Mexico’s Riviera Maya in Ruins
Monday, October 24, 2005
Flooding, power outages, and looting continue to plague Mexico’s Yucatan resort towns.
An estimated 10,000 tourists are trying to make their way home safely following the aftermath of hurricane Wilma. Most of these tourists have spent the past three days stranded in humid, crowded shelters with few amenities, eating nothing but crackers and canned tuna. Cancun’s airport remains closed until Wednesday, so vacationers are desperately trying to reach Merida, where the nearest airport is located. Inevitably, this journey will be complicated by roads which either remain submerged under several feet of water or are still impassable because of storm debris.
“The level of destruction is without precedent” said Felix Gonzalez, Governor of Mexico’s easternmost state, Quintana Roo.
Over the weekend, 30-foot waves pounded Cancun’s oceanfront hotels and businesses. Some reports indicate that most of these were submerged up to their third stories. The hurricane’s storm surge caused widespread coastal flooding, cutting off many beach resorts from the mainland. Wilma has caused extensive beach erosion along the coast, exposing bare limestone in many locations.
After the hurricane moved on, much of the Yucatan peninsula was left without water, electricity, and other essentials. Rioting and looting soon followed, and most storefronts were stripped bare of merchandise.
It is known that most of Cancun’s resort hotels were damaged severely, but little information is available.
Marriott issued a release earlier, stating that the three Marriott-owned properties in and around Cancun would be closed due to damages, not reopening until next year. The full text of this release can be found here. Starwood Hotels and Resorts acknowledged Sunday that their two hotels in Cancun would be closed for business, but Starwood seemed to indicate that the full scope of the damages was still unknown.
Both of these hotel chains stand to reap insurance benefits, so most agree that the cost of repairs in the wake of this disaster should be offset. However, most folks who own timeshares in this part of the world are probably wondering whether they will have to pay special assessments or other fees on properties that could remain unuseable for several months at the very least.
For those affected by this hurricane, we extend our hopes, prayers, and best wishes.