Back in 2017, Bryan and Sarah Baeumler went on vacation on South Andros in the Bahamas and discovered a totally abandoned resort: the 50-year-old Emerald Palms, which had closed up shop in 2011. The Baeumlers decided to invest in the property — all 18 rooms, 22 villas, and the clubhouse. They poured a bunch of money into renovating it so that it would return to its original state of glory, or maybe even better. And thus, Renovation Island was born.
Technically, Renovation Island started filming in 2018, and the renovated Emerald Palms, which they renamed to Caerula Mar Club, opened in the winter of 2019. But you might be wondering: What happened to the renovation and restoration process during Hurricane Dorian? Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas between August and September of 2019 and decimated parts of the island.
Was Renovation Island impacted by Hurricane Dorian?
The Baeumlers were in the middle of renovating what would become Caerula Mar Club when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas that summer. Luckily for the family, South Andros Island wasn't hit too badly by the storm. However, it did impact their employees, who lived on other parts of the island, including Abaco and Grand Bahama, which were decimated.
Once the Baeumlers found out about their employees — many of whom were directly affected and had family who lost their lives to the storm —they told the film crew to pause so they could help their staff.
"We were actually on vacation with the kids in an RV in the Pacific Northwest when [Dorian] was heading straight for the hotel. We had to have the conversation, like, when we get back there we might just be sorting through debris for personal effects. But it curved north and hit Abaco and Grand Bahama," Bryan told TheWrap.
He added, "And, originally, we traveled back there and were relieved it hadn't hit us, but we realized that the people of the Bahamas — and the Family Islands, especially — have family all over the place. So a lot of our employees and our friends there had families that had been directed affected or lost lives in the hurricane."
Bryan stated that they wanted to help locate employees' family members and also take some time to "mourn the lives that have been lost." Bryan said, "And our camera crew was great and said, we really need time as an island to work together, as a Bahamian culture, and help. And we immediately went into action to provide any help or resources that our family could. It's just something I don't think we ever thought we would already, only a few months in, be dealing with a Category 5 hurricane."
Renovation Island was spared by Hurricane Dorian, but COVID-19 poses a bigger problem.
According to TheWrap, Caerula Mar Club had its grand reopening in February, but as we all know, most of the world would be on lockdown by mid-March.
"We have only been open six weeks and we are already dealing with a global pandemic," Sarah told TheWrap. Currently, the resort is closed, but the couple is trying to make it lesser of a hardship for their staff — and their bank account.
"In our financials, we have planned that the first year, generally, you're not gonna run at a profit, so we've had protections in place and we talked to our staff there. We obviously had to pare down staff a little bit but continue on some of the renovations and the work that we're doing on the islands and kind of rotate staff so everybody has still got a little something come in," Bryan told TheWrap.
Considering Bryan and Sarah invested $10 million into the property, hopefully they can survive this.
Lucky for Bryan and Sarah, at least Hurricane Isaias has spared the Bahamas — but the couple is pretty much always on high alert.