Renovation Island: The Adventure Begins

Renovation pros and Canada natives Bryan and Sarah Baeumler took the risk of a lifetime, uprooting their family and livelihoods, to take on an epic endeavor — restoring and renovating an abandoned resort on the Bahamian island of South Andros. This is how the story begins.

July 05, 2020
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Sarah and Bryan Baeumler

We're leaving our home and business behind for a huge family adventure. We're renovating and restoring a rundown resort in paradise. This is the biggest change our family has faced and the largest scale project we've ever taken on. What are we risking? Absolutely everything.
—Bryan Baeumler

Meet the Baeumler Family

Bryan and Sarah Baeumler, and their four kids, at home prior to relocating to the Bahamas

The Bauemler Home, Pre-Adventure

Bryan Baeumler is a contractor, and his wife Sarah has a keen eye and natural knack for design. Neither has any experience or knowledge of what it takes to run a resort hotel in the tropics. But before that even begins, they'll have to repair damage to the facility from years of neglect.

The Bauemler Home, Pre-Adventure

Bryan, Sarah and their family of six led a comfortable and fairly ordinary life in the U.S. All of that was about to change.

The Seeds of an Idea

The Baeumlers took a couple of enjoyable vacations, leaving from Florida and venturing to the Bahamas. "Andros Island was just this sleeping giant. That's what they call it," says Bryan. "So we decided to have a look."

Paradise Awaits

The Baeumlers found something wild, genuine and majestic on the island. "This is the raw Bahamas," says Bryan. "It's the true Bahamas."

Paradise Awaits

"The water is crystal clear," Bryan says, "The nature is here. It's peaceful."

Paradise Awaits

"It took a few minutes," Bryan continues "and, you know, we just fell in love with it." After exploring what the island had to offer and discovering a long-abandoned resort hotel that was available for purchase, they decided to extend their passion in a way that would change their life forever.

Andros Island

Bryan and family sample some of the local Bahamian fare.

Andros Island

Andros is one the largest — but also least developed — islands in the Bahamas.

Andros Island

The island is somewhat remote and tricky to get to. There's one flight there a day from Fort Lauderdale and one from the Bahamas capital, Nassau. Ships with supplies arrive at the local marina just once a week

Andros Island

Population on the island is around 2,000 and there's only a single main road.

The Adventure Begins

"This, to me, feels like something we had to do," says Bryan of their monumental decision to start a new life in the islands. "Just grab this opportunity, risk absolutely everything and more and go for it. This, just for us, was the perfect storm of opportunity."

The Adventure Begins

The Baeumlers' dream: Rescue the abandoned and dilapidated 1960s-era island resort — the entire resort. The core objective: Turn their serendipitous island discovery into a world-class boutique hotel.

The Adventure Begins

The Bauemlers calculated that, to turn a profit on the monumental investment, they would need to renovate the property and have the resort operational and ready to open within a span of six months.

The Adventure Begins

The logistics to move the family down to the island were huge, and the preparations wre not without some apprehensions and misgivings. After packing up their belongings — and shipping just the necessities for island living — the Bauemler family embarked from Florida for Andros. They traveled to the island on their boat, appropriately named "Plan B."

The Adventure Begins

The Bauemler family arrives and comes ashore at the resort on South Andros island. "We're [coming here] from thousands of miles away to run a business that we've never run," says Bryan. "And we're gonna live right in the middle of it while we renovate the entire thing and try and bring it all together."

The State of Things, Before

Prior to the Bauemlers purchasing it, the resort had been non-operational for eight years, and the years of non-use and lack of maintenance was clearly in evidence.

The State of Things, Before

The State of Things, Before

The State of Things, Before

The State of Things, Before

Formulating Strategy

Bryan and Sarah prioritize and go over some plans for the beginning stages of structural renovation.

The Scope of the Project

The beachfront property is spread over 10 acres and includes 22 one- and two-bedroom guest villas throughout the grounds.

The Scope of the Project

Before the Renovation. In addition to the standalone villas, the resort also includes a main hotel block with 18 hotel rooms, each with an en suite bath

The Scope of the Project

Before the Renovation. The main hotel block is set up with two rows set along a central breezeway, with beachside access at the rear of each room.

The Scope of the Project

Before the Renovation. Being an oceanfront resort, and after years of non-use, much of the facility has suffered from considerable damage.

The Scope of the Project

Before the Renovation. Over the years, many buildings and components have been ravaged by weather damage, rust and decay. "Anything outside here," said Bryan, "because we're right on the edge of the ocean, is just subjected to a salt attack."

The Scope of the Project

Wood rot and weather damage were extensive throughout the resort's buildings. Most of the outdoor a/c units for the villas were non-operational and rusted beyond repair.

The Scope of the Project

Before the Renovation. The central part of the resort included an in-ground pool that had not seen use in years.

The Scope of the Project

Before the Renovation. Tile and concrete throughout much of the facility were badly damaged, stained and deteriorated.

The Main Clubhouse

Before the Renovation. The resort's main building had housed a fully operational a reception and lounge area, bar, kitchen and full-service restaurant.

The Main Clubhouse

Before the Renovation. The bar at the resort's main clubhouse

The Main Clubhouse

Before the Renovation. The bar at the resort's main clubhouse

The Main Clubhouse

The resort's kitchen, prior to the renovation

Home, Sweet Home

After having spent some of their first nights at the island sleeping on their boat, one of the Bauemlers' first initiatives was to get this villa in good enough shape to serve as their initial home at the resort.

Reinforcements Arrive

Bryan's project manager and right-hand-man Adam arrives on the island to help get the renovation underway.

Reinforcements Arrive

"We've undertaken some pretty big builds," says Adam "but we had everything that we needed in our disposal. It was all there. We had our guys. Hardware stores. Here, it's completely different. Here, we've got to start from scratch. It's gonna be a battle."

A Renovation Begins

Bryan and his crew discuss some of the first steps as renovation gets underway.

A Renovation Begins

Bryan measures and cuts beams as part of new construction.

A Renovation Begins

Bryan demos a bathroom wall in one of the first of what will be many renovation projects.

A Renovation Begins

Sarah pitches in with some of the interior painting.

A Renovation Begins

One of the Bauemler kids lends a hand as Bryan and Adam work on some initial construction.

A Renovation Begins

One of the Bauemler kids lends a hand as Bryan and Adam work on some initial construction.

Mirror, Mirror

Bryan checks his reflection, admiring the face of a consummate worker, in a brief respite from reno duties.

Things Are Looking Up

The pool is not yet fully restored, but cleaned up and filled, it looks a lot better than it did when the family first arrived.

Things Are Looking Up

On Target

One of the Bauemler boys shows off the results of his archery practice. Adam is less than thrilled.

Island Transportation

An Afternoon in Paradise

Bryan and the kids do some fishing and crabbing off one of the concrete pylons.

An Afternoon in Paradise

Sarah and Bryan indulge in some much-deserved oceanside relaxation.

An Afternoon in Paradise

There's little that tastes finer than cold ice-cream on an afternoon in the tropics.

An Afternoon in Paradise

Bryan spends some time talking with one of the island's residents.

An Afternoon in Paradise

Throughout his travels, and now in his new home, Bryan likes to get the genuine flavor of a location from talking directly with the people who have spent their lives there — where they like to eat, how they spend their time and how the essence of the place shapes their lives.

The Adventure Continues

This is only the beginning of the Bauemlers' grand adventure. "We hope with our skills, we can restore the property in six months," says Bryan, "and learn the rest as we go."

The Adventure Continues

Keep checking back at 'Renovation Island Central' for more new galleries, articles, updates and video documenting this epic island adventure.

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