Cancunís Status after Hurricane Wilma
by Jeanine Kitchel
Jeanine Kitchel is an expat living in Puerto Morelos. She is the author of Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya.
Three months after Hurricane Wilma ravaged the Quintana Roo coast for 60 hours with 150 m.p.h. sustained winds, Cancun's hotel zone is still struggling to recover from the worst hurricane in history.
Although President Vicente Fox announced after the storm that all of Cancun hotel zone's 20,000 rooms would be fully operational by January 15, at present only a handful are up and fully functioning. Most of Cancun's hotels are projecting opening dates, like the Ritz Carlton, of May 1. Others, like the Gran Melia and Fiesta Americana Condessa have locked horns with their insurance companies and have not yet begun reconstruction until monetary issues are agreed upon.
Puerto Morelos, just coming into its own as a tourist destination, lost Casita del Mar, and Hacienda
Morelos is unsure if it will reopen. La Ceiba Spa is closed til next November while Secrets, Amar Inn, Posada Amor and Ojo de Agua are open. Meter for meter, Puerto Morelos may have been harder hit than any other area on the coast. Playa del Carmen, on the other hand, was up and running a few days after the storm. Points further south like Akumal, Tankah and Tulum Beach Road resorts suffered sporadic damages. Cozumel and Isla Mujeres also suffered heavy damages.
Best to check local Mexico and hotel web sites before planning vacations this winter and spring. More accurate expectations for the general area are predicting all will be well by next high season, 2006-2007.
Now scurrying to undo what Wilma has done, the one constant on the Riviera Maya Coast these days is the sound of tapping hammers and breaking of concrete, as many beaches are strewn with debris and rubble left from the storm. Gone from the landscape, for now, is the lush foliage usually associated with Cancun.
Ticketing changes have been common and can be expected for the next couple months while tourists who booked at all-inclusive resorts are shuffled to more amenable destinations in Mexico, or in the Caymans or Dominican Republic. But also look for real deals while the reconstruction is taking place.
The weather is the usual, warm and sunny. And the ocean has never been bluer. So some things, even after Wilma, still remain the same.
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