After a long silence following Hurricane Irma, Peter Island Resort and Spa has announced that it aims to reopen the “main sections” of its 52 hotel rooms and three villas by December 2021, government announced this week.
On Tuesday, Premier Andrew Fahie signed an agreement for the redevelopment with Peter Island Limited, represented by resort director David Van Andel, according to a statement from Government Information Services.
The press release provided few details, and it didn’t explain why the agreement was needed for the rebuild. However, it quoted Mr. Fahie as saying the project would generate approximately 160 local jobs during the construction phase and contribute “no less than 50 jobs to the Virgin Islands economy” after completion.
The press release also stated that the development would contribute $18-$22 million to the economy annually.
BVI Tourist Board Director Sharon Flax-Brutus said yesterday that the redevelopment will represent a return to the resort’s previous size.
She also expressed high hopes, telling the Beacon yesterday she is hopeful the “rebirth” of Peter Island “will add tremendously to our luxury portfolio.”
After facing extensive damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the resort closed and laid off 176 employees. Only 35 remained.
Until now, the resort had not announced a timeline for reopening beyond stating that it would remain closed for the duration of 2017 and into late 2018.
Efforts to reach resort representatives and to obtain the development agreement were not immediately successful.
However, some rebuilding appears to have been taking place in recent months.
The resort’s last post to its Facebook page, which was added in May, shows a video of staff member Jean Kelly thank- ing supporters for their kind comments as the resort continues to rebuild.
Ms. Kelly, the post explains, helps out in the staff cafeteria “to make sure that our crew is fed and comfortable during their busy work day.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of you one of these wonderful days when we get ourselves together, but we’re working on it,” Ms. Kelly said in the video. “We’ll be there soon.”
The resort’s website also features a pop-up thanking people for the “kindness and support” through the “difficult time.” The reopen date, the website adds, “will depend on the progress of the BVI government to restore normal operations, the return of staff, and our rebuild.”
During the premier’s November budget address, he promised to work with resorts like Peter Island and noted that such developments would bring the territory closer to the government’s goal of opening a total of 5,000 land-based hotel rooms in the territory within five years. Prior to Irma, there were 2,700 hotel rooms available.
Last year, though, some members of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association raised concerns about the goal, speculating that 5,000 hotel rooms might oversaturate the market, cut quality of service, and skew room rates.
Currently, about 60 percent of the pre-Irma land-based rooms have been opened, Ms. Flax-Brutus said.
Some have returned this year, including the ones at Virgin Gorda’s flagship Rosewood Little Dix Bay, which reopened the first week of this year after a four-year closure exacerbated by damage from Irma.