Hurricane IRMA information center – CAYO SANTA MARIA
You’ll find here information about the damage caused by Irma, as well as the efforts and work undertaken to restore the infrastructure and reopen the hotels impacted by the hurricane. Please note that the information below relates specifically to the "Cayos de Villa Clara" tourist hub including Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Ensenachos. This information comes from various sources that we consider to be the most reliable possible. However we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.
September 6, 2017 – Alert phase
The Cuban Civil Defense headquarters declare the Alert Phase in the provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camagüey, Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara. The hurricane is expected within the next 48 to 72 hours. This "warning phase" triggers the evacuation of the most threatened population to relatives or shelters provided by the authorities, as well as the evacuation of tourists. The latter have either been moved to other regions of Cuba (mostly Varadero) or repatriated to their country by their tour operator.
September 7, 2017 – Alarm phase
The Cuban Civil Defense has raised the level of alert to the Alarm Phase prompting a total ban of traffic and the preventive cut off the electricity grids. State agencies have been instructed to increase security measures to limit the movement of people and vehicles and other potentially life-threatening activities.
September 8 to 10, 2017 – Irma hits Cuba
Irma swept the north coast of Cuba with the force of a major hurricane September 8 to 10. The island-resort of Cayo Santa Maria (also including Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas) was hit the hardest between late in the evening on September 8 until late in the morning on September 9. The eye of the hurricane passed just a little to the south of these islets early in the morning of September 9, between 5 and 8 am approximately. Click here to view the hurricane path through the Jardines del Rey archipelago.
September 9 to 11, 2017 – Early damage assessments
Hurricane Irma caused severe damage to the infrastructure and hotels of the "Cayos de Villa Clara" resort All hotels are closed until further notice, more official reports of damage are expected in the coming days.
The 48-km causeway (locally called Pedraplen) connecting these cays with the main island of Cuba has been damaged in several places including some of its bridges.
The Santa Clara Airport (Abel Santamaria Airport), which serves the Cayo Santa Maria tourist hub, did not suffer heavy damage due to its location further inland (about 50 km from the coast).
The dolphinarium has also been damaged and will require major repairs.
The majority of tour operators and airlines have suspended travel to this destination until October 31, 2017 (for now), to be followed ...
After Irma - Repairs, Rebuilding, Reopening
Week of September 10-17, 2017
Only a few days after the passage of irma, the hotel's staff participate in the efforts of cleaning and repairs. They are transported in the cayos by boat and catamarans, along with other workers. Work is under way to repair the causeway (Pedraplen) connecting Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas with the main island of Cuba.
September 17, 2017
Electricity and water have been restored in the apartment buildings in Caibarien, where many of the employees of the hotels live, but other parts of the city are still without electricity.
September 18, 2017
The causeway was repaired enough to allow emergency vehicles to reach the cayos and bring in essential supplies. The causeway is scheduled to be reopened officially by the end of September, then more workers will be able to be transported by bus, as well as materials.
All new constructions were suspended in order to dedicate the labor and materials to the renovations of the hotels damaged by Irma.
Santa Clara Airport (Abel Santamaria Airport): According to a statement made by its general director, repairs are progressing at a good pace, and although it is difficult to specify a date, work is being undertaken to resume flights by the end of September or early October.
September 19, 2017
The Cuba Tourist Board says that the Cayo Coco (including Cayo Guillermo) and Cayo Santa Maria (including also Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas) should be operational by or before November 1st, thanks to strong cooperation between the Cuban government, travel authorities and volunteers that are expediting the process of repairing damaged properties and clearing debris post-Irma.
September 19, 2017 - News from hotel Valentin Perla Blanca
On their Facebook page, the Valentin Parla Blanca announces that their hotel has not suffered significant structural damage and that during the cleaning and repair work the hotel will be closed until at least October 31st. The reopening date is scheduled for November 1-15.
September 23, 2017 - Updates on the airport, the dolphinarium, the marina, and hotels
In a presentation where many tour operators, agencies, and members of the press gathered, Cuba's Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero Cruz, said that Santa Clara International Airport will resume operations on Monday September 25, while extra-hotel services such as the Dolphinarium and the Cayo Santa María Marina will resume their functions from 15 October. He also stated that by that time (Oct. 15) five hotels (totaling more than 4200 rooms) will be fully functional (without specifying which ones).
September 25, 2017 - Santa Clara airport is reopened
With the arrival on September 25, of Jet Blue and American Airlines flights, the Abel Santamaría International Airport (a.k.a Santa Clara Airport) resumed its operations, only 14 days after being impacted by hurricane Irma. This airport serves mainly the popular beach-resorts of Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas, and also the province of Villa Clara and the central regions of Cuba.
September 25, 2017 - Electricity, water, communications
Electricity, water and communications were restored in 100% of the tourist centers, including Cayo Santa María, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo.
September 26, 2017 - Update on hotel Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria
In an official bulletin published on their Facebook page, the Director of Sales & Marketing says that the Dawha Cayo Santa Maria should be fully operational by the third week of October, the exact reopening date remains to be confirmed.
October 2, 2017 - Expected reopening date for Melia Las Dunas
We received an email from the Sales Manager of hotel Melia Las Dunas saying that they will reopen on November 1st, 2017.
October 4, 2017 - Cubana flights
The Canadian tour operator Caribe Sol/Hola Sun is planning to resume flights to Santa Clara (Cayo Santa Maria) and Cayo Coco on November 3, 2017. This is a weekly flight with "Cubana de Aviacion" for each destination.
October 4, 2017 - Sunwing flights
The Canadian airline Sunwing is planning to resume flights to Santa Clara (Cayo Santa Maria) and Cayo Coco on November 1st, 2017.
October 5, 2017 - Expected reopening date for the Sol Cayo Santa Maria
We received an email from the Sales Manager at hotel Sol Cayo Santa Maria saying they will reopen on November 15, 2017.
October 6, 2017 - Expected reopening date for the Warwick Cayo Santa Maria
Here's an email we received from the Sales manager at hotel Warwick: "No date has been set for the reopening of services so far, it has been tentatively valued to restart operations for the month of December of the current year, which date will be subject to changes depending on the completion of the construction work currently developed in the hotel."
October 6, 2017 - Expected reopening date for the Iberostar Ensenachos
We received an email from the Sales Manager at Iberostar Ensenachos saying the sales at their hotel are closed until October 31, 2017.
October 7, 2017 - Expected reopening date for the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria
In the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Facebook Group, they now announce a reopening for November 1st, 2017.
October 10, 2017 - Reopening date for the Valentin Perla Blanca
In their official Facebook page, they now announce a reopening for November 1st, 2017.
October 11, 2017 - Reopening date for the Melia Cayo Santa Maria
In a communiqué posted in their official Facebook page, they announce a reopening for November 1, 2017.
October 11, 2017 - Reopening date for the Melia Buenavista
In a communiqué posted in their official Facebook page, they announce a reopening for November 15, 2017.
October 14, 2017 - Expected reopening dates for hotels in Cayo Santa Maria /Cayo las Brujas /Cayo Ensenachos
Source : From a statement made by the Cuban Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero, during its visit in Toronto (week of October 9th) to update travel authorities and tour operators.
Reopening scheduled for November 1, 2017:
- Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria
- Grand Memories Santa Maria
- Iberostar Ensenachos
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria
- Melia Las Dunas
- Memories Paraíso
- Ocean Casa del Mar
- Playa Cayo Santa María
- Valentin Perla Blanca
Reopening scheduled for November 15, 2017:
- Golden Tulip Aguas Claras
- Melia Buenavista
- Royalton Cayo Santa María
- Sol Cayo Santa Maria
- Starfish Cayo Santa María
- Warwick Cayo Santa María
October 16, 2017 - Air Canada resuming flights to Cayo Coco and Santa Clara
Air Canada Vacations has announced that it will resume flights to Cayo Coco (CCC*) and Santa Clara (SNU*) this December. Montreal-Cayo Coco will resume on Dec. 24, while Montreal-Santa Clara starts Dec. 20. From Toronto, Cayo Coco will resume on Dec. 19, and Santa Clara on Dec. 23. (source: www.travelweek.ca).
* CCC airport mainly serves Cayo Coco and Cayo Guilermo. SNU airport mainly serves the "Cayos de Villa Clara" (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos, Cayo Las Brujas).
October 17, 2017 - Sunwing revises their flight dates to Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria
Extract from the official Facebook page of Sunwing Vacations: “Following a site visit to the region last week, we are pleased to announce that we will be resuming our flight services to Cayo Coco from November 7th. Our flight services to Cayo Santa Maria will also be recommencing from November 10th from Montreal, with flights from Toronto and Quebec City available from November 11th.”
October 17, 2017 - Sunwing visits the northern cayos
A team from the Canadian travel group Sunwing has just returned from a tour of Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Guillermo. The purpose of their visit was to assess the region’s recovery following the impact of Hurricane Irma. Read here a summary of their observations.
- More information on the specific condition of each hotel, beaches, and other tourist infrastructure
- Information on the progress of repairs and rebuilding
- News on the reopening of each hotel, and resumption of travels to this destination
Visit us again for updates!
Lily & Normand