The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) continue to receive updates from member countries and hotels regarding the recovery and rebuilding efforts following the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the northern Caribbean and Leeward Islands.
The CTO Relief Fund (a 501 c3) helps families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, with monies raided being sent directly to CTO-member destinations affected by the hurricanes.
The government has announced that recovery from Hurricane Irma is proceeding at an extraordinary pace. Phone and internet communications have been restored to most parts of the island. Roads and beaches have been cleared, there are no longer queues at petrol stations, and grocery stores are well provisioned. Many local restaurants have reopened, along with a number of hotels that are housing relief workers and UK government officials. Significant progress is also being made on the restoration of the electricity grid; power lines to many villages on the central line through Crocus Hill and The Valley have been restored in the three weeks following Irma.
Chief minister, Victor Banks, has announced that plans are in place for the expansion of the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (AXA) and the reconstruction of the Blowing Point ferry terminal.
The British government has indicated that in short order they will be responding to the need to expand the airport. A team from the British Corps of Royal Engineers will oversee the project to extend the runway by 600 feet from its current 5,400 feet. The airport will remain open to private and commercial aircraft during this planned expansion period.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the terminal at Blowing Point will be demolished. Architectural plans have already been commissioned for the design and construction of the new facility. Construction is expected to begin shortly, at which point a more detailed timeline will be provided.
Seaborne Airlines has also announced the resumption of service between Anguilla and San Juan beginning today, 30 September, departing San Juan at 12:10pm to arrive in Anguilla at1:15pm and departing Anguilla at 1:45pm to arrive in San Juan at 2:50pm
N.B. Seaborne Airlines also announced on its Facebook page that it will resume service today, 30 September to Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, and to St Thomas on 2 October.
Anguilla latest hotel updates
• Carimar Beach Club: Grand re-opening is planned for 21 December.
• CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa: As assessment continues, it is anticipated the resort will remained closed for restoration through the summer of 2018.
• Four Seasons Resort & Residences Anguilla: will not reopen before the end of 2017. Frangipani Beach Resort: annual opening date has been pushed back to December 2017
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board remains focused on rebuilding a stronger territory and tourism product and officials on the ground are continuing their full assessment of the tourism industry, and will share updates as they become available.
As of 29 September, there are several charter operators that have announced they will be operating during the winter 2017/2018 season including:
● The Moorings: December 2017
● Marine Max Vacations: December 2017
● Festiva Sailing: December 2017
● Horizon Yacht Charters: January 2018
“Through the BVI Ports Authority, we are on a fast track towards the restoration of Tortola Pier Park’s cruise and shopping facility with a targeted date of reopening at least 50 per cent of retail and food and beverage stores by 1 November,” Mark Vanterpool, the minister of communications and works said.
A majority of the hotels in the territory are currently closed and will share updates after more extensive assessments in the coming weeks.
Nearby Cyril E. King Airport (STT) in St Thomas reopened on 28 September, and BVI ferry companies (Road Town Fast Ferry and Native Son) have resumed operations between the islands allowing BVI Islanders, residents and work permit holders to return to the country.
The ferry company L’Express Des Iles has resumed service between Dominica and Saint Lucia. While there is no service today, 30 September, beginning tomorrow there will be daily service through to Friday 6 October, although there will be return service only tomorrow 1 October and Friday 6 October. On the remaining days, service will be one way only, either from or to Dominica.
The government has announced that Calls may fax and telephone landline services are back up in the northern town of Portsmouth, and that the main Princess Margaret Hospital continues to function, along with most of the major type 3 healthcare centres on island. However, it says only some of the wards are currently functional and occupied, water and electricity have been partially restored and only emergency/life-saving surgical procedures are being performed..
Latest hotel updates:
• Fort Young Hotel: Closed. No word yet on a possible reopening date.
• Secret Bay Dominica: Damage assessments are under way and an update is expected soon on restoration of grounds and structures.
• Rosalie Bay Resort – A nature and Wellness Resort – Once communication is restored, updates will be provided as they become available.
Minister of tourism Manuel Marrero Cruz is quoted by the official Granma newspaper as saying Cuba will be ready for the high tourist season without a trace of Hurricane Irma. The minister met with 160 tour operators last week at Varadero’s Plaza América convention centre.
He said power, water, and communications were restored in 100 per cent of the country’s tourist resorts, including the northern Santa María, Coco and Guillermo keys, and that tourism facilities in the territories of Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Cienfuegos, Mayabeque, Artemisa, and Pinar del Río, did not suffer any damage, and have been operating without any difficulties.
He described the damage suffered by facilities in Sancti Spíritus, especially in the north, Las Tunas, the northern coast of the province of Holguín, and Camagüey, as minor, while the damage in Havana and Varadero as minimal.
According to Granma, the minister said of the 18 hotels located on Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, the latter of which suffered less damage, 14 will be fully recovered by 1 November, while the local airport will also be fully operational, and in better condition than before the hurricane struck. The remaining four hotel facilities will be completely restored to reopen their doors by 15 November.
The minister explained that all extra-hotel activities in Cayo Coco will be restored and back in operation between 15 and 20 October, including its marina, dolphinarium, glass tower, and beach huts, and that hotels on Cayo Santa María are expected to be fully operational by 15 November.
Of the 52 hotels in the country’s main tourist destination of Varadero, all except five are open, and the minister said: “By 30 October, there will not be a trace of the hurricane in Varadero.”
He reported a 50 per cent drop in arrivals in September due to the hurricane, but through 22 September, the country had received 3.6 million tourists, 24 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) said it continues to work with state and federal government agencies and is collaborating with industry partners to assess the impact of Hurricane Maria.
The resumption of normal flight operations at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) is being delayed for safety reasons due to radar functionality limitations impacting the number of arrivals and departures. The airport is operational again but on a limited schedule from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice. There are approximately twelve commercial flights scheduled daily. International flights have not yet been authorized. Airport authorities are working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resolve this situation while ensuring safe operations.
The following airports are operational and offering limited service:
• Rafael Hernández Airport (Aguadilla)
• Mercedita Airport (Ponce)
• José Aponte de la Torre Airport (Ceiba)
• Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (Isla Grande)
• Antonio Rivera Rodriguez Airport (Vieques)
Travellers should contact airlines directly for the most up-to-date information specific to each traveller’s circumstances.
The following ports are open with restrictions (daylight transit only):
• San Juan Harbor
The following hotels are closed, therefore they are not taking new reservations until further notice. Contact the hotel directly for rebooking.
• Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
• W Retreat & Spa in Vieques
• Gran Melia
• Coral by the Sea Hotel
• Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa (planning to reopen at the end of the year)
• Royal Isabela
The following hotels are open, but are not taking new reservations prior to 15 October:
• Hyatt Place San Juan
• Hyatt House San Juan
• Verdanza Hotel
The following hotels are open, but are not taking new reservations prior to 22 October:
• Hyatt Hacienda del Mar (Dorado)
• Hotel El Convento
• Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino
• Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
• AC Hotel by Marriott San Juan Condado
• La Concha Resort
• InterContinental San Juan in Isla Verde
• San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
• The Wave Hotel
• Holiday Inn Express San Juan Condado Hotel by IHG
• Canario Boutique Hotel
• Coral Princess Hotel
• At Wind Chimes Boutique Hotel
• Best Western Condado Palm Inn & Suites
• Comfort Inn San Juan
• Hotel Miramar
• Hotel Villa Montaña & Spa
The following hotels are not accepting existing or new reservations through 31 October:
• Caribe Hilton
• The Condado Plaza Hilton
• Embassy Suites by Hilton Dorado del Mar Beach Resort
• Embassy Suites by Hilton San Juan Hotel & Casino
• Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort
• Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan
• El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton
• DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Juan
• El Conquistador, a Waldorf Astoria Resort (no longer accepting existing or new reservations through 31 December)
Latest hotel updates:
• Eden Roc has advised that due to the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, the hotel’s reopening, planned for October after its annual closure, is postponed until further notice.
• Hotel Christopher St Barth: currently closed with no reopening date set.
• Hotel Le Toiny: currently closed with no reopening date set.
• Le Guanahani: currently closed with a reopening set for Summer 2018.
St. Maarten (Dutch)
Minister of Aviation Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher told The Daily Herald this week that the management of Princess Juliana International Airport was still carrying out in-depth assessments of the internal and external facilities, the majority of which suffered heavy to severe damage. The minister estimated the airport would not be back at full operation capacity “in all its glory” for another 35 weeks, but woud be able to function optimally much sooner than that.
The entire airport perimeter fencing was destroyed and all four jet bridges sustained substantial structural damage. The swing cabs were blown off all four bridges and all metal entrance doors attached between the bridges and the terminal building were blown in.
All runway and taxiway lights and precision approach path indicators were destroyed. The shoulders and a section of the runway were under water due.
The majority of the roof was destroyed in the terminal building exposing the terminal to outdoor elements with water found on all four levels of the terminal.
There is no official date for the resumption of commercial flights into St. Maarten, according to the minister.
Latest hotel updates:
• Royal Islander Club: Hotel and insurance adjusters are assessing the full extent of the damage. Royal Islander Club La Plage and La Terrasse will be closed through the end of 2017.
• Coral Beach Club / Oyster Bay Beach Resort: Oyster Bay Beach Resort and the sister property Coral Beach Club are currently closed until the completion of repairs
• Sonesta Resorts: Suffered significant damage from Hurricane Irma. Started to process refunds for 2017 reservations with refunds issued progressively based on the date of travel. Refunds will continue through 31 March, 2018.
• Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach: currently closed.
St. Martin (French)
• Alamanda Resort: Will reopen for Autumn 2018
• Belmond La Samanna: does not anticipate opening until at least April 2018.
• La Playa – Orient Bay: currently closed
Turks & Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is making a strong and speedy recovery following the passage of Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Maria did little to delay the rebuilding, and additional damage was minimal across most of the TCI’s eight inhabited islands.
Providenciales, which is the most developed of the islands and where 90% of the population lives, is on a steady path to complete restoration in the coming days, with additional islands in the archipelago close behind.
Currently, water and power have been restored in Providenciales, North & Middle Caicos and South Caicos with needs being addressed on other islands. All roads on these islands have been cleared and as of 23 September, Providenciales International Airport and Grand Turk International airport were back to full operation and all flights in and out have resumed.
Many hotels and resorts are already welcoming guests, including Seven Stars, The Atrium, Caribbean Paradise Inn, Grace Bay Suites, The Sands and Somerset and Windsong.
Additional hotels have set opening dates that run now through the end of the year as follows:
• 30 September 30: The Shore Club, The Palms, Regent Grand, Grace Bay Club
• 1 October: West Bay Club, Villa Del Mar, The Venetian, The Tuscany, Reef Residences
• 5 October 5: Gansevoort
• 12 October: Ocean Club West
• 16 October: Coral Gardens
• 20 October: Amanyara
• 1 November: Blue Haven, Beach House, Royal West Indies, Meridian Club
• 15 November: Alexandra Resort
• 20 November: Ocean Club
• 25 November: Ports of Call
• 30 November: Club Med
• TBD November: Point Grace
• 14 December: Beaches
• TBD December: Sail Rock
Shops and restaurants are also largely open and welcoming local guests and visitors through their doors.
U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas)
Governor Kenneth E. Mapp reported that St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport opened to commercial flights as planned on Thursday, with both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines operating services to the mainland United States.
The restoration of power, he added, was “inching its way forward”, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency, working with local counterparts, was progressing with its provision of water to homes.
The governor said cruise ships would like to return to St. Thomas and St. Croix as soon as 15 October, but that late October is a more realistic target. A formal announcement from the cruise lines and the U.S. Virgin Islands Government is expected next week.
Several businesses that serve cruise ship passengers are prepared to welcome visitors. Pash Daswani, President of the India Association, stated that association members who own Charlotte Amalie businesses are fully operational.
Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said the cruise lines have requested a status report on beaches and other attractions in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and that representatives would soon visit to assess sites in the territory so they can start scheduling cruise calls.
The West Indian Company Limited (WICO), which manages St. Thomas’ main cruise pier, was largely undamaged by the storm, according to WICO CEO Clifford Graham.
Latest hotel information is as follows:
• Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino: The resort will be closed until the end of the year. Please contact the resort via email for reservations booked directly on the website or by phone.
• Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa: The resort is closed until further notice. Marriott International has established a resource line for those looking for information about guests and associates who may have been impacted by the hurricane and for information regarding existing reservations. The number is (866) 211-4610. For those calling outside the U.S. and Canada, the number is +1 402-390-3265. The resource line is staffed from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (ET).
• Sand Castle On The Beach: Cannot accept reservations until essential services are restored.
• Sugar Bay Resort Club & Resort: currently closed.
• The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas: The resort is currently closed. It is waiving hotel cancellation and change fees for specific arrival dates and customers should call 1-800-228-9290 for more information about their reservations. Those in countries outside of the United States seeking information about their reservations should call the Marriott toll-free number in their country.
• The Westin St. John: will remain closed throughout 2017.
• Margaritaville St. Thomas: closed until 10 October
• Bluebeard’s Castle Resort: closed until 10 October
• Elysian Beach Resort: closed until 10 October
• World Mark St. Thomas – Elysian Beach Resort: closed until 10 October
• Cottages by the Sea: Accepting reservations after 1 October
• Bolongo Bay Beach Resort: Anticipates reopening second to third week of December
• Caneel Bay: closed for the remainder of 2017. Further updates for 2018 will become available in due course.
• The Palms At Pelican Cove: currently closed and assessing damage
• The Bucaneer: guests who are scheduled to arrive before November are advised to reschedule or cancel with no hotel penalty.
• Club Comanche Hotel: reopened 26 September
• Estate Lindholm: Will reopen 1 December
• Gallows Point Resort: Plans to be open for guests by Thanksgiving and fully operational by Christmas Eve. Guests who previously booked reservations during this time may reschedule or cancel their trip without penalty before 15 December.
• Emerald Beach Resort: not taking hotel guests until mid-November
• Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort: currently closed. Hotel cancellation and change fees for specific arrival dates will be waived. Customers should call 1-800-228-9290 for more information about their reservations. Those in countries outside of the United States seeking information about their reservations should call the Marriott toll-free number in their country.
• Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Villas: currently being assessed.
• Point Pleasant Resort: Not accepting reservations for arrival through 15 November.
• Secret Harbour Beach Resort: closed and not taking reservations at this time. An update with be provided 10 October.
• Windward Passage: closed until further notice.