It‘s not just the Pacific Rim, the U.S. and Gulf of Mexico that are seeing an increase in bad weather lately. Europe, too, has experienced recent storms, which have caused the deaths of 29 people and noticeable, if temporary, damage to hotels.
REPORT FROM EUROPE—Deadly storms last week hit parts of Europe—notably several regions of Italy as well as southern France and Switzerland—with high winds, heavy snowfall and serious flooding causing problems for hotels.
Reports state at least 29 people died as a result of weather-related catastrophes, including 12 who died as a result of severe flooding in Sicily, and approximately 14 million trees were blown over. Winds in some areas reached 110 miles per hour—on the Beaufort Scale classed as a violent storm, one category and eight miles per hour down from a hurricane.
Genoa suffered, and Venice saw its fourth highest tide ever recorded, with tourists banned from visiting the Piazza San Marco. Austria and Slovenia also saw damage. The Stelvio Pass in Italy on the border of Switzerland saw a record snowfall.
The French city of Lyon received heavy snow, and the storms went along the Croatian coast and as far south as Corsica. Power has been lost in many places, and five of Italy’s regions—Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto—declared a state of emergency.
Some hotels were damaged in the storms; others, with the bad weather coming at the end of the traditional season, closed up early for the year, albeit just by a few days.
Aldo Werdin, GM and CEO of the Excelsior Palace Hotel in Rapallo, said his property was damaged by the storms.
“In spite of preparations, our area suffered from such bad weather that our property underwent significant damages at the Beach Club. … The hotel is currently fully operating, it’s business as usual, (and) the Beach Club area will be restored to be opened next season and, if possible, will look even more beautiful,” he said.
Ermes De Megni, GM at Portofino hotels Belmond Hotel Splendido and Splendido Mare, said the main road to his hotel collapsed between the settlements of Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino due to the bad weather and rough seas.
“The Belmond Hotel Splendido closed on 31 October, instead of 4 November, and we will reopen on 11 April (next year),” De Megni said, adding that the road is expected to be restored by Easter 2019.
Andrea Aleotti, account manager at the Milan office of STR, the parent company of Hotel News Now, said the weather has been exceptionally bad, but reduced civic preparation might have exacerbated the damage.
“For Venice, it is quite normal, the high tides, but Genoa in last 10 years has had a change of weather,” Aleotti said. “It is a problem of territory management; the city needs to improve the rivers and the way waters reach the sea. Lately, we have received bands of heavy rain, instead of the normal type of showers.”
Some hoteliers said they assumed Italy and other parts of Europe were suffering the effects of climate change.
“Unfortunately these phenomena are becoming more and more common here as well,” Werdin said.
“This being said, we have all been working hard since the very first day after the devastation so that our offer for next season will be fully guaranteed, including the area directly on the sea.”
In Genoa, a portion of a main bridge collapsed on 14 August, which resulted in the deaths of 43 people. Genoa is on the western Italian coast, and Venice on the eastern coast, but the two cities are only approximately 250 miles apart.
Rome, 300 miles south of Genoa, also had problems, Aleotti added.
“It, too, had a great band of water and a hail storm,” he said. “A lot of its older trees fell down, so once again it is a matter of management. There has been a recent definite change (to the weather), and cities need to prepare. Some cities protected themselves this time because they launched alerts.”