CRUZ BAY — As the winter tourist season rolled onto St. John in 2017, there was one resort ready to welcome its guests. The general manager of Gallows Point Resort credited their initial success after Hurricanes Irma and Maria to logistics.
Gallows Point General Manager Akhil Deshwal says a swift recovery was aided by having construction materials on hand, some from recently completed projects and some from items in inventory. The resort had a surplus of roofing material, following a repair project done a couple of years ago.
More crucial than the roofing supplies were a stock of doors brought in for a door replacement job. “We lost 127 doors and fortunately we had 48 doors in stock,” Deshwal said.
As a result, 46 units were returned to a habitable state. Right after the passage of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6, the manager said Gallows had eight that were ready to go.
The quick recovery helped Gallows become the place to go for emergency response teams arriving on island from FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers. Continuing recovery helped the resort approach a Dec. 24 deadline for tourist season readiness.
Currently, Gallows has roughly a 50-50 mix of relief workers and winter season guests, many of them repeat clientele. “We’re all up and running,” Deshwal said.
That includes the resort’s permanent staff, he added. Guests booking into Gallows can expect daily housekeeping services, restaurant accommodations, and a concierge. The resort’s pool and hot tub are also ready and waiting, he said.
Deshwal said he’s especially pleased with the return of the restaurant, which lost its roof during Irma.
Getting to full recovery is still a few steps away, the manager said. Like other V.I. recovering properties, Gallows faces shipping delays for construction supplies. At the time of this report, Deshwal was off-island. One of his tasks while away, he said, was tracking down doors already on order for the replacement project with delivery pending.
The hunt is also on for replacement skylights, all of which were lost in the storm, he said.
Another big hurdle is airlift, which Deshwal describes as being subject to circular logic. Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed, airlines have said they cannot justify increasing the number of flights to the territory.
With many hotels closed for repair, they say, the number of available rooms are down. As a result, he said, Gallows guests get caught in between.
“They have the room booked with us, but they don’t have the flight,” the manager said.
Last month, as the winter season began, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Doty stopped by to talk with business owners about destination readiness. The visit gave Deshwal a chance to talk about the airlift problem.
Tourism is working on it, he said. Results will not be coming soon.