Brac tourism on mend

Hotels on hurricane damaged Cayman Brac will welcome guests next year.

The 41-room Brac Reef Beach Resort is to make its comeback around April 2009, while a February opening is planned for new hotel The West Inn Hotel.

Cayman Brac was directly impacted by Category 4 Hurricane Paloma last month and sustained significant damage.

The Brac Reef Beach Resort will not be open for Christmas, confirmed Manager Trudy Viers.

‘Our goal is 1 April, but of course it depends on the weather and getting supplies in,’ she said. ‘If it could be open before that it would be great.’

All buildings at the resort were damaged, including the guest rooms, lobby and gift shop.

‘There’s just work to be done everywhere,’ she said. ‘We have different buildings and they are all damaged. We’re just taking it one step at a time,’ she said.

They have hired a construction crew from Grand Cayman who will be housed and fed at the resort. They are also trying to keep on as many of their employees as possible during the reconstruction phase, she said.

Asked how it feels to be missing out on the brunt of high season, which generally runs from December through April in the Cayman Islands, and reopening for low season, Ms Viers said it is not a case of that for Brac Reef.

‘At Brac Reef we are busy April, May June and July and into August,’ she said.

Ms Viers said that while she is sure the resort will be refurbished better than it was before, they are still in the process of getting all the information together for the rebuilding and renovations. Owners the Tibbetts family are working very hard to figure out what needs to be done, she added.

The only damage sustained to newly built property, The West Inn Hotel, was the loss of some shingles off the roof and a couple of windows.

Developer Mr. Cleveland Dilbert admitted he was very relieved that was all the damage sustained to the property.

1 January had been the projected opening date for the new hotel, which is to have 29 one bedroom units and two two-bedroom units.

Mr. Dilbert said the opening would probably go back a month to February now. ‘It depends on getting a supply of materials in as the barge can’t get in when the weather is bad.’

Mr. Dilbert, who is hoping to employ between 18 and 20 people at the hotel, said he feels the island will be ready by then to receive tourists. Clean up is going well, he said. ‘The worst is the shrubbery. The plants are brown, but they’ve started to turn green already so by February things should really be looking good.

‘Cayman Brac took a beating, but it will be back better than ever.’