The Cancun/Riviera Maya region is ranked as the most popular international destination for family travel. As a result, it is not surprising that readers have been particularly concerned about what is happening in that region since powerful Hurricane Wilma stalled over the eastern Yucatan. Just one week after Hurricane Wilma struck, the city of Cancun is mobilized and determined to restore, recover, and welcome visitors as quickly as possible.
The following is an update from the Cancun Convention and Visitor's Bureau on the city’s progress as of November 1, 2005.
Cancun Beach Recovery Project: The Mexican government has pledged a total of US$20 million dollars has been pledged for beach replenishment. On Tuesday the October 25, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) launched the initial research and analysis phase of Cancun’s Beach Recovery Project. Among the work undertaken by the team of UNAM geologists, engineers and oceanographers involved in the project are bathymetric and morphological studies, an assessment of sand bank conditions and determining the location of beach sand carried away by the storm.
Although some hotels lost precious beach, there were also those hotels (located between the Riu Cancun and downtown -- facing “Bahia Mujeres”) that not only did not lose beach, but actually gained beach. Among these hotels are: Presidente Inter-Continental, Oasis Viva, Ambiance Villas, Villas Tacul, Barcelo las Perlas, Blue Bay, Riu Caribe.
The majority of Cancun’s 140 hotels and resorts are recovering from varying degrees of wind and water damage. According to the Hotel and Motel Association of Quintana Roo, it is expected that those hotels with minimal or no structural damage will re-open to the public within 100 days.
At this time, 23,534 of the 27,822 rooms available in Cancun have been checked for damage. The schedule of room availability in the hotel zone and in downtown Cancun is currently as follows:
In two weeks: 5,589
In three weeks: 5,899
In one month: 7,335
In five weeks: 7,580
In one month and a half: 12,598
In two months: 14,956
In two months and a half: 15,784
In three months: 20,367
In four months: 22,589
In six months: 23,534
Le Meridien Cancun Resort and Spa: According to a corporate report, the property sustained no serious structural damage and expects to start welcoming guests on November 15. At that time, most guest rooms, the main restaurant, ballroom and meeting room will be available; there will be limited room and pool service. For further information and reservations contact 1-800-543-4300 or visit www.lemeridien.com.
Hilton Cancún Golf & Spa Resort: Efforts are underway to rebuild and clean the 426-room resort, which remains closed. The date on which to reopen has yet to be determined. Cancellation penalties have been waived through December 31, 2005. For more information, guests may call 1-800-HILTONS (individual reservations), contact the Hurricane Hotline at 1-866-973-8030 (group reservations), or visit the hotel's website, www.hiltoncancun.com.
Palace Resorts properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are set to reopen 2,200 rooms by December 20, 2005.
Marriott Properties: According to a corporate bulletin, the following Marriott properties in Cancun will be closed until December 31, 2005: JW Marriott, Marriott Casa Magna, and the Ritz Carlton.
Presidente InterContinental Resorts: According to a corporate bulletin, reservations for the Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa and the Presidente InterContinental Cancun Resort are suspended until January 31, 2006.
Gran Costa Real Resort & Spa: The 332-room resort reports that it sustained physical damage to its property caused by water and debris blowing into hotel guest rooms, the lobby and restaurants after windows were shattered by severe winds. Repairs are underway; the resort is scheduled to reopen on December 15, 2005. The resort does have power and water, and is offering food-and-beverage service to the 200 guests who remain. For more information, guests may call (212) 679-3099.
Gran Caribe Real Resort & Spa: The 638-room resort did not suffer significant structural damage, but is undertaking a major cleanup process and will not receive guests until December 15, 2005. For more information, guests may call (212) 679-3099.
Hotel NH Krystal Cancún: The 325-room resort sustained damage to its rooms and restaurants, though not significant enough to be deemed irreparable. It expects to reopen on December 15, 2005. More information is available at www.nh-hotels.com.
Gran Meliá Cancún, Meliá Turquesa, Paradisus Riviera Cancún: The three Sol Meliá resorts suffered damage, the extent of which is currently being assessed. A re-opening date has yet to be determined. For more information, guests may call 1-888-33-MELIA.
Restaurants and Attractions:
Dolphin Discovery continues normal operations in Isla Mujeres and the Riviera Maya.
Eco-park Xel-Ha plans to re-open in early November.
Eco-park Xcaret plans to partially open on Tuesday, November 15
20 tourist restaurants opened by October 31.
Cancun area golf facilities – following are planned re-opening dates:
Playacar: October 29, 2005
Mayan Palace: October 29, 2005
Hilton Cancún Golf and Spa Resort: Nov. 7, 2005
Moon Palace: Nov. 20, 2005
Mayakobá: December 2005
Cancun Golf Club at Pok ta Pok: December 15, 2005
Twenty one of the area’s 26 malls will be up and running this week.
MTV is set to reschedule their Video Music Awards Latin America, which was postponed due to the hurricane.
Airport Operations and Local Facilities:
On Monday, October 31, Cancun’s International Airport resumed normal operations and received scheduled flights from Mexicana, US Air 3000 (Apple Vacations charter) and Aviacsa, as well as charter flights from GoGo Tours among others.
The Cancun Center convention facility will resume normal operations by Tuesday, November 8
12 local gas stations opened last week.
On Thursday, October 27, Mexican President Vicente Fox announced the following support:
US$20 million to go towards beach recovery efforts
US$10 million to go to towards restoration of the hotel zone’s infrastructure
NAFINSA (Mexico’s government loan corporation) is assisting small businesses (shops, restaurants, others) with loans totaling US$340 million.
In an effort to streamline hotel recovery, the Inter-American Development Bank has announced US$500 million in reconstruction and recovery loans.