A Little Marketing

I’m always trying new things to increase rentals. So I recently read where some owners are putting out newsletters that focus on the unique aspects of their rentals. I put out the following – what do you think about it?

Regardless of where you stay – whether with me or elsewhere and if you’ve never been to St. John, dreaming about a trip or making your tenth visit. The Number 1 activity associated with the beaches and no, not drinking Pain Killers (although that comes a close 2nd) is SNORKELING!

Trunk Bay Beach3


So here’s a little information that might aid you in your snorkeling adventures.

WHERE TO RENT EQUIPMENT? – (Alphabetical Order)

Cruz Bay Water Sports – Located at the Westin – so if your staying there probably a logical choice for equipment. Contract them at 340-776-6234 info@divestjohn.com

Low Key Water Sports – Just turn right at the ferry dock and you’ll run into them. They have rentals, snorkel, sailing and dive trips. Contact them at 340-693-8999 info@divelowkey.com

Lumber Yard – Can’t remember the name of the place, but there’s an addition location, just as you turn into the Lumber Yard (don’t worry, you’ll find it) on the right. Good equipment and nice people.

Paragon Dive Center – Don’t know much about them but unless you are staying at Caneel Bay Resort or other North Shore villas they are probably too far out for those staying in Cruz Bay Area. I suspect most of the snorkeling is done on-site and not one of the better locations. Contact them at 340-776-6111 ex 7290.

Cost for a week rental depending where you rent should be from $50.00 to $65.00/ week. All of the above also have various PADI Certification Classes and offer daily dive trips both in USVI and BVI’s

WHERE TO GO? – There are numerous choices depending on experience, endurance, ability.

Trunk Bay – This North Shore Beach is the Number 1 snorkel and beach destination on St. John. Which means it gets very crowded starting around 10:30 am when cruise passengers arrive from St. Thomas to spend a few hours on this famous beach. So get there early or after 2:30 pm to have a little privacy. Take the underwater trail out to the island. (I’ve always wondered how they got the fish to stay in the same place each day)? Good place for children snorkeling, has all amenities and lifeguard. But honestly, not much in terms of fish.

Maho Bay – A little further down past Trunk is Maho. Park in the new lot or if your lucky by the edge of the road. This is my favorite “beer drinking” beach. Wide, usually no people and likely to see some turtles out about fifty yards or so.

Leinster Bay – Located on the East End near Coral Bay. This is gonna be a hike! Almost a mile from the end of the paved road is the bay and also Waterlemon Key. But well worth it. You’ll likely have company with several wild donkeys that call this area home. Go to the right and swim along the rocks here you will likely see turtles and rays.

Francis Bay – My personal favorite. At end of paved road head down the bumpy dirt road for about a quarter of a mile. Try and get there early during season cause there’s only about eight parking places but if full just park by the side of the road. Usually calm with some overnight boats in harbor. I usually go to the right at end of beach by rocks – lots of turtles, rays, and many types of fish.


Make sure wherever you stay the villa has coolers and chairs for the beach. Take plenty of bottled water and of course, other favorite drinks. See you on St. John and HAVE FUN!

Mike Mullen – Owner of Sopra Mare VRBO 251854, Bordo Mare VRBO 465589

Email: mtbgroup@hughes.net


Pat On The back To All That Works With Me!


Occasionally a “blind hog can find an acorn!” Don’t know who said that, but when I began spending my twenty years in Dallas and they invited me to play poker as I was the only “Yankee” they knew, that expression stuck!

So, we are now heading into June and I gotta say the Aspen mountains are beautiful. But, that’s not what this blog is about.

See, I set a goal last September/October to have more nights rented than any competitor. So thus far through August which encompasses about 440 nights thru Aug 7th we have rented a staggering 438 nights or occupancy of 99.5%! No one, absolutely No One has rented at that rate EVER! So ask, How Do You Do It?

First, I have an excellent team of individuals that work with me on St. John. They are constantly seeking ways to improve the rental process and the guest experience. We are now achieving more than 45% of guests returning and booking for their next Bordo Mare or Sopra Mare experience.

We provide top-notch service. Let me give you just one example – A washer went down in one of the villas. Now it’s not like you just drive to your nearest appliance dealer. No, this is a mess, the motor which is burned out has to come from San Juan and it has taken more than a week to get to St. John. But the Villa Manager – Colleen, took it upon herself to pick up every two days all personal laundry guests had, plus towels and deliver it back to them the same day. Now is that customer service or what!! I ask you?

Another guest, that I talked to last week at the same of the laundry problem villa (by the way the machine which is less than a year old will be fixed tomorrow) stated it was his fifth anniversary. Yea, we went all out and did something special for them.

You ask why guests return, look at the property reviews, talk to the caring staff and learn that we give greater than Four Seasons service to each and every guest. In fact, Four Seasons could learn a little something from us.

In conclusion, I’m proud of each and every one of the individuals that work with me on St. John at Bordo and Sopra Mare!

I’m out of country and contact for the next two weeks. But you can always EMail me. Thanks


Pretty Serious


You know by now if you follow this blog just a little, that I’ll joke with you, give you some advice whether you take it or not, give a rant every once in a while, but things are getting more than a little serious right now on St. John.

We basically haven’t had a good rain in nearly three months. In fact, I just recently read a statement by an island resident that said it’s the worse drought he’s seen in nearly ten years.

The landscaping and plants are suffering but more important is wildlife: donkeys, deer, mongoose, yep iguanas and birds too.

For guests, the weather is great but for those of us, that call St. John our primary home or a second or even third home things “ain’t so good!” Every morning, I look at Ruth’s Web Cam of the dock hoping to see drops of moisture on the lens – nothing.

I have paid more for water bills in the first five months of this year than I paid in all of 2014. We save and contribute to all kinds of island events and crisis, so let’s give a little prayer for rain so the animals can drink.

Have a nice week

Let Me “Think” About This


This has nothing to do with the villa, so click and delete if you think it does. But if you want to read on then thank you.

So, I’ve gotten to a point in life where others seek my wisdom. I don’t know why, cause I’m not that smart, but still they do and it just might be seeking my money – cases in point:

Guy is underwater on a loan – defaulted and now wants to raise $400K. My advice which he didn’t want to hear. Get 60 to 120 days before absolute foreclosure – you’re not getting to save it. Get on with life now that your beginning to be successful a foreclosure or two at your age isn’t gonna mean anything.

Partner – We have a business that we’ve built over the last three years until about $250,000 gross. He says, we can’t find a buyer and sell, I say it worth about $2,500,000 to our competitors and YEP we can sell. Let’s see who’s right.

Next guy, wants to buy Hawaii property. I got no problem with that, but he’s gotta bring 1/2 the money to the table and I”m willing – let’s see what he brings over the next year or two? Cause he’s now just askin for money!

I’ll give you one more a “friend” on St. John has no vehicle. Now this isn’t a kid, but a 29-year-old man. I’ve got a Jeep on island, but every time I’ve lent it to him and another’s I wind up spending a $1,000 in repairs when I get to the island. So, decided last Fall, no vehicle use to anyone of the Jeep. He’s not happy – me I pretty happy it will cost me about $50.00 to get it running.

Told you not to read this Blog!!

Ok! This is a RANT!


I’m pretty much a live and let live guy. I went to a dinner the other night and my host went into this Left Wing what’s wrong in Baltimore. I mean, he wouldn’t let up! All police fault, they are attacking minorities. I asked a simple question – “You ever been to Baltimore?” Cause, see I have been and lived there for a year in Fell’s Point. I love the city, the people and the fact, they didn’t want to be a Northern City during the Civil War. As, I’m mostly from Texas this was important to me.

Anyway, after a glass of wine (which I might add I brought a couple of bottles), I just got up and left without a word. Unfortunately, I left my significant other, who wouldn’t say “Shit” if she had a mouth full and is really sweet, even though she comes from Seattle, which in my opinion, is the Leftest most city in the United States.

In Seattle, if the sign says, “Don’t Walk.” They DON’T. If the sign says “Don’t Walk on the Grass.” They don’t. But I on the other hand, cross between cars and definitely walk on the grass, just cause they have a sign that says “I can’t! I’ll definitely do it and challenge anyone who says I can’t. More on that at another juncture.

Anyway, on with my story. Got a email and phone call from someone in the Mid West that wants to build on St. John. He asked me a bunch questions and final says “You overpaid to build Bordo Mare at $700,000!”

Now that’s fighting words. Why the “hell” is this guy to tell me what is the right cost when I’ve been doing it for basically ten years!

So, I respond, (calmly, but at the same time the blood pressure was now going up), “Where is your architect from?”

Response “Florida.”

So, I say “Has he ever done anything in the Virgin Islands?”

His response, “No, But I’m a home builder in the Mid West and it never costs me more than $120.00/foot to build a house and it won’t cost me more than that on St. John!”

My response, “So, you got a Florida architect coupled with you that has never built on St. John. How you gonna get your plans approved as Department of Planning and Zoning (DPR) really aren’t quick to approve plans for someone not licensed in the islands. Have you considered that?”

His response, “No problem, and he states it won’t cost more than $300,000 maximum to build! One hell of a lot less than you.”

My response, “Let’s get something straight, I’m not charging you a dime, and only want you to succeed and I’m giving you free advice. So here’s the real life figures you, your architect, your builder haven’t shared with you!”

“A trackhoe will pull up to your site on day one. It will cost you on average $150,000 for excavation, cistern digging, pool and access. That’s if considering it’s only dirt, but on St. John, most sites have blue bitch rock – then that same trackhoe will now be charging you upwards of $300/hour with a hammer on the end of his arm. That’s basically $2,500/day. Your Florida architect tell you about that?”

“Next, yea, you can do a Force 10 House, made of steel. I’ve seen them fall over and I mean OVER in less than ten years from rust. Then you can get a prefab house from NC or SC I can’t remember which. But unless they use treated lumber, which they don’t, expect the termites to feast on it. Last, you can use foam filled block, and they may have changed this, but termites feast on it like an Oreo Cookie.”

So, here’s my advice, take your architect’s $300,000 number, double that, because he doesn’t have a “fu****clue about island construction, then add 100% for the builder who now has to make changes to the architect’s design cause he sure as hell doesn’t know what he’s doing and you’ll be about RIGHT!” FOR YOU – IT WILL COST $900,000!


Hey, have a great weekend!

Quit Whining!!!!


In prior posts I mentioned I received from 30 to around 40 real inquires for Bordo and Sopra Mare a month. A “Real Inquiry” is someone who requests information and wants certain dates. It’s uncommon for me to convert less than 25% of “tire kickers” to real confirmed reservations.

Well April has been a whole different, oh and I mean A WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT! This month up to today, I have receive a total of 12 inquires on both properties and I have honestly converted ZERO, ZIP, NADA! Now that doesn’t mean, I didn’t receive some reservations and they all came from returning VIP Guests which I absolutely love.

I was so “bummed” I contacted a couple of my friends with VRBO listings and see how they were doing. One is on St. John and the other in Hawaii. Net results, they both said “Hey, things are great – doin lots of rentals this month!” Certainly, not very comforting words in my bummed out state.

See, I’m pretty much an analytical guy. I got spreadsheets for everything and one of the basic sheets projects revenues and expenses a year in advance. Of course, this is adjusted each month as actual dollars are posted to the spreadsheets.

One of the guys mentioned, “How you doing with days rented versus last year?” Again, I have the information on my fingertips – told him for both villas January – June 2014 I was 84% occupied. For 2015 again for both villas I am 99.4% occupied. His response, “You Dumb SOB! It’s no wonder, you’re not getting inquires. Your so full everyone passes you by, wish it was that way with me!” Oh, and I added I was running more than 14% higher in collected rentals.

Guess, I’m gotta have to stop whining, I don’t have an open date at either villa until mid July. But that still doesn’t stop me from feeling like an unloved “Maytag Repair Man!”

Have a great weekend!

My Happy Villa People!

Tom Verna Howard I don’t post many people pictures but the above is Tom and Verna. Their from Vail, Colorado area and you might say my neighbors as they are only two hours away from my Aspen home. Well they decided several months ago after they rented Sopra Mare for almost three weeks and forking over a deposit, they better investigate where their money went.

So one sunny winter day ole Howard gave me a call and said he was in my neighborhood and would I mind if he stopped by? Well after several glasses of cheap wine, cause that’s pretty much all I drink, even though I got a 1,000 bottle wine cellar they “blessed me.”

Now their enjoying Sopra Mare and you’ll note they’re raising glasses – and I mite add it was a toast to me, as I give them a little gift to Virgin Fire my favorite restaurant owned by a friend of mine – Michael. Looks like their enjoying their first St. John experience and especially Sopra Mare.