Photo courtesy of Concordia Eco-Resort.
The sale of the Concordia Eco-Resort to LaVie Boutique Resorts which was reported in Tradewinds last fall has been cancelled, and for now there are no major changes planned, according to Joe Feraco, a member of the resort’s new management team.
News of the sale’s cancellation became known in late January through a widely distributed letter written by Stanley Selengut, the resort’s developer.
In the letter, the 87-year-old Selengut explained that he had decided to retire several years ago and had been seeking a buyer “who understands the importance of what has been created here and would take Concordia into the future.
“Preserving the environment has always been of utmost importance to me. I want to transfer ownership of Concordia only to someone of like mind who will continue the mission we have started here,” Selengut stated in the letter.
Selengut went on to say that “a new owner had not materialized,” and he was continuing to search for a buyer who would be committed to “the principles of profitable environmentally sensitive tourism.”
Selengut had thought that he had found such an owner last September when he announced an agreement with Holland Duell, president and founder of LaVie Boutique Resorts based in Charleston, South Carolina.
Duell had teamed up with renowned architect William McDonough, the author of several ground-breaking books on sustainable development, to draw up preliminary plans for the 25-year-old resort’s makeover.
Jack Zakim, Selengut’s friend, advisor, and lawyer, declined to discuss the reason for the sale’s cancellation, but did say LaVie’s “financing arrangements became overly complicated.”
Zakim said Selengut was once again getting inquiries regarding the sale of the 20-acre resort which includes 25 eco-tents and 17 resort-style studios, and an additional 17 acres of adjacent, undeveloped property.
“The word is out. We’re getting approached by many people about buying,” said Zakim.
Last fall when the sale to LaVie looked promising, Concordia’s management team “moved on with good reason and with our blessing,” said Zakim. He added that when the deal tanked at the end of October, “We had to regroup because we were facing [the tourist] season.”
Two of the three members of the new management team are veterans of Selengut’s resorts including Maho Bay Campground, which closed after nearly 40 years of operations in 2014. Joe Feraco worked at Maho for ten years and at Concordia for ten more years. Bonnie Burkholder worked at Maho for 12 years before joining the staff at Concordia six years ago. Only Eric LaFontaine, the new resident manager, is new to the island and the resort.
The management team works with a staff of 30 that is largely unchanged, according to Feraco.
Those who love Concordia just how it is will be happy to know that rates have increased only slightly – to between $200 and $300 a day at high season – and are discounted in early May. Residents of the Virgin Islands continue to qualify for a 50% discount throughout the year.
Regular events continue as they have for years. Yoga classes are offered in the Upper Pavilion five days a week. The Monday Night Open Mike jam sessions continue to draw a crowd. Local musicians also perform on Thursday and Saturday nights, and at Sunday brunch.
The café, which Feraco says “offers the longest Happy Hour on island, from 11:30 am to 6:00 pm,” serves lunch and dinner Thursday through Monday. (It’s closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.) “Breakfast goodies – coffee, muffins, and pastries –are available at the store seven days a week,” he said.
Feraco said that necessary maintenance work, which had been delayed pending the sale, has now been completed. “Stanley is hoping that a new owner will follow the same footprint, keep it eco, and affordable,” he said.