Green Musings of an Eco Resort

Thursday, January 27, 2011

when you thought it couldn't get hotter: Wood Firing

A few times a year the clay studio does a wood firing here on property. This process from start to finish takes 3-4 days including the initial heating and the cool down. We use old shipping pallets to fuel the flames. Generally they would end up at the dump, luckily we have a few sources that send to us instead of doing that. The most labor intensive part of this is breaking down the wood pallets into manageable pieces that can be put into the small opening. Staff, locals, and guests all participate. The main event takes the better part of a whole day when the fire has to be constantly maintained. Andrew Scully, a recent guest is giving a hand keeping the fire up.

There were 20 people standing around at one point during the afternoon just hanging out enjoying the process. People brought food and drinks and literally sat around the fire. A few days later the kiln had cooled enough for the bricks to be removed and the spoils of their labor revealed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Promo: 6th night Free

Winter Escape 2011 Promotion

Booking Window: Now-January 30, 2011

Travel Window: January 25, 2011 – April 15, 2011

Booking Code: WINTER2011

For bookings made between now and January 30th for travel between January 25 and April 15th, your 6th night is free. This promotion must be booked directly through our reservations department, 800-392-9004 or can be booked online. MUST USE BOOKING CODE WINTER2011 at the time of booking. This promotion cannot be applied retroactively to existing reservations.

How to end a great day?

Yesterday afternoon I decided I would cap my day off with a little sunset sail. It was my first sunset sail of the season and I went out with Fred and Renee of Pepper. I walked down to the beach just as Fred was pulling up in the dinghy. The water was flat like a pool and the easy ride to the boat gave Larry, Susan, and I an opportunity to get acquainted with one another. They are from Pennsylvania and this is their first time visiting, some friends of theirs told them about Maho. (Larry is an Eagles fan and myself a Titan, so the playoffs weren't a topic we stayed on long.)

After boarding Fred gave us a breif history of Pepper, and island sloop. Back before there were roads on the islands, donkeys were the only real mode of transportation. So for several hundred years, island sloops were used. They are very simple yet practical designs and it is easy to see how much easier it made getting imports, exports, animals, and people to and from other nearby islands. There would have been no seats on an island sloop, just plenty of storage and standing room, one mast, two sails, and a tiller. A great boat for getting around the area and perfect for an intimate sunset sail.

Renee passed out some of her famous "White Cap" drinks (will have to sail for that recipe) and snacks and we sat back to let the wind carry us onward. Along the way Fred and Renee were great tour guides giving us historical facts and fun facts about the islands and stories from the past, but it didn't feel like we were on a tour, it all just kind of flowed seamlessly as we sailed along. Susan is a sailor at home and got to try her hand at the island sloop, but we didn't make Larry take Renee's place pouring drinks.

The sunset was great, and we all just kind of stared not really talking, just appreciating. Honestly, it didn't even dawn on me that i hadn't captured it with a photo until just now. It was just one of those moments where everything faded away and the only thing that mattered was that, well, nothing really mattered in that moment........but in the best of ways.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wax On, Wax Off

Not just a Karate training technique anymore. Now its recycling. Sometimes we have linens that become unusable. They get a stain or a rip or its just time to retire them. Instead of tossing them out, we recycle them into hand made items for sale in our shop. Annalisa is our resident artist in our textiles studio. She and her team prepare all of the fabric, put designs into it with wax (wax on), dye it, boil the wax out (wax off), some times adding more wax and more dye for multiple colored cloth, and then they are finally ready for the fabric to be cut, sewn, transformed into a bag, or place settings, bandannas, and anything else our seamstresses can come up with. The process isn't overly technical. In fact, many people take a class here making their own table runner and then go home and continue recycling by buying home kits from hobby stores. You need wax, a brush or stamps, dye, and boiling water; and of course some old linens.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maho Showing Ken Burns Film February and March

What? You don't watch PBS? Honestly, I don't either. But last year we broadcast the Ken Burns (who is Ken Burns?) latest documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea in our pavilion for guests and island residents. I am not much for documentaries, and the National Parks as a whole has never really been on my radar. But by the end of the first episode, I was hooked. Since then, I have visited 4 different parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Alcatraz) and America was right to preserve them for the public.

Can you imagine if St. John were not 2/3 National Park? What if all of the beaches were privately held or commercialized? As it is, 2/3 of St. John belongs to each American although i don't consider myself a land owner on St. John.

The footage of the parks is amazing, and the stories of the individuals who are responsible for making sure these special landscapes are protected are interesting. Often times it was one person who led the drive and who had the passion for individual parks that we can be thankful to for their preservation.

This year we are partnering with the VI National Park to air the series in our pavilion on Friday nights through February and March for island guests and locals. It will give you a new appreciation for the Park System and for how special St. John is being primarily public land.

Our Press Release:

Last year’s popular Ken Burns’ series “The National Parks America’s Best Idea” is now available for public viewing on the big screen at Maho Bay Camps’ outdoor restaurant each Friday night throughout February and March. This beautifully photographed series will be presented in conjunction with the V.I. National Parks each Friday at 8:00pm and offered free of charge.

Originally aired on PBS this series is described as “…a biography of compelling characters and a biography of the American landscape. Nearly a decade in the making, The National Parks: America's Best Idea is a visual feast, featuring some of the most extensive, breathtaking images of the national parks system every captured on film. It contains the most contemporary footage of any Ken Burns film since Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Super Bowl at Maho this Year

This year we will be unable to host a super bowl party at Maho Bay. In years past we have been able to pick up a signal with an antennae or borrow a satellite feed from nearby, but that satellite is no longer active since the quality of service had greatly diminished over the last year. The game is on Fox this year, and our local stations that can be picked up by antennae are only CBS, NBC, and PBS. We've always had a great time showing the super bowl here, unfortunately that will not be possible this year. We will have a taxi sign up for guests to be able to go to town or Coral Bay, but those arrangements have not been confirmed yet as we are trying to find where the best place to send people will be. We apologize for the inconvenience, but wanted to go on and let people know. Hopefully someone who is coming that week is reading this.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Its cold, get a hoodie!

New to our collection is our Maho "Tree shirt" as they are being called around camp. We've taken the design and put it on a hoodie by popular request. Since we had requests while people were here, that means they definitely did not get the opportunity to buy one since they did not yet exist. So, until January 31st (as long as supplies last), we are offering free shipping on hoodies ($50) to the states. Who says Maho can only keep you warm while on island?

Please contact Jamie at to place your order!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Decline of the Airline Wholesalers?

Recent Times article on the retreat of American Airlines and Delta from online bookers

It is no secret that this year airline tickets have taken a gigantic hike in prices. We have certainly felt it here at Maho in our conversations with you around property and also on the phone when reservations are canceled due to a lack of affordable prices. But this issue extends beyond Maho Bay. It extends to our entire industry in the USVI as well as any tourist destination in the states that is generally accessed by air.

Specific to St. Thomas/St. John is the fact that our airport refuses to open earlier or close later. There are many budget airlines such as AirTran and Jet Blue that would be more than happy to fly here at their regular budget prices if they could land later. It is much cheaper to depart airports in various cities in the US on later flights which is how many budget airlines are able to keep their fares lower. The flight times may not be as convenient, but to save $300 per ticket I would have no problem spending my first night in a hotel on St. Thomas when arriving after ferry service ends. When traveling with a family those savings can really add up.

There are some major changes going on right now in the wholesale ticket market with the recent departure of American Airlines from Expedia and Orbitz and Delta from other various travel sites. Basically the wholesalers were charging a high percentage to the airlines and felt that because they gave them so much business, the airlines would not be able to survive without them. American and Delta seem to be testing this theory.

What are the implications? In recent years there has been a huge decline in the use of personal travel agents. It has been one stop deal shopping on major travel sites. Enough options were provided that surely there could be no better way to book travel, even though airlines like Southwest have refused to have fares searched anywhere but their site and are known for low fares (although not yet to the VI). But what will happen when word gets out that you can't actually find all of the flights offered because some of the bigger carriers are pulling out? Sites like Kayak and FareCompare will start to gain even more momentum. You cannot purchase through these sites, but they do a great job of showing you what is available. Personal travel agents will also possibly gain some ground back as well. The industry is changing, hopefully for the cheaper.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A little greener store

Going green is the “It” thing now, it seems. Everyone is being encouraged to use aluminum water bottles instead of plastic, bring their own cloth grocery sacks to the store and buy organic cotton and veggies and pretty much everything else. It’s become a trend; One that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Now, for the most part, Maho is happy to be behind the times. We relish our lack of most modern ammenities and are happy to have absoluley no access to things like the KFC “Double Down” (Well, most of us. Some of the staff guys might have a different opinion about that one). For the last few decades, we have not really been what you would call “hip.” And while the rest of the world was rushing around buying up all the newest gadgets and soaking up a more modern life, we have been here, quietly (except for the tree frogs) and peacefully (except for reggae night) waiting for everyone to catch on.
So, here we sit, under the unexpected and fairly new title of “Trendsetter,” just trying to keep doing what we’ve been doing. The only difference is that it’s getting easier to do that. Stroll through the campground and you’ll see recycling bins all along the boardwalks. Head to the Beach CafĂ© and get your smoothies served to you in biodegradable cups. Walk into the store and you’ll find a whole slew of “green” merchandise, all marked with sweet little hand-drawn “Earth-Friendly” tags. Everything from natural shampoo in biodegradable packages to organic cotton T-shirts to compostable water bottles and potato chip bags (SunChips has now discontinued their compostable bags, and if you ever touched one you know they violated quiet hours!). With the rest of the world finally creating things like these, Maho can only get greener! It’s a great feeling to be able to carry products that reflect the way we try to live. And it seems like it’s going to get even easier to do that.
I don’t think that environmentalism is a trend anymore. Which means we at Maho Bay can go back to our little corner, happy to be where we are and what we are. Happier still that everyone has caught on.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Meet this year’s Registration Staff!

These are the ladies that will be helping you throughout your stay here at Maho Bay Camps and Harmony Studios.

Here we have Charese, Erin, Alley, and Meg. Meg and Charese are both starting their first season as Registration Clerks, though all four are Maho veterans.

Meg joined Maho at the beginning of our 2009 season as a housekeeper making sure all the tents were spick-n-span upon your arrival and folding your towels into fish, stingray and other fun things! As well as working registration she occasionally volunteers in the glass blowing studio making her very own vases, ornaments, and cups. She transferred into the Registration department earlier this summer wanting to experience a different department here at Maho.

Charese started as the smiling face everyone saw at the register in the Maho Dining Pavilion for the 2008/2009 season. She left us for a more “real world” experience back in the States for one year, then realized she just couldn’t stay away! She’s been back on island and at Maho since August of this year and decided to try something new and work the front desk.

This will be the second season behind the front desk for Erin, the Registration Assistant Manager, but it will be her third year here at Maho Bay having spent her first season in housekeeping. Erin has taken full advantage of many of the same activities guests participate in while vacationing on St. John, such as scuba diving. Having gotten certified here at Maho Bay Watersports she decided to take it a little further and spent seven weeks this summer in Dahab, Egypt becoming a dive master!

Starting her fourth year here at Maho is Alley Vandenberg. Alley spent her first summer at Maho in Housekeeping then moved over to Registration. After working for two full seasons, Alley began serving as Registration Manager, and is now on her second season as the department’s fearless leader. When she is not busy coordinating the many facet of Registration, you could find her at Cinnamon bay playing volleyball or planning her awesome Euro-trip for next summer!

We’re here to help you! Please let us know if you need assistance in any way. If there is a maintenance issue in your cabin, we can put in a Work Order to have it taken care of right away. If you need advice on where to eat dinner or go shopping in Cruz Bay, we’re happy to help!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

mouse tales

It's not often one can spot a tree mouse, but today everyone at Maho got a glimpse:

Depending on your viewpoint, the tree mouse or tree rat can be feared and despised or admired and respected for their resourcefulness and adaptability. They feed on quite a large variety of foods, including plant material & bird and reptile eggs. There is only one mammal on St. John that is native, and this little guy is not it; they were probably introduced to the islands via ships importing & exporting.

Mongoose were imported to the islands in an attempt to protect sugarcane crops from these foraging little guys, but unfortunately it was a poor idea: tree rats are nocturnal and mongoose feed by day. Add to that the fact that mongoose can't climb trees and you can almost picture all those tree rats laughing upon the arrival of the mongoose.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lionfish: one down, thousands to go

I had the opportunity this weekend to dive the Wreck of the Rhone in the BVI. While exploring we noticed a Lionfish Marker. Upon closer inspection, sure enough the Lionfish was hanging out less than a foot away. We didn't have the necessary equipment with us. The only equipment we had was to keep us breathing. After our dive we informed the captain/owner of Paradise Watersports on Peter Island, Randy Keil, and he suited up and headed out on the hunt. Because we had already been down for so long, it would have been unsafe for us to go back to that depth for any period of time. Five minutes later he surfaced victorious. It was my first in-water sighting (we have a preserved one named Leon at our Activities Desk) and Randy's first successful capture. The British Government has supplied all BVI dive operations with gear for catching Lionfish.
-Impenetrable gloves
-Clear Dry Bags
-Clear plastic nets (nets is misleading because they didn't have holes, but looked like an oversized aquarium scoop)
-Lionfish Markers
-Heat pack should you get stung in the process, which is supposed to neutralize the venom

Here on St. John Karl Pytlik is leading the charge in the Lion Fish war. Here are two links to vidoes explaining what is going on:

Lion Fish, Part One: The Concern
Lion Fish, Part Two: How You Can Help

We've had Karl out to give a presentation before, and we hope to have him out several times this season to help educate us even more. He is putting in a lot of great work, and with out his organization and charge, we would not be making progress on St. John as we engage this invasive species. Karl runs the Friends of the Park Store in Mongoose Junction and has a few lionfish in an aquarium, stop in to check them out and see the cool natural gifts they have in stock. We'll see if we can't get a guest blog entry from Karl sometime.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Another carrot creation. The Chick Pea village did not survive his wrath.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

We've had some unusual weather over the last few weeks, overcast and cooler than normal for this time of year but ideal for hiking the many wonderful trails on St. John.

Many Maho campers hike over to Waterlemon for snorkeling, but have you ever continued up the Johnny Horn Trail to Brown Bay or all the way to the Moravian Church in Coral Bay? Just five minutes up the hill from Waterlemon Beach you will find the ruins of the Leinster Battery looking out over the Bay. Another five minutes up the hill you will find a small trail on the left which leads to the Leinster Great House ruins. It sits on a knoll with a wonderful view of the Bay below, Soper's Hole, Tortola across the channel and down island. It's well worth the climb!

Maho campers also enjoy the Reef Bay tour with a National Park Guide followed by a boat ride back to Cruz Bay. But many of our adventurous campers do the tour without a guide, hiking down and up both the Mariah Hope and Reef Bay Trails. The Petroglyph Falls are a must see, just a short spur trail near the bottom of Reef Bay although water flow is not guaranteed year round.
Did you know that there are still cannons at the Fortsberg Battery ruins? And there are wonderful ruins of the original Fort at the top of the hill. Looking out from the forts gives you a beautiful view of the Bay and lets you see how well Coral Bay was protected.

Remember while driving or hiking to watch for donkeys and goats. They wonder along the roads and trails, especially on the Coral Bay side of the island.

Concordia campers look out over Ramshead from their cabins and most cannot resist the temptation to "conquer the mountain". The hike is not too steep but is challenging due to the desert like conditions on that side of the island. Try to do this hike early in the morning or in the late afternoon when the sun is not so intense and always bring plenty of water. The end of the hike is at Salt Pond Bay, a great place to relax after a hot hike!

There are many other great hikes on both sides of the island. Check with Activities or pick up a map or book from the Store or National Park Headquarters for more information. Enjoy the diverse flora, fauna and scenery -
Happy Hiking!