Weathering the Storm
Palmera Vacation Club Rises above Hurricane Matthew
On the morning of Saturday, October 8, 2016, Hilton Head, South Carolina was evacuated due to the imminent devastation of Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 tropical cyclone upon landfall. The storm brought 88+ mph winds, over 18 inches of rain, a 12 and a half foot storm surge, scattered tornados, and over 100,000 downed trees that made roads impassable. Despite having launched just a month earlier, Palmera Vacation Club rode out the storm and has since flourished. We spoke with Dean Pierce, CEO of Palmera Vacation Club, about their disaster recovery efforts and how they were able honor all guest reservations by Friday, October 14.
Three days after Hurricane Matthew made landfall, business owners and residents were allowed to return to assess the destruction. Approximately 5 percent of the inventory across all four of Palmera Vacation Club’s resorts —Island Links, Port O’ Call, Coral Reef and Coral Sands—sustained damage from the winds, waters, and downed trees. “We are keenly aware of the role vacation ownership plays in Hilton Head’s economy, so we knew the sooner Palmera Vacation Club was open for business, the better it would be for Hilton Head Island,” Pierce says.
Palmera Vacation Club formulated a plan with an aggressive timeline in order to safely reopen all four resorts to guests. The plan included immediately securing multiple tree-clearing crews, who were housed on-site. The crews worked around the clock to clear hundreds of trees and vast quantities of debris from the resorts. “While other resorts on the island were down for weeks, we worked tirelessly to ensure that all units with reservations on or after Friday, October 14 were ready,” says Pierce. In addition, Pierce made the decision to continue to pay Palmera Vacation Club staff, including hourly employees, during the days the resorts were closed.
Despite the challenges, the experience had the unexpected benefit of renewing an appreciation for the island and its people. Pierce explains “Hilton Head’s diverse community of native islanders, locals and newcomers all pulled together to assist one another. The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew highlighted something that you sometimes forget when you live in paradise: how fortunate those of us who call Hilton Head Island home really are.” This reignited gratitude for the Island is a motivating force that drives Palmera Vacation Club to continue to put its best foot forward following Hurricane Matthew.
Image credit: Courtesy of Palmera Vacation Club