After Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the Caribbean late this summer, questions endure on when (and where) we can book our next trips.
Industry resource Travel Weekly has put together a comprehensive map covering each island and what’s open and closed in the region. The map is continuously updated as new information is received.
Some media reports erroneously warn that the entire region should to be avoided, but numerous islands, such as Saint Lucia, Barbados, and Jamaica were not affected at all. The Bahamas had very little damage and hotels there want travelers to know they are most definitely open for business. Of course, Puerto Rico and others face incredible challenges for the foreseeable future.
Virtuoso recently hosted a webinar with Caribbean hotel executives and experts – along with top travel advisors – to discuss the latest information. The consensus? If you want to travel to the Caribbean during “festive” or holiday season December through February, look to islands such as Saint Bart’s, Turks & Caicos, and Saint Lucia. Saint Bart’s only closed its airport for two days during the storms, and most restaurants, villas, and hotels will reopen in November as planned. In Turks & Caicos, the airport sustained very little damage and 80 percent of restaurants, hotels, and other facilities are open.
Be more cautious when planning vacations in the British Virgin Islands, says Gus Pitkethley, director of sales and marketing for Rosewood Little Dix Bay. “The prognosis is likely good with airports and infrastructure returning – but the damage to San Juan [Puerto Rico] is important, as it’s such an entry point into the Caribbean.” The British Virgin Islands’ electric grid is still being restored, with 60 percent projected to return as of January.
Puerto Rico suffered extreme devastation. There are continued challenges with power and access to water and food. Most hotels are still closed and air lift is extremely limited. However, cruise lines have returned to Puerto Rico and an upcoming marketing campaign by three cruise lines will encourage travelers to book these trips.
Top photo: Turks & Caicos by Getty Images/waterotter.