St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May Ling Chun (left), Chairman of Cliff Homeowners Association Emmanuel Jacques (centre), and the Tourism Minister’s Chief of Cabinet Cecil Nicholas cut the ribbon to officially reopen the Cliff on Friday evening. (Robert Luckock photo)
CUPECOY--The Cliff at Cupecoy was officially reopened last night with a ribbon-cutting and reception for homeowners, businesspersons, tourism stakeholders, invited guests and the many contractors and designers who have given the tower building a luxurious makeover since the damage inflicted on it by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The integrity of the building always remained intact despite the ferocity of the hurricane. Some negative publicity in the hurricane aftermath suggested otherwise, but the building was found to be sound. Damage was sustained mostly on the higher floors. The building was originally constructed in 20 months by SP and CC (Frank Walkington) while the steel structure was outsourced to a Dutch company.
The 72-unit building has been closed to the public since Irma, but was open for homeowners and more recently for tenants. The renovation is not completely finished – the spa and restaurant are due to open next year – but there is no disputing the property has been made considerably more inviting for discerning clientele.
Immediately apparent on entering is the completely redesigned and spacious lobby opening out to the ocean and complemented with art works by Corinna and Norma Trimborn, Wilfred Moizan, Florence Poirier Nkpa and others, and sculptures by Mark Templeton. A smaller and more discreet reception desk is now positioned at the right as one enters. A new bar has been installed in the lobby, and the terrace where the future restaurant will be has been enlarged.
“The late Jean Legoubey had the vision to have the first luxury apartment building on the Dutch side and today we have been able to enhance his vision,” said board member Alain Haillant. “The hurricane made it possible to repair, but also to make the Cliff much better, more comfortable, more modern. The owners also want to have a gastronomic restaurant open for lunch and dinner that will be open to the public in the future.”
Main speakers for the evening were Chairman of the Homeowners Association (HOA) board Emmanuel Jacques, overall project manager John Baker of IXI Design who was also the original architect when the building was delivered for the late owner Jean Legoubey in 2007, NAGICO General Manager Eric Ellis, and St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Director May Ling Chun.
Baker, who worked closely with Gianni Rabbachi of Geo Design as the principal project management team, thanked the many contractors and subcontractors who worked on the renovation.
“It’s been a long hard road to get to where we are today but this building has been a labour of love for me during the past two years,” said Baker. “My company was the original architect for the Cliff, so after Irma passed this was the first building I wanted to see. I was so pleased the building was still standing and in fairly good condition despite damage.”
Jacques emphasised in his remarks how good the collaboration was between the project management team and NAGICO General Manager Ellis in obtaining compensation after the hurricane.
“I also want to thank the owners who believed in this renovation and the possibility to improve the building and bring it up to a higher level, and you are seeing the result today. It gives you an idea of how we are moving forward into the future,” Jacques said. “The aesthetic improvements have really transformed the building.”
Chun said, “Seeing another resort opening is absolutely a pleasure. What I see already is beautiful. We want to thank the investors for trusting in us and investing in our country. We can only do it together. We are looking forward to seeing more and we will definitely be promoting the Cliff.”
Guests enjoyed champagne, canapes and dancing before a fireworks display closed the evening.