Mont Vernon Holds the Line on Rates to Win Back Customers

Reed Travel Features

ORIENT BAY -- The newly refurbished Hotel Mont Vernon here is holding its rates for 1997 in an effort to win back guests in the wake of Hurricane Luis.

General manager Patrick Xerri said the 370-room beachfront property, which suffered severe damage in September 1995, opened in July 1995.

The price tag on renovations was steep, about $12 million, Xerri said.

Completed at the end of October, the refit involved the replacement of all roofs, the building of a new lobby bar and an outdoor restaurant, the addition of a fifth meeting room and the replacement of furnishings in all guest rooms, meeting rooms and public areas, including the open-air lobby.

The grounds, too, were refurbished, although the property's parcel of beach on Orient Bay lost some sand that has not yet returned, Xerri said.

Unlike some of the larger hotels on the island, Xerri said, Mont Vernon's guests are derived almost equally from Europe, South America and North America.

Xerri blamed the hotel's average 55% occupancy level on agents' unwillingness to book the destination and general concern following Hurricane Luis.

"Agents are waiting for people to come back [from St. Martin] and say it's OK," he said.

Many of those North American visitors who have decided to return are repeat guests from the U.S., especially families who have grown accustomed to spending the Christmas holiday on the island.

Xerri said the hotel offers plenty of activities that are suitable for families and younger couples alike.

Three staffers maintain a roster of daily activities, he said, as well as a free Miniclub activity program for kids ages 3 to 12. Babysitters are available.

Guests have access to a large freshwater pool, the beach, two lighted tennis courts, body boards, snorkeling equipment, kayaks and windsurfers at no additional fee.

Scuba equipment and lessons are available at an additional cost.

Shoppers and gamblers alike can take advantage of daily shuttle service to Marigot and Philipsburg.

As for nightlife, he said, the hotel offers nightly entertainment as well as shuttle service to the casinos in Philipsburg.

The hotel is only a short distance by car to the restaurants and nightclubs in nearby Grand Case and Marigot.

Mont Vernon also caters specifically to families with children, Xerri said.

Children age 12 and under can share a room at no additional charge with either one or two parents.

A 50% food-and-beverage credit also is extended to kids, and as-yet-unpublished summer deals will offer food, activity and room discounts for older children, he said.

The hotel offers full and modified meal plans without drinks at an additional charge.

Le Sloop, the outdoor restaurant, is open for lunch, serving salads, burgers and light grilled items, and twice a week, dinners are served here

Located in the main building, La Creole serves a full American buffet breakfast daily and a different buffet meal each night.

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