The recent reopening of Palm Court Hotel in Orient Bay Village (see Friday paper) is yet another example of the destination’s continued recovery following the passage of Hurricane Irma almost two years ago. This is particularly significant for that specific area once described as “St. Tropez of the Caribbean,” which was devastated by the record-strength storm.
It’s a relatively modest property with 21 suites, but that is the kind of boutique hotel experience with personal attention some guests especially among higher income groups tend to look for. These provide a welcome complement to the more mass-tourism-based resorts found mainly on the Dutch side.
This latest development, following the reopening of La Playa in the same vicinity at the end of last year, will hopefully inspire others to invest. Alamanda and Blue Bay are both scheduled to come back online there in 2020 as well, while the return of various beach restaurants that characterised the location and created a glamorous atmosphere too is a key ingredient for its rehabilitation.
But the biggest economic impact in terms of numbers should be felt when Secrets opens at the former Riu Palace in Anse Marcel next February. This will add 350 rooms in a single shot and go a long way towards bringing the available inventory to near previous levels.
The dominant hospitality industry still requires “putting heads in beds” and the capacity to do so remains crucial certainly during the high season, when it’s winter in much of North America and Europe. Rebuilding the island therefore to a large extent depends on restoring its visitor accommodations slowly but surely, if need be brick-by-brick and one step at a time.