I have a great review coming up on Beaches Turks and Caicos all inclusive family resort, but at this time I wanted to give you a quick update as to how hurricane Irene has affected the Beaches resort.
Hurricane Irene Timeline in Turks and Caicos:
As you know, my family and I were in Turks and Caicos on our vacation/business trip. We actually made it through our 7 nights fine, but as we watched the Weather Channel on Sunday Aug 21st, we noticed that there was a possibility of Tropical Storm Irene turning into a hurricane and heading in our direction. On Monday at around 11:00am, we found out are flights were cancelled for going home on Tuesday. We also found out that Tropical Storm Irene was now Hurricane Irene and would be heading right for us. Yikes!!
At 2:00pm on Monday, we had a resort meeting at Mario’s Italian restaurant with the resort’s General Manager. He let everyone know what the resort was going to be doing to keep all of the guests as safe as possible, and to keep everyone as comfortable as possible. He told us that the resort had two huge 5 million dollar generators at their disposal in case the power was to go out, and they had enough food and water for 30 days. He told us that the storm would hit around 2pm on Tuesday and that we would want to stay in our rooms and that there would be restaurants open for us to eat, and many indoor activities available for the both kids and adults to enjoy while we waited out the storm.
Waiting for Hurricane Irene:
Hurricane Irene was only moving about 9 miles an hour and had turned into a category 2 hurricane as it left Puerto Rico and headed toward Turks and Caicos. We had a fairly nice day of weather on Monday, but as the day went on, we noticed higher winds, the waves in the ocean were getting more choppy and there was some on and off again showers that we had not experienced the previous 7 days. I decided to start giving video updates from the resort to keep people informed of how the weather conditions were going at Beaches in Turks and Caicos. Here is the report I shared on Monday the 22nd of August.
Irene Finally Arrives:
Monday ended up being very uneventful and even quite nice in the evening. On Tuesday Morning, the sky was a curtain of thick grey clouds, and the wind was starting to pick up. The resort workers were working hard to put all of the pool furniture away and trying to tie everything up and secure in preparations of Hurricane Irene’s arrival. About 3pm (when our flight was supposed to leave), the wind really started picking up, and the rain started to come down in torrents. I tried to find a high point on the resort to do a quick update. Here is my update on Tuesday at around 3:20pm.
Stay In Your Rooms
At this point, most people were starting to stay in their rooms, and only going out for food. My daughters actually went to the coffee shop to get their daily fix of gourmet cappuccino. My daughter Josie posted on Face book that she “walked through a hurricane for her coffee.” Around 5pm, before the sun started to set, I decided to do another post. Now the wind was really blowing and the rain was becoming a wall of blowing water. Here is the post I gave at 5pm from Beaches Turks and Caicos.
Dinner Time: Irene “kicks it up a notch”
We quickly ran from our room and through the corridors until we got to the English Pub, called Cricketer’s. At this point I have to say that the the staff at Beaches all inclusive family resort did a fantastic job of helping keep all of us feeling safe, and they were keeping the restaurants open for us, even though it was really scary outside. The worst of the Hurricane came while we slept. The wind and rain really intensified Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. When we awoke, I took a quick video from our bedroom slider door.
Skeleton Staff Works Hard
On this day, I really have to say that I was amazed at the resorts management and staff, and how they took care of us. Only 95 employees out 1,200 could make it in to work that day. Many were stranded at home, because of the rain and flooding going on, but also their own houses were flooding. One staff member we met, Myralynde, a single parent of two young children came in while others didn’t. She is hoping to become a nurse and she is working long hours and saving her money so that she can take nursing classes in the U.S. Anyway, she was supposed to come in at work at 10am, and as she drove to work, she could barely see with all the rain coming down, but she was there by 9:45am to carry out her duties. I was very impressed with her.
Dealing with Crabby People
Anyway, the resort was able to keep 3 large restaurants open, and have some great buffet food available for us. There were a lot of people complaining, but I couldn’t believe that these people could have such bad attitudes in the situation we were in. I feel bad saying this, but sometimes we Americans don’t do ourselves any favors by the way we act when visiting other countries. I know that the resort staff definitely did not want a Hurricane to hit them and make their life 10 times harder. At this point, on Wednesday, we were the only place on the Island that had electricity, food, and water. We were in the safest place to be during a Hurricane. The management also gave every stranded guest a free night, and then a discounted rate per night after that. Imagine being one of those vacationers who rented a private villa or condo…no food, no water, no electricity, no transportation. We were beyond fortunate, but people didn’t recognize the blessing. Great Job Beaches Staff and Management! Here is the next post I made as Hurricane Irene was slowing down and moving away from us.
Keeping us Entertained
It was still too wet to do anything outside, so the resort had a lot of great activities going on inside.
Here are some of the great activities the resort provided for us indoors during the bad weather.
- Hula Hoop Competition
- Dance Class
- Lunch Time Bingo
- Name that Tune
- Poker Tournament
- Fish a Prize
- Pool Table Tournament
- Domino Tournament
- Movie Rooms
There were also great board games and some live music going on as well. Camp Sesame also was involved with the small children walking around the large atrium and keeping kids entertained. Here is a video of Camp Sesame entertaining the kids.
Hurricane Irene is Finally Over
It wasn’t until about 3pm on Wednesday that Hurricane Irene finally was over, and I went around with my husband looking at the damage left behind by Hurricane Irene. From what we could see, there was a lot of tree damage, roof leaks, shingles on the ground, an estimated 7 million dollars in damage was shared with us. Mario’s (Italian restaurant) had some water damage on the ceiling that may need some time to fix. Here is the post on the aftermath of Irene:
The Airport is Flooded
We had re-scheduled our flight for Thursday afternoon. At this point the airport in Turks and Caicos was still closed, and the crews were working feverishly to get the water off of the runways. The airport in Turks and Caicos floods very easily I was told, after only 45 minutes of heavy rain. The Island’s irrigation system is designed not to run off into the ocean to prevent pollution into the ocean.
Some Good News
We were hoping the airport would be open by Thursday, so that we could go home. We loved our vacation at Beaches, but we were ready to be back home after having our flight cancelled two days earlier. We were told that the airport would open at 11:00am on Thursday, and that flights out would begin that afternoon.
The Sun is Sighted
On Thursday morning, the crews were out in force starting the massive cleanup of the fallen trees and water logged buildings. The skies began to clear and the sun started shining. We checked out of our room, and Jenna, the reservation supervisor, did a fantastic job of helping all of the many stranded guests. She had to handle many angry and frustrated guests who’s travel arrangements had changed and been re-scheduled. I thought that she kept everything running smoothly, and had great people skills to keep people happy and feeling better. She seemed to have a great grasp of our situation, and if I had an issue or question, she always knew exactly what was going on with our rooms and accounts. She was Fantastic!
To the Airport:
On the way to the airport, I was very surprised to see how many roads were still flooded. Our concierge told us that she had not been home in three days, because the roads that lead to her house were flooded. I actually took some video of the flooding. Here is the video of the flooding:
CNN Contacts Lou!!!!!! NO Way!
I submitted the video to CNN, and they actually accepted it as a news story! My husband actually got his name on it, since he was the one who submitted the video for me and got to answer the call from the reporter. (Attention hog) LOL
Here is the link: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-660440
Beaches Turks and Caicos Closed for Repairs:
Jenna, the supervisor at the front desk, let us know that Beaches will be closing for at least 15 days to assess the damage and to do the clean up and repairs necessary to make sure the resort is safe and secure for travelers to come and enjoy the resort and all it has to offer without any safety concerns. The resort is actually encouraging the guests that are there now, to leave early if they wish, so that they might come back and enjoy the resort’s full services and benefits. The Sandals and Beaches company wants every guest to enjoy the resort fully and get the value they paid for. We work hard for our money so they better treat us right! Sing it…you know you want to!
Sandals Compensates Guests!
I have to say that the Sandals and Beaches owner, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and the General Manager Mr. Don Dagenais, really do know how to take care of their guests. They gave each guest, who’s stay was affected by Hurricane Irene, two free nights for future travel as compensation for our vacations being interrupted by the Hurricane. They really didn’t have to do this, because a Hurricane is considered an “act of God” and the resort in no way is responsible for the weather.
On behalf of all of the guests who stayed at Beaches Turks and Caicos all-inclusive resort,during Hurricane Irene, I say Thank You Mr. Stewart and Mr. Dagenais!
Some News by Monday
I was told that there are actually company experts that flew down to Beaches Turks and Caicos today to survey the damage and decide exactly when the resort should be re-opened. I will keep you all informed as to the status as I find out. I was told that a decision should be made by Monday.
Many People Caught Off Guard
There were many travelers there who didn’t have travel protection to cover them during this unfortunate situation. It is crucial to have some sort of coverage when traveling during hurricane season…anytime really. It is best to work with a travel professional who can work on your behalf while you aren’t able (obviously phone lines were down and internet intermittent) as well as someone to guide you in purchasing proper coverage. My sister Joy, who was watching over the office while we were on vacation, helped us get our new flights booked. As a reminder, purchasing cancel for any reason coverage through Sandals and Beaches must be paid for with the initial deposit , otherwise you don’t have the cancel for any reason coverage, just basic coverage. Any money we were charged for our extension would be initially paid by us and then sent in as an insurance claim for reimbursement. Some guests were purchasing new flights out because their airline didn’t have availability for them for several days. This would also be reimbursed by insurance (but initially paid by the traveler). Please do not travel without emergency funds available!
Best Thing to Do
The best thing to do: Work with a travel professional. You won’t pay more and you’ll have peace of mind. Otherwise, you’re on your own.