Hotels at Castle Comfort still closed
One year after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the hotel stock in Dominica, hotels along the Castle Comfort strip are down and out. It may take many years for some to come alive again, if at all.
The Castle Comfort strip include properties such as the Anchorage Hotel, Whale Watch & Dive Centre, Latitude Restaurant, Evergreen Hotel and Sea Surge Restaurant and Bar, Castle Comfort Lodge, Dive Dominica and Barana Breeze Bar & Grill.
Anchorage and Evergreen hotels are yet to reopen and the nearby Castle Comfort Lodge is also closed, undergoing repairs, while Dive Dominica, its water sports section, is doing limited business.
A representative of Anchorage Hotel Ltd, who requested unanimity because she was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, said building back will cost millions of dollars.
"The original assessment done for Discover Dominica Authority by Winyard Esprit carried out on all certified properties after Maria, indicated that just to restore the Anchorage room stock, not the rest of the hotel infrastructure, was just over two million dollars because of the amount of damage," the source said.
She added: "We can't take a loan to rebuild; it is just not viable. We plan to rebuild but at this time I can tell you it is extremely difficult."
Unfortunately, she said, the hotel was not fully insured and that is another issue.
"We were always insured…but we fell short last year. It's a nightmare. It's a 32-room hotel and building it back will cost us millions. We have lots of structural damages done to the building so we need a report from the engineers as we plan on the way forward," she said.
Meantime, Tourism Minister Robert Tonge said the Government of Dominica is very concerned about the loss suffered by the hotel sector in Dominica, estimated at US$70.77 million.
"Based on representations made by stakeholders including the Dominica Hotel & Tourism Association, we have a loan facility at the AID Bank which before Hurricane Maria was at 3% and we have decided to lend to those in the tourism sector at a much reduced rate," Tonge said. "Based on the meeting that we had we took a decision to offer this loan facility to all those involved in the hotel and tourism sector and make it available from three percent to two percent. The repayment period was 10 years and so has been increased it to 15 years. It also allows for duty free concessions and a percentage for working capital and a one year grace period."
He added: "We have also done a lot of work in cleaning the area. We paid for that and also in building their jetty. So as a government we are doing our part. We have also assisted in paying for their structural engineers report. We have listened; however, some of them don't have up to date accounts and that is also a major issue."
Efforts at obtaining comments from the owners of Evergreen hotel were unsuccessful. The hotel was also extensively damaged by Hurricane Maria and remains closed.