Below is the third installment in the series.
In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria dealt a crushing blow to the British Virgin Islands. One of the hardest hit sectors was the hotels and resorts throughout the territory. Damage ranged from some hotels escaping with just minor damage to many with significant damage such as roofs being blown off to others like the Bitter End Yacht Club that looked like a bomb had gone off and were completely destroyed.
To give some perspective on the impact the hurricanes had on the hotels and resorts sector we can examine statistics on the amount of hotel room inventory in the BVI both before and after Irma and Maria. As recent as the end of April 2018, a report given the BVI Tourist Board had indicated that the territory’s tourism statistics were still facing massive declines. While citing the stats, Junior Minister for Tourism Archibald Christian called on government to pay more attention to the industry and stated, “Excluding Airbnb properties, room inventory before the hurricanes stood at 2,700. That number has dropped to 407, which represents an approximate 85 percent decrease.“
Having the biggest impact on this decline are the luxury resorts which pre-Irma held by far the lion’s share of the available room inventory. Unfortunately, as of July 2018, the majority of the luxury resorts remained closed including Bitter End Yacht Club, Necker Island, Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Peter Island Resort and Scrub Island Resort & Marina. Other hotels such as Frenchman’s Cay, Icis Villas, Lambert Beach Resort and Long Bay Beach Club also remain closed.
According to BVI Traveller’s database of BVI Hotels and Resorts, as of July, 2018 room inventory now stands at approximately 466 rooms available for booking while a whopping 2,234 rooms are still unavailable. So in 3 months hotel room inventory has improved only slightly from 15% to roughly 17% of its pre-Irma capacity. The few bright spots were Anegada Beach Club, Cooper Island and Guana Island as all three resorts reopened recently.
Thus hotel rooms are still scarce and are hindering the overall recovery in the BVI. For example, visitors who are chartering boats and need rooms one day before and one day after can’t find them. Also, as in the villa rental sector, the return of land-based visitors is being hindered in part due to a lack of response by the BVI government in the on-going clean up effort. A huge amount of destruction and debris still remain on all of the islands except Anegada which was spared the brunt of Irma. This is a huge negative to those wanting to stay on land in a hotel or resort.
Looking forward to the 2019 tourist season, there are a few bright spots. Scrub Island Resort & Marina has announced an October 2018 opening and repair efforts continue at hotels that are partially open. The luxury, hi-end resorts however, have indicated that they need much more time to restore the resorts to a condition that will be acceptable to their clientele. Most are anticipating a late 2019 opening.