Orient Beach Forum
August 03 2020 20:06
Orient Beach Report June, 2018
June 27 2018 20:48
I am unable to post photos in this thread. I will do another thread and attempt to post photos there. OK, so with that bit of preamble, here is the trip report:
We stayed at the Plaza Apartments, which are above the businesses in the plaza just across the street from the Village (north of the Village) on Avenue des Plages. We had a studio which was spacious with plenty of outdoor and indoor living space. We like the area, in the absence of Club O, because of the abundance of restaurants, bars and general activity in the area.
It appears that 5 or 6 restaurant are now open in the Village, and several of those small restaurant bars across the street in the Plaza, including the pizza place (Bo's). Doesn't mean all 6 in the Village will be open each night, but at least one or two of them will be. Most of the people here now are the French expats. The French have their main meal at noon. In the evenings they may have tapas, wine and cigarettes and more cigarettes while they talk. So the restaurants just don't have enough business to justify being open every night. But there is enough variety to satisfy without needing to go into Grand Case every other night. One or two of the bars in the Plaza close their grills at 6:00 PM because of the lack of demand for food after that hour.
The Village, and environs, are slowly being repaired. There are construction workers here from all over the world. There is ongoing construction where the Yellow Submarine used to be. I asked one of the construction workers what they were putting in there, but he spoke Spanish and no English. The next day I saw another guy working there. He was Dutch and spoke excellent English. He didn't know the name of the restaurant to be, but said the same owners as before were rebuilding. So, it appears the YS will return. I also talked with one of the former employees of the YS (through a French translator), and he confirmed it is being rebuilt. Looks similar to the old YS, from what I could see in the early stages of construction.
We have neither seen nor heard any clean up activity at Club O, and certainly no rebuilding. We saw one owner sweeping out his chalet, and someone told us about one other owner who was doing some clean up. That's about it from what we could see. The Kubota tractor that used to clean the beach was damaged beyond repair in the storm. It didn't get carried away back to Japan, but it might as well have been. Probably needs to have a decent burial on the Island.
One of the Culb O workers was optimisiic about it reopening; another was pessimistic about the prospects. I talked at length to an owner on Monday, and he says it is coming back. He also says there has been a tremendous amount of clean up since the storm. The rebuilding will be done in stages. Stage One will be rebuilding the units that are damaged, but are structurally sound. Stage Two will be building the new units. The new units will probably be built farther from the sea. The closest ones, the Waterfront Chalets, were all destroyed. They will be no more. Of course that is where we always stayed. A sad ending to a lot of fun there on the beach.
There are some owners who want to sell out and be gone; there are some who want to keep what they have, or rebuild what they had, and there are some who want to buy or build more units. Also, there is interest from non owners who would like to become owners. The current plan is to give first dibs on any remaining units to those who have a history with the resort. That is, those who have stayed here on a regular basis over the years, or perhaps only one or two visits. I don't know that the criteria have yet been been firmly established. The more visits over the years, perhaps the better chance one would have to buy a unit.
We found out what happened to Papagayo's, or at least what the word on the beach is. I doubt that anyone actually saw it. A wave landed square on the front roof of the building, about 10' to 15' up. Several said it was a 30' wave that came over the top of Green Cay and hit Papagayo's, but I doubt it was that high. Although Green Cay did look clean as if it had been washed off. A 30' wave would have gone well over the top of Papagayo's. I think a 10' to 15' wave would have been about the right size considering the location of the damage. At any rate the wave came in and landed on the front part of the roof. It concaved the center of the roof and damaged the columns that supported it. That appears to be the only major structural damage to Papagayo's. I least I hope it is. There may be some undermining of the foundation, but not having an engineering degree, I can't say for sure.
Around the Village, as @Dr.J said, there is a lot of construction. I noticed one or two structures being built right on the beach. They are concrete, unlike the wooden structures they are replacing. This may be a new building code requirement.
On up the beach toward Mr.Vernon, Cocoa's is no more, as are the other businesses to the South of her. Esmeralda has suffered damage, but there is ongoing construction. All of the clean up appears to have been completed. The large villa closest to the beach is completely repaired with water in the pool. Doesn't appear that Es suffered any water damage, but hard to tell for sure. That sea wall in front of the resort may have helped a lot, although the way it dips down in the center, while esthetically pleasing, knocked a couple of feet off of the protection. I think the Es will be up and functioning on at least a partial basis by Christmas, but sans the supporting establishments.
For you old-timers on the board, the mystery building is no more. At least the second story is no more, and the first floor has been gutted. No telling how many years it will take to bring it back to life. Another whole generation of morning beach walkers will look at its carcass and wonder what it was, or what it was supposed to be. Boo Boo Jams is still standing but is gutted.
As to the nude morning walks, we saw absolutely no one nude while we were on our walks. And what is stranger still, we saw no topless women either sunning or walking in the mornings, afternoons or evenings. Had I gone topless on our walks, I would have been the only female to do so. Given that, I wore a top and bottoms on all of our walks.
Moving on to Mt. Vernon. It suffered damage, and we saw no evidence of clean up or rebuilding. We would walk down there in the mornings, but late enough that workers would have been out; we saw none.
The traffic problem has abated quite a bit. We actually made it from the airport in about 30 minutes without the traffic jams often seen. The biggest traffic problem now are the trucks heavily laden with construction materials. They are slow enough through town, but when climbing those steep hills going toward Orient Beach, they go into first or second gear and literally creep up the hills. Can't go fast down the hills or they won't be able to stop. So that causes real bottlenecks of traffic. Of course that frustrates the locals, and they take more chances than usual to get around them. Especially the motorcycles. They are worse now than we have ever seen them. We had several almost hit us head or swipe the driver's side door when they were doing their passing and lane splitting tricks. They pass on hills, they pass on curves; they are truly death defying.
We had one fool do a U turn directly in front of us. My husband had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting him. That knocked the groceries down, but luckily nothing was broken. My husband was impressed with the rider's ability to make a tight U turn, though. He said it was as tight as any motor officer would. be able to do. He also mentioned the guy almost dropped it right there in front of us. Had he done that we would have run over him before we could stop.
We only saw one grocery store on the French side. It is the Super U, which I think used to be the Super Marche. It is located just off the main road as one is leaving Marigot. Just past McDonalds on the right, the Super U is down the next little street to the right. A good selection of stuff, it is usually well attended as there probably isn't another large grocery on that part of the Island.
We had a good trip with good weather. We had rain one afternoon, but that is OK as the Island appears to be headed for another drought. We got to say hello to NOLA couple on our first full day there. Unfortunately it was their last day, so we didn't get to do much more than say hello.
The food at the Perch Lite is adequate with chicken, ribs, shrimp and Mahi Mahi sandwiches. There may have been more, but I don't remember. Not every selection is available every day.
Chair and umbrella rental are available. Don't know the daily rate, but we got 7 days for $100. I think we got one day free with a weekly rental, so the daily rate is probably what it used to be—$18. Cedric and Allen (sp?), from watersports, along with one other guy we didn't know, are running that business, and are doing an excellent job of it. They also rake the beach each morning where the chairs are set up. Cedrick isn't there everyday as he has something else going on, but the others have everything under control. They plan on being there until Club O reopens and they get their jobs back.
All of the contract workers, including Willie, are being paid 70% of their normal pay. Willie is back on the Island, and has recently gotten married, is the word we got. The people woking the beach now were not under contract. Club O is giving them a chance to make some money during the hiatus. From what we could tell, Club O is taking care of its employees while the resort is closed. Although there were deaths on the French side, more deaths than what have been reported, all of the Club O employees survived.
Luis is back. In February he built a little building right on the beach that he operates out of. He said that after the storm, he and his two children lived on 150 coconuts and a bag of rice. Although I didn't need another bikini, I had decided to have him make me one as I figured he needed the business. He made me a bikini, a beach dress/coverup and I got a long pareo from him, which came in handy. Both the dress and bikini were perfect fits, as usual. He said mine was the first bikini he had made since the storm. Business is slow. On our last day he told us he had made another one, so business is picking up.
Chez Leandra has set up a small structure next to Luis. We didn't see her while we were there, although we didn't venture past the rocks during lunch hours. I think Luis told us she wasn't there all the time or that she had gone back to her other restaurant close to the French Quarter. Those two are the only businesses we saw on the entire beach, other than the Club O operation and Pedro's chair rental, which is only a few chairs. I think they are there mostly to preserve their business on the beach.
It was a good trip, and everyone we talked to on the Island was appreciative of our coming back and supporting the Island in its time of need. It is 100% tourism dependent, so the storm has wreaked havoc with the lives of the people. They need our support. There are plenty of services available to make the trip comfortable, just like the old days. Club O Beach is just like it used to be, except we couldn't step out of our chalet and be on the beach. It isn't nearly as convenient to stay elsewhere, but that is a small price to pay to enjoy the Club O Beach each day.
We enjoyed the trip enough that we will go back again next year, although Club O probably won't be up and running yet.
June 28 2018 12:01
Awesome report. Thanks for all the updates.
June 28 2018 12:02
Awesome report. Thanks for the updates. Looking forward to your photos.
June 28 2018 12:07
Been having problems with the photos. I think I figured out to just bypass the "Insert Image" feature of the board and to directly post my BB Code from the third party server.
I spent so much time on it yesterday, I am just burned out on it. May get back to it this afternoon.
June 28 2018 14:57
Thank you very much for your report!
June 28 2018 15:19
You are certainly welcome. I am trying to work up the energy to get back to the photos. Just because it was working this morning, doesn't mean it will still work the same way this PM.
June 28 2018 15:27
Thanks for the excellent report.
June 28 2018 16:56
I'm going to have to do all of these photos in separate posts as the system isn't letting me do them in one message. This is the problem I was running into yesterday.
This first shot is of Papagayo's, #46 (the small one in the rear with the yellow trim), 47, which is in front of 46 and what is left of 48 and 49. Notice the concaved front porch of Papagayo's:
June 28 2018 17:00
The one below is of 46 through 50, or what is left of them. #50 is only a few slabs in a pond of waste water:
June 28 2018 17:04
And this what is left of #52. Especially sad as that is the one we stayed in last year. We have stayed in all of them at least once, except #50, which I believe is the unit the owner took out of the rental plan.
June 28 2018 17:07
Here is the Perch Lite before it got busy, or probably before it even opened. We were on our morning beach walk. The tables are the original tables to the various units that they were able to salvage and I think they were also painted.
June 28 2018 17:12
And this one shows the new width of the beach. My husband wasn't quite at the water's edge, so it is even wider than it appears in the picture.
June 28 2018 17:15
And for you oldtimers on the board, this the old mystery building. Gutted and missing the second story. Wonder how long it will stand vacant this time? Boo Boo Jams is still standing, but it, too, has been gutted.
June 28 2018 17:19
These next three are of Mt. Vernon. It suffered wind damage, but probably no sea water damage. No sign of any work being done on it.
I believe I have solved the problem of multiple photos in the same message. It was a problem either in my PC or with my third party server.
June 28 2018 17:26
And finally, one of our members wanted a photo of Club O. Not sure what he meant by that, but we went to the hill that Club Fantastico is on, and took two overview shots of Club O. It is the forlorn looking white buildings beyond the pastel colored roofs.