It’s been more than a year and a half since the back-to-back, historic hurricanes of September 2017 slammed parts of the Caribbean, and the islands have since shown resilience in rebuilding and rebounding.
For many Caribbean nations, tourism is an economic driver, and getting the industry back on its feet was vital. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and others have made enormous strides in getting a majority of businesses back online, though there are a few scattered resorts that still remain closed.
After facing a blackout and flooding, Puerto Rico will add 3,800 more rooms to its inventory by 2019, representing a 25% increase. The American territory also created a new destination marketing organization and campaigns to help reassure travelers.
Famed properties like the El San Juan Hotel and the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, along with many others, have since reopened. However, it is still unclear when the W Vieques Retreat and Spa, the island's signature place to stay, will reopen. The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan also remains closed and is undergoing renovations. While no specific date was provided, a spokesperson said “the team is working to reopen as quickly as possible.”
One of the worst-hit areas in the region, the U.S. Virgin Islands have made several developments in accommodations, airlift and cruises. More is to come, including the expected reopening this fall of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas Resort.
The only all-inclusive resort on St. Croix, Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino, is expected to come back online Dec. 20, 2019. The entire resort is being renovated and updated with a “Caribbean chic” design, including an open-concept lobby, new and updated restaurants, redesigned main pool area, and refurbished rooms and suites.
Caneel Bay Resort, in St. John, is currently “looking at a complete rebuild, and as construction has not yet commenced, we have just confirmed that, regrettably, the resort will remain closed through 2020. Our fingers are crossed for a late 2021 reopening,” a resort spokesperson told Travel Market Report.
Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas is closed until further notice; developers have been tight-lipped about the reported multimillion-dollar reconstruction efforts.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay, a luxury resort on Virgin Gorda, expects to reopen in late 2019.
Dominica, known for its tropical rainforests, took a direct hit. The small Caribbean island was severely affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit pledged to make it “the world’s first climate-resilient nation.” Instead of rebuilding on flat shores, the government relocated some of the population to higher ground and has built public homes that abide by the Build-Back-Better code.
Hotels and resorts in Dominica are focused on ecotourism and are built within nature, displaying climate resilience in hospitality at its best. All ecotourism resorts and hotels operate under Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program.
Construction of Anichi Resort & Spa is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The project includes, among other things, guest suites with private dip pools, swim-up bars in infinity pools, specialty restaurants, and a spa oasis.
Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica, meanwhile, expects to reopen this fall. Rosalie Bay Resort, however, has been permanently closed.