Okay, when I told you about Jeremy and Carol’s stay I got way ahead of myself.
Before their “inaugural” visit we still had to put the finishing touches on the house. So we popped down in early December to make everything as perfect as possible.
It was a busy but enjoyable stay. The weather was superb—the days hot and sunny, the nights shot through with cooling trade winds—and the house was really beginning to take shape.
followed by another stint of work in the afternoon before drinks and dinner.
But even though our daily routine remained unchanged, we began to notice subtle changes in the island itself.
For one thing, lots of new businesses that had cropped up in the past year were disappearing. I had lived long enough on Nantucket (not to mention a six-month stint in Key West in the early ‘90s) to know that the rhythm of resorts—essentially feast or famine—isn’t always a great recipe for commercial success.
But I was shocked at just how fast restaurants and other businesses were springing up in Vieques and just as quickly taking a nose dive.
Our realtor, Armando, opened a restaurant a few months after we bought our house and watched it go belly-up barely six months after the grand opening.
The big Wyndham resort, which had opened with such fanfare in 2003…
failed miserably, and was taken over by another company. Then the island rumor mill really kicked in and reported that this new incarnation was also failing and would soon be replaced with a W Hotel (the Caribbean’s first).
The latter rumor proved to be true, although the hotel’s opening date was pushed forward at least four or five times. As many of you probably know, the W finally opened in the spring of 2010.
An amusing corollary to the W story is that American Airlines decided, once the hotel’s plans were announced, to expand its American Eagle service to Vieques to accommodate all those posh new visitors the hotel was certain to attract. American got so excited it even footed the bill for a new wing at the airport.
This really was news.
The island was serviced by a group of small, locally-owned airlines, with the exception of Cape Air, which flew a bunch of its small planes down to the Caribbean every winter since they weren’t being used to any great extent in New England in cold weather.
Now a major airline would be connecting the island with San Juan. Everything would change, nothing would ever be the same. Or so the story went.
The new airport wing, sleek and stylish, was completed after about a year.
Islanders held their collective breath waiting for the first flight.
It went back.
Then service was suspended indefinitely.
Nothing changed at all.