Around Christmas time, driving in the evening on the South Shore Road ½ mile east of the Divi Casino resort brings an unexpected treat. You will be charmed by a beautiful display of Christmas lights unlike any other on St. Croix. Angels, reindeer, a nativity scene and palm trees wrapped in miniature lights illuminate the entrance to Bella Sera, the spectacular oceanfront home of Larry and Peg Meyer.
Larry and Peg came to St. Croix in 1972 when Sun Country airlines was running direct flights from Minneapolis to our lovely island. They chose St. Croix because it was the cheapest package deal out of the Minnesota cold that they could find! They began returning to this island every few years until 1993 when they completed their pink ocean front vacation home, Paradise Point. They then became regular visitors to the island, renting their villa to visitors when they were not there themselves. Over the years they had visited almost every Caribbean island and when they decided to sell their Minnesota businesses and retire, they decided that St. Croix still captured their heart, and they would build their retirement home right next door to Paradise Point.
The Meyers met at St. Cloud State University when Peg recruited Larry for the college yearbook organization she was involved in. They dated during the college years and got married the day after Larry finished his finals. Always up for an adventure, they went camping across Canada for six weeks on their honeymoon.
Uncle Sam called shortly after, and Larry joined the Army Reserve doing public relations projects for the military. Later he worked for the Governor of Minnesota, Wendell Anderson, while Peg taught English and Speech in high school. Peg started another career as the PR director for St. Theresa’s college in Winona, Minnesota and later became Publications Director for St. Cloud State University. Larry started a business out of their St. Cloud, MN home in 1976 and expanded the business to fundraising and teleservices. Two years later, Peg started her own marketing and advertising company. A data processing company was added to the mix and in the years that followed they got involved in flipping real estate properties – from houses to old hotels – and Meyer Commercial Real Estate was born. At its peak, the “Meyer Companies” had over 400 employees in St. Cloud, Little Falls, and northern Minnesota’s iron range city of Eveleth.
They were both very civically active in St. Cloud, Minnesota to the point that Larry was elected mayor of that town! They raised their three daughters, Heather, Tiffany and Crystal in St. Cloud and then the empty-nesters started to think of retiring to a warmer climate,
Their newest home, Bella Sera (“Beautiful Evening” in Italian) is a commanding golden color with a deep blue roof. The plans took eighteen months for the permitting process and the house took four years to build. The south facing roofs have solar panels and produce a peak of 8500 watts of electricity at noon. They did most of the painting and finishing work themselves on the house, staining each mahogany door and window with three coats of stain. It was a labor of love but any visitor to Bella Sera can see the passion and attention to detail given to this fabulous home. They did all the sourcing and buying from Miami. Peg sketched all the tile patterns herself and none are repeated throughout the home.
To understand the Meyer’s retirement work here on the island, it is necessary to flash back. While still living in Minnesota, they had a religious conversion experience, eventually leading to Peg’s decision in 2001 to sell her advertising agency and get a master’s degree in Theology from the Institute of Pastoral Theology through Ave Maria University in Florida.
Their religious faith is a strong theme in their lives, and they even built a small chapel in Bella Sera. They are very active in their Catholic faith community and give readily of their time and talent for the church. Peg is a volunteer Bible teacher and instructs 7th through 12th graders at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Schools. Larry also serves on the board of the Virgin Islands Boys and Girls Club, continuing his work for youth that started in Minnesota.
When asked what they love most about St. Croix, they have a hard time coming up with one answer. Larry appreciates the weather, the sea and the sun and the fact that he can walk around in his bare feet 100% of the time. Not a pleasure enjoyed by native Minnesotans who live much of the year in frigid temperatures. Peg brings up the warmth and caring that a majority of the people on St. Croix exhibit. She says there is really something special about them in way they care about each other, letting people go ahead in traffic, not being in a hurry and taking the time to greet everyone. She feels that since the refinery closed there seems to be more of a sense of urgency and people are more worried about life.
Both of them talk about the difficulty of “getting things done” here compared to the mainland but feel that having the right attitude is everything to making a successful and happy life here. They encourage people not to think of life as a series of tasks, but rather an adventure to be savored and explored. Today they greatly enjoy seeing their grandchildren discover the joys of island living that their daughters first experienced years ago. There is much to see and do on St. Croix and many opportunities to get involved. Larry and Peg Meyer certainly practice this in their daily lives and are happy to call St. Croix, and specifically Bella Sera, “Home”