Summit Resort, Destroyed by Irma, Closing Permanently
Built in the early 1970s, Summit Resort was one of the few remaining vestiges of St. Maarten's charming, serene past.
Consisting of dozens of one and mostly two-story chalets painted in tropical colors in a garden setting, Summit harked back to a time when resorts were a place for pure relaxation in the natural splendor of true tropical ambience.
It was never posh, but nobody needed posh. Knowledgeable tourists, knowing the tradewinds off Simpson Bay lagoon provided refreshing breezes virtually every night, left their windows open — no real need for air conditioning here, though every room had it.
King size beds with green bedspreads bespeckled with gorgeous tropical flowers lit up the room, where ceiling fans helped the tradewinds on their way.There were modern conveniences, of course, including cable TV, free Internet access, a pool deck with a genuinely spectacular view of Simpson Bay lagoon, Marigot harbor in the distance, even Creole rock and Anguilla as well as the northern mountains. Late at night, a few daring souls occasionally skinnydipped in their pool under the stars.
But it all came to a punishing end when Irma came to town on that early September day. As we reported soon after the hurricane hit, she destroyed most of the wood frame buildings, blew pieces of the pool deck hundreds of yards away, blew off roofs, and in a few hours had done more damage than all prior hurricanes put together had ever done.
The first time we visited St. Maarten we went to the old Mullet Bay Beach Resort which until hurricane Luis hit had bordered the Mullet Bay golf course. That was with a group meeting from New England mutual life insurance company. We enjoyed the island and returned less than a year later — visiting Summit Resort which at the time had chalets painted in white with brown molding. It was our first real SXM vacation experience and we loved it, as did thousands of other regulars.After visiting with and explaining the fate of Summit to its employees late last week, owner Bruce Jakubovitz sent this message to the resort's timeshare owners:
Dear Summit Resort Hotel and Vacation Club Member,
As you know by now, Hurricane Irma struck the island of St Maarten in the early morning hours of September 6, 2017 as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and with wind gusts of over 200 miles per hour. The impact on our beautiful island was devastating. The impact on the Summit Resort Hotel was catastrophic.
Some of the Summit’s buildings were flattened completely by the force of Hurricane Irma’s winds. All but one of the Summit’s two-story buildings had their second floors either partially, or completely blown off. Our single-story buildings lost roofs and suffered other damage. The pool deck was completely blown away with pieces from it landing by our front entry gate. Our General Manager’s living quarters were destroyed as were the living quarters of our Head of Housekeeping. Our restaurant, bar, reception office, laundry facilities and maintenance building were each either destroyed or heavily damaged as well. There is not a single part of the Summit that has been spared from the destructive force of Hurricane Irma.
It pains me deeply to write this but the Summit Resort Hotel is closed for good. The cost of rebuilding far exceeds the amount of insurance for which the Summit qualifies. Had the Summit been destroyed by fire, insurance proceeds might have been enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. Hurricane insurance is prohibitively expensive however, as many of you may know, and our coverage does not provide anywhere near enough to rebuild. Having opened in 1973, as one of the first hotels on St Maarten, and having survived numerous hurricanes over the years including Luis, Marilyn, Lenny, Gonzalo and so many others, we were done in by Irma which was reported to be the most powerful storm ever recorded in our area. The loss is simply too great and we have no plans to rebuild or to reopen at any time in the future.
Like me, many of you have been visiting the Summit for decades and it truly is your “home away from home” in St. Maarten. I know that many of you think of our staff like your own family and they think of you the same way. Unfortunately, some of our staff lost their homes in the hurricane and all of our staff will soon be unemployed as there is no way to keep them on the payroll when the hotel has no revenue. For this reason, I greatly appreciate the donations that so many of you have made to our fundraising campaign to support the Summit staff.
Article 2 of the Summit Resort Hotel and Vacation Club Terms and Conditions states:
“Should the Unit not be available due to acts of God or other reasons beyond the reasonable control of the Lessor, the Member may receive his pro-rata share of the insurance or condemnation proceeds so generated or the Lessor may elect to repair or rebuild the Unit and extended the Member’s benefits for the length of time use was not available.”
Unfortunately, repairing or rebuilding is not a possibility given the enormous gap between, on the one hand, the estimated rebuilding costs and, on the other, our limited insurance coverage and our limited revenues from timeshare and hotel operations. Therefore, in accordance with our Terms and Conditions, each of you will be receiving a pro-rata share of the limited insurance proceeds generated. We are waiting for our insurance company to complete its assessment and to finalize the amount it will pay out in total. Once this is done we will be able to calculate the pro-rata share of the proceeds that each Member is entitled to and communicate this to you. This is likely to be a low number though given the sublimit imposed by our insurance carrier for damages caused by hurricanes.
We will need each Member’s correct physical address, telephone number and email address in order to get this information to you. If this letter has been forwarded to you by someone else, please make sure to contact us, at firstname.lastname@example.org
, and give us your up to date information.
On a personal note, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your many years of visiting the Summit, for the friendships you built and maintained with our staff, for the support you offered for all the upgrades and improvements we did to the property over the years and for the warm and friendly atmosphere that each of you helped create at the Summit.
I am proud of all our accomplishments, and of all the awards we won over the years as well. Especially that, in what turns out to be our last year in business, we won TripAdvisor’s highest honor, the Travelers’ Choice Award. The Summit was never about the physical buildings and rooms but, rather, the Summit’s beauty was in its people and each of you were one of those wonderful Summit people.
I hope you each have good memories of the Summit, as well as lots of pictures too, and will cherish those in the years to come.