Southfield-based attorney Geoffrey Fieger is safe and sound in Southeast Michigan, but one of his investments, a boutique hotel in Anguilla named Quintessence, has been harmed by Hurricane Irma, as the storm moves through the Caribbean toward Florida.
Quintessence was so anticipated that it merited a feature in Robb Report, which described the hotel as "worth the 10-year wait." The hotel was expected to open on Nov. 1, but Hurricane Irma delayed those plans. Fieger explained the situation Thursday morning in an interview with Detroit News columnist and longtime WJR 760 radio host Paul W. Smith:
Fieger repeated a phrase he's heard about Irma's damage, calling the storm a "nuclear hurricane."
Said Fieger: "It destroyed St. Martin, St. Barts. When I say 'destroyed,' a nuclear bomb would've caused less destruction. It's going to be years and years and years, and people there really need help now. They're very isolated."
Fieger said he has a "big staff down there," but only one person who has a cellphone, which they have to go to the penthouse to use. A designer named Mark Wallace, who arrived Wednesday, won't be able to leave for weeks, Fieger said.
"We sustained a lot of damage, but it's nothing I can't fix," Fieger said. "It's not been destroyed to the ground, not been irremediably damaged. But it will take several months."
While the next two months were supposed to be spent training staff, now reconstruction will be the mission.
"The big problem is getting there," Fieger said. "St. Martin is the gateway to Anguilla. (The airport) has been destroyed. The building that housed the terminal is virtually gone. Getting to Anguilla from there is going to be very difficult. These are going to be big challenges."
During the interview, Irma's death toll jumped to 10, Smith said, from the seven known deaths when the talk began.
As the interview concluded, Smith asked Fieger to tip his hand on whether he'd run for governor in 2018. Fieger said he hadn't made a decision yet.
"Most voters don't even know the names of the candidates," Smith said. "But they probably know yours."
Fieger offered a dim view of the name recognition game.
"If you ask voters to choose between two people they don't know, they choose," Fieger said. "Which is incredible. It's a terrible commentary about our electorate; they're willing to vote for people they know nothing about. Nothing!"