Business as usual on Ambergris Caye

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 43            November 23, 2000

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The holiday season is upon us and the start of a new tourist season. With that in mind, here is an update on the status of businesses damaged during Hurricane Keith or unable to open at first. These businesses were first reported in the issue following the hurricane.

   Some businesses opened with partial services at first and then continued to rebuild or repair until now; some are still repairing. A few delayed opening until the season was closer to starting. Many of the resorts reported little or no cancellations from visitors due to the storm, adding most only rescheduled their dates to visit. Several businesses commented on their surprise at the number of "hardy" tourists who never cancelled and were "real sports" about the conditions (lack of electricity, phone, few restaurants open, etc.). Consistently, tourists commented on how remarkably fast the island was cleaned up and utilities restored.

    In a interview with Belize Electricity Limited it was learned that electricity has been restored to all parts of the island except the San Pedrito area which suffered extensive damage. This is expected to be finished in the next two weeks. The status of telephone service appears to be the same, with the aid of many fixed or regular cellular phone lines. Anyone having trouble reaching a particular number should inquire whether a new number has been issued by contacting directory assistance at 113. One of the most anticipated utilities, Coral Cable Vision, is making its way to the south end of the island, having reached this office on Coconut Drive just last week.

    Here is a follow-up, starting with the north end of the island: 1) Casa Caribe - This resort will open December 16th with 100% occupancy and is already nearing that percent for bookings in December and January. On January 15th, it will re-open, under new ownership and management, as a 5-star international resort. 2) Mata Chica - This chic resort has upgraded and is ready to open its doors after suffering one of the hardest blows from Keith. Guests are scheduled to arrive December 1st. Mambo Restaurant and bar are scheduled to open next week. 3) Journey's End - Although this resort suffered extensive damage to a number of roofs, Manager Jim Scott assures all that the "new and improved" resort will be opening in mid-January. 4) Rendezvous Restaurant - The Winery is open, selling wholesale and retail wines. The roof of the restaurant is currently under repair, and the owners have a target opening date of December 15th to begin serving their exquisite Thai/French fusion cuisine. 5) Essene Way - Open and making the finest Pauly's New York Style Pizza. They are delivering pizza daily to Fido's dock. 6) Captain Morgan's Retreat - Open, including the restaurant and bar, for the past two weeks. This resort is currently operating at 100 percent occupancy and reports 80 and 95 percent bookings for December and January, respectively. 7) Capricorn Resort - Restaurant and bar are open and serving the most excellent cuisine and bar snacks. Their two guest cabañas are already booked for December 15th arrivals. 8) Palapa Bar - Open under new management and entertaining all who come north of the cut. 9) Sweet Basil - The first to open after the storm, this cafÈ suffered no real damage and has been serving delectable gourmet dishes and food since October 24th. The road to this establishment is now open.

    Some of the resorts interviewed on the southern end showed: 1) Paradise Hotel is currently renting seven units. Repairs are being done on the remainder which should be open the second week of December. The Paradise Bar & Grill, re-opened last week, is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on the beach. 2) Holiday Hotel - The first hotel built on the island only suffered water damage. The hotel and Celi's Deli have been open all along; Celi's Restaurant, previously closed for vacations, re-opened October 25th. 3) SunBreeze Hotel - Serving as a hospital the week after the hurricane, SunBreeze has been accepting guests since the end of October. The hotel, its dive shop, Caruso restaurant and Jazz bar are fully operational. Occupancy for this month (and the next two) is already reaching 85%. 4) The Palms - A few of these condominiums remain under repair but have a tentative date of December 15th for re-opening. 5) Ramon's Village - Assistant Manager Einer Gomez reported, as of November 15th, the resort had reached its goal of 50% occupancy. Thirty-two rooms on the south side, the restaurant and dive shop are fully operational. A temporary bar is open until the Purple Parrot is finished (around the first week of December). He projects the remaining twenty-nine rooms on the north side to be fully restored on or before December 15th. 6) The Belize Yacht Club - The resort has guests and 80% of their repairs (mostly roof tiles and some sheet rock) are completed. 7) Caribe Island Resort - This southern resort is currently 100% occupied; restaurant, bar and dive shop are "up and running". Manager Eddie Halliday, Jr. says the next two months are also "looking good" regarding bookings.
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