Despite the ongoing problems on Abaco as a result of Hurricane Dorian, that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism is beginning to regain its footing on the island, as is the case in Nassau, with hotels looking at a greatly improved winter season, according to several hoteliers who addressed attendees at the Abaco Business Outlook yesterday. Some reported improved visitor numbers during the summer and improving occupancy and room rates throughout the year.
Director of Marketing for Baker’s Bay Geoffrey Jones said by December the community will have completed the renovations of more than 100 homes, representing more than half of the buildings that were damaged during the hurricane.
Jones said Baker’s Bay is ready to welcome the more than 1,000 members and their guests expected for the Christmas season.
“We will be housing a good deal of our members and creating a demand for airlift,” said Jones.
Elbow Cay resident Joanne Feinstein said every room that is available on the cay for November, December and January is sold out.
She said the numbers of people coming to the island by the end of the year is due to second home owners coming in to follow up on their rebuilding progress and people prospecting for real estate.
Feinstein said there have been record sales of real estate on Elbow Cay.
She said while the cay is still not on the electricity grid since Dorian, residents of the cay and visitors have been making the best of the accommodations made to provide power through three huge generators.
The Abaco Beach Resort and Marina has recovered in terms of reconstruction and there has been a positive turnaround in business, according to the property’s Director of Sales and Marketing Brent Ingraham.
Ingraham said the property has seen occupancy numbers at 79 percent of where they were in 2019 and room revenue 75 percent of where it was that year.
“We were almost at 2019 levels this past summer,” Ingraham said. “We’re forecasting a strong pace into the end of the year.”
General Manager of Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina Molly McIntosh said her resort’s room revenue for June, July and August was 60 percent of where it was in 2019.
She contended that the property could have been sold out, but it continues to suffer from a lack of water and power since Hurricane Dorian.
She added that the marina facilities are not yet back up to par.
“We had to turn some people away because we weren’t able to provide what was needed to give a good experience,” McIntosh said.
“We’re not gonna have people come to Bluff House and go away being upset.”
All of the hoteliers explained that staff vaccinations are heading in the right direction, though they continue to press for more cooperation on that front.
Jones said more than 65 percent of Baker’s Bay’s staff has been vaccinated.