Club Med Columbus Isle better than ever after restoration
Apr 25, 2016 - 12:38:15 AM
COCKBURN TOWN, San Salvador — Club Med Columbus Isle resort is tucked away in Cockburn Town, San Salvador surrounded by cerulean waters, sandy beaches and blue skies.
Like many properties on the island it was extensively damaged during the passage of Hurricane Joaquin last October.
Today it stands bigger and better than before, a symbol of the resilience of the island and its people.
Remy Gouzou-Larnaudie, general manager of the property, said there was some initial concern about the resort’s future after the storm passed.
The resort, like the island, was in shambles at the time.
Larnaudie was working in the island nation of Martinique before he began at Club Med San Salvador last October.
He was set to arrive on October 1 in preparation for the resort’s opening on October 16.
But Joaquin got involved he said, uprooting trees and damaging the roof of the property, among other things.
He said Club Med was faced with a fundamental question: “Do we open the resort?”
“There was a decision we took and it took 15 days with head office,” he said.
“We said, ‘Do we rebuild?’
“Of course it (the decision) was pretty quick because we are so linked with the island. We couldn’t leave this island by itself.
“We have a commitment to the people here. So we decided to do the cleanup and renovation of the village but with the help of the people of the island.
“They were without jobs, without work. They didn’t have any activities so we had to provide for them and so they started working.”
Larnaudie said around 200 people, the majority of whom were Bahamians from San Salvador and the minority from New Providence and Canada, helped rebuild Club Med.
“We essentially had people who used to work here helping with the cleanup. So we have people who were renovating the beach club, but now they are doing the laundry.
“It has been three very intense months and it was really impressive to see. Everybody knew we had this target to open January 31. Everyone put in extra to ensure that we reached that date.
“It was amazing.”
At the front desk lobby, a picture adorns the wall. In it men and women are smiling, some holding hammers, wood, nails and others cleaning up a beach or on a roof. It is a reminder of the sacrifices made, of the work put into Club Med and of the spirit of community on the island.
Club Med was not only repaired, it was improved.
“For example, the pool and deck have been renovated so it is a beautiful area right now,” Larnaudie said.
“The beach bar has been extended. We created this new place called the grill which has a new dinner experience. It’s a barbecue experience.
“We have a completely new sailing area with new boats, new windsurfing and new paddle boards.”
When Larnaudie spoke with the Ministry of Tourism he said the resort, which can accommodate 450 people, had 400 guests.
Larnaudie was right. Scores of visitors were on property that day, many enjoying the gentle breeze from the Atlantic Ocean or involved in a heated beach volleyball match. Others sat by the bar and gazed into the sea.
“We are always full,” Larnaudie said.
“It’s a big success, but that’s why we want to increase the capacity of the village.”
Club Med is a French corporation of vacation properties found in many exotic locations around the globe. Club Med Columbus Isle was established in The Bahamas in 1992.
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