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HomeNewsArchivesCARIB BEACH RESORT CLOSED UNTIL DECEMBER

CARIB BEACH RESORT CLOSED UNTIL DECEMBER

Oct. 25, 2001 – The Best Western Carib Beach Resort expects to reopen in December, manager Joel Kling said Thursday.
He said the hotel closed for renovations on Sept. 1 and was to have reopened on Sept. 22. But a lack of business after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has kept the property closed.
"We were not doing too well before Sept. 11," Kling said. He said that low summer rates at larger chain properties in St. Thomas had fallen to only a little more than those at Carib Beach. "People would rather go to those places," Kling said.
Carib Beach's 60 rooms puts it in the mid-range size for St. Thomas. Its amenities are more modest than the larger properties. It carries the Best Western name, Kling said, but St. Thomas businessman William Dowling, who built the hotel in the 1950s, holds the franchise.
Kling said he shifted the few reservations Carib Beach had for the fall months to its sister property, the nearby Best Western Emerald Beach Resort. He serves as manager of both properties, located at opposite ends of Lindbergh Bay. across the road from the Cyril E. King Airport.
He said the closure forced him to lay off about 15 people, most of them in the restaurant and housekeeping departments. Some of the staff is now working at Emerald Beach, and he said he expects to rehire most of those laid off when the Carib Beach reopens.
Emerald Beach, which opened about a decade ago, "is surviving. We've had no layoffs," he said, although some employees have had their hours cut. He declined to give specifics.
Kling said he is worried about the coming season and, so far, bookings for November are "sluggish."
But he said it's a problem worldwide. Occupancy rates in Paris are running around 40 to 50 percent now, he said, whereas before Sept. 11 it was usually difficult to find a vacant room.
Lorette Resch, who owns Island Beachcomber Hotel, a small beach-front property between the two Best Western hotels, said that her business dropped dramatically this fall.
She has kept the hotel open with a few business people and visitors spending their first or last nights of a British Virgin Islands or sailboat charter vacation. "There's very few real tourists here," she said.
Although Resch is not ready to throw in the towel, she said she's not up to date on her electric bill and payments to the Port Authority from which she leases the land where the hotel sits. She has laid off all but a dozen of her 30 employees. "It does not look good," she said.
She said her hotel rooms go for "whatever I can get." Often now, the price drops as low as $50, less than half the usual rate for this time of year.
While Christmas is booking up, Resch said, those bookings are from elderly repeat guests who come year after year. She noted they've been telling her they had no trouble booking an airplane seat, an unusual situation this close to the yearend holidays.

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