The holidays are fast approaching, and plans are being made for winter getaways. Luxe Lodgings contributor Angela Fairhurst found hotels in Florida and across the Caribbean that have reopened after the recent hurricanes. Tourism feeds the livelihoods of many of these residents, boosts the local economy, and is essential to the recovery process.
Anguilla suffered serious devastation in wake of Hurricane Irma that made landfall on September 6, 2017. Many buildings in Anguilla incurred significant structural damage, and the island’s electric grid was severely compromised. The owner of the Altamer Resort (which will not reopen until sometime in 2018), Time Equities Inc., has set up the Anguilla United Relief Fund (AURF) to raise money needed to contribute to the rebuilding of the island. To date, $100,000 worth of supplies has been delivered. The AURF is working closely with government officials to identify top priorities for sustainable rebuilding of the island, such as hospital infrastructure, the restoring of electricity, rebuilding schools, and more. November will bring a number of hotel reopenings that will continue throughout 2018. Check this website for updates on the hotels.
The island of Antigua is open for business as normal activity returned after a brushing from Hurricane Irma. Antigua, where the bulk of the tourism industry resides, is the larger and more populous of the two-island state of Antigua and Barbuda. All the popular resorts, including Jumby Bay, Curtain Bluff, St. James’s Club Antigua, Carlisle Bay, and Hermitage Bay are welcoming guests. The country’s cruise facilities is welcoming 50 more ship calls between now and December due to adjusted itineraries.
The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands distributed over 100,000 square miles. In the case of Irma, the southern islands of Acklins and Crooked Island were damaged by the storm, and Ragged Island was devastated. The good news is Nassau and Paradise Island, Abaco, Andros, The Exumas, Long Island, Cat Island, and others were only grazed and required only cosmetic cleanup with no major debris or flooding. Hotels, airports, and marinas throughout The Bahamas reopened quickly and now are operating normally. Hotels still welcome and care for guests, including Atlantis, Paradise Island, and the newly opened Baha Mar in Nassau. Smaller, boutique properties like Squires Estate on Eleuthera and Bahama House Inn on Harbour Island are fine. Diving, snorkeling, and fishing excursions are operating from marinas across the islands. The Cove at Atlantis opened this month, and the pool, cabanas, and overall décor is refurbished and renovated, and a new restaurant, Sip Sip, will debut.
Key West, Florida
Hurricane Irma swept across the Florida Keys, crushing homes in its path, uprooting greenery, and wiping out power for some 15 million Florida residents. About 27 people were killed and 25 percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed. But just two weeks following Hurricane Irma, much-needed cruise ships began docking again. Stock Island’s new The Perry Hotel was unaffected and hotels such as Casa Marina and The Reach, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, provided the engine for recovery efforts in the region, including housing rescue workers and supplying meals to the local fire and police departments. The Gates Hotel Key West, and 24 North Hotel were fortunate to reopen their doors in early October, following the visitor’s travel ban, and continue to serve valued guests and community members.
Hurricane Maria was the strongest hurricane on record to ever hit Puerto Rico and has severely affected the electrical grid. Government agencies and the private sector are working tirelessly to provide relief while ensuring the safety of all visitors and residents. Recent advancements on major tourism infrastructure, such as getting the main airport fully operational on normal schedules and operating cruise ports and hotels, show a steady path to recovery. The 1919 Restaurant at Condado Vanderbilt is open and, for a period of time, donated 30 percent of its proceeds to charitable causes. Many hotels are currently hosting various federal groups, relief agencies, and corporations that are assisting with reestablishing the regular services on the island. La Concha, Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, and DoubleTree by Hilton San Juan are accepting reservations from December 1 onward. Hotel El Convento, Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort, and Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn & Suites are accepting reservations from December 15 onward. Stay tuned here for updates.
At only eight square miles, St. Barts is one of the Caribbean’s most varied and upscale islands with villas, hotels, spas, fine dining and a wide choice of leisure activities. The Collectivity of St. Barts has created the St. Bart Foundation to receive donations for the benefit of the island. “The population of St. Barts continues to show solidarity,” says Nils Dufau, president of the Territorial Tourism Committee of St. Barts. St. Barth Properties welcomed its first visitors back since Irma, with many hotels expected to reopen by Thanksgiving. Other hotels including Hôtel Le Toiny, Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, and Eden Rock will reopen throughout 2018. Click here for more information.
St. Kitts is open and welcoming visitors as it was not struck by the brunt of the storms this hurricane season. Christophe Harbour is currently repairing some minor damage to SALT Plage, its beachside bar, but that should be back up and running soon. The The Park Hyatt St. Kitts, which overlooks The Narrows, a strait separating St. Kitts and its volcanic sister-island of Nevis, reopened this month.
Turks & Caicos
Turks and Caicos has rebounded quickly following both hurricanes. Most hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions have reopened and are ready for business. The port suffered the most destruction, but is expected to be operational for cruise ships some time in November. The Sands at Grace Bay, The Palms Turks and Caicos, and The Shore Club Long Bay Beach sustained no major structural damages through this unprecedented hurricane season. The properties have been assisting community organizations and relief workers from the Salvation Army, United Nations, Digicel, Fortis and many more as they help get the island and its wonderful communities back together. They combined forces to rebuild homes across the island, built shelters for families who were left homeless, provided food and water for displaced locals, and assisted in any cleanup needed. Grace Bay Club and West Bay Club have officially reopened and are welcoming guests. Everyone at Grace Bay Resorts, from CEO Mark Durliat, to the resort’s’ staff, worked together to reopen Grace Bay Club and West Bay Club less than one month after the storm, and Grace Bay Club established the Hurricane Irma Grace Bay Resorts Employee Relief Fund to support staff members with damaged homes. The Beaches resort is set to reopen on December 14.
South Caicos is a bit more remote than the other islands in Turks and Caicos. The Sailrock Resort sustained mostly cosmetic and grounds-related damages as a result of the storms, and the team is at work restoring and repairing everything for a December 16 reopening. Additionally, Sailrock Resort is supporting the South Caicos Heritage Foundation (SCHF), whose mission is to rebuild, restore, and revitalize South Caicos—one of the islands most severely impacted by the massive category five hurricane.
Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and the US Virgin Islands need a little while longer to rebuild and recover. Watch this space for continuing updates.
By Angela Fairhurst for PeterGreenberg.com