Eco-resort pioneer Stanley Selengut, below, overlooking Ram’s Head at his Estate Concordia Preserve. Concordia Eco Resort seen from the water, above.
Eco-tourism guru Stanley Selengut, the founder of the Concordia Resort and the former Maho Bay Camps may be losing his eyesight, but he hasn’t lost his vision.
Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Selengut’s Concordia eco-resort on the southeast corner of St. John is either too big or too small
Recent national publicity for Concordia has been great, but it can’t increase occupancy at his eco-tourism laboratory overlooking Salt Pond Bay.
“We’re totally booked,” Selengut says of the current season. “February occupancy is 98-point-something percent. Some people are moving every night to a room vacant between bookings.”
In a January “Today Show” television appearance, a Travel and Leisure magazine representative mentioned Concordia “and we got 16,000 hits the next day,” Selengut told Tradewinds.
“Two weeks ago we were written up in the Boston Globe,” added Selengut who said the resort had only one opening in March. “We have 20,000 people who are repeat customers.”
With Plenty of Customers, Seeking a Buyer
Selengut doesn’t need publicity to sell his loyal clientele on Concordia, but it might help him find someone to buy the resort and complete his vision.
“It’s too small,” Selengut said. “It’s only 42 units. We didn’t start to make money at Maho until we had about 60 units.”
Rather than focus on making more money on each guest, the eco-tourism developer wants the future Concordia to be affordable rather than exclusive.
“Smaller resorts usually get by by charging reasonable rates,” Selengut explained. “I’ve always tried to stay affordable. I’d hate to have a place just for the wealthy.”
Selengut knows Concordia probably will never become the new Maho Bay Camps, which was popular with “people of like minds, but not like pocketbooks,”
“It just all worked,” he said. “Concordia could work as a more expensive luxury resort, but it’s just not what I have in mind.”
Selengut says Concordia has the staff to support 60 units, but he doesn’t want to go through the development process and red tape that would be required for any expansion at the resort.
Although the resort originally had Coastal Zone Management (CZM) approval for the construction of 106 units, there was a time limit and, after two extensions during the recent economic downturn, the permits now must be renewed, according to Selengut.
“I’m 85 years old and blind,” Selengut said matter-of-factly. “Realistically, I really can’t go through the process.”
Sustainable Development Showplace
Since Selengut started Concordia on land he owns about 20 years ago – about 20 years after he had opened Maho Bay Camps on leased land on the northeast shore of the island – the newer resort has become a showplace for sustainable development as much as Maho Bay Camps was for eco-tourism.
“We’re still sort of working on it,” the eco-tourism guru said of his experimentation with new sustainable materials and building methods at Concordia.
Selengut, who lives in New York City and Florida, also owns 14 one-acre-plus building lots around Concordia and “about five acres nearby” which was seen as a commercial development site for the isolated community.
Selengut donated neighboring Nanny Point to the V.I. National Park to preserve the property from development as a building site for one large, exclusive home – and to preserve the views to the British Virgin Islands from the residential building lots adjacent to Concordia.
Working on Business Plan for Sale
Selengut said he has not listed the Concordia properties for sale but is working with “a few” potential buyers who would continue his work.
“We have someone working on a business plan to come up with a realistic value,” Selengut said.
“It’s as much up for adoption as it is up for sale,” Selengut said matter-of-factly of the resort which was going to be the ultimate manifestation of his vision of of eco-tourism and sustainable development.