Sarah and Bryan Baeumler knew that renovating a run-down resort in the Bahamas wouldn’t be easy. But the husband-and-wife team at the heart of HGTV’s hit series Renovation Island couldn’t have anticipated the hurdles they’d face on the road to opening the Caerula Mar Club. First came Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which slammed into the country while they were still in the midst of renovation. Then came the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which shut down tourism. But despite those challenges, the Canadian couple’s beachfront resort is a success.
Bryan Baeumler says the pandemic helped raise the profile of Caerula Mar Club
When the pandemic hit, travel around the world ground to a halt. The Baeumlers had just opened the Caerula Mar Club to the public, and they suddenly found themselves without guests. But as Bryan explained in a recent interview with The Wrap, the crisis had a silver lining. Renovation Island debuted on HGTV when people around the country were stuck at home and dreaming of the vacations they couldn’t take. It was “perfect timing” in terms of advertising the kind of “escapism” guests at the boutique resort enjoy, he said.
“Travel in general has changed,” Bryan added. “People aren’t in a rush to go to a mega-resort and sit shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people they don’t know.”
Once travel opened up again, the Baeumlers reaped the benefits. The Caerula Mar Club reopened in October 2020 and things “very quickly went from just empty shutdown to gangbusters,” he said. “So we turned the jets on and got it done.”
The ‘Renovation Island’ project cost the Baemlers $10 million
The resort’s popularity is good news for the Baeumlers, who have previously appeared on several HGTV Canada shows, including House of Bryan and Bryan Inc. (Renovation Island airs as Island of Bryan in their home country.) They spent $2 million on the property and another $8 million on renovations, they told The Wrap before the premiere of Renovation Island Season 1.
“Yeah, we’re in it,” Bryan said. “We’re in pretty deep.”
Still, he and his wife had prepared for contingencies.
“In our financials, we had planned that the first year, generally, you’re not gonna run at a profit, so we’ve had protections in place and we talked to our staff there,” Bryan said. “We obviously had to pare down staff a little bit but continue on some of the renovations and the work that we’re doing on the islands and kind of rotate staff so everybody has still got a little something coming in.”
The pandemic created renovation challenges
Though the Baeumlers had opened their resort to the public prior to the pandemic, the renovations weren’t complete. While work continued throughout the shutdown, everything got more expensive, Bryan explained to The Wrap.
“In Canada and the U.S., lumber prices have doubled, or tripled, in some cases. For our construction business in Canada as well, costs are going up, and you hear homeowners and other companies crying about the price of lumber. And I thought, ‘My God, even at triple the price… it’s still cheaper easier to get your hands on it than on the island,” he said.
“Partaking in this project for us has really changed our perspective on what is a problem,” he went on to say. “Things just seem so simple back on the mainland. No matter what happens, I can’t see it being more difficult than the easiest day on the island.”
Renovation Island Season 2 airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on HGTV.
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