How The Pandemic Really Affected Renovation Island

"Renovation Island" (known in Canada as "Island of Bryan") is a renovation show chronicling the ambitious undertaking of HGTV stars Bryan Bauemler and Sarah Bauemler as they aim to renovate (and later run) a previously abandoned resort. "Our next big project is tackling the renovation and re-opening of an abandoned boutique resort on an island in the Bahamas," shared Bryan with the Edmonton Journal ahead of its premiere. "We found the property on vacation on the boat — it's been closed since 2011, and it has 22 small villas and a block of 22 hotel rooms." 

Over the past few years, The Bauemlers have poured their blood, sweat, and tears (along with $2 million, per Forbes) into the resort named Caerula Mar Club. Unfortunately, their efforts have been marked by severe setbacks. After they finally managed to get Caerula Mar Club open for business, Hurricane Dorian rolled in, indirectly causing the resort to temporarily close. According to The Wrap, The Bauemler's resort didn't sustain much direct damage; however, their employees weren't quite as fortunate. To give them time to regroup, they closed for a spell, in 2019. Unfortunately, upon reopening, The Bauemlers soon had to reckon with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact it had on the hospitality industry. 

However, the unexpected situation helped the couple look at their business in a different way. 

The pandemic gave the hosts a new outlook on their shipping woes

Given the resort's remote location, Bryan Bauemler and Sarah Bauemler's have struggled getting the needed materials to keep their business rolling. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on a new set of challenges for them. "In Canada and the U.S., lumber prices have doubled, or tripled, in some cases, Bryan shared with The Wrap. "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." However, their previous struggles have given them a new outlook. "And I thought, 'My God, even at triple the price... it's still cheaper and easier to get your hands on it than on the island. It's like we've been through such a difficult, uphill charge that the everyday problems and logistics that people in society — on mainland, whatever you want to call it — have just paled in comparison."

While speaking with People in June 2020, Sarah shared a slightly different sentiment. "Logistics have probably been the most challenging part of the project," she explained. "We have small airplanes coming into the island, and a few ships a month with materials and products from either Nassau or Miami, which means we need to plan weeks ahead for what items we need on-site. If we're missing something, it's either not coming for a few weeks, or we need to charter an airplane at a great expense to get it here."

How the Bauemlers are faring in a post-COVID world

Like many business owners, Bryan Bauemler and Sarah Bauemler faced an uncertain future in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Meaww, they even had to lay off some of their employees. Given the temporary closing, they also had to give away much of the food they'd ordered for their guests to keep it from going bad. And, while the charitable gesture was nice, it was just a sign of the resort's lack of business. However, the Bauemlers are still going strong with their resort today.

Business appears to be going well, too. Season 5 of "Renovation Island" followed the couple as they grappled with the decision to sell their passion project to an interested investor. At this time, they've decided to keep business, although the future is unwritten. In the meantime, guests of Caurula Mar Club are extremely pleased with the Bauemler's efforts, as they've rated the resort 5/5 stars on Trip Advisor. Given that it costs $32,000 to rent out the entire resort for one day, per Travel and Leisure, one can assume that the guests feel the price tag is worth it.