Last updated: 03:51 PM ET, Tue March 17 2015

Vanuatu’s Hotels Assess the Damage

Hotel & Resort | James Ruggia | March 17, 2015

Vanuatu’s Hotels Assess the Damage

PHOTO: A Vanuatu child in better times. (Courtesy of Vanuatu Tourism)

With reconnaissance planes flying hourly over the 82 islands of Vanuatu, once known as the New Hebrides, the country is still taking an account of the impact of Tropical Cyclone Pam, which hit the islands last Friday (March 13) with 155 mile per hour winds gusting to 185 miles per hour. A prime holiday destination for Australia and New Zealand, tourism accounts for 40 percent of the country’s economy.

Reports tell of devastation for some parts of the country while other parts fared better. The beachfront home of actress Cate Blanchett, for instance, was untouched while the island of Ambyn suffered a 6.5 earthquake and a volcanic eruption in the two weeks previous to the cyclone. So far the death toll throughout the islands stands at 11.

The Vanuatu Tourism Office has released an update on the condition of many of its hotels. “From a tourism infrastructure perspective, many resorts are reporting limited or no damage to buildings,” said Sue Herrick, North American Representative for the Vanuatu Tourism Office.

“Once essential services are restored to a normal level, resorts will again be fully operational. In the months to come, visitors will be encouraged to support Vanuatu by visiting and continuing their travel plans, but for the next few days the emphasis will be on getting the country back on its feet. We advise those managing bookings for travel to Vanuatu in the next few weeks to check directly with the hotel or resort and incoming flights to confirm if they are able to cater for these guests as planned.”

Seriously damaged resorts including the Sunset Bungalows sustained some damage, and some waterfront bungalows are gone. Guests moved to Chantilly's on the Bay, which had a small amount of damage with the wharf being washed away. Iririki Island Resort sustained significant damage. The Havannah lost the road leading to the resort and sustained significant damage. The Benjour Beach Club will remain closed for one month. Poppys on the Lagoon  is unable to accept new guests for a few days. The Warwick Le Lagon is recommending guest postpone their stay until after March 23 and is not penalizing any cancelled reservations before March 23. Finally, the Coconut Palms Resort will be closed for up to three weeks.

Resorts now open for business include the Terraces, which had minor ceiling damage to the reception. The Mangoes Beachfront Luxury Villas sustained minimal damage. The Vale Vale sustained minimal damage and “repairs will be made as soon as power is restored.” The Ocean Blue Vanuatu sustained minimal damage to some lodges in the resort. The Vila 25 sustained minimal damage; both the Melanesian and the Moorings report no major damage, but no power with some inconvenience to new guests in the coming weeks.

Air Vanuatu resumed services to Australia on Monday. There are also direct services through Nadi and Suvato Port Vila via Fiji Airways.

Thus far, several major relief organizations are pitching in. Those who wish to donate to the Vanuatu disaster relief effort, can do so via the Red Cross Australia / New Zealand UNICEF Australia /New Zealand, Oxfam Australia / New Zealand, Tearfund, World Vision, Save the Children, Act for Peace,  Shelter Box, and CARE USA.

The country is also receiving monetary assistance from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with military personnel, United Nations and the above relief organizations spearheading the effort.


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