Flew on US Air. No problems, good service. The airport was as we expected from
the pictures that we have seen on the web. The arriving side smelled like
mildew but looked clean. We went through customs quickly and were told “Welcome back” with a smile.
Car rental was through Budget. Everything there went smoothly as well, but
three or four people walked in while we were there asking if there were any
rentals available. (None were). Since we didn’t want the third party insurance,
they required a $2,000 deposit on our credit card. If you don’t wish to use
that much of your line, you have to pay for the third party insurance.
Our drive to The Reef Resort on the East End was very sad. So many homes were
gone or totally destroyed. Then you would see a small older home that looked
like it hadn’t been touched. The lack of vegetation made things look worse,
but many trees had new leaves, the flowers were blooming again, and overall
you could see the rebirth. The roads were in incredible condition considering
that many parts were totally washed out during the storm. Line crews were still
There was a lot of debris around, but I wouldn’t call it garbage. No odors.
The Reef Resort was in incredible condition. The owners did not wait for
insurance settlements, paid out of pocket for repairs and kept all staff
working from two days after the storm. Everyone pitched in and shoveled sand,
learned how to drywall, paint, or whatever was needed. We actually stayed at
the Castaway Condos at the Reef and we were there about a week before the
actual opening but we couldn’t have been more pleased. Our phone didn’t work
yet, but who needed that! The new beach bar is bigger and more substantial and
Leona and Joselyn still do an incredible job. Clive the security guard was glad
to be back in uniform, and ALL of the staff was wonderful! It is such a family
atmosphere that you feel welcome and part of the group as soon as you arrive.
The beach was clean and beautiful. A lot of credit needs to go to Lawrence and
his crews. If you go there make sure and say “Thanks”. They really appreciate it!
Rum Point was as gorgeous as ever. We didn’t make it to Kaibo, but heard it was in great shape too.
Most of our meals were at The Reef and all were very good, especially upstairs
at the restaurant for dinner one night. Portifinos is back open and looks great.
We didn’t eat there but others said it was fantastic.
We stayed away from George Ttown and SMB except for one day that we drove
around the island. George Town looks 95% back to normal. SMB is spotty, with
many condos still in the condition that they were in after Ivan, I’m sure,
waiting for insurance. But everything looked clean and no huge piles of garbage
were left. Fosters West Bay and Airport and Hurleys were well stocked, no price
gouging, and again, clerks were friendly and glad to have tourists back.
One thing we noticed was that no one would volunteer to tell their experience,
but if you asked, “How did you fare?” or “What was it like?”, they would open
up and pour out their story. These are very proud people that don’t want to
complain to outsiders but are anxious and grateful to anyone who would like to
hear of their story of survival.
All in all, the island is battered but not broken. The water, the people, the
spirit, are all still the things that bring us all back time after time. Do not
hesitate to go back as soon as you can!