Island of Bryan is back for Season 2 on the island of South Andros in the Bahamas.
Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off — a rollercoaster year of construction ahead of the resort’s grand opening date.
This season will bring an end to the epic family adventure, giving viewers a look at the finished build of the Caerula Mar Club.
Global News sat down with Bryan and Sarah at the Caerula Mar Club, which officially opened as of February 2020 in Andros, to discuss Season 2, the difference between building in Canada versus the Bahamas and much more.
Global News: What can viewers expect to see in Season 2 of Island of Bryan?
Bryan: Well, hopefully they can watch us complete the resort … or do we? (laughing)
Sarah: I think Season 2, as we got further along in the project, I think it was honestly a little bit of the tipping point for us. The first season we were definitely in the tear-down stage. We were really assessing the project and heavily into the demolition. We were trying to assess, as Bryan said, everything from the status of the state of the electrical and plumbing. Season 2 is almost a shift once we actually start to feel we are over that hurdle, I think it changed our overall focus. We could start to see a little bit of the light at the end of the tunnel and the whole other side of operations really had come into play in terms of staffing, of what it actually looked like to operate this place. This isn’t a project like a normal home where you turn it over to the homeowners. On this case, we really had to say, ‘what does the longevity look like? What does scheduling and staffing look like? Where are staff living?’ and that was a whole new element for Bryan and I. What really came into effect was understanding how to operate Caerula Mar once the spaces were finished.
How was building down here compared to building in Canada because in Canada you’re building to prepare for the cold and in South Andros you’re building for hurricane resistance.
Bryan: Well, not only building for hurricanes but everything here is opposite of Canada. We build with the intent of keeping ourselves warm in Canada and here we have to build thinking inside out. The wall structure itself has to change, the vapor barrier you always want it on the warm side of the building, which is the outside. But again, in an environment like this where it’s so humid and hot all the time, that poses its own problems. It was certainly a challenge because we’re dealing with a 50-year-old hotel that is built the way it’s built. There’s a finite budget, there’s a finite amount of time.
It’s very different than building a custom home for yourself. You have to make the call between how far do we go here until it doesn’t make any sense financially anymore. We ran into issues underground with plumbing, replacing everything electrical, above-ground plumbing and all the HVAC units. We have 60-65 air conditioners running at any given point on the property to maintain the humidity levels inside. The construction itself is easy, pounding nails in, cutting the wood is what we’re used to. Doing that when it’s 110 degrees and 90 per cent humidity in the sun is a little more challenging and we also have to deal with the hurricane codes. It sounds really simple but it’s been a learning curve.
What have you learned about yourselves throughout this whole experience of working and living on the island for extended periods of time?
Bryan: I think we learned a lot about ourselves. I think we learned that we push ourselves a little too hard and sometimes we focus on small things that really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I think our perspective really changed on what’s important in life and the fact that it’s all finite. Loading your family up and risking your nest egg and moving to an island to get into a business you’ve never been in before in a country you’ve never done business in before, with people you’ve never met before is kind of crazy. At the end of the day, I think my perspective would be that you have a limited time left to do whatever it is you want to do. No matter what you do between now and then, the end result is the same.
If there’s something you really want to try and tackle, go for it. You can’t sweat the small stuff. If there’s no milk on the island, you’re not getting milk until the boat comes in so you better be willing to just have something else. Here in Andros, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.
How has your experience been being here as a family?
Sarah: I think the family element of it is probably what enabled us to deal with the extenuating circumstances better than we could have anywhere else. I think the stress of this project alone, we really did rely on our children to give us a little bit of that reminder that everyone needs so often about why we’re here and what we’re doing everything for. The children have an innocence about them and I think watching them here interact with other kids on the island, it just put everything at a very different level playing field. We really saw things through their eyes.
On days when things just looked like we couldn’t handle anymore and we were questioning why we were doing this, we would do things just as simple as going out with the family on a boat or jumping in a blue hole to just try to take our mind off of it. In the end, you had to force Bryan and I to do that because when you really know the financial burden and the strains, it’s so easy to just pour everything into your work, 24 hours a day. When you’re living on-site, that often happens day-after-day.
In Season 2, Bryan, you speak about building garbage and how hard it is to dispose of it here. Do you think this experience will change the way you dispose of the packing garbage when you build in Canada again?
Bryan: One hundred per cent. At home, you have a bin in the driveway when you’re doing construction. When it’s full, they take it away and put a new one there. I think what really stood out for us here, we live in a bubble in Canada and the U.S. where the stuff just disappears and we don’t know what happens to it. Here, whatever comes to this island stays here. You really notice the amount of packaging material and where things go because you see them. We’re looking at recycling programs for plastic waste and we’ll recycle that into pellets and packages that we can then resell to pay for the cost of the equipment to companies that will re-use that as a secondary source.
When we did demolition on the hotel and we started taking things apart, every piece of material, furniture and hardware that could be reused was donated to different families in different settlements of the island. We’ve literally seen houses finished with the material and furniture that came from the hotel which is incredible. The people here are very resourceful at limiting the amount of garbage because they’ll reuse it.
Sarah, what was your inspiration for creating the spa scents and the interior of Caerula Mar?
Sarah: If you can close your eyes and be away from the property and sort of back home, I thought, what reminds me of the island and what smells and what scents. When we’re building the product, it was so hands-on, constantly adding just a little more of this smell, and a little more of this smell. I’ve never been to that level to be part of that creation. It was an incredible opportunity for me. It seems like such a small thing, but smell is very important. It really changes your senses and the way you feel about a space. For me to have all the scents created for the hotel, but also to talk about the organic nature of them and the fact that they’re all reef safe and biodegradable, all of those things had to be in place as well. We don’t have the same recycling opportunities like we do at home. There isn’t the same infrastructure and when you’re this close to the beach, you want to make sure you’re preserving everything.
I think when we first arrived, the resort had a different colour palette for sure. It was pink and blue and all of the villas were brightly coloured and a lot of what people assume is the Bahamian colours. I honestly think that’s more of a North American influence on what we assume is right in that space. For the first three to six months that we spent here on property before we started construction before we started filming, that’s I think when I became most inspired because we really got to know the islands as a whole. We also got to know the people and drive around and understand what we were hoping to achieve. I felt I could never compete with the colours of that ocean and never duplicate the colour of blue that she has mastered out there. What we can do is a backdrop so that what you see and what you appreciate was all of the things that just are occurring naturally. I kept that same sort of palette and just tried to give it a little bit of an understated colour tone, a little bit more monochromatic.
How would you describe Season 2 in a hashtag?
Bryan: #AlmostThere or #It’sBetterInTheBahamas
(This interview has been edited and condensed)
Island of Bryan Season 2 premieres Sunday, Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV Canada/