Port Royal Strong

Port Royal Strong

Under Construction

Under Construction

Port Royal Strong

Port Royal is unique in that it has a Port Aransas address but is situated in Nueces County — and was hard hit by the hurricane last fall. I know, I had plans to visit and fish, and the hurricane washed it out.

Back for the first time, as paying guest, fishing included, it was a strange time. Most of the newer motel-type places are intact, and some business are open, even thriving. But the fishing guides are mostly out-of-work, and a number of places are boarded up. One favorite restaurant, it’s an empty lot. Empty, sand lot. Nothing remains.

Speaks to the power and force of a hurricane.

Port Royal was always a favorite place, great for couples, great for couples with kids, and there was always a gentle, “family” feeling, while still having a swim up bar for adult beverages.

Remember: alcohol and water don’t mix.

The place had a “soft launch” opening, no fanfare, no banners, and looking around, a day later, more than one building was without a roof.

The way the hurricane hit, one of my fishing buddies in Rockport explained, the storm stalled in Rockport and that prevented the surge from washing most of that town out to sea. Or into the bay, anyway.

Port Royal is a few miles west or south of Port A proper. Not that there ever was much to Port A, originally, a population of misfits and miscreants, short of growing gills and moving wholly into the water, yeah, not much there. Population is pegged at 2700 or so, but that swells with tourists in the Summer seasons to as much at 10k or more.

At one time, due to the nature of having a manned guard kiosk in front, it was called “Fort Royal,” but as a customer, I like that. It is still the largest outdoor pool in Texas.

The hurricane damage, oddly enough, very little was from the Gulf side, where one might expect it. The bulk of the damage was the bay side, facing — ultimately — Corpus Christi Bay. The eye of the hurricane passed through Rockport, a few miles north-east, and the winds were spinning out to sea, at Port Royal. Apparently, there was a wall of water that surged up from the bayside, and washed out the offices, the restaurant, the meeting rooms. Portions of the roofs were lifted off, but the original Gulf side was largely untouched.

During the aftermath of the hurricane, unable to attend to much on the site itself, the management mobilized the workforce, kept them on salary, or paid hourly, whatever, doing volunteer clean-up in communities that were harder hit.

Staffing is always an issue with resort and seasonal labor, and this was way to keep the staff employed while building good will with the island.

From various sources, most of the high-rise, luxury beachfront properties are looking at two years before being operational again. By June 1, part of Port Royal was open and functioning. Strange, touring over to Rockport — many boarded up buildings, many places not going to open every again, and then, an old motel with a new roof.

There was one of the scenes, a searing image of motel that was left roofless, and clearly had its doors blown off by the hurricane. Oddly enough, totally rebuilt and ready.

Port Royal has some strong “corporate culture,” from the management down to the individual caretakers, and this hurricane only made them stronger.

Port Royal Strong

It’s one of the few resorts open — already — in the hurricane stricken Gulf, sometimes called the Devil’s Elbow. What was there, at Port Royal? Pools, playgrounds, water park, and some units available — open for business, going strong.

And a swim up bar.

Anyone with five-year old in-tow knows the need for entertainment. My fishing buddy’s kids? Wives and girlfriends? They were in the pool, then at the beach, then in the pool, non-stop, for three days.

Port Royal Strong

The tide was high in the morning, leaving little room for pedestrians and vehicle traffic on the beach. Still, exploring the sands, and then, the boardwalk back to the pools? Delicate, I’m guessing, morning glories were blooming the fierce summer-like sun.

Port Royal Strong

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