March 12, 2006 – Sitting outside Coral Bay adjacent to Hurricane Hole, Estate Zootenvaal guest cottages provides a peaceful respite in a location that's easy to reach and within an easy drive of Coral Bay restaurants, shopping and nightspots.
"It's quiet, serene and pristine," manager Robin Clair said.
One cottage sits right at the water. The other three are just across the East End Road.
Two of the four cottages have two bedrooms. The other two have one each. All have full kitchens.
Estate Zootenvaal sits within the boundaries of V.I. National Park, giving it a back-to-nature feel.
Snorkeling the calm waters of Hurricane Hole is the main event when guests aren't relaxing on their porch with a good book. Estate Zootenvaal boasts 1,000 feet on shoreline fronting on Hurricane Hole, which is located within Coral Reef National Monument.
The late Frank Porter Sr., a Cadillac dealer and businessman from Cleveland, built the cottages on 25 acres in 1972. He died several years ago, but his children still own the property.
"He loved nature," Clair, the manager since 1990, said.
Born in Norfolk, Va., Clair taught school after graduating with both bachelor's and master's degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
On a sabbatical from the Virginia Beach school system to do research on Caribbean nations, she and Fletcher Pitts sailed off into the proverbial sunset aboard Liberty, a 52-foot Alden Schooner. They landed on St. John in 1987.
"Fletcher said Liberty is happy here, so we stayed," she said.
She and her husband soon became an integral part of the Coral Bay and the St. John community. They sailed Liberty to many first-place finishes in area regattas, including the Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta.
Clair and Pitts started the St. John Kids and the Sea program, a youth educational program that continues to teach the island's children water and sailing skills.
Pitts died in 2004, but Clair, 69, remained on St. John to keep Estate Zootenvaal in tip-top shape. "Maintenance is the challenge," she said.
However, she noted that there are more joys than problems in the manager's job. She said she likes meeting people from all over the world and sharing the island's beauty with them.
"The hummingbirds, the tropical flowers, the sun glittering over the water," she said, ticking off the reasons that help make Estate Zootenvaal special.
As for her free time, she said she didn't have much. "I keep busy," she said.
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