While the Westin took a big hit from last year’s torrential rains, the resort didn’t see as big of a hit from the recession. This year’s numbers are similar to last year’s, with occupancy rates at close to 90 percent, according to Westin general manager Mike Ryan. (Sand sculpture by Larry Safady, above, email@example.com)
Island resorts and hotels are emerging from the dark cloud of the economic recession, and this year’s tourist season is shaping up to be the best yet since the financial meltdown that threatened to cripple the nation beginning in 2008.
Numerous hotels are reporting close to pre-recession occupancy rates, and even newcomer Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel is seeing a steady stream of business.
“Things are looking very good,” said David Guidi, co-owner of the Boutique Hotel, which opened in December 2010. “For January and February we’re at 97 to 98 percent occupancy, and March is looking good as well. We have bookings for the rest of this year, and even into next year, too.”
The St. John Inn, under the new ownership of Dave and April Wolf, is also enjoying occupancy in the 90 percent range, according to the inn’s general manager, Liza Aponte.
“We’ve been booked at about 90 to 95 percent since December,” said Aponte. “We do have a bit of a lull coming up, but we pick up again in the middle of the month. We’ve had a very successful season.”
This year’s occupancy is about 10 to 15 percent higher than last year, Aponte added.
“We’re hoping it’s because of the renovations, better management and a better economy,” she said. “We’ve been really busy and we’re happy to see town busy too. Everything seems to be going great compared to the last two years.”
Like the St. John Inn, Gallows Point Resort is also seeing an improvement in occupancy rates over last year. Numbers are even approaching the revenue earned in early 2008, which was a banner time for Gallows, explained the resort’s accounts and marketing manager, Karla Shatzer.
“Our biggest month we ever had was March of 2008, and for us to be getting back to those numbers is very exciting to us,” said Shatzer.
The resort saw a 25 to 30 percent drop in occupancy from 2008 to 2009. The numbers went back up by about 20 percent in 2010, and things only continue to get better.
“Just this week, we’re looking at a 72 percent occupancy rate, and that doesn’t include unit owners who are currently staying with us,” she said. “The property has been relatively full.”
Spontaneous getaways are also making a comeback at Gallows, with nearly half of guests booking vacations six weeks out or less.
“At this point, I think the last minute bookings are weather related,” said Shatzer. “I think at one point it was, ‘we don’t know if we’re going to have a job,’ but now people are just going, ‘gosh, I can’t take another day of this bad winter; let’s go somewhere.’”
Even island mainstay Caneel Bay Resort was not immune to the recession, but occupancy rates at the north shore property are rising back to pre-recession levels.
“We exceeded our occupancy that we budgeted for in January, February and March,” said Caneel managing director Nikolay Hotze. “We’re up by a little bit from last year.”
February occupancy is expected to be at 86.5 percent, while the numbers in March are around 81 to 82 percent. Hotze was uncertain what the months of April through July will bring, and as it’s done for the past few years, Caneel will close from August 26 to October 14 for renovations and maintenance.
“We’re getting lots of repeat business, and people who haven’t been down in a couple years are back,” said Hotze. “We definitely have a positive outlook for the first quarter.”
While the Westin took a big hit from last year’s torrential rains, the resort didn’t see as big of a hit from the recession. This year’s numbers are similar to last year’s, with occupancy rates at close to 90 percent, according to Westin general manager Mike Ryan.
“We never really saw a big drop off in occupancies,” said Ryan. “Last year’s first quarter was very strong for us, and this year is in line with last year.”
Extensive repairs that were done across the resort after it experienced flooding damage in late 2010 are essentially complete, Ryan continued.
“Minor things still need to be repaired, but if you didn’t know what had happened, you wouldn’t even notice them,” he said. “As far as guests are concerned, we’re as good as ever, if not better because of things we improved upon during repairs after the damage.”