Bahamas resorts return post-hurricane

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Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau reopened in October following a planned renovation and an unplanned short delay due to Hurricane Matthew.
Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau reopened in October following a planned renovation and an unplanned short delay due to Hurricane Matthew.
Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

Nov. 30 marked the official end of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, but for some islands in the Caribbean that season's story is not yet over.

While progress has been made since Hurricane Matthew pounded parts of the Caribbean during the first week of October, particularly Haiti, the eastern end of Cuba and parts of the Bahamas, many challenges remain.

The season spawned 15 named storms, of which seven were hurricanes, but the strongest and longest-lived of the season was Matthew, the first Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Felix in 2007. It generated wind gusts of 155 mph in Cuba and more than 100 mph over the Bahamas.

In the Bahamas, the One&Only Ocean Club in Nassau pushed back its original reopening date of Oct. 21 to Feb. 14, 2017 due to ongoing repair issues.

Sandals Royal Bahamian reopened on Oct. 25, following a $4 million makeover (the resort already had been temporarily closed for upgrades when Matthew paid a visit, and the storm pushed back the original reopening date by several days). Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma, meanwhile, is slated to reopen on Dec. 15.

Freeport on Grand Bahama sustained serious damage from Matthew, which hit the island as a Category 4 storm. The Freeport Harbor cruise port reopened in early November. Grand Bahama Airport, which had had to reduce its operating hours as a result of Hurricane Matthew, returned to normal hours on Dec. 1.

Pelican Bay has reopened, and Memories Resort will reopen in early 2017, although a firm date has not yet been confirmed.

Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour will reopen its hotel, marina and Dockside Grill restaurant on Dec. 19. The resort will have a renovated pool and a new guest shopping deck that houses local vendors and a Bahamas Division of Tourism booth.

"Our guests will be pleased with our progress, and we look forward to once again welcoming friends and past guests," said James Calmer, general manager.

Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach will reopen on Dec. 17 following a $4 million renovation and upgrades that include the common areas, entrance, pool area, restaurants, kids' club, the 276 guestrooms and the beach.

Grand Lucayan, which includes Lighthouse Pointe, Breakers Cay and the Lanai Suites, has reopened the 196-room Lighthouse Point, the all-inclusive portion of the resort. Lighthouse Pointe added a new Sunday champagne brunch, a fish fry party on Wednesdays and Bahamian cuisine nights on Fridays. The convention center and wedding gazebos are functional, as is the Reef golf course.

"We hope to have the entire property operational by February," said Veronica Clarke, hotel manager.

Response on Haiti

Matthew was particularly dangerous and deadly on Haiti; more than 1,000 died in Haiti as a result of the storm.

Haiti's devastation, coming on top of the lingering effects of the January 2010 earthquake, triggered a massive humanitarian crisis and response from more than 50 response organizations. Total losses in Haiti as a result of Matthew were estimated to exceed $1.9 billion, which is 20% of the country's gross domestic product, according to Finance Minister Yves Bastion.

This article has been updated to reflect that a firm reopening date for Memories Resort has not been confirmed, although the opening has been moved to 2017. An earlier version stated the resort would reopen Dec. 10.

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