U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, NOVEMBER 18, 1999, 4:30 p.m. EST Initial assessments of Hurricane Lenny's overall effect on the U.S. Virgin Islands' tourism industry are more positive than first anticipated given the storm's category-four rating.
With maximum winds of 150 mph, Hurricane Lenny posed a major threat to the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands in the Lesser Antilles during the last 48 hours.
While St. Croix experienced more effects of the hurricane than its sister islands – St. Thomas and St. John – preliminary reports indicate that damage to the islands' hotels is minor, limited mostly to some beach erosion and landscape and water damage.
Many hotels will be accepting guests tomorrow on all three islands. While hotels and tourism-related businesses are reporting no structural damage, one exception in the tourism infrastructure is St. Croix's Ann Abramson pier in Frederiksted, which has sustained some damage.
There have been no official reports of hurricane-related deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. Thomas' Cyril E. King airport reopened today at 9:15 a.m. and the Henry L. Rohlsen airport on St. Croix is expected to reopen tomorrow. St. Thomas' world-famous shopping district in Main Street will also be open for business tomorrow.
Most power has been restored on the three islands, and telephone lines are up and operable. Governor Charles W. Turnbull has maintained telephone communications with officials from all three islands throughout the storm.
President Clinton, who is traveling in Turkey, has declared the territory an emergency area in response to Governor Turnbull's request for authorization of Federal relief and recovery assistance, a standard procedure in these circumstances.
Some erroneous and false reports of devastation have appeared occasionally in the national media. These false reports are caused by inaccurate rumors that have been picked up by some media and unfortunately distributed. Erroneous reports and false statements have been circulated about the King Christian Hotel on St. Croix losing its roof. The general manager of the property, Jeanine Bettertone, confirmed that there was no structural damage to the hotel whatsoever.
Below are the latest island-by-island updates for specific USVI hotels and resorts*:
Chenay Bay Beach Resort: The resort sustained no structural damage to the hotel. There was only minor landscape damage to the property. Some trees are defoliated and broken, but they were not uprooted in the storm. The phone lines are operable. General manager Peter Locke attributed the resilience of most of the islands' buildings to higher building code standards implemented after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
King's Alley Hotel: Hotel owner and president of the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association, Peter Ross enthusiastically reported no structural damage to this property located in downtown Christiansted. He said that the phone lines are operable, and the landscape should be repaired in a few days. "I can't believe it. We're fine," Ross said with excitement. "We will begin doing lots of clean up today, but we should be up and running in a day or so."
King Christian Hotel: General manager Jeanine Bettertone reported that there was no structural damage to the hotel. [The erroneous reports of the hotel losing its roof in the storm is believed to have started with a VI resident calling a local radio station to say what she thought she had seen occur during the storm. Unfortunately, the inaccurate report was picked up by the national news media and erroneously distributed through outlets in the United States.] The hotel had some water in the rooms, which is currently being removed.
Hibiscus Beach Hotel: This St. Croix hotel sustained minimal water accumulation on its floors and will be cleaned up quickly. The rooms have tile floors and can be easily mopped. The property is scheduled to reopen on Monday.
Divi Carina Bay resort: Allen Mallory of this new St. Croix resort said that the property sustained some beach erosion and had minimal water in some guestrooms. All roofs over the guestrooms are intact, and no public areas were damaged. Power has been restored, and the resort will be renting rooms to guests tomorrow.
Hotel Caravelle: This waterfront property in Christiansted had minimal water damage on the first floor. Clean up efforts are expected to be completed in the next day or two.
Cormorant Beach Club and Hotel: The hotel sustained some damage. Reports indicated that some windows were blown out by the storm. Clean-up has begun.
Tamarind Reef Hotel: The property will reopen on Monday.
Seaview Farm Inn: The property sustained no structural damage, and is operating as normal.
Cane Bay Reef Club: The property sustained no structural damage.
Colony Cove Resorts: These condominiums sustained no structural damage, and are operating and up and running.
Sugar Beach: This condominium sustained no structural damage, and is operating and up and running.
Club St. Croix: The condominium sustained no structural damage, and is operating and up and running.
Waves at Cane Bay: The property sustained no structural damage.
Sprat Hall Plantation: The property sustained no structural damage.
Cottages by the Sea: The property sustained no structural damage.
On the Beach: The property sustained no structural damage.
Westin Resort, St. John: The resort has sustained no structural damage and was at its full capacity throughout the storm. The resort staff is currently conducting a clean-up of the grounds to remove normal storm debris. Guests will have food service by this evening, and the Coccoloba and Beach Café restaurants will be open tomorrow. The property will remain open and will offer its full range of services by Saturday morning.
Beach Villa, Gift Hill Villa and Villa Bougainvillea: Donald Schnell, owner of several villas on St. John, said the island is in good condition and clean-up efforts will begin today. Digital photos of St. John will soon be available on his Web site at www.donaldschnell.com.
Bluebeard's Beach Club & Villas: This hotel located on the island's south side sustained some beach erosion, but no structural damage.
Bolongo Bay Beach Club & Villas: The resort has sustained no structural damage, only minor cosmetic damage to the property's vegetation. Clean-up will be completed in the next 48 hours. All of the resort's features will continue to be offered and have been unaffected by Hurricane Lenny.
Marriott Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Resorts: The properties sustained no structural damage and only minor landscaping damage. Morning Star's beach sustained some beach erosion as a result of the storm.
Point Pleasant Resort: The property sustained no structural damage, and is currently welcoming guests.
Renaissance Grand Beach Resort: The property has sustained no structural damage, and is operating as normal.
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas: The hotel sustained no structural damage.
Sapphire Beach Resort: The resort sustained no structural damage, and only minor landscape damage and beach erosion. Approximately 165 guests are on the property occupying 62 rooms.
Secret Harbour Beach Resort & Villas: The property has sustained no structural damage.
Wyndham Sugar Bay: There was no structural damage to the property; only minor landscape damage. Full power is available and guests are receiving satellite feeds in their rooms. Wyndham is currently welcoming guests.