• Despite hurricanes, Caribbean still a popular travel destination

    By: Bob Dumas


    BOSTON - It’s been about a month since a trio of hurricanes barreled through the Caribbean and Florida, destroying many popular vacation spots.

    Despite all the damage, the majority of destinations are open for business and need visitors to return.

    A travel group just produced a video called “One Caribbean Family” which drives home the theme that the islands are still beautiful and welcoming.

    Maryella Blundo, of Dream Come True, in Cambridge, said there are 30 islands open for business and fully functional.

    Every day she receives updates from hotel vendors listing all the hotels that are accepting reservations.

    The storms did devastate spots like Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and the Virgin islands.

    Many, however, fared much better.

    “Aruba, Jamaica,” Blundo said. “You have places like Trinidad and Tobago that were virtually untouched. There’s Curacao. There’s Bonaire. There’s the Bahamas.”

    Although Florida is still cleaning up, many locations are ready for visitors.

    Javier Rosenberg graduated from the hospitality program at Boston University and now runs three hotels in Florida.

    One is in Naples and two are in the Florida Keys.

    "It's quite different where you look. Miami, for example, I would say the East Coast is pretty much back to normal in many ways.  On the West Coast, which suffered a more direct impact from Hurricane Irma,  I think you will still see a number of hotels are closed.”

    Rosenberg is happy with the pace of the cleanup and says tourist areas got priority.

    “If you are planning to go down to Florida in December, January, or February, I think you have to ask a few great questions just to make sure you are comfortable,” added Rosenberg. “In some of the Keys, you want to make sure you have enough restaurant options that are open.”

    There may be an opportunity to get a deal in the Sunshine State.

    “In the next few months you probably will see some specials as hotels, and I think destinations, try to get people comfortable with the idea of coming back, so I think there are some great deals and opportunities out there,” said Rosenberg.

    At Logan Airport, most travelers said they’d be willing to go south in a few months to get a reprieve from a Boston winter.

    One woman said, “Obviously it’s pretty tragic what happened there, but I don’t think that I would have any reason not to go.”

    “I would still go," one man said. "They are still safe to travel to. I would, but if you had the money to go to the Caribbean then do it, but Florida is definitely a good option.”

    Maryella Blunda told Boston 25 News that she doesn’t expect to see deep discounts in the Caribbean.

    She said some resorts are offering perks like spa discounts but that’s about it.

    If you aren’t interested in the Caribbean this year, she suggests checking out Costa Rica and Panama.

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