A lot of bad news came out of the Caribbean this hurricane season, causing many travelers to rethink their winter getaway plans. While 12 islands did suffer incredible damage, forcing many hotels—and entire islands—to close for the winter, there are many more that were lucky enough to avoid direct hits. Islands such as St. Lucia, Grenada, Curaçao, and Barbados are all open (see a complete list of open and closed islands here). And they need your business.
“The Caribbean covers over 1 million square miles and the storms only damaged small pockets in the region,” says Adele Garbutt, director of Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel in Grenada. “Tourism is a major source of trade and supports many of the economies in the Caribbean.”
And here’s an added bonus: When you spend your tourist dollars at unaffected islands, you could directly help affected islands. How? Several initiatives, such as the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) One Caribbean Family, allow hotels in the region to easily donate a portion of their bookings to help their neighbors in need.
“A number of [hotels] are joining the One Caribbean Family initiative established by CHTA and are offering to contribute a set or percentage amount based upon travelers’ bookings to the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund,” says Frank Comito, CEO and director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. “It is important that the unaffected governments do not experience a downturn in tourist arrivals because the traveling public might mistakenly believe that those islands were impacted. This would adversely affect their budgets and also could negatively impact employment levels.”
Simply put, it would be devastating for travelers to avoid the entire region due to a misunderstanding of the impact.
Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel, which sustained no damage, is one of many properties participating by committing $50 per booking to the fund for stays from now until December 31, 2017. Supporting those affected by the hurricanes this year was personal for Calabash.
“In 2004, Grenada was devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Ninety percent of the island was destroyed, so we know what it is like to live through the aftermath of a storm. Having no home, electricity, or running water was a reality for many Grenadians for several months,” says Garbutt. “Our Caribbean neighbors came to our rescue back then. They helped us rebuild and recuperate, and it is our duty to return the favor.”
Antigua, which narrowly escaped major damage and is fully back in business, has several hotels giving back. One is Hermitage Bay, which is donating $50 per booking from now through December 15, 2017, to the One Caribbean Family fund and extending a $250 air credit via Classic Vacations to encourage travel to the region. Classic Vacations is also donating $50 per booking to One Caribbean Family.
Many in St. Lucia, which came through the season largely unscathed, were moved by the damage sustained by nearby Dominica. The Anse Chastanet, Caille Blanc Villa, and Jade Mountain, are just a few of the hotels donating portions of their bookings to One Caribbean Family and are each offering a resort credit match for additional donations made, meaning if you give, say, an extra $100 you’ll get $100 to use at the resort. BodyHoliday, who sent a boat laden with goods to Dominica, is donating $5 per night of a booking to the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Relief Fund.
Graycliff Hotel in the Bahamas is contributing $10 per night from each booking and $5 per diner at its restaurants to the HeadKnowles Hurricane Fund (a local Bahamas fund—the Bahamas did have some damage), One Caribbean Family, and CTO’s Tourism Relief Fund.
Sailrock Resort in the south Caicos, which sustained minor grounds-related damage, will reopen on December 16, 2017. Sailrock Development Limited president and director Colin Kihnke will match all donations up to $1 million to the South Caicos Heritage Foundation, which was established to support the restoration of the island.
And the newly renovated Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa is offering the Westin Reveal Package to travelers now through December 22, 2017. Ten dollars of the daily resort charge when booking with this package will go to One Caribbean Family. The Cayman Islands were not impacted by the hurricanes.
Those who love a good island-hopping tour can also help: Now through November 30, 2017, travelers who book CheapCaribbean.com’s new Rum Tour, with stops in Antigua, St. Kitts, and Barbados, will have 20 percent of their booking fee donated to Tourism Cares.