With the Caribbean high season just around the corner, some tourists I've come in contact with have the impression that the islands are essentially shut down. Which is too bad, because through the entrepreneurial work of owners, managers and associates, many island properties have been brought back to a high level of readiness surprisingly quickly.
Here are the stories of properties in three Caribbean locations: Barbados, Puerto Rico, and Turks & Caicos.
Barbados had the good fortune to be largely unaffected by the recent hurricanes, and is gearing up for their high season, with the kick off of the annual Food & Rum Festival happening Nov. 16-19. A series of culinary experiences paired with the island's famous Rum, the festival lineup includes cook offs, signature rum events, Polo Rum Spirits, fine dining dinners, beach parties and more. With the high season also comes the beginning of Barbados' Polo Season. Many overseas visitors now enjoy watching polo while on their Barbados holidays and international teams visit several times a year to challenge the Barbados team during the polo season which goes through till May. British royalty, including Prince Charles, often visit Barbados to play polo.
Two luxury resorts, sister properties Port Ferdinand and Saint Peter's Bay, were physically unaffected by the recent hurricanes. These properties are fully operational and delivering business as usual, including, for the polo crowd, a special partnership with Buttals Polo Club.
Port Ferdinand is situated on the island's only luxury marina. A fine dining restaurant overlooks the marina, and an Italian-inspired floating restaurant is situated in the middle of the dock. The resort includes the Sandbox Tree Spa, named after the indigenous tree of Barbados.
Less than a ten minute drive, (or a quick private water taxi away for guests staying at Port Ferdinand) is sister resort, Saint Peter's Bay. One of the best-regarded family-friendly resorts on the island, the property has 57 three- and four-bedroom beachfront suites. The hotel has a lagoon-style pool and breezy gazebo restaurant, beach yoga and Pilates and more.
Although Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria, the hospitality and tourism industries have been working particularly hard to recover fully, in as expedited a fashion as possible. I connected with International Hospitality Enterprises, a collection of five hotels and resorts in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I'm happy to report that all of their resorts are now fully operational (and temporarily booked with governmental and related organizations)and are gearing up to take reservations from December 1 (these properties include Condado Vanderbilt; La Concha and Doubletree by Hilton San Juan) and December 15 (these properties include Hotel El Convento and Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort).
Turks & Caicos:
I was pleased to hear from The Hartling Group, which has three properties on Turks & Caicos (The Sands at Grace Bay, The Palms Turks and Caicos, and The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach) that they didn't sustain any major structural damages and have already reopened following minor repairs, cleanup and enhancement projects. In light of their relative good fortune, the properties have been assisting community organizations and relief workers from the Salvation Army, United Nations, Digicel, Fortis and many more as they help get the island and its communities back together.
If you want to help
If you want to help out the islands, one of the best ways to do so is to reserve a visit to one of the properties there and plan to visit soon!
There are also great organizations doing yeoman work there to which you can contribute directly. One which I have written about recently is top-rated (by Charity Navigator) charity Project Hope. One thing I particularly like about Project HOPE is the way they make every dollar go many times farther by also accepting gifts in kind of supplies and from people with specific skills who can assist.
Here's the direct email link if you're able to offer a gift in kind: medical supplies or similar donation, for example.
Here's the link (email) for making a jet transport donation, if you have space on your company jet.
Here's the weblink if you're able to donate your services or expertise, if you have a medical, nursing, social work or similar degree.
If you're able to offer a financial donation on a one-time, monthly, or planned giving basis, click this link.