We've Just Returned from the Caribbean

Our experts just visited some of the Caribbean destinations hardest hit by last year’s hurricanes — here’s what they had to say.

Last year saw the Caribbean hit by two storms only two weeks apart, and while the vast majority of the region's 7,000 islands rebounded quickly without major disruption to the tourism industry, the road to recovery was longer for some of the hardest hit destinations. However, hard work has paid off — Anguilla, St. Thomas, St. Bart's, and St. Martin are welcoming back guests with open arms.

Steve Lassman, Vice President of Villa Product & Agency Relations at Villas of Distinction, recently traveled to some of the most deeply affected Caribbean destinations to see the islands, mingle with the locals, and tour the villas — here's what he had to say.

Magens Bay, St. Thomas



How is the Island doing?

Honestly, if you did not know that Anguilla was in the storm's path, you could never tell. The cleanup there has been amazing — virtually all buildings on the island are in wonderful condition. Most of the beaches look great! There's white powdery soft sand and crystal blue waters as far as the eye can see, especially in Meads Bay, Crocus Bay, and Sandy Ground. The storm did break up part of the ocean reef, causing rocky conditions in Dropsey Bay and Shoal Bay, but over time, the pearly white sand will return.

Anguilla's villas are also in excellent shape, and we expect that 85% will be available to rent by the summer.

Tequila Sunrise, Anguilla


What’s one of your favorite villas on the island and why?

Tequila Sunrise — it has three master suites that are all of equal size and beautiful water views, thus making it the perfect couples' getaway...everyone has the same room and view!

Do you have any restaurant recommendations, or are there any must-try foods?

Try the conch fritters...they are made fresh, and with a little special Anguillan hot sauce, they are perfect! I had lunch at Straw Hat — a beachside restaurant that has recently been completely renovated and is looking shiny and new — the fresh seafood and sandwiches were delicious while being steps from the beach and crystal-clear water.

Straw Hat Restaurant, Anguilla


Do you have any advice for first-time travelers to the area?

Anguilla is a laid back spot with a very casual vibe — no need to dress up for dinner here! The people are so friendly and the lifestyle is just so relaxing, it's the perfect place to just unwind and let your troubles go. Try a massage on the beach — you will literally melt into the sand!


St. Thomas

How is the island doing?

The island has made tremendous progress. Virtually all restaurants have reopened, except for a handful, and many villas are in perfect shape and accepting guests! The shops are open, too — St Thomas is known for its jewelry, and there are plenty of middle to high-end stores to accommodate any shopper's taste and budget.

Peace of Mind. St. Thomas


Do you have any restaurant recommendations, or are there any must-try foods?

Meson Amalia is a St Thomas staple that never disappoints. Everything on the menu is fantastic — just ask for Randolph, the owner — he is a charming man who will share his love of food with you.

What are the best beaches there?

Magens Bay is still one of the top beaches in the world. You will see hundreds of new palm trees planted along the beach, giving it its iconic Caribbean feel. There is a beachside café to provide drinks and food throughout the day...this beach is a stunning long stretch of sand and water.


St. Bart’s

How is the island doing?

Overall, the island looks great, with all essential services having long been restored. While many of the island's popular seaside restaurants remain closed for rennovations, most of the shops and restaurants in Gustavia are open for business. All the services you'd expect are available in all available villas. Additionally, most of the beaches are in great shape, with the exception of Nicky Beach but there are crews working hard on its restoration as we speak.

Les Dunes, St. Bart's


What’s your favorite thing about visiting the island?

I love that this is one of the most manicured, cleanest, and safest islands in the Caribbean, with many Yachts docking in the harbor. St. Bart's boasts countless amazing food options, too, as well as great high-end shopping. It’s perfect for a 7-night stay, a weekend escape, or just for a day trip if you’re staying at a nearby island. 

What’s one of your favorite villas on the island and why?

Les Dune...it's located in Saline nestled in the hillside, and it's just a beautiful and serene villa. It almost blends completely into the natural preserve of the island with outstanding views and a short walk to the beach — definitely high-end luxury that offers great privacy.


St. Martin

How is the island doing?

The progress made so far in the cleanup and recovery efforts is extraordinary. While the airport remains under construction, air travel is efficient, and people are moving quickly through customs. The ferry service is restored and working perfectly to Anguilla and St Bart's. The people of St. Martin are thrilled to see and welcome tourists, and you can absolutely enjoy a vacation here. Most of the restaurants on the island have reopened, while many of the beachfront restaurants remain closed while they rebuild. The villas that are open for rentals are all in perfect shape and have all of the expected amenities. The beaches look great for the most part, although some lost sand through the storm erosion, and that will take time to come back.

Giselle, St. Martin


What makes this destination different from other places in the Caribbean?

The two cultures in one island — Dutch side and French side — and the ease of proximity to both Anguilla and St Bart's makes day tripping to other islands easy and affordable. 

Do you have any advice for first-time travelers to the area?

Enjoy an in-villa chef-prepared dinner one night, or have “Fabulous Feast” bring in a chef-prepared dinner, and savor the quality of a top restaurant in the comfort of your own villa.


Ready to witness the unrivaled beauty of the Caribbean for yourself? Browse our selection of Caribbean villas to start planning your next escape today.