Cabo Resorts Rebound From Destructive Hurricane Odile Ahead of Spring Break Travel Boom
By By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
February 01, 2015, 9:13:57 PM EST
While Cabo San Lucas residents try to block harrowing images and memories of Hurricane Odile out of their minds, visitors of the popular destination don’t even realize the widespread destruction that overtook the area a mere five months ago.
With a surge of people on spring break set to invade the area in the coming weeks, locals take great pride in the limited awareness of the severity of the damage left in Odile's wake.
On Sept. 14, 2014, Odile made landfall on Mexico’s Baja California Sur as a Category 3 hurricane, tying the record for the strongest storm to make landfall in the region during the satellite era. More than 13 million lost power over the course of the storm as strong winds slashed trees and downed power lines. Torrential rain led to threatening flooding across the region.
Thousands of tourists were left stranded in the area as the local airport was left without resources to fully operate for days. Limited cell phone and internet service made communications to loved ones back home near impossible as visitors were stranded while the government completed evacuations.
Ricardo Orozco, managing director of the Grand Solmar Hotel and Resort in Cabo San Lucas, said locals seldom talk about Odile as it only stirs upsetting memories. Instead, the focus is on the future.
"We put it on the back burner and moved on," he said.
Still, it is hard to block the sights and sounds of such an experience.
"When you are in the middle of a hurricane and you have been hit over four hours back and forth... In your mind you hold to your life and pray it goes fast," he said.
Orozco described feeling like "nothing" versus the sheer force and monstrosity of such a powerful storm.
After winds had subsided and drenching rain tapered off, recovery efforts began immediately. Fortunately for Orozco and his staff, the resort was left with manageable damage even though sitting in a vulnerable location.
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One of the few resorts to endure the storm and maintain power and running water, Orozco described damages to Grand Solmar as “cosmetic.” The resort was able to reopen at partial capacity a month later on Oct. 22. Given that rebuilding needs were not severe, they took it upon themselves to enhance some of the more damaged features like pool areas.
“It’s like getting a manicure, pedicure for the resort,” he said.
Now, he said, some returning guests say the resort looks better than it did before. Others remain clueless to the ferocious storm that left Cabo scrambling less than six months ago.
“People come here, and they don’t even realize what happened,” Orozco said.
That alone has brought a swell of pride to the local community and offered a sense of closure to the destructive storm. As college students begin to prep for spring break travel, the Cabo area is ready to show off its restoration efforts.
According to Eric Wechter, Fodor's Los Cabos editor, tens of thousands of college students in search of a warm getaway during spring break will swarm the region starting in March.
"Nearby Medano Beach is really the unofficial spring break hot spot," he said.
With average March temperatures hovering near the 86 F mark, the popularity of the location is no surprise.
The local community is ready for the influx of students and the economic impact they bring to the area. Though closed for weeks or even months in some cases, resorts are confident that finances will rebound in a short time period.
Orozco expects any losses to settle within 18 to 24 months, even without jacking up rates for a 'quick fix.'
Wechter said there is no need to try to make a short-term, full recovery as travel traffic remains consistent. Even immediately after the storm, booking rates were essentially back to normal just six weeks after the hurricane hit.
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