Sure, has been one “helve” year and especially for St. John in the last four months. I doubt there is an island that was hit with IRMA that is making a more rapid recovery. I arrived back December 4th and was met with boarded up villas, no water and no power. Gotta say, it was very depressing but you know what? We started rebuilding immediately and on December 6th I had full power restored. You can’t imagine what a blessing that was! The same day, I had guys arriving from Florida and California with boxes of tools to commence working, first on Bordo Mare then Sopra Mare.
The large 1,200-pound ocean doors went in first and simultaneous with the cleaning process. It took a full five days with two ladies working full time just to get some order in both places. Walls were plastered with tree leaves. After the hurricane hit, there was not one leaf left on a single tree. I now know where they all went. Right into Bordo Mare and Sopra Mare! You can’t imagine how tirelessly these ladies cheerfully worked throughout the days to clean every single thing.
A lot of people wanted deposit refunds or full restitution of payment and it took me a while. First, I paid every past guest in full for reservations from Sept-Jan. Then, if you hadn’t been with me before I sent more than 50% with a handwritten noted and a promise to pay the remaining before year end. In fact, I paid all remaining amounts owed by November 10th. Oh, some who initially got more than 50% were pretty upset. I can’t blame them as they didn’t know me or if my word was any good for their remaining balances. Now they know and I sincerely hope they will stay with me in the future.
A number of future guests just “rolled” their deposits into later in 2018 or 2019, which was a blessing as I bled money with all the materials, furniture and plane tickets being spent. For those of you that chose to book later and let me retain your money – A big THANK YOU!
Since we started on December 4th both villas are now clean and habitable. Oh, I’m not saying they are completely ready. Home Depot has really screwed me over with late deliveries and my intended completion date has been pushed off from December 23rd to January 6th. We still do not have some windows and doors but can you say? “Handsome” plywood is at the openings? Both pools have been serviced and are completely ready.
The first volunteer guests arrive December 30th and likely we will not have two windows in at Bordo Mare by then but if they arrive from Anderson supplier before that date they will be installed.
For those of you that do not know, Caneel Bay Resort was devastated and I doubt they will open until 2020. The Westin which has a lot of fractional shares had originally envisioned opening in July 2018. They now have adjusted their schedule due to repairs and will open in January of 2019.
Of the more than 1,000 rental accommodations (mostly villas) listed on VRBO approximately 25% are no longer available due to IRMA and I suspect they will not be available ‘til late 2018, early 2019 as they are waiting for insurance or FEMA claim payments. I elected to do things differently and pay all repair costs out of my own pocket. This will allow me to be totally ready by early January 6th in a couple of weeks with guest rental commencing February 3rd when the last volunteer leaves.
BEACHES AND FAUNA
I’m not going to lie to you. A number of beaches still need some serious attention. Maho, my most loved beach, although open, lost a serious amount of vegetation. Hawks Nest, Trunk, and several others are recovering and open. What amazes me and I posted several pics on Facebook, the beaches are deserted. No, I mean totally deserted! Not a single soul on them. Much like it was twenty years ago before HGTV began its love affair with St. John and the influx of tourists really began. Turtles and rays are still here, coral is recovering and actually, IRMA made a number of beaches substantially wider.
I want to thank the hundreds of emails I received immediately after IRMA inquiring about my safety. Especially, in light of no reliable communication here for a number of days following the storm.
One of my closest friends probably summed it best “If there’s any Son of a Bitch that can come out alive at the other end it’s Mullen!”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Rock! I’ll leave the light on for you at Bordo Mare and Sopra Mare and your visit