Hotels, tourists relieved after Dennis

Maybe it could not be heard, but after the rumbles of thunder subsided Thursday night into Friday morning a collective sigh of relief was certainly let out by Cayman’s tourism industry that Hurricane Dennis had passed by.

‘We are relieved, very much relieved,’ said Hyatt Regency Resort General Manager Mark Bastis, who is also President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.

The beach suites, which should now be 100 per cent full, however, are only at 50 per cent occupancy because the storm caused booking cancellations and people to leave the island early.

Mr. Bastis said timely advisories were sent out from the Department of Tourism and the National Hurricane Committee, but at no point did he feel evacuation was ever called for.

‘We always thought it would move upwards,’ he said.

Friday morning saw Red Sail Sports preparing to put back the water sports equipment on Seven Mile Beach, although Rum Point remained closed, to re-open Saturday.

Managing Director Marriott Beach Resort, Chris Sariego also followed instructions from DoT and NHC.

‘We assisted those customers who wished to leave early and Cayman Airways was great with flexibilities and not charging passengers for changes,’ he said.

More than 200 guests stayed at the hotel to weather the storm. But a substantial number of visitors that were due to arrive at the hotel for vacation did not.

‘We had a good plan to accommodate and entertain them and we secured all areas from water intrusion. We also had flashlights and water on hand and hourly bulletins updating people on the storm.’

But a relatively normal night was had at the resort after all.

‘Hopefully this is an indication of what is to come for the season, that we won’t get any hurricanes,’ said Mr. Sariego.

General Manager of the Westin Casuarina Resort said they also had a few cancellations, but most of their guests remained at the hotel for the storm.

‘We were prepared but didn’t have to do anything. Yesterday was a lovely sunny day and it is business as normal today,’ he said.

Tourists from Limerick Ireland, Peg Dore along with Ann and Caroline Doherty weathered the storm with friends in George Town.

‘It reminded me of storms we had in Ireland years ago. This was very mild though and I wouldn’t have thought of leaving the island at all,’ said Peg, who added that she actually enjoyed the storm.

But her friend Ann disagreed. ‘I was worried, very anxious. However, I managed to sleep through it in the end.’

Ann’s daughter, 13-year-old Caroline, was also fearful. ‘I thought it might turn back on top of us and that scared me. I heard all about Hurricane Ivan and didn’t want something like that. There was one big bang of thunder and lightening during the night that woke me up and I was frightened then,’ she said.

But the sun peeping through clouds in the morning turned Friday into another normal day in paradise for the tourists.

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