MIAMI -- Mexicos
Yucatan region, including Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya and
the southern end of Cozumel -- al of which bore the brunt of
Hurricane Emilys wallop on July18 -- continued clean-up efforts as
hotels assessed damages and reopening dates.
Cancun, with the
bulk of area tourist arrivals, largely escaped major damage. Most
properties in the citys hotel zone emerged unscathed and were
South of Cancun,
however, the situation remained in flux because downed telephone
and utility lines made communications difficult.
While reports within
the first 48 hours initially downplayed damages in most of the
Yucatan, it later became apparent that the southern portion of the
Riviera Maya, particularly the scenic stretch from Akumal to
Tulum,and the island of Cozumel, took bigger hits than first
managing director of Real Resorts, with two properties in Cancun
and three in Playa del Carmen -- all undamaged -- said 20% of
Riviera Maya hotels were damaged enough to require temporary
The heaviest damage
was at Akumal and Puerto Aventuras, he said. Of the 20% of hotels
damaged, I estimate that half will take from one to three months to
repair. But the remaining 80% are operational.
won widespread praise for their preparation and evacuation
president of Funjet Vacations, said, The most important thing here
is that people were protected and were safe. We all dodged a real
To better determine
the impact on local tourist infrastructures, the tourism boards of
both the Riviera Maya and Quintana Roo state joined with the local
hotel association and area municipalities July 21 to send out seven
inspection teams on evaluation tours of Riviera Maya hotels and
resort properties. The teams findings will help formulate a
recovery action plan for the region.
In the meantime,
travel agents were scrambling either to confirm that clients could
check into undamaged hotels or to re-accommodate those booked at
closed properties -- not an easy task given the communications
Travel agent Cindy
Babiak at Cain Travel in Boulder, Colo., spent days trying
unsuccessfully to contact a hotel in the worst-hit area of the
Riviera Maya, where several clients were headed from late July
Ive got people
departing on July 28, and theyre frantic and wondering if they
should change, Babiak said. And Ive got another couple heading down
Nov. 13; Im sure the resort will be fine by then, but theyre
worried -- and they have to make their deposit today.
from Mexican tourism officials that Emilys bark was worse than her
bite were followed by a flood of retractions.
Its been like the
movie Jaws, where [tourism] officials are telling people Come on
in, in the waters fine, said Babiak.
accommodations: On Cozumel, off the coast of the Riviera Maya, most
damage was to the islands southern tip, with some trade reports of
heavy damage to beach bars and other shore facilities.
Although many island
hotels were scheduled to reopen by July 25, the Iberostar Cozumel
is closed until November for repairs. Meanwhile, the Presidente
Intercontinental Cozumel Resort and Spa was to begin receiving
guests on July 25.
Back on the
mainland, Iberostars four resorts in the Playa Paradise complex
along the Riviera Maya, as well as its two properties in Playa car
near Playa del Carmen, were expected to reopen by July
Iberostars new Playa
Paradise Golf Course, damaged by fallen trees, is under repair.
Real Resorts Royal Porto Real Playa del Carmen, Grin Porto Real
Playa del Carmen and Real Playa del Carmen suffered minor damage
and were open with 100% occupancy.
Of Occidental Hotels
and Resorts six properties in the region, only the Caribbean
Village Cancun was open as of July 21.
The chains Grand
Cozumel and Royal Hideaway Playacar will reopen July 31, while
Allegro Cozumel by Occidental, the Grand XCaret by Occidental in
the Riviera Maya and Allegro Playacar were not accepting
reservations until further notice, although theyll be open by the
winter season, said a spokesman.
In the Riviera Maya,
AM Resorts Sunspace Tulum is open, although some oceanfront rooms
are being repaired; Sunspace Puerto Aventuras will reopen Aug.
Wyndham Hotels and
Resorts Viva Wyndham Aztecan and the Viva Wyndham Maya in Playa del
Carmen both will reopen Aug. 18.
Karisma Hotels and
Resorts shuttered two of its five Riviera Maya properties for a
month of repairs. The El Dorado Seaside Suites and Hidden Beach
Resort will reopen Aug. 20, while Azul Hotel and Beach Resort and
El Dorado Royal Spa Resort remain operational.
property, the Mi Hotelito, is under construction but had no major
damage. Riu Hotels and Resorts resorts in Playa del Carmen --
Palace Mexico, Tequila, Yucatan, Playacar and Lolita -- are open to
guests, while landscaping repairs are under way.
Adventura Spa Palace and Xpu-Ha Palace in the Riviera Maya
sustained significant damage and are now closed; the north section
of Ventura is slated to reopen on Sept. 30, and Xpu-Ha on Oct.
The chains Cozumel
Palace, Cancun Palace, Sun Palace and Beach Palace sustained only
minor damage and are open for business. Palace Resorts new Playacar
Palace, under construction and slated to open in October, also had
damage and has delayed its opening.
Minimal damage was
reported at Sol Melia's five area resorts, and the Gran Melia
Cancun, Gran Melia Torques, Torques Riviera Cancun, Sol Cabanas del
Caribe and Melia Cozumel were all expected to be back in full
operation by July 22.
For its part,
Barcelo Hotels and Resorts said its four properties in the Yucatan
-- Barcelo Las Perlas and Barcelo Perlas Beach in Cancun, and
Barcelo Maya Beach and Barcelo Maya Caribe Beach on the Rivera Maya
--were all undamaged and operating as usual. However, other sources
reported that 200 of 600 rooms at the Maya Beach and Maya Carrie
Beach complex were closed for repairs.
As for attractions,
the Xcaret and Xel-Ha ecological theme parks both sustained some
damage -- largely to landscaping -- and are temporarily closed,
according to an employee reached by telephone July 20, with Xel-Ha
set to reopen July 23, and Xcaret, by July 27.
described the famed seaside Mayan ruins at Tulum as undamaged, save
for some downed foliage.
Those ruins have
survived so many hurricanes, theyve proved themselves resistant,
said Real Resorts Garcia.
prompted cruise lines to change some itineraries in the western
Caribbean, the storm appeared to do minimal damage to cruise
facilities at Cozumel, the Caribbeans most popular port of
Carnival resumed its
Cozumel calls on July 20, a spokesman said.
from Miami, was the first ship to arrive, although it left an hour
earlier than scheduled because of the islands power
We wouldnt go back
if there werent things for people to do, he said.
The line was forced
to turn two four-day cruises, the July 16 voyage of the Sensation
and the July 16 voyage of the Ecstasy, into cruises-to-nowhere.
Passengers on those cruises were given a future cruise credit worth
50% of the paid cruise fare.
International also made the decision to return to Cozumel this
week, on the Empress of the Seas, after initially deciding to avoid
But the Explorer of
the Seas, which departed July 17, sailed a modified itinerary
because of the storm.
Mayas pier was in full operation on July 18, a media representative
for the pier said, as was Progresso on the Yucatans west coast, on
the Gulf of Mexico.
The Caribbean dodged
the bullet this time, although two small properties on Carriacou
were damaged. The 16-room Silver Beach Resort lost four rooms, and
the six-room Caribbean Inn is closed until November. Grenadas
Chocolate Co., a popular attraction in the north, is closed for a
month, but the island -- still recovering from Hurricane Ivan last
September -- reported minimum overall damage, according to minister
of tourism Brenda Hood.
contributed to this report.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to[email protected].
reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].