Carolina hotels prepare for Hurricane Florence

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The skyline of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The skyline of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

As Hurricane Florence begins to hit North and South Carolina, hotels there have been preparing for landfall.

In Myrtle Beach and the surrounding Grand Strand area, hoteliers ensured that guests were safely relocated, according to Stephen Greene, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association.

"When the mandatory evacuations started on Wednesday, we had quite high occupancy. So we've gone through the process of explaining to guests that they had leave, and we're fielding a lot of questions about potential plans in terms of people coming in for vacation after the storm," said Greene, adding that the vast majority of Myrtle Beach properties have been shut down and evacuated. "In terms of cancellations moving forward, that depends on the timing and impact of the storm. If it's minimal, we plan to be back up and running by the first of the week."

Evacuations have similarly been underway in parts of North Carolina, where travelers are being redirected to areas further from the storm's direct path. Though many hotels in safer parts of the state are filling up, evacuees have been largely able to find accommodations, said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

"Many hotels have waived cancellation fees for the most part, and we have encouraged hoteliers, if they can possibly do so, to waive their pet policies. Many have done that," noted Minges. 

She added that the organization was now primarily focused on planning for post-storm recovery, ensuring select hotels will be up and running to accommodate first responders and utility crews.

Hotel rooms remain available throughout the upstate region of South Carolina, with Doug Warner, director of media relations for the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, citing continued last-minute availability in markets like Columbia. 

"There were big university football games that have been canceled this weekend due to the weather, and that has left hotel room availability open in areas surrounding the University of South Carolina and others," he noted. "I haven't heard any issues of evacuees not being able to find lodging." 

Warner added that most Charleston-area hotels are planning to reopen by Monday. "As the storm information continues to update, we're actually not expecting quite as severe an impact as before," he said.

Meanwhile, many hotel companies have released statements and policy updates regarding properties affected by Hurricane Florence.

Marriott International confirmed that hotels in the impacted area are waiving cancellation fees, though details vary by property, while Hilton announced that modification and cancellation penalties for any guests whose travel plans could be affected by Hurricane Florence may be waived for stays with arrivals through Monday, Sept. 17. 

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