As the world now knows, Hurricane Irma passed over the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin on September 6, 2017. The dual-island nation has been devastated. Homes lost. Jobs disappeared. Families torn apart. Tourism has vanished as we once knew it, and although we will rebuild in the future, our primary focus now is on relief efforts; there is much to do and compassion must be paramount.
Most of you who have visited Sint Maarten and any of the Sonesta Resorts in our beloved island know that our team - the people of Sint Maarten - are the soul of our hotels and our destination. It is the people that make hotels beautiful; it is the staff who make you smile every day when you get up for coffee and see that incredible Caribbean Sea in the distance. You may be in a remarkable location in the world, but without these smiling faces, heartfelt, dedicated service and a geniune love for their work, hotels in the Caribbean simply would not operate without their staff. So please help us help them.
As the official fundraising page for the employees and staff of Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten and The Maho Group, this fund will collect money to provide food, essential supplies, and household items; it will also help support aid to the employees and staff and offset medical and travel expenses.
This fund has been set up by the Director of PR for The Maho Group - Andria Mitsakos - who is in direct contact with the resort company, the government of Sint Maarten (as well as serving on the official crisis communications team for the Prime Minister), and all humanitarian efforts and official spokespeople. The Maho Group is the owner and operator of Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten.
We are currently working with Samaritan's Purse, a 501C3 international Christian relief organization working in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution. Their Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) were first responders to help with the wrath of Hurricane Irma, and they are currently stationed at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort supplying humanitarian relief efforts to the island.
Once the first $25k is reached, distributions will be made and funds will be put to work right away to help the most urgent cases. Allocation will be completed with assistance from Samaritan's Purse as they are physically on the ground in the destination, and understand the needs of the relief.
We assure you that your donation is legitimate and legal, and that we will closely monitor all donations.
Stories will be shared as to how your donations are helping the families of Sonesta Sint Maarten Resorts.
We cannot let Irma’s victims in the Caribbean be forgotten. The real work is just beginning.
Note from Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten: posted on Sept 20 (and updated on Sept 21) We have received comments about where this money is going which is explained below (see comment from Sept.18). Please note that the first dispersement will happen very soon, as it can take from 7 to 10 days for the funds to leave GoFundMe, and then approximately another week or mor for the orchestration of the distribution on island. Relief will be received by this fundraising effort. Please understand that communications is still difficult and our offices are not operational so this effort requires tireless hours from many people in many countries to organize.
We are in touch with our employees via a closed Facebook page so if anyone is in contact with staff please encourage them to join this group. We will also communicate via the local press in St. Maarten and will advise them when the first distributions will be made; we promised to keep you updated and we will.
Regarding the acquisition of Sonesta Great Bay by Sunwing Travel Group: this does not affect in any way the distribution to the staff of Sonesta Great Bay. They will absolutely receive relief.
Note from Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten: posted on Sept 18 We have received some comments as to why we are doing this fundraiser since as a company we have insurance.
These funds would be used by our employees to cover the cost of repairs on their personal property which was either partially or totally destroyed. A lot of them did not have insurance.
The resort's property is insured but the policy does not cover its employees' property. None of these funds would be used to restore the resort's property.
There is no difference in the misery and destruction brought on by Irma on a Sonesta employee's property vs. the property of any other person living on the island and employed by another company.