Green Musings of an Eco Resort

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Maho Learnings

I learned something new this week at Maho. In having a conversation with some repeat guests, Ben and Michelle, the topic of "no seeums" and sand fleas came up. In the four years they have been coming, they have never had a problem with no seeums in their tent, and they have stayed in various places on camp and at different times of the year. Their secret?

"Scott - this is what Michelle uses to eliminate any sand fleas in our bedding. We sprinkle some on top of the bottom sheet every other day. We also sweep the tent everyday to limit the amount of sand in the tent"

Monday, December 27, 2010

This Day in Green...

This Day in Green... The guy in the spacesuit next door: Beekeepers

Came across this -The Beekeeper Next Door - in the NY Times and it reminded me of the fact there is a huge beekeeping movement going on in the USVI right now. Amateur beekeepers are popping up everywhere. Who knows, maybe one day you will be able to get your hands on some organic honey produced right here on property!

Here are some local links regarding VI Beekeeping:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
By Inclement Seamore

'Twas the night before Christmas on land and on sea
Not a creature was stirring, not even the donkey.
The stockings were hung on the palm trees with care
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
With visions of coconuts dancing in their heads.
And Mama in her bandanna and I in my straw hat
Were sitting there wondering where Santa was at!
When down on the beach there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the sun deck I flew in a flash
Stepped on a hermit crab and came down in a crash!
The moon on the water it did glow
And gave the luster of midday to objects below.
And what to my wondering eyes I saw on a noose
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny mongoose!
With a little old driver so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick!
More rapid than pelicans, his mongoose they came
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.
Now Rasta, no Pasta, now Pepper and Chili
On Plantain, on Guava, on Calabash and Willie.
To the top of the deck, to the top of the wall
Dow dash away, dash away, dash away all.
So up to the house top the mongoose they flew
With a sleigh full of toys and Saint Nicholas too.
He was dressed in a swim suit and Maui Jim glasses
And had a sunburn from his head to his.....rear end!
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings and turned with a jerk.
And laying his hand on top of his head
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yell
And away they all flew like a bat out of .......a cave!
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
Happy Christmas to Maho and to all a Good Night!

This Day in......White?

This Day in White: In Snowy Syracuse, a December That's Whiter Than Usual

I find that no matter where you are, people always wonder what its like to be where someone else is. We obviously get that a lot living here on St. John, and usually for positive reasons. But often times we also wonder about what it would be like to be in a place that is extremely different, but maybe not in a paradisaical kind of way. I was checking up on the weather and came across a now very popular article in the Times about Syracuse, NY and the insane amount of snow they have gotten already. We can become used to anything as humans given enough conditioning. Residents on St. John can be seen in long sleeves when it drops below 74, and glassblowers can take something off the grill with their bare hand and not even think twice about it. Who needs tongs when you handle molten glass from 2 feet away all day long? At some point we just accept what is around us as "it is" or "we just do". The residents of Syracuse have obviously learned to cope with 6 ft mounds of snow everywhere (I don't even think they consider it coping, just going about life).

Lets take it a step further though and look at the phenomena of accepting as is from a green aspect. How many of us have been recycling for our entire lives? Many communities and even countries are way ahead of the curve (based on the US curve) when it comes to this, but many are on that upper slope. As someone in my late twenties, I honestly didn't start until I moved here. It wasn't something that was deemed overly important in my community in TN. Sure, we had people come talk and parents volunteer in elementary school to show us how, but it never got to the point where "we just do". The same is actually true for St. John up until recently (last two years) when St. John Recycling Committee started putting out recycling bins all over the island. There was a time when they were new and cool and we were excited. Now they are just there and we just put cans in them, as we should.

As conservation, recycling, and "greenness" become more and more prevalent in every day life and conversation, we will see a shift in our society and communities where these practices aren't special. Composting in Cambridge, Mass, for example, will never get a front page headline since everyone gets free composting bins and you can get fined for having too much waste. However, one building making that pledge in a community somewhere else may receive a lot of attention and be lead innovators. It will be nice one day when the Green/Environmental section of the newspaper becomes pretty much ignored because it is no longer unique or special. Who wants to read about normal things we all do? It would be like a section devoted to people drinking water and breathing in air. One day clean energy and recycling/conservation will be nothing out of the ordinary in our every day life, but looking forward to that day we know that it will in fact be special when we have reached a critical mass.

I miss a good white Christmas. If anyone from Syracuse is reading this, I will trade a jar of sand for a jar of snow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Maho Christmas

Is it snowing where you are? We’ve heard the weather gets cold this time of year, though our beach-filled weekends make it easy to forget sometimes. In the States, if I remember correctly, the air is crisp and cold. You can even see your breath floating away slowly as you scrape ice from your windshield. You get into your warmed-up cars and turn on the radio, which is either playing holiday music or urging you to take advantage of a million last minute sales. You drink things like hot apple cider or gingerbread lattes

and they warm up your hands. Everywhere you turn, there are red bows and green garland and twinkling, snow-covered lights. December is not very subtle in the States, is it?

Things are a little bit different around here. One day, we are comparing tan lines on a sunny beach and the next day…well, the next day, it’s Christmas. It sort of sneaks up on us. Don’t get me wrong, we try. We let Bing Crosby sing to us about White Christmas dreams, but he is usually interrupted by Bob Marley and his Three Little Birds. We rock around our mini-trees and make hot chocolate on our Coleman stoves. Our screened windows are lined with multi-colored lights, and many of us have found a place in our little tents to hang stockings. We dress up our tank tops with Santa hats and take a staff picture for the Maho newsletter. And on December 25th, the 60 members of the Maho staff sit down to Christmas dinner with 300 other people.

It might be a little less than traditional, but we are lucky enough to have a makeshift family of our own and persistent enough to inject as much holiday spirit into our coconut flavored lives as we can.

There are things that we miss, obviously. Personally, I am jealous of those gingerbread lattes. Also, snowball fights and red mittens. We miss our families and we think we miss snow days, though we probably wouldn’t feel that way were we to actually encounter one. But we have traded pine trees for palm trees and hot apple cider for cool Caribbean showers, and all in all, St. John gives us a pretty good December.

It may not quite feel like the holidays at home, but then the holidays at home don’t quite feel like Maho.

Fare Compare

Today was an exciting day for me. I discovered Fare Compare. It got even more exciting when I was starting to write a "How To" on using the site to find the best flights using their site when I discovered that they had already created that page for me! When messing around I found flights in January for $298 RT from both Chicago and Atlanta to St. Thomas. The most important part in successfully navigating Fare Compare is to make sure you check the "My dates are flexible" box which will give you the grid you see below.

Four Steps to Finding Cheap Flights When Your Travel Dates are Flexible

FareCompare’s When-to-Fly Flexible Calendar Search makes it easy to find the the best price for your trip. When you are shopping for flights, simply select “My dates are flexible” and FareCompare will show you the cheapest days and times to fly on your preferred departure date, as well as other dates near that date.

When you’re planning a trip, the best way to save when booking your flight is to shop using FareCompare flexible calendar search. FareCompare When-to-Fly flexible calendar instantly searches hundreds of date and length of stay combinations, allowing you to instantly compare dates and times, to find the price that fits your budget. And it’s easy as 1 – 2 -3.

Flexible Calendar Flight Search – Find Cheap Flights Fast

1. Choose your destination and preferred flight dates. When you search, select the “My dates are flexible” checkbox.

Flexible Calendar Search

2. Shop using the flexible calendar. Once your search is complete, you can shop the results for the specific day you selected in your original search, or you can shop using the flexible calendar search on the left.

The dates highlighted in the calendar are the cheapest days to fly in the thirty days surrounding your preferred departure date. To change your departure date, simply click on the price in the calendar.

Flexible calendar search

3. Choose your length of stay. Instantly compare prices for your selected departure date. The FareCompare When-to-Fly Flexible Calendar Search easily lets you compare prices and departure dates, eliminating the need to ‘hunt and peck.’ FareCompare completes the equivalent of hundreds of searches with one-click.

Once you’ve selected your preferred length of stay, click “Select.”

Choose your length of stay

4. Complete your search – choose your itinerary. Once you’ve chosen your length of stay, allow your itinerary search to complete and choose you preferred itinerary on the results page.

Choose your itinerary

You can continue to shop for flexible days, simply repeat the process until you find the price that fits your budget. To be sure you always get the best price, signup for FareCompare When-to-Fly Airfare Alerts or get real-time When-to-Fly tweets on Twitter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

iguana views

Apparently our guests are not the only ones that enjoy the views of Francis Bay and Whistling Cay from this Harmony unit. Last week we had a few of our units empty of guests, so this full-sized adult iguana decided to move-in, taking up residence on the deck railing each sunny afternoon.

As pictured he's headed toward the trees on the right, apparently a little camera-shy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

You never know what you'll run into at happy hour in the dinning pavilion! Occasionally one or two of our staff members like to get creative and put a smile on your face while you're hanging around the bar area & register........this latest creation is of course a glassblower, complete with the red-hot bubble at the end.

Friday, December 17, 2010

not sweet at all!

Too much of a good thing is not good at all: we love bees here at Maho and the Virgin Islands, but lately they've just been far too active!

For years we've had an old tree in D-section with a perfect hollow in just the right spot for a bee hive to thrive. Some years there are just a few that call it home, but this year the colony has been very strong and very active, growing their numbers considerably. Unfortunately we have a few tents in the area, and when these bees swarm and buzz about the area it can be a little intimidating.

The good news is that we've had Rupert the "Bee Man" come out and "talk" the queen bee into a wooden hive box, with the others slowly following their leader. This has been working, and once all have found the new home we'll have to fill-in the hollow.

The sweet ending? Rupert was sure to pass around the honeycomb from the tree hollow, and boy was it delicious!

Pictured is a close-up of the bee box just under the boardwalk, as well as the tree which has a "honeybee hive in tree" sign posted.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Visiting Artist Sam Stark

The month of December brings a special treat to our guests, staff & resident glass blowers; Sam Stark is here as our visiting artist for the month. Not that we don't appreciate and enjoy watching our resident glass blowers, we certainly do!

As a visiting artist Sam will help to develop new product designs and teach our full-time resident glass workers how to make them. It always helps to have new perspectives and ideas flowing as we try to create art which will be both entertaining to watch and of course purchase. It also helps to have that extra hand this time of year, breaking down those empty Corona bottles you've enjoyed and placed in our recycling containers. Sam has told us he finds inspiration for his most recent glass pieces while snorkeling with his family around Little & Big Maho Beach; which is certainly evident in those incredible octopuses he's been making. Come watch him and see for yourself as he re-creates his favorite sea-life and underwate
r scenes in our evening glass blowing demonstrations.

Some background on Sam: Sam owns and operates his own glass studio in Ashville, North Carolina where he lives with his wife Oksana and son Max. Sam has been educated by and worked for some of the greatest glass artists in the U.S and abroad such as Dale Chihuly, Lino Tagliapeietra, and Lordano Rosin, to name a few. While Sam's body of work range from simple functional pieces to large scale, abstract, installations, all of his glass art reveal his special interest in the harmonization of layered colors and the way they transmit light. More info at Stark Art Glass

Sam particularly enjoys interacting with and educating our guests at demonstrations so don't miss out on the opportunity meet this accomplished artist and watch him transform yesterday's beer bottles into timeless pieces of art.

Free public Glass blowing demonstrations Tuesday- Saturday 6:30-9:30pm

Coming soon... our guest artist for the month of
January: Brent Craig (aka: Beagles)

Pictured is one mean looking octopus, quickly becoming a staff & guest favorite, as well as a new jellyfish paperweight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boston to St. Thomas for $69!

Wow, I was just talking to a guest leaving today that mentioned he got down here from Boston for just $69 on Spirit. $69! I checked myself and found the same for flying before and after the New Year. We still have availability for the very end of December and beginning of January, so check it out! The flights I checked were leaving Boston on the 28th and returning on the 5th.

before/after pressure washing

Last week we had a post about pressure washing our boardwalks and decks, and while we had a picture of the "before" deck, I couldn't get a picture of "after" as someone has been in the unit. above we have an actual comparison of the same deck before/after in one of our Harmony units.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meet the Maho Restaurant Staff

Like our guests, our restaurant staff come from all over - California, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee.

We thought we'd give you an overview of who you'll see when you arrive for breakfast or dinner with us this season:

Starting his 3rd season with us would be Jeff, who you'll see through the kitchen window wearing tie-die shirts (made here!) at breakfast........he makes incredible granola.

Mike Jones is in his 3rd season as well. He is our "Prime Rib Night" King, and also works at the Beach Cafe.

Jeremy, starting his second season is the Zen Master of the sandwiches you'll be grabbing before a day of snorkeling or hiking. He's found mainly at our Beach Cafe during the day, serving up those smoothies and adult beverages.

Rounding out the "old timers" are Chris and Stephen, both in their 2nd seasons. Look for Chris's breads and muffins and his loaded scrambles at breakfast, and you'll see him at our "South of the Border" night as well. Stephen, one of the 3 brothers at Maho is our pizza and stromboli king on "Italian Night."

Completing our kitchen crew is a whole crop of "newbies" in their 1st season at Maho. Leigh is in charge of the morning fruit & dinner salad bar. Frank is the rising star of the Italian Night. Chris is especially great at Naan bread on Asian & Caribbean Nights. Chris is also our Speed King, whatever he does he does fast. Finally we have Ben from North Carolina and that southern charm. Leigh calls him "huggy bear" because he's so friendly.

Erik & Liam are the backbone of the kitchen. Without them we wouldn't have clean dishes, glassware or pots & pans.

Out front you'll be greeted by two charming ladies at the register, Shawna & Danielle. Shawna is in her 2nd season and Danielle just started this season. Also out front at our bar will be Sarah and Tony, both in their 2nd season. No doubt you'll be asking one of them for a cold beer to go with your popcorn at our Happy Hour or a glass of wine with dinner.

Leading this incredible team would be Mark our Restaurant Manager and Crispin our Assistant Manager. The whole team looks forward to seeing you at the Pavilion Restaurant for breakfast and dinner this season!

(pictured above we have a happy Stephen and Ben through the kitchen window, and below would be Sarah and Danielle running the bar and register.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Day in Green...

New segment coming to the Blog. There are all kinds of awesome things going on both locally and internationally that we come across in daily conversations and readings online. Since we have a blog and an audience, we figured we'd share what we think is cool.

Today in This Day in Green.... KRISTIANSTAD, SWEDEN.

Check out what Kristianstad is doing to reduce their fossil fuel use in this NYTimes Article .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pressure washing

Living in such a tropical climate right on the water creates quite a challenge when your resort is made almost entirely of wood. One of the coolest projects we work on over the Summer and Fall as we prepare for our season is the pressure-washing of the boardwalks and decks. Each morning our devoted volunteers and staff don a pair of headphones, find a favorite playlist on their ipod, and zone-out to the vibrations of the pressure-washer as they make their way through camp. Some prefer to go without the headphones, choosing instead to both feel the vibrations and listen to the loud drone as they meditate and contemplate the meaning of life. One thing for sure? - the job they do is pretty incredible and the results speak for themselves:

Pictured above is a Harmony deck that has been pressure washed (on the right) and a deck before being pressure washed (on the left).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Replicating Taino ceramic artifacts

Maho Bay Clay Works is making some replicas of ancient Taino ceramic artifacts for display and education in an exhibit at the archaeology lab at Cinnamon Bay. Most of the artifacts were unearthed in the dig adjacent to the old stone warehouse on the beach at Cinnamon.

The project is being funded by Friends VINP and directed by Park Archaeologist Dr. Ken Wild, this is a wonderful opportunity for Maho Bay potters Gail and Stephanie (Stephanie pictured).

For more information or to contact Maho Bay Clay Works: and

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bananaquit update

Update on the mini Bananaquits: The Maho Store can now join the ranks of official Empty Nesters. Our tiny birds have flown away, just like the ones before them. We’ll leave the nest up and wait another winter for the next set of tiny, yellow beaks to peek out.

In the meantime, there has been quite a bit of activity right outside of our Textiles department. Apparently we have some newlyweds expecting shortly and they've been busy building the nest - mostly out of string and fabric stolen from out textiles tent! These bananaquits don't have the same discriminating taste in water views as our store friends, instead they'll have a great view of all our guests moving about the main boardwalk.

With the picture on the left you can see a piece of string hanging out of the beak, gathered (or stolen!) not more than 5 feet away from the tent in the background & our creative textiles staff.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baby Bananaquits

If you have been to the Maho store lately, you may have noticed a bit more noise coming from our tiny back deck. Some Bananaquits, it seems, decided to take up residence in the Maho penthouse suite and build a nest right on top of a windchime hanging outside. About 5 very tiny, very loud yellow beaks have been gracing our presence for a little while now. They are nice enough to let us know exactly when it’s time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh, and snack time. They won’t let you forget about snack time. I’m not sure what to charge for rent, and I am sure they’re breaking some National Park noise ordinances, but they’re pretty cute. So, we’ll let them stay.

Pictured Below: you can just barely see a little yellow beak popping out of the nest, trying to enjoy the ocean view.