Hotels keep close watch

Around the Cayman Islands hotel managers were watching Gustav closely and some guests had already left resorts Wednesday because of the impending weather.

At Little Cayman Beach Resort its 21 guests departed on Wednesday morning because of the storm. Diving operations had been suspended Tuesday afternoon so they would be able to fly out.

At the Southern Cross Club Diving and Fishing Resort in Little Cayman owner Peter Hillenbrand said Wednesday morning that the resort is closing through October to make improvements to the property and the two guests they had, who were supposed to leave Thursday, left Wednesday because of the storm.

He also sent most of his staff away Wednesday, he said, but seven will remain there over the weekend.

‘I’m less concerned today than I was yesterday, but it’s still a hurricane and you can’t turn you’re back on it. But it’s more reassuring today. Yesterday it was an eye opener,’ he said.

He said they are now basically watching and waiting like everyone else.

At the Brac Reef Beach Resort Wednesday morning General Manager Trudy Viers said with the island still under a hurricane watch status they were adopting a wait and see approach.

‘We have only seven guests here,’ she said. ‘And we are watching the system closely and doing all the preliminary things that we need to do. We’re basically in a hold pattern for the moment.’

She said with only seven guests it will not prove difficult to get them out of the Cayman Islands when the time comes.

Meanwhile, the hotel will stay open throughout the storm and may house local people, including some from Little Cayman who make the trip over.

Ms Viers noted that if guests did want to stay for the storm that she would always strongly suggest to them that they leave.

As soon as the hotel gets some direction from Cayman Airways and local authorities they would act on getting guests out, she said, but for the moment they were watching and waiting and preparing to batten down the hatches.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman management and staff were keeping all the guests informed of what’s happening with the storm.

‘We issued a letter to all guests noting that Gustav could pose a threat to the Cayman Islands,’ said Karyn Sutton, food and beverage public relations and marketing.

A transportation concierge has been set up to assist guests with travel needs, if they are opting to leave.

‘We are noticing that the majority of guests in house right now are taking heed of the information being provided and preferring to alter their travel plans to depart the island a little sooner,’ she said.

They also relocated a group due to arrive this weekend to a sister property in St. Thomas.

The hotel has stopped taking reservations through Monday 1 September, she said.

Cayman Airways added extra evacuation flights alongside its regular schedule Wednesday and today (see related story on Page 5).

Meanwhile the Department of Tourism was on standby Wednesday morning to start providing refreshments for those queuing up for their flights at the airport. ‘We’re ready to do so this afternoon if necessary,’ said PR Officer Jo Gammage.