“I hear from clients all the time, today, who think the entire region is decimated, no power, nothing open, no flights,” said one of the thousands of luxury travel advisors attending the annual Virtuoso conference in Las Vegas two weeks ago told me, shaking his head in disbelief.
Totally not true.
In fact, most islands were unscathed by last year’s horrific hurricane season, and even those hit hard are nearly back to the hotel, villa, restaurant and flight levels they enjoyed before the storm. But what may surprise many high-end travelers is the silver lining – because so many hotels rebuilt partially or completely, taking advantage of the opportunity to expand, improve or update, many of the Caribbean’s top resorts are better than ever. Another surprise – occupancy for the coming peak holiday, winter and spring break season is nearly back to normal levels, so don’t expect bargain, and if you are waiting to see what happens and book last minute, you will likely get shut out. For the most part this winter the Caribbean will see business as usual – only better.
Anguilla is a perfect example. One of the most traditionally luxurious islands in the Caribbean, it is home to five top tier luxury resorts and countless deluxe villas, a favorite way to stay on the island. Even after Anguilla was ravaged by storms last summer, owners managed to get 70% of the villas reopened before last Christmas season. Most of the rest of the work was done in the first quarter of this year, and currently the vast majority of the villas, 95% of the island’s restaurants, and three of the five top hotels are already open. The remaining two resorts, the Belmond Cap Juluca and Auberge Resorts’ Malliouhana, are both reopening in time for the holidays. These are two of the best luxury properties in the entire Caribbean and they will essentially be brand new.
Virgin Group’s BMR Energy announced Tuesday that it bought a 4-megawatt solar plant from NRG Energy, Inc. in St. Croix that was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria.
BMR Energy will take over the power purchase agreement and restoration efforts of the solar farm, the company said in a press release.
BMR Energy, which develops and operates clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, was purchased by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2016.
“The world needs to find ways to introduce more resilient clean energy,” Branson said in the release. “The Caribbean has an abundance of clean energy sources, and BMR are taking great strides towards helping create zero-carbon energy supplies for years to come.”
Rebuilding the storm-wrecked region is a cause that is close to the Virgin founder. The billionaire businessman owns a private island in British Virgin Islands where he rode out both hurricanes Irma and Maria in the space of two weeks.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma,” Branson said in an Instagram video in September. “It literally devastated the British Virgin Islands.”
The Nature Conservancy is launching a revolution to save our coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Joining forces with the world’s best scientists, we are developing and deploying groundbreaking techniques to grow new corals and bring dying reefs back to life.
Learn more about how we’re fighting to save these unique and essential ecosystems before our oceans are irreversibly damaged. The Year of the Reef! Keep up with The Nature Conservancy’s latest efforts to protect nature and preserve life on Twitter (twitter) and Facebook (facebook) Text NATURE to 97779 to join The Nature Conservancy on text.