by Erin Silver
The hurricane season coincides with the peak tourism period in Bermuda.
For hoteliers, no matter what the weather, it is always business as usual. Across the industry, hotel staff have a singular goal: to make sure that every one of their guests has a fantastic stay.
To achieve that in the midst of a named storm, they draw on years of experience.
“Even though Bermuda’s hurricane season runs parallel to the popular tourism season we definitely encourage people to visit June through November,” says Roydell Neverson, director of rooms at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.
“Major storms are relatively rare and, as we’re so well prepared for them, we don’t think [concern over a potential hurricane] should be a factor when booking your summer travels.”
Should the worst happen and a hurricane hits in the middle of a holiday, the disruption to a guest’s stay will likely be quite minimal, hoteliers insist. That’s because the island’s major resorts and their staff are well-equipped to care for guests during a storm.
“The safety and security of our guests is always a priority,” says Jan Vanhaelewyn, the general manager of the newly opened St Regis Bermuda Resort in St George’s. “We have preparation plans and protocols for severe weather, and our staff is well-trained to implement these plans. Our protocols are developed in coordination with local authorities, and we take guidance and direction from them as situations warrant.”
By “local authorities” Mr Vanhaelewyn is referring to the Bermuda Weather Service which uses advanced technology to forecast inclement weather with great accuracy far in advance. From its base in St David’s, the team at the weather station sends out storm alerts before, during and after a hurricane to ensure that everyone on the island has the best possible chance of staying safe, no matter how violent the winds become.
What also helps are Bermuda’s building codes which give many residents peace of mind during a storm. The codes demand that all houses and structures on the island use limestone rocks or concrete blocks to ensure all construction is hurricane-proof. The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club for instance, has been newly renovated with great consideration in the planning process given to the building’s ability to withstand storm gusts and protect everything inside it.
“The resort can weather almost anything,” Ms Neverson said. “It is equipped with top-of-the-line resources, such as a reverse osmosis water system. This means our guests will continue to have access to running water during a storm. As well, it would be extremely unlikely that the hotel would lose power. Even if we did, the hotel’s restaurants and emergency systems can run on our powerful generators, enabling us to continue to provide food and beverages to our guests during storms.”
Typically, when the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is confident a storm is going to hit the island, its staff members suspend bookings for the impacted dates. The resort will usually then also close its restaurants and facilities to the general public. The idea is to enable staff to focus on the welfare of the guests already on site without other distractions.
“Being in an unfamiliar place during a serious weather event can be unsettling for guests, and we want to ensure that they feel safe and taken care of,” says Ms Neverson. “Many of our guests actually report that they are able to enjoy the excitement of storms without having to worry at all because they know we’re here to take care of them.”
Staff will often chuckle when it comes to recalling just how positive of an experience some of their guests have had even during the most unwelcoming weather.
“We have a number of guests who visit us on a regular basis and have happened to have been on island during major storms,” Ms Neverson said. “One couple recently recounted, during their fortieth stay on the island, how they decided to move up their trip ahead of a hurricane knowing they would be here when it hit, because they did not want to miss out.”
As it turned out, the couple was able to feel so comfortable that they ended up missing out on most of the excitement. This happened to be quite unfortunate as they had been asked by a media outlet in their home country to report on the storm.
“The hotel weathered the overnight storm so well that they had a perfectly uninterrupted night of sleep,” Ms Neverson added.
While hotel policies and amenities will differ depending on a variety of factors, a resort in Bermuda can be a great place to ride out a hurricane in safety and comfort – especially for those guests who are fortunate enough to have already checked in.