Hurricane Irma packed quite a punch this past week and left behind tremendous amounts of damage. There is still little information concerning the well being of a lot of places around the Caribbean and for those islands who suffered from the biggest impact.
The Caribbean is one of my favorite destinations to travel as the water is gorgeous, the beaches are lovely and you can really get away from it all. Additionally, there are a lot of great timeshares that you can exchange into in the Caribbean.
I do not think that the extent of the damage is known yet as many areas still have not opened airports and roads. The devastation was just massive.
The islands of Barbuda, St. Martin, St. Thomas, St. John and Key West appeared to have been hit the hardest. My thoughts go out to all the locals experiencing this horrible weather event.
Hyatt Beach House in Key West
As an owner of the Hyatt Beach House in Key West, I was sent the following e-mail today:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, we would like to update you on the status of your Key West resort. Most importantly, all our associates, owners and guests are safe. Due to the advance notice we received, we were able to evacuate everyone prior to Irma's arrival.
As a result of Irma’s impact, County officials have restricted access to the area until the Department of Transportation determines that all bridges and conditions are safe. Once our staff is able to access the resort and assess the situation, we will provide another update.
We would like to thank our team, who worked diligently to prepare for the storm and assisted our owners and guests to safely evacuate the area.
We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.
Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Beach House
Apparently, there is not much to report but my gut is telling me that the resort experienced a tremendous amount of damage.
Marriott's Frenchmen's Cove Vacation Club in St. Thomas
St. Thomas was hard hit but damage reports have not come in. This was apparently taken from the resort with a second photo showing a flyover of the resort. You can see the boat crashed on the beach in both photos!
Westin St. John Resort and Villas
Like St. Thomas, St. John got hit hard and is a very tiny island. According to the website, they have posted the following message:
Important Notice about Hurricane Irma
Due to Hurricane Irma, both The Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix and The Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas are closed. The US Coast Guard has also closed all ports in the USVI until further notice. Additionally, as the resort focuses on the aftermath of the storm, all near-term inbound reservations are being suspended at this time. We will continue to provide updates on both the reopening of the ports, airports and reservations as information becomes available.
St. Martin is home to a ton of timeshare properties. Here is a map of the RCI properties on St. Martin.
Here is a list of all the timeshare properties on St. Martin associated with Interval International.
As you can see, there are a lot of timeshare properties on St. Martin and a vast majority of these likely received some significant damage.
What does all this mean for timeshare owners of these properties? The answer is unclear at the moment as it will take time to assess all the damage, have insurance adjusters come out and figure out a final tally of the loss and cost to rebuilt and/or repair.
One thing that it can mean is special assessments. What are special assessments?
I'll do a larger post on this in the near future but essentially, if there is a shortage of funds, the HOA or governing body of the timeshare can require its owners to pay their pro-rata portion of any funding shortfall required for the operation of the timeshare.
Basically, it means that, as "owners", we may be require to pay additional amounts, in excess of our maintenance fees, in order to fund whatever is necessary to rebuilt the timeshare.
Special assessments do not happen often, but they can happen, and when they do, no one is thrilled.
What can you do?
In the near term, there are a lot of people that have lost everything. Even if they didn't lose everything, tourism on these islands accounts for the vast amount of jobs and well being of the people. With many resorts and timeshares being destroyed, it will take months, if not years to reconstruct these island paradises and get these people back to being gainfully employed.
If you can, donate to the Red Cross below. It is a good cause and will immediately help people throughout the Caribbean, Florida and Texas.
Longer term, my recommendation is to actually start planning your vacation to the Caribbean and to some of these islands who got hit the hardest. This may be counter-intuitive but these islands completely rely on tourism. Not many people are going to be racing back to these islands as it is going to take a long, long time to rebuild the infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, activities, and so on.
My recommendation would be to do the opposite and travel to these islands when it becomes safe. Spend your money there and help those economies regain their traction.
Hurricanes happen but this one was a big one. It is going to take a long time to rebuild and these island oasis's will need your support.
Does anyone have any information on the status of their timeshares? Please post below and help the community.