MAHO, St. Maarten – The Maho Group, owners and operators of Sonesta St. Maarten Resorts in the Caribbean, commenced re-construction this month on Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa following Hurricane Irma that devastated the island in September 2017. In an effort to spearhead hospitality and safety standards across the region and the Western Hemisphere, the company has taken every measure to implement the latest engineering innovations and storm resistant materials in the rebuild, doing its utmost to ensure the future security and well being of its properties and guests.
“While we always had a plan to rebuild, it was imperative to rebuild incorporating the best materials and latest storm resistant technology,” said The Maho Group’s President & CEO, Saro Spadaro. “We not only have the welfare of our staff and future guests to consider, but we also have a massive responsibility to the entire destination of St. Maarten to rebuild in a manner that pioneers hurricane-safe infrastructure.” Mr. Spadaro continues, “We also choose these materials because it reduces construction time by as much as 30% when compared to traditional construction materials and we understand the importance of aiding St. Maarten’s come back as soon as possible.”
The renovations to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, which sustained the most damage to its Sky Tower building, is requiring a complete overhaul stripping it down to its main structural frame. The company is utilizing the work of TCK and LVKE building technology, a China-based, green technology consortium that is at the forefront of modernizing the construction industry by creating energy-efficient storm and fire resistant building materials. The pre-fabricated, TCK and LVKE composite panels with an interior honeycomb reinforcement structure will be used throughout the hotel’s Sky Tower, including the building’s exterior envelope and all interior partitions such as the walls in guest rooms, public spaces and corridors, thus appreciably increasing the building’s fire resistance. In addition, new windows and sliding doors integrating argon gas filled air-gaps will be installed. TCK LVKE panels together with the new windows and sliding doors will significantly increase the building’s thermal insulation, reduce the energy required to cool the building and therefore reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint.
To ensure the proficiency and quality of these materials to withstand hurricane and earthquake conditions, The Maho Group enlisted the expertise of Reggio Calabria’s (Italy) Building Future Lab, a University affiliated laboratory that tests advanced building performance simulating earthquakes and hurricanes in a controlled setting. One of the only labs of its kind in the world, Building Future Lab was designed and developed by researchers of the Department of Architecture and Territory of the Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria. In addition, fire resistance tests were conducted at a separate lab in Milan, where the material performed outstandingly, passing rigorous tests.
The tests at Building Future Lab were carried out on an exact replica of the Sky Tower’s exterior façade constructed with TCK LVKE panels. Taking place over several days, a jet engine-like wind simulator created extreme hurricane conditions testing the materials resistance to high power winds and water penetration. Building Future Lab positively reported results that show an exterior envelope of a building constructed with TCK and LVKE composite panels is certified to withstand winds of up to 200 mph (Hurricane Irma had one minute sustained winds of 165mph).
Professor of Architecture Martino Milardi, who spearheaded the tests states, “The façade constructed with TCK LVKE panels performed very well during the tests conducted at Building Future Lab. The sample façade and panels were treated to increasing amounts of direct positive and negative pressures, far harsher conditions than that of Hurricane Irma. Even in the most extreme conditions during a hurricane, it is unlikely that a building façade would be subject to the same levels of stress that we subjected them to in our lab.”
The tests conducted abided by American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials
(ASTM), the global leaders in testing techniques and standards-related services. Over 12,000 ASTM standards operate globally for dozens of industries around the world providing technical standards supporting quality, innovation, safety and performance.
The final rebuild of Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa will result in a modern new look and feel throughout the hotel, and guestrooms will receive an enhanced layout that will create more comfort and better usage of the interior space including larger bathrooms allowing in natural light. Designed by Galo Rosa, the same designer as Sonesta Ocean Point, new furniture includes ultra comfortable bedding and European standard mattresses, with a wood-based bedframe made from sustainably harvested forests, under the Forest Certification Encouragement Program.