by Loren G. Edelstein | September 15, 2017

Relief efforts are well underway in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean, following damage sustained during Hurricane Irma. Both the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association have established funds to assist those areas. CTO's Relief Fund helps families and countries rebuild after hurricanes; for more information on the fund or to make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto. Donations through CHTA's Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund can be made via http://www.tourismcares.org/caribbean.


The following is excerpted from an island-by-island update provided by the CTO and CHTA. For more details and further updates, visit the CTO Storm Watch Center.

ANGUILLA

Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (AXA) is open from sunrise to sunset for charters and emergency flights. The Road Bay Port at Sandy Ground is open to receive cargo.

Aid from the United Kingdom in the form of food, water, medical supplies and technical support has been arriving.

 Many properties are still conducting assessments; following is an update from select stakeholders.

  • Carimar Beach Club: The clean-up has begun and management will advise of the reopening date.
  • CeBlue Villas & Beach Resort: The resort had no guests during the hurricane as it was already closed for the season. The villas and resort buildings held up well against the storm and they are all structurally sound. The resort has begun the cleanup process and looks forward to welcoming guests for the season.
  • Fountain Anguilla: The Fountain buildings and grounds are structurally intact. A few of the units suffered some damage from debris. Assessment and cleanup are underway, and the resort is expected to open for the season.
  • Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort: Upon preliminary review, there appears to be no major structural damage to the resort. The team is now assessing the extent of the cleanup required and will advise on their proposed reopening date.
  • Quintessence Boutique Resort: The property sustained a fair amount of damage; the previously proposed Nov. 1 opening will be delayed.
  • Zemi Beach House: Zemi Beach had been closed to guests in advance of the hurricane. The property held strong during the storm and will be able to welcome guests before long.
  • Neveah Villa: The property suffered only cosmetic damage. A cleanup of the grounds is underway.
  • Golf Resort & Spa and The Reef by CuisinArt: This property was significantly affected, and engineers currently are assessing the full extent of the damage. The ownership and management have said they are steadfastly committed to restoring, rebuilding and reopening, as well as doing everything possible to help and support their employees through this most difficult time.


ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Antigua was impacted minimally; the V.C. Bird International Airport has been open since Sept. 7.

On the other hand, Barbuda, with its approximately 1,800 residents, was severely impacted by the hurricane, which passed directly over the small island. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said 90 percent of homes were destroyed. Barbuda's hotel infrastructure also was damaged, but with less than 100 hotel rooms, the overall effect on tourism as a whole is minimal.

Updates from individual hotels on Antigua are as follows:

  • Carlisle Bay: The resort was closed and did not sustain any significant damage. The property will reopen as previously planned on Oct. 15
  • Curtain Bluff: The property sustained no damage and is still scheduled to reopen on Oct. 28 as previously planned, following a six-month closure for renovation.
  • Hermitage Bay: All is well.
  • Jumby Bay Island: There is no structural damage to any of the resort or homes. Jumby Bay Island currently is closed as part of its annual maintenance program, with reopening on schedule for Oct. 9.
  • Keyonna Beach Resort: No long-term damage
  • Pineapple Beach Club: Now welcoming guests
  • Sandals Grande Antigua: Sustained superficial damage, but a complete assessment will take place as soon as possible. Due to the impact of Irma and the timing of a previously announced closure for resort maintenance, the resort will remain closed and will reopen on Dec. 20.
  • St. James Club: Now welcoming guests
  • Verandah: Will reopen as scheduled on Oct. 14 after renovations


THE BAHAMAS

The Bahamas is getting back to business, as airports are open in Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and on nearly all Out Islands. International flights are resuming, including service to some Florida airports, and ports have reopened, allowing cruise ships to begin to return.

Parts of the southern islands were more heavily impacted, with damage ranging from cosmetic to severe structural damage. Assessment of Ragged Island continues, but other islands, such as Acklins Island, Crooked Island, Inaugua and Mayaguana, are mostly cleared. Full assessments throughout the islands began Monday and will continue throughout the week.

BahamasAir resumed service into the United States on Sept. 12 at the following airports: Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Miami International Airport.

While airlines are operating international flights out of Grand Bahama International Airport, U.S. customs and border pre-clearance is currently unavailable and will be reinstated at a later date.

Out Islands International service has resumed from Exuma International Airport in the Exumas and Marsh Harbour Airport in the Abacos.

The majority of hotel and resorts throughout the islands of the Bahamas are operating as usual or are expected to reopen on their regularly scheduled dates. Reservation holders are encouraged to contact their respective hotels for more information.

Nassau and Paradise Island hotels received no damage. While many remained open, others are resuming normal operation:

  • Atlantis, Paradise Island and Warwick Paradise Island~Bahamas remained open during the storm and continue to welcome guests.
  • Sandals Royal Bahamian: Open
  • Breezes Resort & Spa Bahamas: Open
  • Baha Mar Resort and Casino: Resumed full hotel, casino and retail operations on Sept. 12
  • Melia Nassau Beach Resort: Open; resumed full operations on Sept. 13
  • One & Only Ocean Club (on Paradise Island): Began welcoming guests as of Sept. 13
  • Sandals Emerald Bay: Open

Grand Bahama Island hotels began resuming operations on Sept. 13.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation will be releasing updates on islands, hotels and services on Bahamas.com/storms.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

As the government of the British Virgin Islands continues to assess the significant damage sustained during Hurricane Irma, all travellers in need of assistance are encouraged to consult with the BVI Tourist Board office. The priority in the coming days is to ensure that all remaining visitors are safely transported out of the territory.

  • Virgin Gorda: The tourist board office is located at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour. Current hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A curfew remains in effect on Virgin Gorda from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Tortola: The tourist board office on Tortola is currently not in operation. While work is being undertaken to get the office back up and running, those who require assistance on Tortola should visit the National Emergency Operations Centre, which is operating out of Peebles Hospital in Road Town.

Updates from individual hotels in the British Virgin Islands are as follows:

  • Anegada Reef: Anegada is fine.
  • Bitter End Yacht Club: The hotel was not operational due to annual closure.
  • Guana Island: Closed at the time. All guests and on-island staff are safe.
  • Rosewood Little Dix Bay: Currently closed for renovation and therefore no guests were present at the resort
  • Scrub Island: The resort, part of the Autograph Collection, is closed until further notice.
  • Sugar Mill Hotel: The hotel has suffered some damage, but so far it appears manageable. The hotel is expected to open Oct. 14.


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Reports indicate the following about hotels in the country:

  • AMResorts experienced no damage to any properties in the country and all are fully operational.
  • Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is fully operational and welcoming guests.
  • Riu Hotels reports that all six of its properties in Punta Cana are operating normal services. Two Riu hotels in Puerto Plata have not suffered any significant damage and are fully operational.
  • BarceloResorts: All of the brand's resorts in the Dominican Republic are fully operational.
  • Viva Wyndham Playa Dorada: The hotel is open and operating.


PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rico's tourism infrastructure has allowed the island to resume regular operations of hotels, sites and attractions beginning this week. The island is continuing to welcome travelers with planned visits in September and beyond, and has also become a transient hub for travellers across the Caribbean.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. reports that nearly all hotels are operational and are receiving guests.

Marriott hotels including the San Juan Marriott, Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and AC Hotel by Marriott welcomed approximately 700 guests from St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. John.

  • Wyndham Grand Rio Mar in Rio Grande has welcomed approximately 300 guests from St. Thomas. Additionally, crew from the St. Thomas air traffic control center are staying on the property.
  • Staff members of FEMA are staying at the InterContinental San Juan El Conquistador Resort, MeliaCoco Beach and Hotel El Convento, and all Marriott and Hilton properties on the island, among others, are also in full operation, taking reservations for future travellers and welcoming new guests.
  • While some power outages are present throughout the island, most of Puerto Rico has power; a majority of the hotels, as well as essential services such as hospitals and supermarkets, have power and are fully operational.
  • Visitors with questions about travel to Puerto Rico can call the PRTC hotline at (877) 976-2400 or call their hotels directly for more information.
  • Updates from individual hotels in Puerto Rico are as follows:
  • Condado Plaza Hilton: Minor damage
  • El Conquistador Resort: In operation
  • El San Juan Hotel: Received minimal damage
  • Hotel El Convento: Escaped damage and resumed operations on Sept. 11
  • Hyatt House San Juan: Open and operating
  • Hyatt Place Bayamon: Open and operating
  • Hyatt Place Manati: Open and operating
  • Hyatt Place San Juan City Center: Open and operating
  • Hyatt Residence Club Dorado: Open and operating
  • InterContinental San Juan: Business as usual
  • Rincon Beach: Open for business
  • Royal Islabela, A Destination Hotel: Open and accepting guests
  • San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel: Sustained no damage, has full power and is open for business
  • Wyndham Garden at Palmas del Mar: Open and operating
  • Wyndham Grand Rio Mar: Sustained minimal damage and is currently open


ST. MAARTEN (Dutch) / ST. MARTIN (French)

The recovery effort continues in the Franco-Dutch island. Updates from St. Maarten / St. Martin hotels are as follows:

  • Beach Plaza: Badly damaged
  • Belair Beach Hotel: Sustained damage and will take time to repair. Phone service and Internet down
  • Esmeralda Resort: Hotel is 70 percent destroyed.
  • Hotel Mercure: Damaged
  • La Playa Orient Bay: Severely damaged. The hotel was undergoing a renovation project prior to Irma; due to the impact of the storm, reopening is postponed until further notice.
  • La Samanna: Assessing damage but will remain closed for the remainder of the year
  • La Vista Hotel: The beach building is relatively in decent shape; roof tiles came off but the roof itself in still there. There are some missing doors and windows and water damage.
  • Oyster Bay Beach Resort: Significant damage
  • Princess Heights: Minor damage
  • Riu Palace St. Martin: Infrastructures severely affected  
  • Summit Resort Hotel: Due to extensive damage, the resort will remain closed.
  • Westin Dawn Beach: Suffered significant damage and is closed until further notice


TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

Providenciales International Airport (PLS) reopened for scheduled flights on Sept. 11.

Several of the hotel properties were scheduled for annual closure prior to Irma; some properties have now elected to remain closed to assess any damage to their properties and look to reopen by the beginning to middle of October.

Sonesta: Resort damage is severe. All further reservations from now through the end of 2017 have been canceled.

Beaches Turks and Caicos will begin accepting guests on Dec. 14.

The Palms Resort, the Shore Club on Long Bay Beach and Seven Stars Resort & Spa: Open

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas)

Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix is open and fully operational. Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas received extensive damage and is open only to emergency relief flights. Daily commercial flights to St. Thomas are expected to resume this weekend.

The following updates have been shared by individual properties in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • Club Med Turkoise: A full assessment of the resort has not been made; at this time the resort is delaying arrival of new guests through Sept. 30.
  • Alexandra Resort, Blue Haven Resort and Beach House: The resorts sustained some wind and water damage due to the storm and will be closed for arrivals through Oct. 8.
  • Gansevoort Turks & Caicos: Accepting guests starting Nov. 1


St. Croix

  • The Buccaneer: Open for business. Facilities are in good shape, but there may be some limitation of services over the next few days.
  • Club Comanche Hotel St. Croix: Open and accepting guests
  • Hotel Caravelle: Open and accepting guests
  • Hotel on the Cay: Open and accepting guests


St. John

  • Caneel Bay: Complete power outage at the resort; team assessing damage
  • Bluebeard's Castle Resort: Sustained major damage
  • Bolongo Bay Beach Resort: Expects to begin welcoming guests on Nov. 12
  • Margaritaville Vacation Club:. Recovery efforts to begin
  • Point Pleasant Resort: Currently assessing damage
  • Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas: Closed until further notice
  • Secret Harbour Beach Resort: No major structural damage to the buildings. The generator is still working.
  • Sugar Bay Resort & Spa: The damage is being assessed, and an update will be provided when available.
  • Windward Passage: Will close for six months
  • Westin St. John Resort Villas: The resort and the surrounding areas experienced some damage. As of Sept. 11, Marriott International has advised the resort is closed until further notice.


St. Thomas

Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort: Closed until further notice