Hurricane Updates

By Lain Ehmann

Between the television news coverage of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and related flooding and looting, it’s difficult to tell from afar what the actual situation is at hotels in the Gulf Coast areas. Here’s how to get the latest updates on what’s happening.

  • Hilton Hotels (including Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites). Most hotels have reported water leaks, broken windows and minor stucco damage in various areas. Some hotels will be closed for longer periods due to cleanup efforts and water damage, particularly in New Orleans. Guests with reservations whose travel plans have been disrupted directly by the storm or who are planning to travel to nearby areas where evacuees are being relocated are encouraged to contact Hilton Family toll-free reservations at 1-800-HILTONS to determine hotel availability. The Hilton Family of Hotels also is waiving group cancellation damages for meetings through December 31, 2005 at hotels in the New Orleans area and Gulf Coast region of Mississippi. The company has established a Hurricane Group Bookings Hotline for inquiries. For more information, call 1-866-973-8030 or visit Hilton Hotels at http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/.
  • Hyatt Hotels. In New Orleans, the Hyatt Regency is closed. Hyatt states that employees are continuing to alert customers who have reservations through March 31, 2006 that the hotel will not be able to accommodate them and that all cancellation fees will be waived. In addition, Hyatt’s national sales force is in the process of contacting all meeting planners who have programs scheduled at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans between now and March 31to provide assistance with relocation to other destinations. The news in Texas is better. With a few exceptions, the Houston-area Hyatt and Hyatt Regency properties are open and operating as normal; the Hyatt Regency Houston Airport and the Hyatt Regency Houston Downtown were closed temporarily but are now operational. Please go to www.hyatt.com for more information.
  • Marriott (including Courtyard, Fairfield, SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn). Marriott properties were hit hard in the New Orleans region and many continue to decline reservations. Those that are open currently are housing rescue personnel. As a result of Hurricane Rita, the following Marriott hotels are closed: Courtyard Beaumont, Fairfield Inn Beaumont, Fairfield Inn Lake Charles (LA.) and SpringHill Suites Houston Brookhollow. Meetings and conventions scheduled for New Orleans properties over the next few months are being relocated to other Marriott destinations. Updates will be provided on www.marriottnewsroom.com as information becomes available.
  • Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Various Houston-based Starwood properties are waiving penalties. The Starwood hotels in New Orleans have made rapid progress toward reopening and all three properties – the Sheraton New Orleans, the W New Orleans and W French Quarter are at least partially open. For more information, go to http://starwoodhotels.com/info/landing.html?category=RITA&IM=CORP_HP_TL_RITA.