Maho Bay Camps Lease Extended; Eco-Resort Will Operate Until July 2012 at Least

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Maho Bay Campground’s lease, which was due to expire on July 31, 2011, was recently extended to July 31, 2012.

Maho Bay Campground is not closing any time soon.

With the threat of its long-term lease expiring this summer, the popular campground was gearing up to close down. Last week, however, the eco-resort was granted a reprieve for at least two more seasons.

The eco-resort is owned by Stanley Selengut, but the North Shore property it sits on is owned by three families. Selengut had a 35-year lease for the property, which was due to expire on July 31, 2011 — which would have made this upcoming season the campground’s last.

 

As the date of Maho’s expiring lease neared, a national non-profit organization got involved to help preserve the area. Trust for Public Land — which was instrumental in obtaining the majority of Estate Maho Bay for inclusion in the V.I. National Park — has been in successful negotiations with the three families who own the campground property.

 

Those talks, however, have not yet wrapped up and in the meantime, the property owners have agreed to extend the campground’s lease to July 31, 2012 and even further if needed, according to campground personnel.

“The three families who own the land under Maho Bay Campground have generously extended the lease to allow for two more full winter seasons,” said Maho general manger and vice president Adrian Davis. “Maho is not closing on July 31, 2011. We now have the extension until the summer of 2012 so we’ll have the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons for sure.”

“In addition, if current sale negotiations fail, another extension is promised,” Davis said.

While TPL continues to negotiate with the three families, officials remained tight-lipped about details last week.

“Negotiations are very much on track,” said John Garrison, TPL’s Virgin Islands program director. “We are pleased that the seller agreed to extend the lease while we’re finalizing negotiations. I can’t really say any more than that.”

Ideally, Maho Bay Campground officials would like to operate the resort for at least another 35 years, according to Davis.

“The ultimate dream is for us to be here for another 35 years,” he said. “Maho would love to continue to operate forever regardless of who owns the land because of what we provide to tourists and to the community.”

With its near-year-round bookings, cutting edge trash to treasure program and popular glass blowing and ceramic studios, Maho Bay Campground has been a vital component of island life and its economy.

“I know the effect we have on the economy here even though we’re just a little campground,” said Davis. “We bring in a lot of people, support food vendors and we’re a haven for people who are looking for affordable accommodations.”

Selengut also operates Maho’s sister property Estate Concordia Preserve, which is located on land Selengut owns.

That resort recently unveiled four new eco-friendly units certified by the Island Green Builders Association as four-star rated. Another four eco-friendly units are slated for completion next month, according to Davis.

With expansion at Concordia on track and a lease extension at Maho Bay Campground, the island’s eco-resorts are now gearing up for a busy winter season.
“This reprieve from closing Maho has earned our landlords the heartfelt thanks of thousands of folks who find Maho an affordable vacation haven in these difficult times,” according to an email Maho sent out to 20,000 recipients.

Hoping to make those supporters even happier, TPL continues to work toward saving Maho Bay Campground, according to Garrison.

“Hopefully, I’ll have a big announcement soon,” he said.

Residents can help TPL’s effort by donating to the Save Maho Bay fund. Check out the website www.tpl.org and search “Maho Bay Camps.”

For reservations at Maho, call 800-392-9004, email reservations@maho.org or book online at www.maho.org.