by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 21, 2016

Hurricane Matthew hit land on Oct. 7, and most Southeast coast properties in its path have reopened for business. However, the five U.S. states affected -- Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia -- lost about $50 million in rooms revenue because of the storm, according to STR, the lodging research company. 

"When looking at the net impact on hotel demand and rates, the story was very similar to what we saw when Hurricane Sandy hit in late 2012," said Steve Hennis, STR's VP of consulting and analytics. "Unfortunately, the overall loss will be higher once you factor in future lost business as a result of the extensive damage and renovations that many hotels will require prior to reopening."

Savannah, Ga., experienced minor water damage, but it was taken care of very quickly. The Hyatt Regency Savannah's ballroom was swamped, but new carpet was being laid within 36 hours. "It was just an incredible thing to see, the way people responded," said Jeff Hewitt, CDME, senior vice president of Visit Savannah. "They were ready to welcome guests even though their homes had no electricity."

Savannah hosted a 1,400-person citywide for the International Association of Emergency Managers six days after the storm. "We did personal inspections of the larger hotels and they were ready to honor the block. We did have some damage to our water ferry docks, we lost one completely. For transportation we did some workarounds; we even bought an Uber package to help provide free transportation," Hewitt said.

On nearby Tybee Island, the 205-room Hotel Tybee, with 3,000 square feet of meeting space, is still undergoing repairs and will not reopen until Nov. 17.

Most of the oceanfront resorts on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina have reopened, including the Sea Pines Resort, which began welcoming guests again this week, and the Westin Oceanfront Resort, which had a group in house this week that arrived last weekend. The exception is the Omni Oceanfront Resort, which, according to Warren Woodard, the director of sales and marketing, sustained slight damage from Hurricane Matthew. The property will reopen when repairs are completed. 

"The coast is clear on Hilton Head Island and we're welcoming guests," said Bill Miles, president and CEO of the Hilton Head Island Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. "It's amazing how quickly the island has moved forward in its recovery efforts."

Further north, Myrtle Beach weathered the storm well, although both Surfside Pier and Springmaid Pier sustained major damage.