By anguillian October 30, 2017 10:46 Updated




The imposing luxury Grand Outlook Castle at Roaches Hill – overlooking historic Crocus Bay and the expansive seacoast to the west, is among a number of properties now open for business in various parts of the island following Hurricane Irma.

After last week’s edition of The Anguillian, announcing the reopening of several accommodation facilities and cuisine services, Mr. Paul Alegria called the newspaper’s office to announce that his property’s first guests, following the hurricane, would be arriving on Saturday, October 21, from the United States. Mr. Alegria and his wife, Mrs. Elise Alegria, who hail from Boston, Massachusetts, are the owners of the Grand Outlook Castle. He has been a financial consultant and she has served in the dental industry for many years. What is of much interest is that some of their just-arrived guests, if not all, experienced Hurricane Irma in Florida and so, for them, it was no problem coming to Anguilla which still bears the familiar scars of the category 5 tropical storm.
Mr. Alegria, who arrived in Anguilla several days ahead of his guests, came to check out the recovery process to ensure that all was well for their visit. “I drove around the island to make sure that the roads were cleared and I dined at Roy’s and Tasty’s where the food was excellent,” he stated. “It was a wonderful experience that I could articulate to them. I would say that they are brave. I was concerned a week ago but I was able to get through fine because I developed that kind of relationship with our guests that they trust us.

“Regardless of whether we have electricity or not after Irma, and we have to run the generator 24/7, they are coming. They are bringing school supplies for the children and some other things so they are aware of the devastation. They will be here for two weeks, and the guests who are coming after them will be on the island for three weeks. They have been visiting Anguilla for six years now. I didn’t have to convince them at all. They are comfortable here and said to me: ‘we will always come to Anguilla.’”

Mr. Alegria was critical of the media in the United States saying that the media “were not telling the true story” about Anguilla’s recovery progress and getting to the island from Puerto Rico. “Up until I left they were still showing the devastation in Puerto Rico. Whether they are trying to evoke concern by other people so that they would send help, I don’t know, but having flown over San Juan where traffic was flowing over the city, it looked fine to me. That’s not being related by the media.”

Mr. Alegria said while he had stayed on in Anguilla to put arrangements in place for his guests, they had called him to verify that all was in order for their arrival. About the hurricane, he stressed: “We can’t be in a mourning process. The island needs to move forward,” and gave the following account as one example of how bad publicity may have discouraged travellers to Anguilla:

“A woman who, because of what she saw on television, back in the States, and who had been coming here for three years, called me up crying on the phone. The issue was that, in light of what she was seeing she could not sleep at night thinking that in six months’ time, next April, she will have to bring her children to Anguilla. I said to her: ‘no worries. This is Anguilla where, if you changed your mind, you can come back. I don’t want you to be not sleeping at night. We will send back your money’ and that’s what we did. You have to have compassion for each other and treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. My wife and I just could not envision this poor woman having sleepless nights thinking that she had cast her children into some sort of hades – which was obviously not so. Although we know that things will be fine in April, we just could not have her think that she was going to mistreat her children.”

Mr. Alegria has one suggestion which he thinks would be very useful in welcoming guests to Anguilla: that is “a marching band” or some kind of music or dancing to welcome guests on arrival. “When I was young my parents took me to Hawaii. When we got to the airport they had dancers on hand and everybody had a good welcome,” he recalled. “I still haven’t forgotten that sixty years later and I am not a young man. We need to greet the few guests who are coming here [after Hurricane Irma] and to really go out of our way, in my opinion, to embrace them so that they can say ‘Anguilla is damaged, but it is not dead.’”

He felt that persons in Anguilla should be in this mood: “We are not going to mourn over a broken door after the hurricane, but will fix it. We will bring people back to the island and try to get them to bring other people so that whatever villas or resorts are open they would go to them, and spend their money in the restaurants, giving Anguilla hope again. I am sure that once this message gets out, people will come to Anguilla for Christmas and the New Year.”

How did the Grand Outlook Castle get to Anguilla? Mr. Alegria explained that in 1984 he and his wife were in Bermuda celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. There, at the Reef Hotel, they met two Anguillian chefs, Alex Smith and Kelvin Smith (cousins), who told them about Anguilla and, along with other persons, encouraged them to visit the island. They eventually began visiting Anguilla in 2003 and fell in love with the island and its people. After some years they purchased half an acre of land, overlooking Crocus Bay, shown to them by the late Karle T. Smith. The architect for their luxury villa was the late Kevin Gumbs.

The 3-million US dollar villa, with all the features of a modern-day castle, not only provides sweeping coastal and ocean views in Anguilla, from one of the highest points on the island, but the mountain peaks of a number of neighbouring islands on a clear day as well. The villa has four master bedroom suites, outdoor and indoor showers with private wings and patios on two floors – as well as other facilities including a communal area where all of the guests can congregate on occasions. The castle is designed to accommodate eight persons or four couples.

The proud owner described the Grand Outlook Castle as being the number one guest-rated villa in the entire Caribbean. “We have over 200 five-star guest reviews and on Home Away, Bodh Gaya, we have 129 guest reviews – and that rates us number one of 2700 other destinations based on guest reviews,” he stated.

By anguillian October 30, 2017 10:46 Updated


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