The Bahamas is Still Open for Business – and Many Resorts are Pitching in for Hurricane Dorian Relief

The Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board is clearing up post-storm travel confusion, and popular hotels are offering ways for guests to help.

World Central Kitchen
Chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen serving meals at an evacuee shelter in Nassau.Chef José Andrés/Twitter

Hurricane Dorian seemingly didn't move for two days, wreaking havoc over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island. While the storm has passed and crucial relief efforts are underway, many in the Bahamas want travelers to know that resorts in areas not affected by Dorian are "open for business," as conveyed in a new video message from the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board.

“Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and the most popular tourist destination within the country so, as a result, when consumers hear Bahamas they may automatically associate the two,” said Fred Lounsberry, chief executive officer of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board. “While our thoughts and prayers are very much with our neighbors in The Abacos and Grand Bahama, Nassau and Paradise Island were not in the path of the storm and are ready to welcome guests. One of the best ways to support the Bahamas is by visiting!”

As such, the region's popular resorts are focusing on recovery and relief efforts. Those interested in donating can buy select packages or enter a raffle for some Bahamian resorts, helping raise funds for the necessary aid programs. The NPIPB is also accepting donations on its site.

Atlantis Paradise Island, in cooperation with Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen, continues to collect donations through a GoFundMe account. Learning from the relief efforts on Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, Andrés and his team were quick to act after Dorian struck the islands. In addition to providing hot meals and supplies for the storm's victims, the chef and Atlantis have raised more than $186,000 toward their cause.

Baha Mar launched the "Pack with Love" program to encourage guests "to bring love and much needed comfort" by packing extra items – clothing and shoes, baby supplies, books and toys for children, etc. – that can be delivered directly to victims.

In addition to teaming with Head Knowles to deliver 30,000 bottles of water to the Abacos and Grand Bahama, Sandals Resorts International has pledged to match every dollar donated to the Sandals Foundation, which has also established two donation sites – Hospitality Purveyors Inc. in Miami and Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau – for people to drop off supplies including water, non-perishable food, diapers, baby formula and more.

Grand Isle Resort on Exuma was spared from Dorian's path and is still open and fully functional. Guests can purchase the "Bahamas Strong" package from now until December 2020. The resort will then donate 10 percent of the package bookings to recovery efforts. Part of the funds will also go to the Red Cross to help with shelter, food and clean water.

The Exuma resort will also partner with organizations like the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association to help with long-term recovery. This includes helping people who lost jobs, as these efforts will help rebuild destroyed institutions.

Dorian avoided Bimini, and Resorts World Bimini restarted regular operations on September 6. The resort has been assisting its 200 team members who live and/or have family in Freeport/Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco Islands. Transportation is being provided out of Freeport via Baleària Caribbean Fast Ferry.

The resort’s first fundraiser took place on Sept. 12 at Hilton Miami Downtown in the 1601 Lounge; all proceeds were donated to the relief fund in coordination with Miami’s DJ Laz.

In total, Resorts World has donated $50,000 to the RAV Bahamas Hurricane Relief Fund. That group includes RAV Bahamas Construction, the City of Miami, the National Emergency Management for the Bahamas (NEMA), Baleària Caribbean and Seacor.

“The entire Resorts World Bimini team is focused on making sure our Bahamian family is getting the help needed to start on the path to recovery,” President of Resorts World Bimini Missy Lawrence said. “Our team leaders will work with the impacted individuals to determine short- and long-term support plans, including emotional support.

“The amount of support we have received thus far from the resort team in Bimini, Miami as well as our network of vendors has exceeded our expectations and will accelerate our plan to assist in the recovery efforts.”

Set to open in November, Caerula Mar also launched a GoFundMe and raised more than $168,000 to date, far exceeding the original goal of $10,000. The Baeumler Family Foundation, created by HGTV stars and the resort's owners Bryan and Sarah Baeumler, are matching the campaign goal proceeds.

Other Caribbean island resorts are helping the Bahamas, too. St. Lucia's Jade Mountain is partnering with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) Education Foundation to fundraise for school children on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island. Donors can give $50 per raffle ticket for a chance to win a seven-night stay at Jade Mountain valued at approximately $24,000.

All donations are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward relief efforts.

“I have been involved with the CHTA Education Foundation for many years, and, as their current chairperson, I am confident that, through the foundation, we can fine tune and support specific need areas in the Northern Bahamas, in the field of education,” Executive Director of Jade Mountain Karolin Troubetzkoy said.