The 16-Year Storm
As many of you in St. Maarten know, Hurricane Luis in September 1995 was perhaps the most devastating natural disaster that hit the island in recent history. A category 4 hurricane of 165-mph winds, Luis left 19 people dead, nearly 20,000 homeless, and $3.5 billion dollars in damage in the Leeward Islands region. St. Maarten was especially hit hard, nearly wiping the island off the map. The island lost power for months, and the damage has made a deep and visible mark on the island, even today, nearly 16 years later.
Much of St. Maarten has recovered and rebuilt for greater safety. As you drive around, you’ll notice that most buildings now have hurricane shutters or some other protective measure, and that almost all power lines are now buried underground rather than on poles above the ground. However, what was not recovered soon after Luis passed was the legal and political storm that followed.
For nearly 16 years, the Mullet Bay Resort and Casino, once the flagship resort on St. Maarten and one of the most luxurious in the Caribbean, laid in ruins as owners could not come to an agreement as to what to do with the resort… until now.
In 2006, the Mullet Bay Apartments Association (MBAA) and SunResorts finally negotiated a settlement with the unit owners of the resort, advising them to sell their rights, titles, and claims to SunResorts. Today, most of the transfers have been finalized, and in June 2011, the Minister of infrastructure of St. Maarten signed for the immediate demolition of 80% of the ruins that was once Mullet Bay Resort and Casino. The demolition is now underway and well ahead of the 6-month demolition schedule.
While the Mullet Bay Golf Course continues to be used by many golfers and remains the island’s sole golf course (albeit not well-maintained), and Mullet Bay Beach continues to be a popular destination among locals and tourists alike, Mullet Bay and Cupecoy may never return to the glory that was seen during its heydays before Luis and the legal storm that followed. However, the recent demolition of the ruins that was once Mullet Bay Resort is a sign of hope that the 16-year storm has finally moved on.
Check out the photos of the demolition progress: