Hurricane Rattles Puerto Vallarta

Major resorts report minor damages; some hotels close

By: Robert Carlsen

Nothing puts a damper on high-season business like a 140-mile-per-hour storm.

Puerto Vallarta was cleaning up at press time after a visit Oct. 25 by Hurricane Kenna, which actually hit Mexico’s West Coast 100 miles north of the resort at the fishing village of San Blas.

While sand, rocks, roofs and vegetation were strewn around, Puerto Vallarta’s major resorts reported mostly cosmetic, or as one resort said, “aesthetic” damage.

Dennis Whitelaw, president of the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Association, initially said that five properties representing 1,600 hotel rooms were closed. Upon further investigation, however, that list expanded to at least 11 properties that are closed temporarily or indefinitely.

Ken Phillips, spokesman for Pleasant Mexico Holidays, said five of the wholesaler’s properties would be closed until the middle of November the Continental Plaza (Nov. 10), Plaza Las Glorias (Nov. 10), Fiesta Americana (Nov. 11), Premiere Hotel (Nov. 15) and Sheraton Buganvilias (Nov. 15).

Carlos de Leon, director of the Puerto Vallarta Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Buenaventura, Las Palmas, Sun Resort, Pescador and Rosita hotels would be closed indefinitely.

De Leon said the properties in the downtown section of Puerto Vallarta fronting the seaside Malecon promenade were the most heavily damaged, with mud, sand and water taking over the first floor lobbies. He added that the beach restaurants along the Malecon were also devastated by high winds and high tides (up to four-and-a-half feet high), including the popular El Dorado and La Palapa restaurants.

Conversely, the Playa de Los Muertos Beach along the Malecon “lost some sand,” de Leon said.

The Club Viva Vallarta and La Jolla de Mismaloya resorts reported operations were back to normal last week. The Crowne Paradise Resort said that only six rooms were damaged and that management plans to turn these rooms into suites during the repairs. The Marriott CasaMagna had some damage to its pool and pool area, as well as some minor beach erosion, but is fully operational. And the Westin Regina was closed temporarily, but expected to reopen soon.

Mexico Boutique Hotels reported all was well with its Puerto Vallarta area properties, which include the Majahuitas Resort, Casa Las Brisas, Meson Dona Paz, El Tamarindo, El Careyes, Casas de Careyes and Las Alamandas.

Phillips said Pleasant clients departing last week and this week were being reaccommodated in Los Cabos or Cancun.

Last week, Mexico President Vicente Fox and Secretary of Tourism Leticia Navarro visited Puerto Vallarta to tour the damaged areas.

“We received some water and general cosmetic damage, some trees were blown about, and swimming pools soon became infinity pools, but overall Puerto Vallarta weathered the storm pretty well,” Whitelaw said last week. “From an overall resort opinion, in seven to 10 days the destination will look good to visitors.”