POST-HURRICANE UPDATES

THE STATUS OF THINGS ON ST. JOHN AND AT ANDANTE AFTER HURRICANES IRMA & MARIA

UPDATED IMAGES

06/13/2018

We've posted updated photos showing off all of our fabulous renovations including the pool deck, new pool and hot tub, great room tiling, new windows and more.

You can view them all here. We also have an updated video here.

 

This completes our post-hurricane blog. You can continue to follow along with us on our regularly scheduled blog here.

RESTORTATION COMPLETE

We are all finished with the restoration now, and new pictures of Andante will be coming soon.  But I just wanted to show pictures of our incredible new floor and some of the amazing work that our skilled craftsman did. These pictures are of the new floor in the great room. 
 
We were well into all of our repairs, when we discovered that we had a network of hairline cracks throughout the living room tile floor, likely due to the seismic activity that occurred during the storms. This was so discouraging as we had to find a structural engineer, re-contact our insurance adjusters, find new tiles, get a whole new set of estimates and arrange for reinforcing and laying a whole new floor. We made several trips to St. Thomas to look for tiles but everything that was available on the island was mediocre and really nice tiles were unaffordable and needed to be shipped, putting us back by months. Luckily our property managers found a supplier in Florida.  

 

I did some searching on-line and found this incredible tile, Scabos Travertine. The prices listed were entirely unaffordable, but when I asked about my “dream tile” with Leon, he quoted a price that we thought we could swing and arranged to get it shipped to us in a few weeks! We hired Victor Belizaire, “stone mason extraordinaire”, and his crew and although they were incredibly busy, he arranged to start within a few weeks. They finished a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. I was so fortunate to be down there when they worked. These guys were all incredible craftsmen! Cassignan, Wilfred and Peterson all came from Haiti several years ago and were trained by Victor. They took so much pride in their work and they worked quickly and very carefully. At the end of each day we would come out and walk around and just marvel at all of the beautiful colors of the stones.  We agreed that the floor was so incredibly beautiful, that we wouldn’t lay the oriental rugs down again. Nothing should take away from this work of nature, skillfully installed by Victor and his team.  We know our guests will approve!

CHURCH ON THE BEACH

Rich was on St. John overseeing construction this last time around for 3-and-1/2 months. He was up at 5am so he could get some breakfast before workmen took over the house at 7am. He worked until he conked out at 10pm after making sure to get something to eat.

 

I returned for 2-and-1/2 weeks towards the end and had the same schedule, but stayed up into the wee hours trying to get everything washed, dusted and put back into place after being stored away from the storm and construction.

 

We had heard the beaches were back to their incredible pre-storm states, but neither of us had had time to go.  For months, Jerome, our contractor had been urging us to attend his church - on the beach. So on Palm and Easter Sundays, we went to “Freshwater Church” with Pastor John Hill, set on beautiful Hawksnest Beach. It was such a wonderful, natural and spiritual setting to meditate and give thanks for having come through all of the struggles of the past several months.

 

We just saw a post about it the other day too... so you can check it out for yourself if you're on-island anytime soon!

FINISHED HOT TUB

04/30/2018

Here's the hot tub full installed along with cathedral steps. Worth the effort! Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible.

HOT TUB INSTALL

04/30/2018

We're back! (And playing catching on all the finishing touches at the villa...) Here's how our new hot tub installation went down - literally!

Marilyn took these after the tiling to the pool deck was completed.  The villa is down a steep hill.  So all materials were first unloaded by Michael Marsh, into the parking area which we used as a staging area.  Then Michael came back and used his crane to bring the hot tub down another flight to the front garden. 

 

After this, Jerome Joseph and his team of Stronghouse Construction concocted a kind of ramp to slide the tub another 1 and 1/2 stories down to the pool deck!  A chute for concrete for a retaining wall below the pool deck shows the span they had to travel. The hot tub weights 900 lbs. without water!

 

The rails and a new gate and steps were already constructed, so the guys had to dismantle these in order to get the hot tub up.  We were lucky that the height of the tub just cleared the columns of the new pergola. Impressive team work! 

THRIVING

03/15/2018

Our Schefflera by the pool survived the storms and is thriving!

SPECIAL DELIVERY

03/13/2018

This was how our new doors, windows and generator were delivered! The bigger box to the right held all of our new doors and windows. The smaller box to the left is our emergency generator.

RAILINGS REPLACED

03/07/2018

All of our railings have been replaced! The new upper deck is gorgeous! The planters need replacing, and that will be tackled after the new windows are in.

POOL DECK PERGOLA

03/02/2018

Our pergola off the kitchen was spared, so we've been using that to stage various projects.

You see pictured the new pergola by the stairs down to the pool deck. Hurricane Irma blew away nearly all of the deck and the hot tub, so it's all NEW NEW NEW!

NEW KITCHEN & GREAT ROOM TILE

02/28/2018

Scabas Bushed-Chiseled French Pattern tile will cover the entire Great Room and Kitchen! We can't wait to see this and hope you are as excited as we are!

NEW WINDOWS

02/26/2018

New windows are in! This is one of two in the west guest bedroom.

No more jalousies means you get a much better view!

POOL DECK TILE

02/24/2018

Progress is being made on the pool deck. The solid concrete is being covered with gorgeous natural coral tiles!

FERRY UPDATE

02/16/2018

The one pharmacy on St. John is not open on Sundays right now. (Even the big Walgreens on St. Thomas is still under repair.) Guests should plan ahead and bring any medications that they might need with them, including those that you might normally buy over the counter.

The ferry to St. Thomas is on really nice, modern ferries run by the VI Transportation Authority rather than privately, and they get across the the channel in 15 minutes. They are running once per hour on the hour in either direction. The passenger ferry dock on both sides is fully repaired and nice to wait in. The Red Hook side has a bar with snacks, but you can’t bring any food or drink on the ferry.

A single company is now operating the car barge, Love City Car Barge. Right now, they are running about once and hour between 6:15 am from Cruz Bay to 7:00 pm leaving Red Hook. Keep in mind that preference will be given to large service trucks, construction trucks and trucks carrying building materials as the islands continue their efforts at recovery, so forget about arriving only a few moments before departure. 

The ferry is likely to have been filled and once it is, it will leave even if earlier than scheduled. To catch the 6:15 am over to St. Thomas, I typically arrived no later than 5:45 am. To catch the 7:00 pm back, I could leave the hospital no later than 5:15 pm (rush hour traffic, still intersections without traffic lights). I once got there at 5:45 pm and the line extended out of the barge parking lot, through the long driveway and into the street. I barely got on the 7:00 pm that evening. Because of their having to juggle the cars and trucks back and forth to get the most vehicles on the barge, we ended up not arriving until 8:30 pm. 

In other words, if you are renting a vehicle on St. Thomas, plan for traffic and plan to get to the barge at least an hour early. For the actual schedule, see www.lovecityferries.com . Also, a good thing is that Love City round-trip tickets are good forever, so if you are left with one half of a round trip ticket at the end of your stay, keep it and use it for your next trip. Their land line phone is working again too!

ROOF WORK BEGINS

02/14/2018

It's only fitting that we have an iguana as our resident construction supervisor on Iguana Hill!  Roof work began today!

MARILYN'S LATEST TRIP

02/13/2018

I (Marilyn) worked at the St. Thomas Hospital during the week of 1/22-1/26, so was very busy. Had a gratifying time meeting and working with the staff and seeing many very interesting and lovely patients. The pharmacy on St. John is not open on Sundays as yet, and I was coming down with a cold the weekend before I was scheduled to work, so I took a trip on the passenger ferry over to St. Thomas to go to the pharmacy in Red Hook and pick up some meds. As we usually use the car barge, it gave me the opportunity to see how our guests experience coming and leaving St. John.

The passenger ferry dock is right across from a little pocket park with a gazebo and bronze statue of a man with a conch shell. At the rear of the park is a lovely open-air restaurant, Cruz Bay Landing, that has been opened since the storms and really did a lot to feed the residents in the first few weeks afterwards. The restaurants all pooled their resources – those that were not badly damaged opened and those that were, transferred food and supplies to those that could help. They, along with the Longboard, which I also show, were absolutely wonderful in restoration efforts and now are fully open for business. As I came back into Cruz Bay, the afternoon sun was filtering through the re-greened trees, and a saxophonist was playing a peaceful jazz tune in the park. The restaurant was fully occupied. It was lovely and reassuring to know that St. John had come so far. Visitors are back and strolling the downtown area hand-in-hand. Cruz Bay is not as crowded as it would have been at this time of year, in any other year, but the quiet led to it’s charm.

On my last evening (since we won’t see each other until late March while Rich is there overseeing the final repairs) we decided to celebrate what we and the island has accomplished so far, and our commitment to getting back on track. Our 2 favorite restaurants Asolare and ZoZo’s were completely wrecked by the storm, so in a good way, that forced us to get out of our comfort zone and explore other restaurants. A number of them are open for business and we referred to the wonderful blog, http://www.newsofstjohn.com to find out an updated list.

We settled on The Terrace which is on Bay Road going out of Cruz Bay toward Gallows Point. We had a beautiful terrace table with an unobstructed view of Cruz Bay and Cruz Bay Beach. The evening was somewhat cloudy, but having been in that area before I can vouch for the sunset views. We haven’t been to that restaurant in at least 15 years, when it was under a different name and ownership. Dinner was lovely, very reasonably priced and we got a chance to see some old friends who we hadn’t seen since the storms. We got to “people watch” as many couples strolled hand in hand up and down Bay Road on their way to dinner, or going back to their rooms or villas. When I return, we have vowed to take some time to check out some of the other great restaurants that have opened. We urge all of our guests to check out the blog for updated reports of what is opening up. We hope that Asolare and ZoZo’s will decide to rebuild.

Right next to The Terrace is a bar/grill called “The Bar”. Across Bay Road from The Bar, they have a little sitting platform cantilevered over Cruz Bay Beach, with a couple of palm trees growing through the platform. The palm tree trunks are strung with lights and glisten at night.

Other Cruz Bay sights included the tennis courts are open and lighted and folks were playing. The basketball courts in Pine Peace were fully lighted and guys were playing pickup games. Across the street from the basketball courts is Alfredo’s Garden Center. It sustained some damage but is fully back in business. Rich checked with Veronica there about replacing our wonderful blue planters that had broken in the storm. Because we would have run late for our reservation, and wanted to make sure we got a table with a view on the terrace, we decided to park at “Slim Man’s Parking” across the street from Wharfside Village. Wharfside Village’s sidewalk is getting a face lift. Some of their restaurants have reopened. A big “Wharfside Village” lighted sign adorns their wall, and I think that is brand new. There is a bar and grill behind Slim Man’s that was open, playing music, crowded and lively, “420 To Center”.

The sign along the road into town caught my eye and reminds everyone of the resilience of the many wonderful people of St. John. I get a little teary eyed every time I see it, because I know first hand what they have all been through.

AN UPDATE FROM MARILYN

01/29/2018

Hello everyone!  We are in St. John now.  Rich will be here until the end of March, overseeing all of the repairs and updates.  I worked at the hospital this week.  It was both challenging and rewarding.  I am returning to Boston on Tuesday, then I will return in late March to help put the finishing aesthetic touches on. 

 

We are coming along nicely.  The pool deck has been completed.  The coral tiles are almost all down and the new rails have all been installed.  Our new hot tub is up in the driveway, awaiting completion of tiling and then it and the surrounding steps will be installed.  We are on the way to St. Thomas in the morning to pick up beautiful new waterline tiles for the pool and the inside of the pool will be resurfaced then the tiles applied. The new pergola to the pool deck has been finished and looks great.  Rich and our builder came up with a way to angle the wood cross pieces, so that we get much better shade.  New windows and doors are in the port of St. Thomas and we are arranging for delivery next week.  We have installed a WiFi antenna solution that gives a great signal, until we can get the local internet and phone service reinstalled.  Though AT&T cell service is not as strong yet, as it was pre-hurricane, we can actually make calls from the master bedroom once more. I will be meeting with our gardener before I leave on Tuesday, to formulate a plan for restoring our many potted plants, plantings in the area in front of the house and the path to the beach.

 

The island is really moving along. Many of the restaurants are open again.  As I returned on the passenger ferry from St. Thomas this evening, the open air restaurant in the rear of the park, was bustling and a lone saxophonist played jazz. We were amazed at the restaurants that have opened.  A wonderful update on the island is the blog News of St. John. This is a one-woman blog that is informative, upbeat, full of photos and written in a wonderful style.

 

We are looking forward to welcoming guests back to Andante in April, and we think those of you who have been there before will really appreciate the upgrades!

TRUNK BAY IS BACK

12/20/17

 

Trunk Bay is looking as gorgeous as ever... but without the crowds.

 

It's time to book your 2018 trip and enjoy the beauty before the secret is out that ST. JOHN IS BACK!

UPPER DECK INSTALL

12/06/17

New upper deck is installed with Trex® composite deck material. It is low-maintenance, high-performance, and eco-friendly! Looking good!

POOL TILE TO BE INSTALLED

12/03/17

We just can't wait to see the new blue tile installed that will line the water line of the pool.

CORAL STONE TILE POOL DECK

12/03/17

Natural coral stone tile will be installed on top of the concrete. It will go right to the edge of the pool. The current clay coping will be removed.

NEW CONCRETE DECK BASE

12/03/17

The NEW concrete pool deck has been laid, but not yet tiled. Railing soon to come!

POWER LINE WORK

11/27/2017

WAPA (Virgin Islands Water And Power Authority) is hard at work on our electrical line!

AN UPDATE FROM MARILYN

11/22/2017

Hello everyone! This is Marilyn giving you an update on the status of St. John and Andante.

 

Once we got back stateside, we were able to contact all of our guests through the end of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. We are grateful to all of you who have rescheduled, and to those of you who could not – we understand and hope to have you back in the future.  

 

Between “Island time” and all the challenges that the hurricanes have wrought in terms of communications, we have had to push back our opening date to late January, but we are realistically confident that we will be able to accommodate our guests by then and the island will be back to its welcoming state.

 

Rich is presently on St. John to oversee repairs on Andante. The brand new pool deck has been erected and new railings will go up this week.  The brand new hot tub is on its way down.  We are shipping down these incredible natural coral stone tiles that will adorn the new deck.  The pool will get new topaz blue tiles around the waterline and be resurfaced.  We have already shipped all new mechanicals( pump, salt water chlorinator)  to be installed under the pool. Electricity is scheduled to be restored by Christmas, and then we can fill the pool.  New windows across the sea side of the house have been ordered and are being shipped down for installation.  As you can imagine, many of our gorgeous blue Spanish roof tiles took a beating, but we’ve started the process of replacing them.  We are still purchasing a whole house back-up generator, but we have come to realize that electricity will likely need to be re-established to accommodate our guests.  I am planning to go down in early January to get the inside of the house back in order.

 

Power has been restored to downtown Cruz Bay and continues to make progress outward to the surrounding neighborhoods. Rhumb Lines, Lime Inn, Banana Deck, Sun Dog, Sam & Jacks, Longboard, Woody's, and Dog House are all open. More restaurants are reopening almost every day. All four grocery stores are open and fully stocked with groceries, and there are no issues with gas or diesel fuel. The beaches are making a fantastic recovery! Though services are limited, debris is getting cleared and water is safe for swimming. Sunsets are still as beautiful as ever. 

 

Things are happening. Progress is being made. And while St. John may never be exactly as we remembered it, it will come back stronger than ever thanks to its tight-knit community both near and far. 

 

We will be in touch more once we know when Andante will have power restored.

 

Thank you for all your support!

TRUNK BAY IS OPEN

11/20/2017

Trunk Bay is officially open! The National Park Service approved it over the weekend. Trunk Bay has been cleared and cleaned, and is ready to take guests. This pic was taken just last week. Gorgeous, right?!

WHAT'S OPEN ON ST. JOHN

11/19/2017

Here's a great map to keep up with your favorite St. John establishments. It seems to have another green marker nearly every day as recovery progresses. 

RICH IS HEADED BACK TO ST. JOHN

11/14/2017

Rich is headed back to St. John to oversee repairs on Andante and help around the island. More first-hand news to come.

HAWKSNEST BAY & HONEYMOON BEACHES OPEN

11/14/2017

Hawksnest Bay and Honeymoon Beaches are officially open by Virgin Islands National Park. Rangers worked really hard to clean the beaches and have them ready for the visitors. Services are still limited, but you can swim and take in the beauty that will always find it's way back to St. John.

Please take a look at Yelena Rogers Photography. She is one of the best wedding photographers, not only on St. John, but nationwide. She's won an award to prove it. Follow her photography and show her support any way you can. Like all small businesses on St. John, she relies on you for her next paycheck. It will be some time before she can be back to her packed schedule.

POWER IN CRUZ BAY

10/27/2017

Many news outlets are reporting that Cruz Bay has had power restored! 

 

According to News of St. John, its going to take some time to power up the whole island due to restrictions with regard to work in the National Park. Some of the new holes for the power polls will have to be dug by hand, so as you can imagine, it's going to slow things down. It has also been reported that they’ll have to use helicopters to string some lines in certain areas due to the dense forest. 

GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING

9/27/2017

As reported by News of St. John....

  • First Bank opened yesterday

  • Mail service resumed yesterday

  • Bruce Twyon, owner of Southern Hospitality, picked up 25 NY State Troopers and assisted with transporting personnel, equipment and other supplies needed at the St. John Clinic yesterday.

  • Kenny Chesney helped evacuate more St. John residents yesterday.

  • Sun Dog Cafe, Hercules and Chester’s are open.

  • Community happy hour happening at The Tap Room on Fridays.

  • E&C gas is open; NPS dock opens from 8-12 for response workers and at noon for the general public.

  • The ferries and car barge are running, but on a limited schedule.

  • The St. Thomas airport is expected to reopen this week.

  • Gifft Hill School is open and providing free education to all children. JESS hopes to reopen by mid-October.

  • The basketball court and playground in Cruz Bay have been cleared thanks to volunteers.

  • Pink Papaya is open.

  • Chelsea Drug Store is open.

  • Starfish Market, Dolphin Market, Pine Peace Market, Calabash Market are all open.

  • The health clinic at the Marketplace is open.

  • St. John Hardware and Paradise Lumber are open.

  • St. John Ice is open.

  • Caravan Auto is open.

  • WAPA has executed agreements for a first phase of 240 linemen to assist with the Territory’s reconstruction with more on the way.

  • Food distribution from noon-3pm at JESS ballfield and at the Fire Station in Coral Bay. Cruz Bay Landing, Longboard supported by Red Cross to serve up to 1,000 meals per day; 420, Indigo Grill, Dog House and others providing supportive service.

  • The Westin and Caneel both have potable water.

Click Here to read more.

HURRICANE MARIA

9/19/2017

Hurricane Maria is not messing around.

If you have been on the fence about donating to your beloved island of St John, this should make the decision an easy one.

St. John Rescue:
http://www.stjohnrescue.com/

St. John Community Foundation:

http://www.thestjohnfoundation.org/

GLORIOUS TRUNK BAY AFTER THE STORM

9/17/2017

 

Even without the green, there is still breath-taking beauty after the storm.

 

And when those leaves return, you'll want to be there to see it!

AN UPDATE FROM MARILYN

9/27/2017

We are grateful to everyone who has sent messages of hope and prayers for our safety and the future of the island and Andante. We know that many of you are concerned about your upcoming stay. We understand your frustration and apprehension in regards to your hard earned vacations.

 

We want to reassure you that we will be contacting everyone when we get back to the mainland and to regular communications. We have no way of communicating now and cannot receive or answer emails or texts. In addition to the devastating physical destruction you may have seen, all lines of communication were severed since Irma. We have not been ignoring your attempts to contact us. We have had no access to emails, internet (including banking, news, VRBO, and all other websites), landline, cellphone or electricity. Cell service is very limited so when we do rarely get texts or emails, we can’t reply. All electronic equipment including our laptops are malfunctioning or not functioning at all due to the high level of moisture in the air. A very kind person has lent me a USB keyboard so that I could write this email on my laptop. I am in hopes that I can get a Wi-Fi signal at the clinic where I have been volunteering and get this out to you. I am unable to reply to any texts or emails at this time.

 

Andante suffered some damage, but is still standing thank God. We have already started restoration and repairs and should be able to accommodate guests by mid December. This historic couple of storms and the challenges they have wrought, have taught all of us some lessons, and we will be making a number of changes in the repair and restoration process. Despite the devastation, STJ and STT have made incredible progress in clearing debris, opening the roads and beginning the hard restoration. The foliage that went from lush green to diffuse brown within 24 hours, is already coming back. Both islands are unrecognizable compared with the immediate aftermath in the first few days after Irma. There is an enormous sense of teamwork and faith in all the VI residents and it looks like things will be well on the way to an even keel by mid December. Communication remains a problem right now.

 

Due to the back-to-back category 5 hurricanes, the St. Thomas, St. Croix and Puerto Rico airports remain closed and our return flights have been cancelled three times. We are hoping to return Monday 10/2 God willing. We cannot be sure as decisions about the airport often aren’t published until 24 hours before.

 

Within a couple of days of our return, we will be in touch with each and every guest. We will be prioritizing those guests that were scheduled to stay September through Mid December, as they will be unable to come. We pray for your patience and understanding until we can make it back to a modicum of communications.

ANDANTE STANDS!

9/12/2017

Rich and Marilyn are fine. Andante stands!

NEWS OF ST. JOHN

9/11/2017

 

If you want to keep up with the rebuilding of St. John, please take a look at News of St. John. You can also follow along on facebook. Jenn is there to report and has long been a voice for St. John.

POST-HURRICANE UPDATE

9/9/2017

[This is Angela, I help Rich & Marilyn with their social media and website.]

 

With so many of you worried about them, like I was and am myself, I wanted to reach out with what info we know. That said, I have not yet heard from them. This makes sense considering how spotty any communication is said to be.

 

1. They did not have guests at Andante at the time.

2. They did not stay at Andante during the storm.

3. They stayed at a condo in Cruz Bay, and from what I can tell, the condo held up and everyone stayed safe.

 

I will keep you posted as I receive more information from them and on Andante.

 

I know with certainty that they were so gratified by the outpouring of support from their former and future guests. Thank you!

HURRICANE IRMA HEADED OUR WAY

9/4/2017

BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES! Prepping for #HurricaneIrma to make Category 5 landfall Wednesday-Thursday.

 

Stay safe everyone!

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VILLA STATUS

We're back! Get to St. John before the crowds arrive! 

Contact us today. Returning guest? Remember you always get 5% off with us!

If you've been to Andante in the past, we think you're really going to love the upgrades. New to St. John? Book a vacation you'll remember forever.

STAY WITH US

2018 dates are available!  

Now is the PERFECT time to visit St. John. You'll enjoy all the amenities, without the crowds. Restaurants and shops are open. The beaches are empty, but the water is warm and the sun is shining.

Snorkel, boat tour, hike, swim... take your pick, or do it all!

Don't miss this rare opportunity to have paradise to yourself. Please check our availability calendar and get in touch

Andante by the Sea

St. John, US Virgin Islands

(Toll Free) 877-512-2978

(MA/International) 617-232-7723

relax@andantebythesea.com

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