“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.
Since our blog titled, “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico” of 6 October, a few hundred Powerwall battery packs for solar power energy arrived in Puerto Rico.
According to *Frederic Lambert of Electrek.co, “The new shipment arrived not long after Musk spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello last week to talk about ways for Tesla Energy to help rebuild the power grid destroyed by the two hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean.”
That’s not all. Elon Musk is now putting extra effort into bringing power back to Puerto Rico AND other affected areas by unveiling his new Tesla Semi truck earlier than planned:
Tesla, the automaker, is changing the planned revealing date of its electric truck, the Tesla Semi, from October 26 to *November 16 (according to Electrek.co) as it focuses on Model 3 production and aiding “power-less” Puerto Rico.
Tesla Semi, Model 3 truck image from trucks.com
Currently, less than 20% of the island has power and some areas may experience months without electricity. That is why Tesla plans to first focus on helping hospitals and medical centers to get stable power.
That is, if given the green light to go ahead. Elon Musk has helped many smaller islands, like Ta’u Island in Samoa, with his solar power devices and tweeted this yesterday:
“The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.”
Above is a video about the SolarCity created with Tesla’s Microgrid Solar Power in Samoa.
In response to this, Puerto Rico Governor Ricky Rossello showed interest, tweeting “Let’s talk” to Musk, saying “PR could be that flagship project.”
Musk has already done his part for Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria left the island’s power grid in tatters, so Tesla reportedly sent hundreds of Powerwalls — battery systems designed to store energy — along with employees to install them in an effort to restore power.
Powerwall batteries can be paired with solar panels to help restore the grid. According to Fortune.com “the Powerwall, which was first introduced in April 2015, is a battery designed for homes that store the energy generated by solar panels.”
Musk also donated $250,000 of his own money to the relief effort.
In the meantime, President Donald Trump said on Fox News in an interview with Geraldo Rivera, “the island’s debt will have to be wiped out.” Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to creditors while the total storm cost is between $45 and 90 billion dollars.
It is with sadness and awe that one watches The Weather Channel today after hurricane Maria struck the Virgin Islands and also Puerto Rico.
According to the mayor of San Juan, PR, Maria’s power surge on the island will take 4 to 6 months to repair as electricity outages are recorded on the whole island. Yes, no electricity in Puerto Rico except for those who had their own generators.
Although the worst of the hurricane has passed the island, the storm is not over yet. Storm surges are still dangerous and record flooding of the river Rio de la Plata, south-west of San Juan, is a big problem for people in the region. FEMA rescue teams are being deployed to the island today.