Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

St. John Bliss, Part 2:
Paradise (Soon To Be) Lost

On January 1, we received the following message from the good folks who run Maho Bay Eco-Camps on St. John:

Dear Campers, Staff, and All Interested,

We have just discovered that the property which Maho Bay Camps sits upon has officially been sold.  The only information that has been released, is that a direct sale to an unknown buyer took place on 12/27/2012 for $13,950,000.  No one is releasing any more details.  We do not know who they are or their intentions.  All we know is that we are only taking reservations until we close on May 15, 2013.  We will continue to update you as we find out more.

We hope you have a blessed New Year and get to come visit us one last time.

For reservations please call 1-800-392-9004

After operating in harmony with the surrounding forest and beach since the 1970s, this simple paradise on St. John's premier beach is soon to be lost.  This was the view from our tent cabin A7 during our visit over Thanksgiving week:

Its closure signals the end of inexpensive accommodation options on St. John.  Maho Bay Eco-Camps off-season rates are just $85 per night for each tent cabin like the one above.

We were told that the original asking price for the property was $32 million.  Last we heard the price had been reduced to $19 million.  Yet it sold for just $14 mil, less than half off list.  It's the bad economy, they said.  

But St. John is the place the 1% go to play.  It's all but immune from the economy.  I can't help but think that in future years people will wonder how this remarkable parcel of land sold so cheaply.

Here's a view of Maho Bay Eco-Camps from the road on the distant  hill in the above photo looking back towards the camp:

The white dots on the point are some of the tent cabins (including A7) sticking out from the surrounding forest.  That's Big Maho Bay on the right, the place described in my previous post as having excellent big turtle sightings as they feed on the short grass growing on the bottom.  

Little Maho Bay is to the left of the point, and it's separated by another smaller point from Francis Bay, another great place to see big turtles.  Just barely visible over the top of the hill in the distance are the British Virgin Islands.  

All these St. John beaches are pristine and beautiful.  I'm telling you:  This place is as close to paradise as one is likely to find on this earth.  Here's a view of Little Maho Bay with the Maho Bay Eco-Camps SCUBA boat just returning from a dive trip and the yellow island sloop"Pepper" in the distance:

Thank goodness we made it back for one final visit. We are now looking into VRBO rentals elsewhere on St. John for a future trip, but we'll never find a deal like Maho Bay Eco-Camp again.

Sad though we were, we nonetheless let the bliss sink thoroughly in and enjoyed all St. John had to offer.  Well, except for shopping and fine dining.  We opted for simpler forms of relaxation and leisure: snorkeling every day, sometimes twice a day, swimming, sailing on the "Pepper" to more remote snorkeling sites, driving into Cruz Bay for some barbecue pork, watching our son take a glass-blowing class and later a pottery class, and venturing to the Caribbean side of the island to eat some of Vie's scrumptious garlic fried chicken and conch fritters at Vie's Snack Shack:

Life doesn't get much better than sipping a cold lager while chowing down on her delicious garlic chicken, though I did feel just a little bad for the bantams scurrying underfoot looking for a handout, wondering whether they might be tomorrow's meal for someone.

The week went by too quickly, as vacations do when things go right.  In the first three days, between swimming and snoozing, I finished a nonfiction book I'd been trying to read for months and got most of the way through another long book.  It rained a lot, but conveniently almost altogether at night.  Sometimes the downpours leaked in a little.  We didn't mind.  The rain prompted a plague of flying termites to explode from their nests as they do from time to time, leaving dead termite bodies everywhere the next day.

But we didn't mind that, either.  We took it all in stride, because we were in that state of perfect bliss--a complete relaxation of the mind, body, and soul that's hard to reach and even harder to describe.  We just were, for the entire week. 

Leaving St. John at the end of the week, we were ready to join the real world again.  It's a place we will endeavor to go back to.


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