Hotel companies and tourism organizations with business in the Caribbean provided commentary on how hotels in the region are responding to the impact of Hurricane Maria.
Editor’s note: This story will be continually updated as new information and statements are made available.
Updated 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 27 September 2017 with statements from Verdanza Hotel and International Hospitality Enterprises.
GLOBAL REPORT—Areas such as Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos islands were devastated by strong winds and damage from Hurricane Maria when it tore through a portion of the Caribbean on Wednesday, 20 September, but other parts of the region, such as Aruba and Jamaica, were not damaged by the storm.
Frank Comito, CEO and director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, said 70% of the area was not severely affected and is open for business.
He said the view that the entire Caribbean region was devastated by Maria isn’t true. “Over 70% of the hotels are fully operational,” he said, adding that places such as the Bahamas and St. Kitts that were initially hit by Hurricane Irma have “already bounced back.”
For those Caribbean islands that were severely affected by Hurricane Maria, including Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos islands, Comito said the CHTA is working with the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the National Hotel and Tourism Association to get destination reports on a regular basis. Updates, as well as information on how to help with immediate relief and sustainable recovery, can be found at www.caribbeantravelupdate.com.
Comito added that the travel industry and the general public can help out the region by not cancelling trips to those areas of the Caribbean that were not severely hit by Hurricane Maria.
“(Less Caribbean business) could drive our occupancies down, and as a result, we have consequences not only for the business community, but for employment and (Caribbean governments).”
Below, Hotel News Now has complied statements from hotel companies and organizations in response to the storm.
Verdanza Hotel, located in Isla Verda, Puerto Rico, did not sustain any significant structural damage as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to a statement issued by the property’s management team. The hotel is part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ Lifestyle Collection.
According to the statement, the hotel remains operational, all guests and staff are safe and accounted for, and the impact from the storm was “mainly limited to water and landscaping damage.”
The statement reads: “Although utilities are down and in the process of being restored across the island, the property has not lost water service at any time, while an electricity generator provides power for all hotel operations both in guestrooms and common areas.”
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the passing of Hurricane Maria,” the hotel’s GM, Ricky Newman, said in the statement. “As always, we stand in solidarity with our community, committed to once again play a part in the recuperation and rebuilding of Puerto Rico.”
“The property is currently serving as a home base for first responders and representatives from the local and federal agencies working on recovery efforts,” the statement said.
“Verdanza Hotel is scheduled to open its doors to welcome visitors starting Sunday, October 15, 2017.
The property’s Hurricane Policy is now in place for those whose vacation at Verdanza has been disrupted by the hurricane. Reservations for stays before October 15 may be rescheduled or cancelled without penalty. We will provide a more comprehensive update as soon as our telecommunications system is restored."
International Hospitality Enterprises
International Hospitality Enterprises reports that all of the six hotels and resorts that it operates in San Juan, Puerto Rico, “safely withstood Hurricane Maria,” according to a company statement.
The properties are the Hotel El Convento, Condado Vanderbilt, La Concha, Doubletree by Hilton San Juan, Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort and Condado Palm Inn and Suites. All “continue to operate with a few changes to the daily functions and expect to be fully operational within in the next 30 days,” according to the statement.
“The focus throughout the storm and preparations was ensuring the wellbeing of staff and guests, and there were no injuries suffered at either property during the storm. The hotels will continue to take care of guests (travelers and locals) already in-house until they are able to safely return home,” the statement said.
“The immediate priority continues to be the rebuilding effort in Puerto Rico. Several of the properties are hosting various federal groups, relief agencies and corporations that are assisting on re-establishing the regular services on the island. Room reservations are temporarily being managed by each property directly to ensure direct communication with our customers.”
“We expresses deep appreciation to the resort teams, and for the efforts of the local police and emergency responders who worked and continue to work tirelessly to mitigate damages from the storm,” Peter Hopgood, the company’s VP of sales and marketing, said in the statement. “We are resilient and confident that Puerto Rico will quickly recover. Our hearts and thoughts are with all who have been affected in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean during this unprecedented hurricane season.”
The IHE team will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available. Due to power outages island-wide, the email and phone numbers associated with the hotels are down.
Milton Segarra, president and CEO, Meet Puerto Rico
Meet Puerto Rico issued the following statement: “We at Meet Puerto Rico appreciate the outpouring of concern from our partners, clients and media colleagues. Our team is safe and taking care of our families while our hotel partners are keeping our guests safe. Our industry's hurricane plans are in effect—with damage assessment already underway. We are currently working with the PRTC and the PRHTA to assess damages and will provide an accurate update as soon as possible. We thank you again for your concern and will be in touch as soon as we have the official update.”
AMResorts has a relocation plan in place for its Dominican Republic properties, in anticipation of Hurricane Maria. Click here for full information.
Hilton issued a statement saying that properties in hurricane watch/warning areas have implemented hurricane preparedness plans and emergency procedures, and continue to stay in close contact with local authorities and tourism officials.
According to the statement, the company is “still assessing the impact of the storm in Puerto Rico and our attention is focused on our guests and team members.”
The statment continues: "All Hilton properties on the island are no longer taking new reservations through September 30. The following three hotels are currently closed:
- The Condado Plaza Hilton
- El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton
- Embassy Suites by Hilton Dorado del Mar Beach Resort
"Hilton properties in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas are waiving cancellation fees for travelers with reservations arriving September 19 through September 30.”
Hilton will continue to update information here: http://newsroom.hilton.com/index.cfm/news/statement-from-hilton-hurricane-maria
Marriott International issued the following statement: “We are continuing to closely monitor the path of Hurricane Maria. Our hotels in the current path of the storm have implemented storm preparation protocols. The safety of our guests and associates is always a top priority at Marriott. We have established hurricane plans for our hotels. In addition, we are in close contact with local authorities and, as always, will take guidance and direction from them as the situation warrants it. Plans are in place to evacuate and close our hotels if local authorities or conditions require such action. We encourage those planning to visit the storm area to check the news of the storm for the most current information and amend their travel plans accordingly. Hotels in the impacted area are waiving hotel cancellation and change fees but details will vary depending on the hotel.”
Hyatt Hotels Corporation
In a statement issued Thursday, Hyatt officials said the storm has significantly affected their operations in Puerto Rico.
“The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is always a top priority and our deepest concerns are with everyone impacted by the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico,” the statement reads. “Hotel operations and communications at Hyatt hotels in Puerto Rico have been impacted by Hurricane Maria’s recent passage through the area, and therefore, Hyatt hotels in Puerto Rico have currently suspended normal hotel operations and are not accepting reservations for stays prior to October 15 at Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels and October 22 at Hyatt Hacienda del Mar. Hyatt hotels in Puerto Rico will waive all cancellation fees and refund all pre-paid reservations for stays during this period.”
Ashford Hospitality Prime
Ashford officials acknowledged that Maria’s timing was particularly troublesome so soon after dealing with the damage seen from Hurricane Irma, but they don’t believe it will have a material impact on their St. Thomas Ritz Carlton property.
"While the timing of the harsh weather from Hurricane Maria was unfortunate in terms of the recovery efforts, the incremental damage to the St Thomas Ritz Carlton was minimal," CEO Richard Stockton said in an emailed statement.
Wyndham Hotel Group
Wyndham Hotel Group issued the following statement: “Our hearts go out to all those who have been impacted by Hurricane Maria and the devastating earthquake in Mexico City. While damages are still being assessed, it’s important to note communication remains a challenge in some areas. That said, at this time, we know of only a few closures across our nearly 20 hotels in both regions with no reports of injuries. We continue to monitor the situation closely. In the meantime, cancellation policies have been relaxed and we are encouraging any travelers with questions about existing reservations or in need of additional assistance to contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-407-9832. The safety of guests and staff remains our top priority.
The events of the past month have brought unprecedented devastation to areas so many members of our extended Wyndham family love and call home. As we continue supporting our associates and their loved ones through these difficult times, we encourage members of Wyndham Rewards to consider assisting in relief efforts by donating points to Save the Children. Donations can be made with as few as 50 points, and Wyndham will match all donations—up to a total of 5 million points—through the end of October.”
Officials with Trust Hospitality are still unclear on how much the hurricane has impacted their properties.
“As of now it is too soon to tell for Exuma and Turks and Caicos,” said Teri Merritt, VP of marketing.
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HNN staff members Stephanie Ricca, Sean McCracken, Bryan Wroten, Dana Miller and Danielle Hess contributed to this report.