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Villa on St Barts (photo: Wimco Villas)

Villa specialist gives post-Irma Caribbean update

Almost all of the villas in Wimco’s portfolio on St Barts, Anguilla and St John are up and running, less so on St Martin.

The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma’s devastating passage through the Caribbean has come and gone, and much has been done to patch up the islands impacted by the storm.

Now holidaymakers are again showing strong interest in vacationing in private villas across the region this season, according to villa rental specialist Wimco.

Bookings for the festive season are “running well ahead of pre-Irma levels”, the company says, “and the rest of the winter season is filling in nicely across the Caribbean”.

Wimco has released notes on the islands impacted by Irma relevant for the season starting on November 1. It says that on the island of St Barths, or St Barts, 96% of the company’s villa portfolio of 355 villas will be open, as will 84% of the hotel rooms it represents.

“As for the island itself – in a word, amazing!” the company’s destination inspection report reads, adding that more than 70 restaurants on the island will be open for the season.

“The villas we visited were in great shape and the internet in the villas worked flawlessly, the satellite TV provided the morning news each day, the pools were full, and it was as though nothing ever happened. Boutique shop windows had colourful displays, there were plenty of options for dining out, and for the most part the grocery stores were full.”

In Anguilla, 85% of the 60 villas Wimco represents will be open, as will 100% of the hotels it represents.

“Anguilla has fully recovered, all infrastructure and services are fully restored and we’ve been welcoming villa guests for months,” the report reads.

“There are a few missing roofs off the old Cases (traditional Caribbean houses) and some areas with downed trees or shrubs. Despite this, Anguilla actually seemed much cleaner to us than it has in the past.”

More time for St Martin
On St Martin, however, only 45% of the 100 villas Wimco represents will be open.

“No, there are not piles of debris along the road as you drive through French St Martin, however there is evidence of many buildings still under repair and damaged, these will take time to be back to normal. The more than 20 villas we inspected were all in good shape, and were ready to welcome clients.”

The report adds that “improvements are being made daily” and “despite the condition of the island, with many businesses and residences still boarded up or being repaired, life continues. People were out and having fun. […] As long as clients know what they are getting into and want to go to St Martin, we think they will have a good time, and feel good about helping to support the island’s economy.”

On St John in the US Virgin Islands, 80% of the 60 villas Wimco represents will be open, while the Westin St John hotel is targeting a Winter Break 2019 reopening date.

On Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, 20 villas are open for the start of the season, mainly in the Mahoe Bay area, while villas in the Leverick Bay area will need more time for repairs.

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