Though Hurricane Irma caused significant damage in many Caribbean and Florida destinations, much of the post-storm news this week from CVBs and hotel owners has been positive.
Humanitarian relief and rebuilding efforts are underway in destinations most ravaged by the storm, including the Florida Keys, Turks and Caicos, St. Marten, St. Barts, Barbuda, parts of Cuba, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla. In addition, several fund-raising initiatives have been set-up, with donations going to places and people impacted by Hurricane Irma, a category four/five storm that saw wind speeds as high as 185 miles per hour.
However, many destinations reported that they were well on the road to recovery and open—or reopening—for business. Here’s some of the news M+IT received this week.
Greater Fort Lauderdale – On September 12, The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau reported that Greater Fort Lauderdale (east coast) fared well, weather conditions are good and clean-up is underway, but some businesses and residents are still without power. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades have resumed operations. The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center is fully operational. Cruise ships delayed by the storm have started departing. In addition, many of the area’s hotels remained open during the storm to provide shelter and accommodations to visitors and residents. Hotels along the coast have reported no damage and are slated to fully re-open once power is restored. Stacey Ritter, president and CEO of the CVB, credited high-code standards for many new buildings for limiting the damage. “We expect to be back to normal operations and welcoming vacationers and scheduled meetings and conference attendees shortly,” she said.
Melia Hotels International – In a press release issued September 13, Melia reported that its hotels in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Orlando and Miami are already 100 percent operational. In Cuba, the northern coast, mainly in Los Cayos, was hit the hardest by the storm. Customers who did not depart before Irma hit the island were relocated to hotels in safer tourist cities and centers such as Camagüey, Varadero, Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. Melia’s properties in Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Cayo Largo are fully-operational. Its hotels in Varadero suffered minor damages, and are already operating normally. In some cases, major improvements/repairs are needed and they are expected to be completed by peak season. Melia is still evaluating the situation in Los Cayos. The company intends to begin operations in Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa Maria as soon as possible, with hotels less affected.
Antigua and Barbuda – The two-island nation issued an update on September 13th. Antigua was only brushed by the hurricane and is open for business as usual. The V.C. Bird International Airport has been open for flights since September 7 and electricity has been restored to the capital city, St. John’s, and most parts of the island. The majority of residential, business and hotel properties were not damaged by the storm and the island’s main roads have been cleared of debris and fallen trees. Barbuda was severely affected by the storm, with 95 percent of private properties and government facilities destroyed or extensively damaged. Barbuda’s hotel infrastructure was also damaged, but it has less than 100 hotel rooms so the overall effect on tourism is minimal. The country’s disaster recovery plan is in full effect.
Anguilla – The northern Caribbean island released an update on properties and infrastructure on September 11th. At that time the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport was open from sunrise to sunset for charter and emergency flights, and the Road Bay Port at Sandy Ground had also reopened and was receiving cargo. While assessments are still underway, some hotels and resorts appear to have only had minimal damage to landscaping and windows. These properties include Carimar Beach Club, CeBlue Villas & Beach Resort (closed for season when storm hit), Fountain Anguilla, Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort and Zemi Beach House (closed to guests in advance of storm). CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa and The Reef by CuisinArt was significantly affected, as was Quintessence Boutique Resort.
The Bahamas – In a statement issued September 12th, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation reported that the islands were “getting back to business.” In the major tourist areas, including Nassau and Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, The Abacos and The Exumas, hotels were resuming normal operations and welcoming guests. Parts of the southern islands were more heavily impacted with damage ranging from cosmetic to structural. Assessment of Ragged Island continues, but other islands, such as Acklins Island, Crooked Island, Inaugua and Mayaguana are most cleared. All airports throughout The Bahamas are open. Nassau and Paradise Island Hotels on Nassau and Paradise Island received no damage. While many remained open, others are resuming normal operation:
- Atlantis, Paradise Island and Warwick Paradise Island remained open during the storm and continue to welcome guests
- Baha Mar Resort and Casino resumed full hotel, casino and retail operations on September 12
- Melia Nassau Beach Resort is open and resumed full operation on September 13
- One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island resumed welcoming guests on September 13
More information and updates are available from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and Visit Florida.
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