If you want to see them make sure you don't show up during nesting season!

We did bring in a cooler full of food which was definitely a good idea, as it is both expensive and limited on Anegada (we did patronize the local markets as much as possible too - ). At the airport the cutoms official asked what was in the cooler - I said mostly frozen food and he was fine with that, he didn't even look inside. We ended up cooking dinner at home all four nights. Steaks on night one, a leg of lamb the next, lobsters (call Laura from Bonefish Villa 284 495-8045) on Tuesday, and curried lamb (from the leg left overs) on Wednesday. I did all the cooking, thank you. The villa had enough spices (it looked like at least 2 complete sets) to last for years. We did bring some mayo, ketchup, mustard, etc.

Places to stay:

Getting around:

  • D.W. Jeep Rentals Phone: 284 495-2714
  • Buffy's Mooring & Taxi Service Phone: 284 499-1309
  • T & A's Bike Rental Phone: 284 495-8047
  • Mitch's Taxi Phone: 284 499-6683
  • JD's Taxi Service Phone: 284 443-6091

You can reach most of the above on VHF Channel 16

Getting there:

See the Caribbean-On-Line Airline page - scroll down for small inter-island carriers. There is also some ferry service.

Posted by afinta at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)