Overview of Caneel BayCaneel Bay is located on a 150-acre peninsula on the northwest side of the island and was originally developed by Laurance Rockefeller beginning in 1956. Initially, Rockefeller donated over 5,000 acres of land to the National Park Service (NPS) and reserved the 150 acres, what has been Caneel Bay Resort, for the Jackson Hole Preserve, a Rockefeller family land trust. In 1983 Jackson Hole Preserve donated the 150 acres of land to the U.S. government for inclusion within the Virgin Islands National Park. The preserved land was transferred to the NPS with a 40-year retained use estate (RUE).
Since 1983, the resort under the RUE has been owned and/or managed by different companies. Since 1992, Caneel Bay Resort has been operated by Rosewood Hotels on behalf of the owners, CBI Acquisitions. The RUE is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2023.
With the expiration of the Rockefeller RUE in sight, the NPS undertook a formal planning process to plan for the redevelopment of Caneel Bay at Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. The NPS planning team focused its early priorities on framing the stewardship, community and operational objectives for redevelopment.
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Planning for Future Use and StewardshipThe National Park Service began planning for the redevelopment of Caneel Bay in 2021, and identified the following goals:
On Januray 20, 2023 the National Park Service released an Environmental Asessment for the Redevelopment and Management of Caneel Bay at Virgin Islands National Park. The public and stakeholders were invited to provide comments on the plan over the following months. Under the selected alternative announced on July 28, 2023, the NPS plans to balance enhanced public access, recreational opportunities, resource protection, and park operational efficiency while reestablishing an overnight experience on a portion of the original RUE. This plan also identifies two potential locations for future community spaces where residents, overnight guests, and Park visitors could more directly experience the local culture of St. John and the USVI.
Additional information about the proposed redevelopment and the other proposed alternatives can be found here.
First StepsCaneel Bay was devastated during the back-to-back category 5 hurricanes of Irma and Maria in 2017. Like much of the U.S. Virgin Islands, structures, natural resources and infrastructure recieved catosstrophic damage. The island was forever changed after the 2017 hurricane season. Recovery continues, and Caneel Bay is no execption. The National Park Service must assess all structures, infrastructure, and natural resources and develop a plan for recovery and remediation. Once this data is collected, it will inform a phased reopening strategy for the Caneel Bay area.
Additionally, some specifc needs have already been identified. Extensive work will be needed to mediate abestos that was used in the construction of the buildings and was exposed from the hurricane damage.
Further, over 8 acres of land in Caneel Bay has been identified as having potential environmental concerns from the operation of the wastewater treatment plant, use of chemicals and other pesticides. The NPS is currently investigating this potential environmental contamination prusuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Phased ReopeningThe full reopening and implimentation of the actions approved in the environmental assessment will take time. No firm timetable currently exists for public access, but the NPS will prioritize providing limited beach access to the public once conditions allow. Over time more amenities and facilities will become operational once public health and safety can be accounted for. The NPS does forsee soliciting business proposals for operating the Caneel Bay Resort at a future, yet undetermined date. Please contine to check this website for updates.
Caneel Bay FONSI Presentation, September 2023 (Video)
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A recording of the public presentation exploring the selected alternative for the Redevelopment of Caneel Bay from September of 2023.
NPS News Releases on Caneel Bay
Last updated: September 18, 2023