Tourists weathered Hurricane Gustav

Some visitors to the Cayman Islands chose to ride out Hurricane Gustav in their hotels on Grand Cayman.

Approximately 100 guests stayed at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort for the storm, despite the hotel having recommended that guests leave.

Some guests did not want to leave, explained Director of Sales and Marketing Carolina Voullieme. Others, although they had planned to leave, were forced to stay because of last minute flight cancellations by some foreign carriers.

However, it turned out just fine and everyone was cooperative, she said.

‘We didn’t allow guests to sleep in their rooms for the duration of the storm, for security reasons,’ she explained.

So the ballroom was set up with a sleeping area and a living area for the 100 guests and 50 of the hotel’s staff members.

Guests were moved into the ballroom Friday evening. However, by noon on Saturday the hotel was back to operating almost as normal, she said.

There was only minimal damage, with some plants destroyed.

‘The guests I spoke with were really thankful for the preparation and they felt safe and appreciated the work we did and the good service offered,’ she said.

The hotel staff organised complimentary meals and soft drinks for guests.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman approximately 50 guests stayed at the property during the storm because they either wanted to or they couldn’t get flights out when they decided to leave.

Resort Manager Chris Sariego explained that close to 350 people stayed in house at the property, including staff of the property and staff of the ownership company.

Guests were permitted to stay in their rooms because the storm was not severe enough to dictate otherwise.

‘The hotel is rated for a Category 5 storm,’ he said. ‘So only in the case of a Category 4 or 5 would we not have allowed guests to stay in their rooms,’ he said.

But a full emergency response team was also in-house to deal with any type of situation that occurred.

Mr. Sariego explained that there was an in-house doctor on duty, as were Emergency Medical Technicians and even police officers.

‘We had one room set aside for medical emergencies,’ he said. ‘We were fully prepared and our Ladies and Gentlemen went above and beyond the call of duty.’

An email to the hotel from a guest that stayed during the storm said that while he and his wife were unable to get off the island, they stayed at the hotel with the utmost confidence in their safety.

‘As Tropical Storm Gustav approached, we watched with at first nervousness and then with confidence as your entire staff prepared the hotel and the guests for the impending storm. We have never seen so many people work together as a team at the same time taking care of our every need . . .

‘As soon as the storm passed, the staff was back at work striving to get the hotel back to normal operations. During all this the staff still managed to feed us three meals a day, to keep our rooms clean and offer to take care of our every need.’

Meanwhile, at Comfort Suites about 100 guests chose to stay through the storm.

General Manager Ken Thompson said it was really business as usual and guests slept in their rooms during the storm.

‘Everyone was fine and most had a great sleep,’ he said, noting that some were perhaps a little nervous.

The hotel staff secured anything outside that could pose a problem during the storm and they gave advice and information to guests.

While they don’t have a full service restaurant, guests secured their own food provisions, although breakfast was served as usual. They also lost electricity for a few hours on Saturday.

‘We chatted with guests and I myself was there making sure everything was secure, and we had no damage,’ he said.

Meanwhile at the Brac Reef Beach Resort on Cayman Brac Manager Trudy Viers noted that no tourists stayed there for the storm, but they did have a few local people stay.

‘Everybody’s fine. We did have some damage but nothing major other than the dock being gone,’ she said. ‘We’re in clean up mode now’.

They are open for business and had guests in house on Monday.

Tourists on Little Cayman left the island before the storm.

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