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HomeNewsArchivesPARTIES TO GO ON DESPITE LOW NUMBERS AT HOTELS

PARTIES TO GO ON DESPITE LOW NUMBERS AT HOTELS

Though many of the island's smaller hotels appear to be doing better than expected for the millennium weekend, that isn't always the case for some of the larger hotels.
Andrew HeLal, managing director of Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, said he is "very disappointed" about New Year's weekend.
"The hotel is less than half-full, and that just doesn't happen this time of year," he said.
Of course, Y2K problems are the main reason, but he noted that though some flights may be coming in with full loads, that doesn't necessarily mean they are filled with overnight hotel guests.
"Many of the passengers are in transit," HeLal said. "They are in St. Thomas to catch a yacht charter, or to continue on to another destination, probably the BVI, or to stay at one of the vacation villas."
HeLal also said that many of his repeat guests simply aren't traveling this year.
"I've had a lot of our guests phone to apologize for their absence," he said.
This, of course, is not a local phenomenon – it's worldwide. People want to wait until after the first of the year before making travel plans.
On a brighter note, HeLal is excited about the hotel's New Year's celebration.
"I expect a 100 percent sellout," he said. "It's already 70 percent sold." Frenchman's Reef has long been an island favorite for New Year's bashes.
HeLal noted that the hotel has its own power plant, so no interruptions are anticipated. Also, he said, the celebration will be carried by KISS FM radio and Sam Topp, Radio One talk show host, will be the MC.
Another property that is feeling the millennium crunch is the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort.
"We are having cancellations and early departures every day," said Nancy Schneider, the hotel's director of events and sales, noting many people seem to want to be in their own homes when the clock strikes 12 and the big event occurs.
Schneider said the cancellation of several charter flights to the islands has seriously hindered traffic.
"It's very discouraging," she said. "We are currently at about 65 percent occupancy, but we are looking forward to our New Year's party instead of the bookings right now." The hotel has a big celebration planned starting inside and moving out onto the beach with a "Jouvert' de Millenia," led by the Hugga Bunch troupe.
Schneider said she has detected a note of complacency in some of the guests, an indication that they are leaving everything up to someone else. In an effort to assure its guests of the hotel's Y2K readiness, Schneider sent a letter informing each guest of the hotel's preparations.
"Oh," said one recipient, "are you worried?"
Downtown on the waterfront, it's a slightly different story.
At the Holiday Inn Windward Passage, spirits are up, according to Hamid Khanbashi, general manager. "We expected to do about 20 or 30 percent occupancy," he said, "but, surprisingly, we are at about 60 percent now – I had no idea."
This happy state of affairs is no doubt influenced by the fact that the Windward is basically a businessman's hotel, and commerce must go on, millennium or not.
It appears that 60 percent, an arbitrary figure, is good for a smaller hotel, but certainly not for a larger property with all its expensive amenities.
The Renaissance's Schneider did comment that the hotel's February bookings already are looking very good. "So we'll start season in February," she said.
A late season, or one starting after Big Bang 2, or whatever one wishes to call Y2K – that's what appears to be the projection of most businesses – hotels, restaurants and shops.

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