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Serenity Garden Villas is ready to welcome the new year, as well as new and returning guests to their collection of St. Croix luxury vacation villas.
Their rental properties received light damage from Hurricane Maria, causing them to cancel about 5% of their reservations. The villas are now 100% repaired, and power and internet have been restored!
Serenity Garden Villas have a variety of amenities, including swimming pools, spectacular views, golf courses, and the perfect setting for your St. Croix vacation. And they’re all just a short rental car drive away from our wonderful restaurants, beaches, shopping and activities!
To show their gratitude for those who continue to support the USVI and their business, Serenity is offering the following discounts:
Holiday Savings – Referrals
-$400 Cash Bonus for each Referral with a confirmed booking. To be paid after completion of stay – Good all year
Repeat Guest Booking Discount
-Repeat guests will receive a 20% discount off one week Villa Rental. You will also receive Couple’s Massage for two. Bookings can be made for any time of the year. This offer is good for any bookings made by February 1st, 2018.
New Client Booking Discount
-Receive 15% discount when booked with deposit by February 1st, 2018
For more information, contact (305) 542-9198 or Relax@SerenityVacationVillas.com.
Brian was working on a new storage shack for West End Water Sports when we visited Rainbow Beach last week. As of December 20, they had been re-opened for three weeks, ready to outfit you for everything from a lazy day under an umbrella to an adrenaline rush on the flyboard. Brian’s favorite offering at West End Water Sports is the Jet Ski Tour, an excursion to Sandy Point and Ham’s Bluff for some wave jumping.
Hurricane season definitely presented West End Water Sports with their share of challenges. After Hurricane Irma they were able to open for one day before they realized they needed to pack up all of their equipment again for Hurricane Maria. Thankfully, their building and shipping containers, holding all of their jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and other equipment, were in good shape after Maria. They did have to build new stairs in order to access their building. The new shack will replace the canopy that previously covered their life jackets and umbrellas.
When asked if he thinks St. Croix is ready for visitors, Brian says, “Absolutely! It’s still the same island, just with a little extra debris — and it’s getting better every day.”
He did express feeling a little disappointed with the cruise ship traffic. The season started with 22 scheduled ships, jumped to 90+ after Irma, and then back down to 20 after Maria. “We need the bigger ships. If we could just have one to their [St. Thomas] five every day, it would make a huge difference.”
Cruise ship passengers who are visiting St. Croix can make reservations for West End Water Sports activities online. West End Water Sports can also take credit cards at their location on Rainbow Beach. Locals, ask about their loyalty program to earn a discount on rentals.
We don’t think we’ll be inviting any other category 5 hurricanes to St. Croix anytime soon, but here’s an optimistic observation from Virgin Kayak Tours:
“Maria gave the Biobay a boost by washing sediment out of the entrance. Over time the little channel coming in would eventually clog up and effect flow. Also, the Coast Guard has removed many of the shipwrecks in Salt River Bay, so the Bay looks better than before the storm!
Isn’t it remarkable how nature has her ways of taking care of herself?
Virgin Kayak Tours had some light damage to their roofs, but all of their equipment was spared. They closed for the month of October and re-opened on November 1. Offerings include:
Everything is by appointment and reservation with online booking at: www.virginkayaktours.com. All tours are $50.00/person. Virgin Kayak Tours offers locals a 10% discount.
Owner, Jill, believes that St. Croix is definitely ready for visitors. She’s happy to see power being restored in many areas and she says the kayaking this time of year is beautiful!
“St. Croix may have suffered some damages due to Hurricane Maria, but we have all worked so hard for the past few months to get STX looking good, and up and running! And we are all anxiously awaiting visitors!
The World Ocean School’s schooner, Roseway, arrived in the waters of St. Croix in mid-November, ready for a full season of sails and education. Roseway embarks on frequent sunset sails as a way to share the historic schooner with the public and as a source of revenue for the World Ocean School’s educational programs.
This is the World Ocean School’s 12th season and St. Croix has been their winter home since the start. At 92-years-old, Roseway is a registered U.S. National Historic Landmark. We talked with Eden Leonard, Excutive Director, about the School and their programming on St. Croix.
The crew of Roseway are people from all over who are interested in formal sail training, as well as being part of preserving the historic vessel and providing education to youth. Crew educators are AmeriCorps volunteers and have a 12-month commitment. They’ll be here through mid-March when they set off on their return voyage to Boston.
Each year the World Ocean School engages with students on St. Croix to expose them to maritime career options. Historically, they have worked with 5th and 6th graders. They planned to build on their programming every year, but Hurricane Maria put their plans into overdrive. Leonard and crew recognized the challenges schools on island have with a shortened school day and decided to implement programming for junior high and high school students as well.
Working with schools that were the most impacted by the storm, hundreds of students are given the opportunity to go aboard Roseway. Elementary school students are given the chance to see their island home from a different perspective during half-day excursions. Jr. High students engage in a 6-week program to learn sail handling, seamanship, and academic lessons through activities like tying knots, navigating, climbing the rigging and raising the sails. High School students have an opportunity to become Junior Crew Members, earning Sea Time and taking part in maintaining Roseway.
Once partially subsidized by the Department of Education, the World Ocean School is now self-funded. They are in the midst of their Annual Appeal with a goal of $100,000 to fund programming in 2018. Consider making a donation to the World Ocean School as part of your end-of-year giving.
As you know from many of our previous posts, many St. Croix hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants, activities and shops are open for business — and visiting them is one way to help St. Croix’s economy rebound from Hurricane Maria. If a trip to the USVI isn’t in the cards this winter, supporting island businesses through your holiday shopping is another great way to show St. Croix a little holiday cheer!
We talked with a few of our favorite local businesses to find out how they are doing post-Maria and what St. Croix treasures they have for the season.
Sheraw Designs makes beautifully handcrafted wood items from their workshop on St. Croix’s north shore. They have Wine Bottle Holders and Just Limin’ Boards in stock, while their Crucian Cheese N Bread Board is on back order (but they have holiday certificates that can be given as a gift and the board will be available in January). Orders can be taken via Facebook Messenger. Sheraw Designs had significant water damage to their equipment from Hurricane Maria. They are generously donating 5% of sales from the Crucian Cheese N Bread Board to hurricane recovery efforts through the end of 2017.
Bottles Reimagined makes recycled items from Cruzan Rum and other booze bottles that they collect on St. Croix, keeping them from going to the landfill. Their most popular item year-round is their shot glasses. For the holidays, candles are most popular, especially the blue spruce scent. They ship USPS Priority Mail, so orders typically arrive after three days. They encourage ordering by December 20 to be safe. Owner, Lori Hirons, also has an island lifestyle brand called Island Contessa which is sold in various boutiques throughout the Caribbean and online. Her creations are designed to suit the laidback look and feel of island life.
Crucian Rum Cakes makes an island tradition that you can send to friends or family to enjoy. They offer an assortment of flavors and you can even customize yours by adding a flavored Cruzan Rum and toppings. Their two most popular combinations this year have been pina colada rum on butter cake and raspberry rum on the triple chocolate fudge cake (yes, please!). Crucian Rum Cakes ships via USPS Priority Mail and says to order by December 18 to receive cakes by Christmas.
Finally, check out From the Gecko’s “Home” and “Homegrown” t-shirts for men and women featuring St. Croix.
Dear Friends of Centerline,
We hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. It was an absolutely beautiful weekend on St. Croix — we’re still counting our blessings!
There were feasts all over the island on Thanksiving Day. From beach potlucks to traditional family meals, from volunteers coming together to show thanks to aid workers to churches feeding those less fortunate, it was a day of thankfulness for sure.
Friday was Jump Up and Christiansted was buzzing with energy! Food vendors and artisans lined the streets, steel pans played festive holiday tunes, and moko jumbies paraded all around town. It was a fun way to kick off the holiday season!
Sunday was Starving Artists Day at the Whim Plantation Museum. Locals and visitors strolled the grounds taking in the talents of our island artisans, not to mention the beautiful, breezy, blue-skied day.
As if we weren’t already feeling festive, Santa (and Eeyore!) made a surprise visit at Cane Bay with gifts for all the children. Island holiday music set the tone for an upbeat Sunday Funday afternoon at the beach.
St. Croix’s first new resort in 30 years, The Fred, is preparing to open its doors to relief and recovery workers this weekend. Their spa and gift shop are also open for visitors, and other amenities will be available as they are completed.
No hurricane could stop the 2017 Iron Bartender from opening the newest hot spot in Christiansted, Common Cents Pub. A unique menu, cold a/c, and a great courtyard with live music are just a few things to love about this place!
On Monday, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority announced that they are still committed to their goal of restoring 90% of the Territory’s electricity by Christmas. So far, 36% of St. Croix has been restored. New materials and equipment arrived last week and more linemen continue to arrive to help with restoration.
The Virgin Islands Consortium reported that the USVI Department of Tourism has been meeting with major airlines to confirm their commitment to service St. Croix and our sister islands. “We will continue to push those segments of our tourism product that are ready for business, and as we rebuild and more hotel rooms become available, I am confident the USVI will be well poised in the marketplace to attract more visitors back to our shores,” says Dept. of Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicolson-Doty.
See our previous updates on our blog to get a better sense of how businesses on St.Croix are coming along. We apologize that we’re not able to answer all of your questions about the condition of various areas and hotels. To get updates about a specific property or business, please contact them directly. You may also find USVI Department of Tourism’s Hotel Property Update and GoToStCroix.com’s Open for Business List to be helpful.
There’s a new pub in Christiansted and, if you have any common sense at all, you’ll check it out! Common Cents Pub was opened by Jenn Seay, St. Croix’s 2017 Iron Bartender, in the former Tavern 1844 location. She was in the middle of renovating the inside when Hurricane Maria came to St. Croix.
“Our bar is like a bunker!” Jenn shared that they didn’t have any damage other than a little bit of water. Her target open date was November 1 and she ended up opening the second week of November 14. That’s better than some normal “island time” openings!
Common Cents Pub has some unique menu offerings, like the Peanut Butter Blue Cheese Burger, Nashville Hot Chicken, and Crispy Cauliflower. Jenn says that so far everyone who has tried these more unusual items has loved them. She plans to have live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
“I do believe we are ready for vacationers this season. Businesses are open and working extra hard to prove that St. Croix is ready to serve. The island is still beautiful and we are getting better and better every day.
The Fred is St. Croix’s first new hotel to break ground in 30 years. They may be delayed a little by Hurricane Maria, but that’s definitely not going to stop them!
According to co-owner, Topher Swanson, the hotel fared quite well. None of the rooms were impacted. Two mahogany trees fell, knocking out part of their coral stone wall, but rather than be disheartened, they nicknamed the trees Irma and Maria and sent them off to the mill to be turned into beautiful furniture. Storm water and the continued rain filled the hole for their pool and eroded the walls, so that project is in the process of being re-done.
Their original opening date of December 1 is now when they plan to begin providing accommodations for relief and recovery workers. The Fred’s Gift Shop is already open and the Spa will re-open on December 1 — ready for cruise passengers and vacationers visiting St. Croix (book a service at www.RelaxWithFred.com). The bar is projected to open in February. They will continue adding amenities and plan to have everything up and running on April 1 — “April Fool’s Day, and we’re not joking!”
Other great news has come since the storm too. In mid-November, they received their hotel license, liquor license, and had power restored — all in one day!
Once complete, The Fred will have 22 guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, a spa and salon, gift shop, two pools, a beach, and a sky deck observation platform. Amenities will include beach chairs, umbrellas and towels, sunset happy hour, bike rentals, snorkel masks and fins, paddle boards, and kayaks.
We asked Topher if he feels St. Croix is ready for vacationers and he says, “Absolutely! There’s plenty to do right now. Most of my favorite restaurants are already open.”
St. Croix Rent A Villa reached out to let us know that they are online and servicing reservations for vacationers. Through their web site, www.stcroixrentavilla.com, you can rent a villa, condo or cottage directly from the owner and take advantage of other concierge services.
With more than 25 rental properties listed on St. Croix Rent A Villa, they spent a week after Hurricane Maria checking in with owners. They are pleased to report that none of their properties received serious damage. A couple had minor damage and St. Croix Rent A Villa is monitoring repair progress. All others have been cleaned and are ready for guests.
For now, St. Croix Rent A Villa is taking reservations for properties that have a generator. Otherwise, they are accepting reservation requests and will confirm dates once power is restored for individual properties.
Anne of St. Croix Rent A Villa feels good about the progress on St. Croix and our ability to welcome visitors. A combination of Christiansted having power, many restaurants being open, and charter boats offering Buck Island tours lead her to believe that visitors will have places to go and things to do.
“Unfortunately, the island will still be recovering so not everything will be perfect, but with new green growth sprouting, the beauty of the island and the wonderful people will be positive.
“….since we re-opened the resort in 1999, the Divi Carina Bay Resort has utilized Centerline Car Rental as its preferred car rental service on St. Croix!
By simply placing a phone call, Centerline Car Rental delivers vehicles to our guests, complete the paperwork and even provide detailed instructions on how to get to particular areas of interest! “Service” should be a part of their name, as they’ll also pick up the vehicle from the resort, allowing our guests a few more hours of beach time.
The staff at Centerline have always been friendly, efficient and accommodating, without a doubt; the best on island! The consistently high-level of Customer Service, the most modern fleet of well- maintained vehicles and the great pricing is what makes us stay with Centerline Car Rental.”
Divi Carina Bay All-Inclusive Resort
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