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The people of St. John

Florida
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The people of St. John

We just returned from a mostly lovely week-long holiday in St. John. Though we loved the beauty of the beaches, we were very shocked & a bit saddened with the unfriendly locals. We were always dressed modestly & were extremely respectful following their customs. When traveling, we always read up on the culture where we are traveling to. We are very cognizant not to be "ugly Americans". We always aim to be quiet & respectful, in general. We have great manners when out & about wherever we are. we greater every local with the customary "Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening." I always had a kind smile.

I have to say, the only place where someone seemed genuinely kind & had a smile was at the gas station when I went to pre-pay. Everyone else was dour - from the supermarket clerks, to cashiers, to people we passed in the car working on the side of the road - the cold, hard stares from these men were the worst. We often felt like we were receiving scowls & generally everyone was happy to take our money but there was zero customer service & no smiles or genuine warmness. Even the ex-pat local service people were generally bordering on rude at restaurants, etc.

My son eagerly told our hairdresser that we just got back from vacation yesterday. When he told him where we went, the first thing my hairdresser said was, "That is a super unfriendly place. The locals want your money & that's it. Was it the same for you guys?" So that's his first impression of the island, too.

While we will definitely return for the beauty the island has to offer, I honestly can say we will bring most of our own supplies & food with us next time. We will probably eat most meals at the villa or picnic at the beach & will probably try to avoid the locals as much as possible.

I am truly not trying to be offensive with this post. I just want a better understanding of what we experienced. Is there something we missed? Did we do something wrong? I just genuinely get the sense it is an unhappy place to be & I don't know if that is because it's such a small, expensive place to live with a good amount of poverty that relies solely on tourism dollars.

St Thomas, VI
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1. Re: The people of St. John

Hopefully you reviewed the establishments online so people know where not to go. It should also be pointed out to the manager/owner. They won't enforce change if they don't know about it.

St John has a huge illegal immigrant problem, and many of them are working roads and construction. They definitely are not happy. Every now and then immigration does surprise visits on the ferry, and it can be pretty "exciting" for all onboard.

Dominican Republic
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2. Re: The people of St. John

What does illegal immigrants have to do with the OP? It is true that locals here can be somewhat standoffish and occasionally even down right rude. I do see it more on St. Thomas than I do on STJ. They don't call STJ Love City for nothing.. There is always two sides to every story, and we have just heard one side.

To the OP, I'm sorry that you found some of the people on STJ rude and unfriendly but usually, "You get what YOU put out on STJ. I'm not sure of the circumstances but as a local, I apologize all the same.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: The people of St. John

Not sure how immigrants relate to Natalie's experience. While driving in St John, we found the construction folks to be very kind and brave to be working the narrow roads. I agree about writing reviews for particular establishments though, whether you felt were rude or great for that matter. That reminds me to write a review for Ms Lucy's... it was great.

Tomball, Texas
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4. Re: The people of St. John

>>St John has a huge illegal immigrant problem, and many of them are working roads and construction. They definitely are not happy. Every now and then immigration does surprise visits on the ferry, and it can be pretty "exciting" for all onboard.<<

Really? St. John would be the last place I'd pick, considering the cost of living. I live in one of the states with the worst illegal immigrant problem in the U.S., but I can see why Texas would be appealing.

We had very few instances of unfriendly people, on our recent visit to St. John. I wouldn't even call them unfriendly. More like unenthused, and really, I get it. I'm on vacation. They're not.

For the most part though, everyone was very friendly. Some stuck out more than others, in particular the staff at St. John Spice and on the Kekoa, and the employees at Viva Vacations.

Edited: 15 August 2014, 17:12
CT
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for St. John
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24 reviews
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5. Re: The people of St. John

I do agree that it is important to give establishments feedback on poor service, without that feedback, they do not know to change.

In all my years of traveling to STJ, I will say that my bad customer service experiences are few, but just like any place in the world, people have bad days or are struggling personally and it comes across in their jobs. Should it?Absolutely not but we all know it happens. we complained about service we received at a restaurant years ago and the owner was mortified at how we were treated and had no idea what was happening when they weren't there. We have since returned with great service. It makes a difference when you speak up.

I will say that if you can find a supermarket cashier or a roadwork construction worker that is happy and greets a customer or a passerby with a smile, then please send them to CT. I have yet to encounter one anywhere I have lived or traveled.

kod
Sarasota, Florida
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6. Re: The people of St. John

I agree with the above posters. I have encountered indifference and lack of prompt service especially at the Starfish's deli section. But I don't care cause I am so happy to be on vacation at my favorite spot. I do not expect the locals to be too friendly and don't take it personally. They are working and I imagine not making that much money. There has got to be some resentment. Once in a while, you get to strike up a conversation with someone, and then some of the barriers dissipate. I would suspect that some of the behaviors stem from racism which exists everywhere.

St Thomas, VI
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7. Re: The people of St. John

Because op made a reference to men on roadside, and they, unless working for the government, are likely to not be legal locals.

I had to work on St John for a few weeks, and noticed a less friendly vibe. One exception that stands out was the salesperson at the store near the Chinese restaurant across from Wharfside Village. Oh, and a cook at Roma's.

Illegals go where they can - not where it's cheap to live. Many commute from St Thomas. Many locals are aware of it, and they are bothered by it. Puerto Rico has similar problem and Coast Guard has to regularly rescue them from remote Puerto Rican islands.

Tourism recognizes the problem, and offers free customer service seminars several times a year. So does the Ritz Carlton. It's not an easy problem to solve.

Bronx, New York
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8. Re: The people of St. John

@Tinker, when I was in Maui several months ago.. we would pass construction workers doing road work, we'd give a little beep & throw em' a Shaka sign & they were all smiles and Aloha : )

I'll be down in STJ in 2 weeks for my first visit so, guess I'll see for myself .. Ok I'll go back to lurking now 0: )

St Thomas, VI
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9. Re: The people of St. John

One cashier at Pueblo on St Thomas near Wendy's stands out. She wears a red hibiscus in her hair every day. Friendly greeting, usually using the word "dear." Sweetheart.

CT
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for St. John
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10. Re: The people of St. John

The construction workers in CT have another gesture for you when you give a beep on your way by. :)