We received the following message from one of our readers yesterday. It was sent out yesterday morning to the timeshare owners at the Westin. As you will see in this message, it appears that the Westin is on track to reopen in January 2019 as previously stated. While we wish they could reopen sooner, I am happy that they remain on schedule. Here is the message in its entirety with a few comments from me:
Dear Fellow Virgin Grand Villas Owner:
We recently participated as your representatives in a special conference call meeting of the Board of Directors that was convened to approve the construction contract with Cotton International Inc., the company that has been working to clear the debris at the resort and that will repair the damage to our buildings and to the resort’s common areas.
As you know, Hurricane Irma brought the greatest damage that St. John has suffered in many decades, causing enormous destruction on the island, which is still limping back. Tourism remains at a very low level. Each airline has only one flight a day to St. Thomas, and transportation and communication to and from St. John remains limited. (Note from Jenn: This isn’t entirely true. American, for example, has two flights a day. Transportation is not limited. The passenger ferry runs hourly until 10 p.m. daily.) A few restaurants have opened in Cruz Bay, but Caneel Bay remains closed indefinitely, and much of the island’s infrastructure remains to be rebuilt. (Note from Jenn: The majority of the restaurants are open in Cruz Bay. So say “a few” is inaccurate.)
As you know, our resort was badly damaged. We did not have roofs blown off as Sunset Bay did, but most or all units and their contents suffered water damage. (Note from Jenn: I’m assuming Sunset Bay refers to the beachside accommodations.) In nearly every unit, drywall and wet contents have been removed and will be replaced.
Fortunately, the Westin St. John, and all the Vistana properties affected by the hurricane, had a very substantial property insurance policy, with a 5% deductible, and our condominium association has for many years been laying away money in a special hurricane contingency fund. That fund currently has about $2 million in it, and of course our Association has additional reserves as well. The maximum deductible amount that we would have to pay for reconstruction of the Virgin Grand property is $2.34 million (5% of the $46.7 million total insured value of the Virgin Grand buildings), but management assures us that most likely the amount will be less than that. In addition to what we will have to pay for work on our own buildings, we will have to pay our share of the deductible portion of the cost for repair of certain common areas, such as landscaping, the pool and pool pumps, and the tennis courts. The final amount cannot be determined until later in the reconstruction process, but because of the funds we have reserved, we do not anticipate the need for a special assessment. We will, of course, have to rebuild the hurricane contingency fund because of the possibility of storms in the future.
After reviewing the contract with Cotton, the Board unanimously approved it, as did the boards of the three other condominium associations on the property of the resort.
All four boards have also retained environmental consultants to inspect the buildings, both before and after reconstruction, to detect mold and assure that the buildings will be safe for occupancy. Our consultant is Environmental Analytics, a reputable firm based in Tucson, Arizona. The firm will inspect every unit and take and analyze samples. Cotton has committed to following its recommendations or, if it disagrees with a particular recommendation, to report the disagreement to our Board of Directors for such action as the Board wishes to take. The resort remains on schedule to reopen in January 2019, and Vistana is accepting owners’ reservations of their units for weeks beginning January 4, 2019.
The next meeting of the Board will take place following the Annual Meeting on March 5 in Orlando.
Philip G. Schrag
Robert H. Werbel
Again, I am happy to hear that they are on schedule to open in January 2019. For those of you who are Westin owners and would like to visit St. John prior to next year, please consider staying at a different hotel/resort/condo/villa. We printed a list back in January of available places. Click here to check that out.