weeks E-letter focuses on the recovery, rebuilding and reopening of
island properties damaged by the recent hurricanes, normal coverage
of Caribbean news on other islands follows next week.
BAHAMAS will launch a campaign Oct. 11, designed to
reassure travelers that most of the islands in its 700-island
archipelago suffered no hurricane damage and are open for business.
Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, director general of the Ministry of
Tourism, said, Our objective is to let people know that the Bahamas
is a long stretch of islands --
longer than the state of Florida. Grand Bahama
Island and Abaco in the northern part of the chain had damage, but
Nassau and Paradise Island are fine as are most of our other
islands. Vanderpool Wallace also said that several of our neighbors
have had serious damage. We are all in this together and we will
all come back together. The campaign,
which will run in trade publications, newspapers and on TV, may
carry a special tag line or slogan.
MEANWHILE, cleanup and recovery efforts
continued from the storms, including Hurricane Jeanne, which again
bruised Grand Bahama and Abaco last weekend before hitting
Florida -- again. Here is a recap:
" Bahamas. Not all hotel damage reports
from Jeanne have been tabulated, because of a lack of telephone service and
power. Kerry Fountain, executive director of the Bahamas Out Island
Promotion Board, said that the Abaco Beach Hotel had some flooding
but is open for business. Tentative reopening dates for others
include: Abaco Inn, Nov. 8; Banyan Beach, closed indefinitely;
Cocoa Bay Cottages, Oct. 15; Dolphin Beach Resort, Oct. 17; Turtle
Hill Villas, Oct. 15. Docks, boats and marinas are damaged.
Elsewhere, properties continued repairs from the earlier storms. In
the Berry Islands, Little Whale Cay reopens Feb. 1; Tropical
Diversions, Nov. 15. Sammy Ts Beach Resort on Cat Island reopens
Oct. 15. On Eleuthera, Duck Inn is closed; The Cove reopens Nov.
26; on Exuma, the Palm at Three Sisters is closed. On Harbour
Island, Coral Sands reopens Nov. 4 and Pink Sands Hotel in early
November. Club Med on San Salvador will reopen Dec. 18. On GBI, the
Sheraton at Our Lucaya, originally set to reopen Oct. 1, will
reopen Oct. 14; the Westin at Our Lucaya will reopen Dec. 17. Both
will offer a 25% discount and a $50 spa certificate to arriving
guests. The Wyndham Viva Fortuna Beach reopens Dec. 1 and the Royal
Oasis Golf Resort & Casino on Feb. 1; assessments are still
pending for Old Bahama Bay Resort. Although Grand Bahamas West End
sustained a lot of damage, GBI airport is open for commercial
flights. A complete rundown is available at www.bahamas.com.
" Cayman Islands. The
dusk-to-dawn curfew has been lifted in Grand Cayman. American
Airlines resumed limited service with a daily flight from JFK;
Cayman Airways, which has operated only relief flights through last
week, expects to resume some passenger service next week. The
carriers new twice-weekly year-round nonstop service from Boston is
still on track for an Oct. 29 launch. On the Sister Islands, which
had minimal damage from Hurricane Ivan, Little Cayman Beach Resort
Paradise Villas will reopen in late October and Pirates Point
Resort on Oct. 16. Southern Cross Club lost four of 11 rooms but is
rebuilding and will reopen Nov. 10 with seven rooms. Cayman Bracs
properties are open.
" Grenada. Power, water and limited phone
service have been restored to most of St. Georges; the island-wide
curfew remains in effect. La Luna resort will reopen Nov. 25, True
Blue Bay Resort is open for emergency workers; and LaSource will
reopen in early January. One hotelier estimated that the total
damage on the island exceeds $600 million. For updates, visit www.grenadaemergency.com.
" Jamaica. In Montego Bay, Holiday Inn
SunSpree set a new reopening date of Nov. 30. Sunset at the Palms
in Negril, recently recognized by Apple Vacations with its Golden
Apple Award for quality and customer service based on guest
questionnaires, will reopen Nov. 1, following a two-month planned
renovation. Also in Negril, Beachcomber will accept guests Dec. 15,
Beaches Sandy Bay Oct. 28, Grand Lido Negril Resort & Spa Oct.
15, Merrils Beach Resort III Dec. 20, Sandals Negril Beach Resort
& Spa Nov. 18, Tensing Pen Nov. 11. Sunset At The Palms reopens
Nov. 1 after scheduled renovations. Closed until further notice in
Negril are The Caves, Catch A Falling Star, Mariners Inn, Paradise
View Hotel and Rock Cliff. In Runaway Bay, FDR Pebbles reopens Oct.
9; on the South Coast, Jakes reopens Oct. 15, Strawberry Hill Nov.
22. In Port Antonio, Fern Hill Club and Trident Villas & Hotel
are closed. For updates, check at www.visitjamaica.com or www.onecaribbean.org.
" Dominican Republic. At least 10 hotels in the
Punta Cana area are closed until November, including Occidental
Allegro, Sirenis Cocotal & Tropical, Bavaro Princess, Caribe
Club Princess and Tropical Princess. Breezes Punta Cana is closed
until Dec. 9, and Punta Cana Resort & Club reopens Dec. 20.
" Grenadines. Palm Island Resort, managed by
Elite Island Resorts, will reopen Nov. 8, according to Steve Heydt,
president and CEO.
OPERATORS voiced optimism regarding the pace of recovery
and rebuilding. Greg Thorne, president of Inter Island Tours, plans
to gauge the interest of Dominican Republic hoteliers in offering a
Come Back to the Caribbean promotion. I anticipate an excellent
winter season, because travelers wont cancel their plans
-- just redirect them
to areas not impacted by the storms, Thorne said. At US Airways
Vacations, Kris Potter, vice president and general manager, agreed.
There are destinations unaffected by recent events that welcome our
customers with open arms. Mike Norton at Air Jamaica Vacations said
that 43% of our customers affected by the storms rebooked
immediately to new dates, mostly in January, and 52% of those
affected accepted vouchers for future travel. We had very few
cancellations. AJV put a stop-sell order on arrivals in islands
impacted by the storms for the rest of the year, Norton said. After
a personal inspection, we may lift the suspension, but we want to be
conservative about rebooking properties that were damaged.
Operators who accompanied Gordon Butch Stewart, chairman of Sandals
& Beaches Resorts, on a whirlwind inspection tour of Sandals
Jamaican properties ealier this week, agreed that Jamaica is ready
for business, according to Thomas Meier, executive vice president
of private label brands for Mark Travel Corp.