Green Musings of an Eco Resort

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quiet times

September is here and things are really starting to slow down here at Maho and on St. John as we head into the true off-season. There's so little foot traffic here at Maho that the Hermit crabs are the only ones using the boardwalks in some areas of camp:

Nothing quite like having your own boardwalk expressway if you're a Hermit crab used to taking the off-road route. In case you're curious, this little Hermit made his way down those steps........though not as gracefully as he had hoped.

If you like peace and quiet then come stay with us this can entertain and tease the resident Hermit crabs, be the only visitors on the beach, and still take advantage of an incredible dive promotion.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

a hike for trash

Last week a few of us staff & volunteers thought we had a pretty good idea: do a hike & pick up some trash along the way. What sounded like a simple and great idea turned into one heck of a challenge. The plan was to walk from the Annaberg parking lot out to Waterlemon along the trail, then "scramble" or "rock walk" along the shoreline from Waterlemon to Brown Bay. Once at Brown Bay we'd then hike the trail back to Waterlemon and eventually the Annaberg parking lot where we started. Under normal conditions we figured on about 2 1/2 hours or so, maybe 3ish max. Well, about 4+ hours later we found ourselves gasping for breath, each carrying at least one 30 pound bag of trash on our shoulders. All totaled there were 11 of us hiking the shoreline, and boy did we get a lot of trash: the estimate is roughly 300-350 pounds of trash, enough to fill the back of a pickup truck. We even had one person kayak from Brown Bay to Annaberg with garbage bags attached to the kayak!

While it was a great success, we all couldn't help but feel how sad it was there was so much trash on the shoreline in the first place. About 80% of what we picked up was plastic, and of that most of it was plastic bottles. If we were to do it again we'd probably consider leaving the trash at Brown Bay and coming back for it, or perhaps meeting a boat in Brown Bay. The last stretch after reaching the beach was definitely tough. While we made a considerable dent there is still plenty of trash along the shoreline, especially at Brown Bay. Another option for next time may be going straight to Brown Bay. An even better idea for next time would be to bring a few donkeys - something to help carry that load!

If you're planning on doing this hike yourself? bring LOTS of water and sunscreen, wear a bathing suit, and bring shoes that WILL get wet (not sandals). The good news is that for most of the hike it should be free of trash, but just in case you could bring a trash bag :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane damage

"Tim" is Maho blog follower, a previous volunteer worker, and a returning volunteer this fall and had posted the following comment yesterday: "Good to hear that Maho survived another bout with nature, but that's the "nature" of eco-resorts, they are able to bend and roll with the punches! Looks like I'll have some cabins to repair come October."

He couldn't be more right! The tents here at Maho seem to work with nature in more ways than not, one being in the face of an angry Irene. While most tents had little or no damage, there were a few that will take us some time to repair. We'll most likely not start working on the bigger repairs until sometime in October, in case another storm passes through just after the repair is made.

Highlighted below is an example of a tent and the damage caused to it. This tent was damaged in part because those familiar "roll downs" were left down during the storm. You would think putting down the barrier would help protect the tent from rains and winds, not quite: Having the roll down "down" actually causes more damage to the tent and allows more water and debris to enter, not to mention the time and expense of repair. During a storm like this we have very high winds that cause the roll down to act as a sail, banging against the screen until it breaks, eventually opening up the entire window. Unfortunately we had a few tents where the roll downs were left down or fell down during the storm, pictured below is an example.

Here we have the picture of a roll down, properly attached to the top of the screen with rope. During really big storms we would hope to have all tent roll downs look this way.

Pictured below we have a roll down left down during the storm, and the damage it has done to the bottom of the screen.

Worst case scenario is when the roll down has been blown off, also damaging the screen.....allowing the maximum possible wind, rain and debris into the tent during the storm:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We've been very busy this past weekend dealing with that white mess of clouds that goes by the name of Hurricane Irene. Somewhere below the area of white in the picture above would be land, and more specifically St. John & Maho Bay. While we did need to close Maho and evacuate, the good news is that we're all safe and Maho is open for business again.

No major damage to report, but a heck of a lot of branches and debris to clear over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

plastic grocery bags

In perhaps one of the more interesting stories in yesterdays Daily News, there was an article explaining the plastic bag situation at Pueblo Market on St. Thomas. Apparently Pueblo will not be using plastic grocery bags in the near future: "in accordance with a plea agreement for stealing electricity, the four Pueblo Supermarkets will discontinue using plastic grocery bagsonce they exhaust bags stocked nearly two years ago, according to a status report filed in V.I. Superior Court." Wow, I'm not exactly sure what to make of that statement, but the end result is pretty good! This blogger is certainly interested in how they came to the settlement, which is certainly interesting based on the initial charge of stealing electricity. Not to mention how or why a 4 store chain of grocery stores in the Virgin Islands is trying to get away with stealing electricity in the first place!

In the islands discontinuing the use of plastic grocery bags makes a lot of sense. Plastic bags that make their way into our coastal waters look quite a bit like a tasty jellyfish to our resident sea turtle population, and they've been creating a stink lately about seeing so many grocery bags on their reefs.

At Maho Bay Camps we've never carried plastic bags in our general store, but do get asked quite frequently when guests are at the register. Old habits are hard to break, and when you're custom to having everything bagged before leaving a store it can seem a bit odd when you carry your items out in a reused cardboard box or nothing at all, but that's what we offer! The best alternative of course is to bring your own bag into our store or any store. Pictured below is the selection of boxes available, if needed, in our Maho store.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Maho Restaurant; changes and updates!

Maho Bay is always changing, so if you have been a visitor during the high season you might want to come and see what we are like during the low season. Some of my favorite events are the marching of the sea stars at Warterlemon Cay and the blooming of the Coral Vine, while it is invasive it is still beautiful. While nature changes around us we at Maho Bay change too, from the influx of volunteer workers or the departure of the Schooner Yacht Heron for the season, things are always evolving.

One of the newest and most exciting evolutions is the changing of the Pavilion restaurant into Café Maho Bay. For all you out there that visit Maho between November and July this is something new to you. We take the standard four item selection and explode it into a full twenty plus option menu. The menu included classics like Grilled Chicken Ceasar and an eight ounce Angus Burger to the more exotic dishes like the Rajun Cajun and the regional Rasta Pasta. The menu was developed to suit everyone’s needs from the veggie burger made especially for vegans to smaller portioned items just for kids. If your vacation plans include Maho Bay, between now and November 1st , get your taste buds ready for an exciting culinary event.

Along with changing to the new menu there have been evolutions in other areas. We have started to offer some handmade desserts and no more premade salad dressing. All dressings are made in house by our chefs. While the menus and offerings at the restaurant change to reflect the seasons the service and quality of your stay will always remain the same. We look forward to welcoming back or for the first time to Maho Bay.

Café Maho Bay is open every night from 5:30pm until 7:00pm until November 1st, so make plans to join us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Diving, Restaurant, and Retail Certificates!


Thanks to the wonderful people over at the VI Department of Tourism, we are now able to offer a special Diving promotion for our guests. We are not currently listed as a participating property/diveshop, but we assure you the gift certificates are fully redeemable here at our Dive Shop, Restaurant, Store, and Art Gallery.

Nuts and Bolts:
Guests must book a minimum of 6 nights
Booking window: Now-Nov 30th
Stay Window: Now-Dec 31st
Register here after making your Maho reservation: Dive Promotion

This promotion comes with $300 worth of certificates for Scuba diving at participating dive shops. Because it is during the off season, some shops will not be diving due to boats being out of the water to be worked on and slow season shut downs. Our dive boat, Ocean Quest, should remain operational throughout the entire off season, although we are at the mercy of good weather. It also includes $100 in dining certificates which can be used in our Maho Bay Pavilion Restaurant and $50 in retail certificates which can be used in our Store and Art Gallery. Again, all you have to do is book for a minimum of 6 nights between now and Sept 15th and your stay has to be between now and Oct 31st. Click here to register! (registration cannot be done upon arrival and it takes about a week for us to get the packets once someone is registered)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tommy Star Awards

Every year the Hotel and Tourism Association has an awards ceremony to celebrate those who work in the industry here. We have for many years been nominating Madre, everyone's favorite Maho Employee since 1976! Madre has been with us from day one. She greeted children with a smile who would eventually brought their own children back one day who recieved the same warm greeting. Madre loves to play jokes on her co-workers and also guests who are at first surprised to hear her say "No, I have towels for others, not for you!" to then realize she is only kidding and hear her say "Hear you go, Sweetie" as she exchanges their linens for them.

This year as part of our campaign, we are asking former guests and friends of Maho to write in on her behalf. If you have a fond memory of Madre or kind words to say on her behalf, please please take the time to send us a quick letter or even a postcard. We'll take what we can get! The important part is that we let them know the positive influence Madre has had on our guests in the last 35 years and the best way is for them to hear it directly from you.

We have to officially nominate Madre by Aug 19th, and will send in what letters we have already collected. The whole process usually takes a month or so, and we will have several opportunities to make sure they recieve letters of support that may come in after that date. Don't worry, we'll make sure that everything gets to their office!
How do you support?

1) Send a letter: We hope that we do get quite a few hand written (or even typed is fine) notes in the mail as we feel that will really make a difference. Have a picture from the past? Include a copy!
Maho Bay Camps:
Attn: Madre Support
PO Box 310
St. John, VI 00831

2) Email: "Madre Support" should be the subject line. We would love as many emails as we can get and please feel free to attach photos of Madre as well.

Thank you for your support as we hope to help Madre recieve an award she has definitely earned in her years here at Maho!

Monday, August 8, 2011

what we do for fun at night

"We're all here 'cause we're not all there" - popular St. John bumper sticker.

While thinking of how to write this post I started to think that perhaps those of us that live here are a little bit crazy. How else do you explain 18 Maho staff & volunteers deciding it would be a good idea to go for a hike in the middle of the night to look at the moon? Little crazy, maybe. Lots of fun, yes.

If you're ever down here for a full moon you may consider doing the same yourself. Ram Head is a great 45 minute hike (one way), but it can get incredibly hot in the late morning and afternoon. Hiking under a full moon offers much cooler temperatures and plenty of light cast upon the trail, though you should still bring a flashlight.

Pictured below we have 4 of us crazies spelling out "Maho" under the full moon on Ram Head.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the disturbance of Emily

The last week has been a nail-biter here on St. John and especially at Maho. A tropical "disturbance" formed last Friday/Saturday 600 miles southeast of us, which meant we've been glued to the computer at 8am, 2pm, 8pm & 2am each day as the National Hurricane Center posts updates on the storm. While never a major threat to us (as in having possible H-word status), it was a threat nonetheless and taken seriously for those of us that live and vacation in tents. Initial tracking had the disturbance making its way directly through St. John, but fortunately the disturbance had time to be thrown off track over the past few days. Tuesday morning the disturbance finally got a name and an upgrade in status, Tropical Storm Emily, though by this point it was close to 200 miles south of us. Regardless we've had at least a day of high winds and heavy rain at times as the outer bands pass through us, and expect to be seeing a bit more of the same today.

While a bit earlier than usual (July?!) it's definitely the time of year we're checking the weather coming off the coast of Africa each morning as we head into the "season of the H-word."