Baha Mar orders guest evacuation, Atlantis hunkers down

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Atlantis Paradise Island is confident in its hurricane-preparedness plan.
Atlantis Paradise Island is confident in its hurricane-preparedness plan.

Preparations for Hurricane Irma's expected arrival in the Bahamas on Friday included the evacuation of guests at the Baha Mar resort in Nassau.

The Grand Hyatt, the only hotel operating at the new resort, closed at 5 p.m. Thursday and plans to reopen as soon as it is safe for guests and staff to return, said Carla Santiago, senior manager, field public relations for Hyatt's Latin America & Caribbean regional office.

Guests departed Baha Mar before Nassau's Lynden Pindling Airport was slated to close Thursday night.

The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort had no evacuation plans.

"With over 20 years of operating in the tropics, Atlantis is fully prepared to provide shelter and necessary provisions in instances where weather conditions take a serious turn," said Howard Karawan, Atlantis' president and managing director.

He cited the example of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, during which "over 2,500 people were kept safe in our shelter with all provisions and, in the spirit of the Bahamas, even local entertainment."

Karawan said that the hotel is closely monitoring the track of Irma. "We can ensure that no matter the outcome there will be the best possible care provided for those on island as a result of Atlantis' official Hurricane Preparedness Plan."

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis had earlier ordered a mandatory evacuation of the islands of Managuan, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.

Residents of those islands were flown to Nassau.

The staff at Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau and Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma assisted in getting guests out before Hurricane Irma's arrival. Approximately 400 guests remain at the Beaches Turks and Caicos "comfortable and being cared for," said a spokesperson.

Both Sandals resorts in the Bahamas will not receive new arrivals until Sept. 13. The Beaches Turks and Caicos won't take new guests until Sept. 21.

"With more than 35 years of experience operating in the Caribbean, our priority in the event of an extreme weather condition is the safety and security of our guests. We have strict, tried and tested procedures in place," Sandals said.

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