Hurricane Irma brought destruction to northern Caribbean Islands moving from east to west in early September 2017. Most hard hit were the Islands of Barbuda and St. Martin followed by the US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. John. The hurricane remained at Category 5 when it hit the Turks and Caicos groups of islands on September 7, 2017 causing severe damage to several of its islands. Irma then lost some of its power while devastating parts of Cuba and Haiti, before moving north to Florida. Irma was followed by Maria which destroyed Puerto Rico as we know it, along with the beautiful garden island of Dominica, and also caused great damage to St. Croix, the major US Virgin Island which was spared by Irma. Maria came close to the eastern Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 hurricane dropping rain some rain then moved north.
Our focus is on Grace Bay, the most beautiful beach in the world, on the island of Providenciales (Provo) in the western part of the Turks and Caicos, where the Caicos Royal Suite vacation rental home is located at the Royal West Indies Resort (RWI). On Provo most of the damage from Irma was to the areas where local people live rather than where the tourists go. While many residents lost their homes or roofs and more, nobody was killed in the Turks and Caicos Islands at all and there were no serious injuries to people. For Grace Bay we feared a storm surge which would have destroyed our ground floor beachfront condominium apartment and devastated the beach resort area. Grace Bay was sheltered from storm surge as it turned out, but high winds and rain damaged roofs and structures to a degree and wiped out most vegetation including many palm trees at Grace Bay. In front of the Caicos Royal Suite there were two large palm trees that came down onto the ground. Power at the RWI was knocked out for a few days before being restored. Some water came in to the ceiling of the ground floor unit which resulted from water damage to the higher floor units from water seeping in from the damaged roof.
The resort maintenance staff and others were hard at work clearing debris and repairing and restoring the Royal West Indies Resort and its facilities from Irma. Damage included the Pelican Bay Restaurant and individual units. There is minor exterior building damage from debris which came flying over from Club Med next door. There is a good insurance policy for the whole resort including all of the individual units. There already was a planned closure from Labor Day until October 6 to make renovations to the 15 year old resort and its facilities. Plans for renovation and improvements to be done during this closure will be integrated with repairs to a degree, with many renovations put on hold as lower priority since not everything can be done due to a shortage of labor and materials. It is important to restore tourist facilities to the island as soon as possible. Income from tourism is the main source of revenue of the nation. Millions of dollars were lost daily by the Turks and Caicos in revenues.
Royal West Indies Resort reopened on November 1, 2017. The largest tourist stop in the Turks and Caicos Islands is Beaches Resort, also on Grace Bay, which suffered serious damage. That resort will not reopen until mid-December. This is reducing flights to the island of Providenciales as the average flight to Provo is more than half filled by people going to Beaches Resort. Everyone expects things to be back to normal for the Winter tourist season beginning just before Christmas. Caicos Royal Suite has had two rental cancellations so far with one being in mid October and the other in early November. The November cancellation was quickly replaced by a new booking followed by another booking for November as soon as Maria passed. Our first post-hurricane guests arrived on November 2nd. There was a planned owners trip to the Caicos Royal Suite for when the resort was scheduled to reopen after renovations in early October, but the Air Canada direct flight to get there was cancelled. An onsite meeting of condominium owners at RWI, scheduled at Pelican Bay Restaurant on November 3 is now confirmed to proceed. International flights are available now to PLS (Providenciales) only through Newark, Atlanta and Miami.
We encourage everyone who has been to and loves Turks and Caicos, or who wants to visit for the first time and see how wonderful it is, to try to come to the islands as soon as possible. The islands remain beautiful and welcoming and the local economy needs visitors. While the airport is now fully operational there will be less flights than previously scheduled until late November. If you have been to Royal West Indies Resort before, please consider donating to the relief funds set up to help staff many of whom have lost their homes or had severe damage done.
As Hurricane Irma recovery work was underway, it had to stop, in preparation for a possible hit by Hurricane Maria, which followed going north and east of the Turks and Caicos on September 22nd. Fortunately it was of lower strength than Irma and its path took it away from our location. There is some vegetation and water damage on top of the Irma damage and that did not make things much worse.