How this Puerto Rico boutique hotel bounced back from Hurricane Maria
In the surf town of Rincón in Puerto Rico there has been a wonderful cause for celebration as one of its popular beachfront inns reopened after a 10-month closure, following extensive damage from Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria but thanks to the sterling efforts of its locals who banded together to rebuild their homeland, with the help of international relief, businesses there are making positive strides. Tres Sirenas (Three Mermaids) in Rincón is one of those such businesses. After the storm much of the building was too dangerous to occupy. The concrete porch was cracked in two, and waves battered the building. The 30 feet of beach that used to stretch out in front of the property had been entirely swallowed by the ocean. There was no power or running water.
Tres Sirenas is run by Lisa Masters and her partner Wanda Acosta, who opened the inn 16 years ago. The two were broken-hearted by the destruction of their business but thanks to the efforts of staff and locals, they were able to bring the villa back to life – working together and finding solace through the community. It was a painstaking process but 10 months after its closure, the villa is now accepting bookings from guests again. Through word of mouth, Lisa and Wanda were able to contract a sustainable engineer to help them rebuild with local contractors who were understanding of their needs and reputation within the community.
"They say it takes a village. We were very fortunate to have the support and collaboration of so many in the community from engineering, permitting and construction to the creative efforts of local artisans, hand building the custom outdoor furniture," Lisa told Lonely Planet. "We had the table tops all made from the fallen trees, and the new tiki bar with local carvings. Putting so many different people back to work, all locals who have loved Tres Sirenas, and welcoming our staff back. Smiling faces are welcoming people to Rincon all over the town."
"We had wonderful support from our friends and neighbours," added Wanda. "When you find your beloved business collapsing into the ocean, you can't even imagine how to begin again, if not for the encouragement of our community and the love and respect of our property from our guests, we may have shuttered."
The two-storey villa features five elegant Spanish-boho waterfront rooms with terracotta-tiled floors, plush bedding and private white-washed balconies. Each room has its own kitchenette, complete with a french press, flat-screen TV and front-facing sliding glass doors. Staff are committed to being a single-use plastic-free property, taking part in sustainable practices including reclaimed wood furniture design, LED lighting, recycling and composting.
The villa offers guests a complimentary gourmet vegetarian or vegan breakfast each morning served on their room's private balcony or in the outdoor lounge. Meals include banana pecan pancakes, zucchini frittata, avocado toast, fresh tropical fruit and toasted baguette with fresh tomato salsa. The property’s Tiki Bar will open this winter with classic craft cocktails and an ocean view.
The property is located 45 minutes from Rafael Hernåndez Airport in Aguadilla. Entire villa rental is available. Rooms start at $220 (£174/€193). For more information, see here.