A good story from the island of Saint Martin

I had Angie Wallace on the phone yesterday with a heartwarming story. She owns the three Indulgence spas in Aruba as well as two in Saint Martin, one at Divi Little Bay, the other in Oyster Bay.

In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria raised hell on the island, and the spas were destroyed by wind and water. Not the first time, in 2008, Hurricane Omar plowed through that same address, but Angie rebuilt, and at the end of last year, completely renovated the space.

The brand new spa at Divi Little Bay opened in January 2017, but it was gone in October. Angie reports the devastation did not affect her as much as the lack of communication, she had 22 therapists working for her company, and she had no clue how they survived the disaster. It took a long time to get an curate  head-count. Most of them experienced various degrees of homelessness, no electricity, no water, they were in need of everything. They explained electricity could be restored in certain neighborhoods, if their home roofs were restored, which proved an immense challenge.

Angie got a report from Divi that the hotel was badly hit, and that it will be serving as a military base over the next few months, accommodating Dutch Marines and other rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Divi was also set to rebuild and reopen in the summer of 2018.

She vowed to take the first commercial flight out to reconnect with her staffers.

“I found 6 girls standing,” she says. Six of her therapists had managed to restore their life to a semblance of normalcy and were ready to go to work. Angie says she couldn’t believe it. She was convinced it was the last thing on clients’ mind, but everywhere she went she was greeted with the same impatient inquiry: “When are you reopening. We need nice nails, more than ever!”

Supported by her courageous crew Angie reopened last weekend. She had a long line of clients wrapped around the block longing for a beauty treatment having been without since the end of August. We are booked solid Angie says, and I have six superstars, Odalis, Tina, Olga, Margarita, Avenicia and Vicky in charge of pampering. Apparently, in a sea of dysfunction and loss, a mini massage goes a long way.

About the island: Angie reports unbelievable price gauging and corruption. The merchants should be ashamed for selling a sheet of plywood for $40, when it was just $27 before the storm. But is feels safe, she offers, the island is slowly going back to business. Many employees were offered financial packages and termination settlements, while the hotels are rebuilding, so the island is flushed with temporary cash, which will run out in January. Then what, she fears.

The Oyster Bay spa? That is a total loss, nothing happening there, at Divi Little Bay is under construction and looking good.


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December 07, 2017
Rona Coster